Guide Ihr müsst bleiben, ich darf gehen: Zu Besuch bei deutschen Menschen (German Edition)

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She nudged a plate into position and plucked at a spoon. You'd think a millionaire would have a more refined appetite. The new maid distributed the napkins, shut one eye to check the arrangement, and made to leave. Bear that in mind as you go through life. The taffeta dress quivered. Then the door slammed. Mrs Kunkel winced and stood alone. What might Isolde have wished for? It did not bear thinking about! The building, the dining room of which was the scene of the foregoing discussion, is situated on that respectable old avenue that leads from Halensee to Hundekehle.

Anyone, even slightly acquainted with the street, will have noticed the villa. Not because it is bigger or has more panache or is more gilt edged than the others. It is noticeable in as much as one does not see it at all. One peers through the two hundred meter long wrought iron fence into a snowy forest that provides no clues whatsoever. Standing in front of the gate, flanked as it is by faded stone pillars, one sees a broad driveway and there, where it curves round to the right, a plain, friendly building: the servants' quarters.

The maids, the cook, the chauffeur and the gardeners all live here. The villa itself, the deserted 2 tennis courts, the frozen pond, the carefully heated 3 greenhouses, the gardens under their blanket of snow and the meadows, remain hidden from view.

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The actual translation of Geheimrat is privy councillor, however for the past several hundred years it has been used as a non specific honorific title with no English equivalent. The plot of this novel revolves around the fact that the Geheimrat in question is a millionaire, not that he bears this particular honorific title. I have therefore used 'his honour' as a similarly non specific title but other possibilities certainly exist.

The German original referred to 'dead tennis courts' but that seems a bit gloomier and more final in English than I think was the author's intention. The German wohltemperiert has overtones of being finely tuned or carefully adjusted, but with the exception of those familiar with J.

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Bach's Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, most English readers would probably miss the significance of this, which is why I opted for the simpler 'carefully heated'. Aber dann werde ich wach … Wie es dazu kam — das freilich kann ich nicht in jedem Traum wiederholen. Es ist eine zu lange Geschichte.

Vielleicht hat Piroschka selbst wieder eine Piroschka, die heute so alt ist, wie sie damals gewesen ist. Ganz von Anfang an. Die Bugbesatzung stimmte 'Zu Mantua in Banden' an. Das hatte noch mehr Strophen als die Rheinfrage. Ach Gott, wie singt ihr schlecht! But then I wake up How it got to that — that, of course, is something that I cannot repeat in every dream.


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The story is too long. And yet, it has to be told at some point. So much has changed down in Hungary in the meantime.

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Piroschka might have her own little Piroschka these days, about the same age now, as she herself was at that time. Now I can tell it — everything!

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Right from the start. This is how it began: The July sun was beating down, while herons ascended from the reeds towards the almost painfully luminous canopy that was the sky.


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  • My fellow 'scholars' — I hated that pompous word — were sitting in the mess below decks playing cards, because one of them had read aloud from his tourist guide that this stretch of river was pretty boring for the next few hundred kilometres. This landscape, minted on the final day of creation 1 : with sky, water, reeds and bird wings We were lounging on deck in closely packed deckchairs.

    A group of German tourists, travelling together, were sitting on folding chairs at the prow, the men in light blue, crumpled linen jackets. Wilting in the heat, the group lapsed into a slow, lingering rendition of: 'Why is it so Beautiful on the Rhine? As long as I was sailing down the Danube I had no wish to know why it was so beautiful on the Rhine. From my half sitting position I leaned right back — the deckchair was set at the lowest notch -, so that I would have nothing but blue infinity above me.

    But there was something else over me. I was prodded lightly in the back of the head by a pointy, fashionably high stiletto heel. My expression, I thought, seemed particularly well chosen, given the international makeup of the travelling public — one could hear English, Hungarian and Czech as well as the language of my Rhine-addicted landsmen. I remembered the advice my father had given me at our parting: when abroad, always seek the middle road between arrogance and servility. True enough the graceful leg had declined to respond, but it will certainly have understood my erudite apology.

    The crew in the prow launched into 'Off to Mantua with the Gang'. That had even more verses than the Rhine question. Your singing is awful! To render this as 'minted on the final day of creation' might seem to be taking a bit of a liberty, but a literal translation of the German — this landscape of the last creation day — seems too clumsy in English, however well it rolls off the tongue in German. Ich kam aus dem Europa des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts. Das Schiff war ein Passagierdampfer, der beladen wurde.

    Es war eine Arche. Wer von hier das Gelobte Land Amerika nicht erreichen konnte, war verloren. Ich war nachmittags im Kasino von Estoril gewesen, um zu spielen. Es war ein letzter, verzweifelter Versuch gewesen, das Schicksal zu bestechen. Unsere portugiesische Aufenthaltserlaubnis lief in wenigen Tagen ab, und Ruth und ich hatten keine anderen Visa. Translation - English I stared at the ship. Gaudily lit up, it was lying some way off the quay, in the river Tejo.

    Although I had been in Lisbon for a week, I still was not used to the carefree light of this city. The towns in the countries from which I had come were as black as mine shafts at nights, and a lamp in the dark was more dangerous than the plague in the Middle Ages. I had come from twentieth century Europe. The ship was a passenger steamer that was being loaded up. I knew that it was supposed to depart on the following evening.

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    A cargo of meat, fish, tinned foods, bread and vegetables was being stowed under the stark glare of naked electric lights. Workers were carrying luggage on board and a crane hoisted crates and bales as quietly as if they were weightless. The ship was preparing for its voyage as if it were an ark at the time of the Biblical flood. It was an ark. Every ship that set off from Europe during these months in the year was an ark. Mount Ararat was America and the waters were rising daily.

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    Germany and Austria had already been submerged for a long time and in Poland and Prague the flood was knee-deep; Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Oslo and Paris had already sunk in it; Italy's towns stank of it, and Spain was no longer safe. The coast of Portugal was the last haven for the refugees, for whom justice, liberty and tolerance meant more than home and livelihood. Anyone who could not reach America, the promised land, from here, was lost. He would bleed dry in the tangle of refused entry and exit visas, unattainable work and residence permits, internment camps, bureaucracy, loneliness, alienation 1 and the appalling general indifference to the fate of the individual, which always follows in the wake of war, fear and adversity.

    At that time a human being meant nothing; a valid passport everything. I had been gambling at the Casino in Estoril that afternoon. I still owned a decent suit and they had let me in.

    enter It had been a final desperate attempt to bribe fate. Our Portuguese residents' permits would elapse a few days later and Ruth and I had no other visas. Back in France, the ship now at anchor in the Tejo, was the last with which we had hoped to reach New York; but it had been booked up for months and, apart from American entry visas, we also lacked the three hundred dollar fare. I had at least tried to get the money in the only way still possible here — gambling.

    It was senseless; even if I had won, it would still have taken a miracle to get aboard the ship.