39 votes

Why would one of Germany's leading publishers publish a novel by Jewish writer Stefan Zweig in 1939?

Samuel Fischer, who founded the S. Fischer Verlag in 1886 was also Jewish. After his death in 1934, his son-in-law Gottfried Bermann Fischer took over management of the publishing house, but in 1936 ...
user avatar
  • 38.4k
17 votes
Accepted

What are the "torch dance" and "garter dance", in 19th-century Germany?

"Torch dance" is the translation of Fackeltanz. The Fackeltanz is similair to the polonaise but the dancers hold torches or candles in their hands and move according to fixed patterns. There ...
user avatar
  • 38.4k
14 votes
Accepted

Where is Kafka's "The Trial" set?

This answer is primarily based on Ignace Feuerlicht, "Omissions and Contradictions in Kafka's Trial", The German Quarterly 1967, 40(3), pp. 339-350 - available here if you have Jstor access. All ...
user avatar
  • 63.4k
13 votes

What would it mean for a 19th-century German soldier to "wear the cross"?

The “war of seventy” refers to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and this is confirmed by the mention of Otto von Bismarck, the Chancellor of the North German Confederation at the outbreak of the war, ...
user avatar
  • 39.9k
11 votes

In the "Neverending Story", what judgement do Falkor and Atreyu make of the Childlike Empress?

It is important to distinguish between the original text and the English translation. If one only allows for text-immanent interpretation and considers the translation the sole text, all my following ...
user avatar
  • 847
11 votes

What's the significance of Faust's meeting being on Easter Day?

While Easter sure comes with a significant religious meaning, it seems to be distinctly its more earthly and mundane aspects that are emphasised in Faust. Though, the connections to resurrection aren'...
user avatar
10 votes
Accepted

What are all the stories left unfinished in The Neverending Story?

I actually made a list of all of these many years ago, which deserves to be recorded for posterity. Here they are, in the order that they appear in the text. The four messengers: Gluckuk, Vooshvazool,...
user avatar
  • 63.4k
10 votes
Accepted

Standard text for "Tristan and Isolde"

The versions of the story of Tristan and Isolde that we know today date from the Middle Ages, a period in history when copyright did not yet exist, when originality was not the highest goal in ...
user avatar
  • 38.4k
9 votes
Accepted

Where is Momo set?

There are multiple hints that the unnamed city the plot takes place in is a reminiscence of Genzano di Roma. Ende has lived there during the writing of Momo, and the Italian background (the names, but ...
user avatar
  • 847
9 votes

What is the "Isle of the Blessed" and why should a girl see it before marriage?

At the end of the 19th century Arnold Böcklin was a well-known painter. Die Gefilde der Seligen, apparently the painting the book refers to, had been commissioned in 1876 by the National Gallery. ...
user avatar
8 votes

Which German book was Poe referring to?

Hortulus Animae (or better in French) is the usual answer. See, for instance, section 3 of this essay: Just as one need not know precisely which "certain German book" Poe is referring to ...
user avatar
  • 3,860
8 votes
Accepted

What does "Wireless-men" mean?

The original German text reads, on page 232 in the linked edition: Inzwischen ist Besuch gekommen, zwei Funker, die freigebig zum Essen eingeladen werden. Sie sitzen im Wohnzimmer, wo ein ...
user avatar
  • 3,860
8 votes
Accepted

Why is Josef K.'s last name never revealed?

This answer is primarily based on Ignace Feuerlicht, "Omissions and Contradictions in Kafka's Trial", The German Quarterly 1967, 40(3), pp. 339-350 - available here if you have Jstor access. All ...
user avatar
  • 63.4k
8 votes
Accepted

Why do the names of the first two characters introduced in "The Neverending Story" start with B and C?

In the original, it's B and K, not B and C. You can see this in the German Wikipedia page (emphasis mine): Bastian Balthasar Bux ist ein zehn oder elf Jahre alter, in sich gekehrter Junge. Sein Vater ...
user avatar
  • 63.4k
8 votes

How can the inscription on AURYN be interpreted?

TL; DR: There is an ambiguity, intended by the author, between "do what you wish" and "find your true will" which is important for the development of the main character Bastian. Long answer: To ...
user avatar
  • 181
8 votes
Accepted

If I find a book by Nietzsche, how do I know if it's Friedrich's original work, and not work that was edited by his nazi sister, Elisabeth?

That Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche falsified her brother's letters and other writings was something that several scholars had already been aware of before her death in 1935. This includes scholars such ...
user avatar
  • 38.4k
7 votes

Why "Moon Child"?

The simplest explanation, in-universe so to speak, would be that you need a new unique name to see the Childlike Empress, and "Mondenkind" isn't really a word that existed before in the ...
user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

How can the inscription on AURYN be interpreted?

The German version reads Do what you want (Tu Was Du Willst). The ambiguity could exist in German as well with Tu Was Du Wünscht, albeit that would be a less common phrase and kids probably had ...
user avatar
  • 847
7 votes
Accepted

What is the "Isle of the Blessed" and why should a girl see it before marriage?

The comment doesn't need to reference a real painting to make sense in the context of the novel, but some searching shows that Fontane had a particular painting in mind. Since Hesiod, Elysium has also ...
user avatar
  • 38.4k
6 votes

In the "Neverending Story", what judgement do Falkor and Atreyu make of the Childlike Empress?

Perhaps it's deliberately meant to be ambiguous. Certainly there's a recurrent theme in The Neverending Story of ambiguous endings and unfinished tales: just look at how often variations of the ...
user avatar
  • 63.4k
6 votes

What is the Neverending Story's moral about power?

It is first important to recognize what kind of story this is. It is about a young boy whose mother has died. His journey in the novel reflects his emotional growth, developing sense of identity and ...
user avatar
  • 61
6 votes
Accepted

Why didn't Artax just wait for Atreyu outside the Swamp of Sadness?

Beforehand, they didn't know the effect of the swamp. When Atreyu and Artax first reach the swamp, it looks gloomy and forbidding but no more than that. Despite the name, they didn't realise that ...
user avatar
  • 63.4k
6 votes
Accepted

Does the original German version of Fontane's Tay Bridge poem contain the same literary references?

The original German text begins with the following lines: »Wann treffen wir drei wieder zusamm'?«   »Um die siebente Stund', am Brückendamm.«    »Am Mittelpfeiler.« »Ich lösche die Flamm'.« ...
user avatar
  • 38.4k
6 votes

What is known about the last book Theodor Fontane worked on?

When adapting the book title you name a little and spelling it "Likedeeler", together with the statement "which was to deal with certain bold, half-mythical pirates of the fourteenth ...
user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

What is known about the last book Theodor Fontane worked on?

Fontane was working on several projects when he died. As mantioned in Cahir Mawr Dyffryn æp Ceallach's answer, one of these was Die Likedeeler. "Likedeeler" was the Low German name of the &...
user avatar
  • 38.4k
5 votes
Accepted

Rilke's quotation by Jim Harrison

In "Conversations with Jim Harrison", Harrison said (link): "I had to speak at Sam Lawrence's memorial service in New York and I was flipping through books again. Stephen Mitchell's translation ...
user avatar
  • 1,394
5 votes
Accepted

What well known phrase from "Götz von Berlichingen" is alluded to in All Quiet in the Western Front?

The most famous phrase from Goethe's play Götz von Berlichingen is "er kann mich im Arsche lecken!" This is taken from the third act, when Götz von Berlichingen's castle is being besieged and a herald ...
user avatar
  • 38.4k
5 votes
Accepted

What does this quatrain of Goethe's ("Gesang der Geister über den Wassern") mean?

The quatrain is the last stanza of the poem Gesang der Geister über den Wassern, which Goethe wrote in 1779 during a stay in Switzerland. The poem was inspired by the Staubbach Falls near the village ...
user avatar
  • 38.4k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible