One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Coetzee's "Costello": Hugo von Hofmannsthal's Ein Brief (1902)

Ein Brief (also called "Letter of Lord Chandos to Lord Bacon") is a fictitious letter written by the Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

Gutenberg has the entire letter in German:

http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buch/997/1

Here is the section of the letter (it's jpeg thus a bit blurry) that prefaces Coetzee's postscript (another fictitious letter authored by Coetzee--or is it Coetzee's Costello--and titled "Letter of Elizabeth, Lady Chandos, to Francis Bacon):



And here is Coetzee's translation (presumably):

At such moments even a negligible creature, a dog, a rat, a beetle, a stunted apple tree, a cart track winding over a hill, a mossy stone, counts more for me than a night of bliss with the most beautiful, most devoted mistress. These dumb and in some cases inanimate creatures press toward me with such fullness, such presence of love, that there is nothing in range of my rapturous eye that does not have life. It is as if everything, everything that exists, everything I can recall, everything my confused thinking touches on, means something.



Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1893)
(from the Wikimedia Commons)
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