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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wilhelm Raabe in The German Library (Continuum): "Horacker"

Started reading Horacker (the volume also has Tubby Schaumann in it) over the holiday weekend. Good stuff, even if the style is a bit "old fashioned" (I liked ascending the local mountain and I liked how the author pushed back the hazel branch for me on the way back down). It's also larded with a few difficult allusions, but there's a pretty good set of "notes" in the back.

Anyway, I underlined this passage (from Ch. 6):
The old man grinned and put his best talents of imitation in tone and mime to work. With peevish pathos he said, "You're not mistaken there, Herr Eckerbusch! In centuries past, anyone who wished to be intellectually a part of his times had to go out and mix in with the world's tumult. Today it is otherwise. Today, gentlemen, one sits quietly, one ought to sit quietly, and let the great waves with all their wealth of ideas ebb and flow right over one's head! What does it mean nowadays for someone to measure the pyramids or stand in the thick of battle? Gentlemen, the discovery of the sources of the Nile, the searching out of the North Pole, or even personally firing a rifle in war means, I would maintain, but little anymore when compared to what the ruminative thinker accomplishes by quiet, meaningful sitting-still. When compared to the electric telegraph, all personal experience, all personal participation is curiously insignificant--
[Translated by John E. Woods
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