All going to plan we may be living here by the summers end. There is a lot of paperwork to transact, but barring a disasterous survey this looks like our new home.
It is a very different prospect from the current country pile with big gardens, barn, coachhouse, chickens, 200 year old timber and room for a pony. No neighbours to speak of, but far from all facilities and 100% reliant upon cars to do everything.
Instead we are opting for a vertical apartment with postage stamp patio garden. In the heart of Ballincollig with extensive yoga in the public parks on the river side, and the village and shopping centres only a stroll away. Cork City 15 mins down the road on the bus which runs 24 hours a day. A cycle lane all the way to the office.
New move – new adventure.
Upon the road of my life; by Stephen Crane
Upon the road of my life,
passed me many fair creatures,
clothed all in white, and radiant.
To one, finally, I made speech:
“Who art thou?”
But she, like the others,
kept cowled her face,
and answered in haste, anxiously,
“I am good deed, forsooth;
you have often seen me.”
“Not uncowled,” I made reply.
And with rash and strong hand,
though she resisted,
I drew away the veil
and gazed at the features of vanity.
She, shamefaced, went on;
and after I had mused a time,
I said of myself,
This is the cover of the novel that we had at home, the one I read. The hand, the barbed wire and the butterfly make an image that has stuck in my memory. Erich Maria Remarque, born Erich Paul Remark, on this day in 1898.
Remarque is remarkable for three main reasons.
- He wrote of World War 1 from the German perspective.
- He wrote the defining novel about a war that is celebrated in reams of poetry.
- He began the tradition of war veterans writing about their own experience of war.
Novels about war were not new. Stephen Crane wrote the Red Badge of Courage in 1893 and it tells of the US Civil War from the standpoint of an ordinary soldier. It reads like a personal account, but Crane was a novelist, not a soldier. He was born after the war and based his book on interviews with veterans of the war.
Remarque fought in WW1, and was wounded. He became a teacher after the war and then wrote the novel in 1928. In the novel he is particularly hard on teachers who instill mindless nationalism in their students. Above all it is an anti-war novel.
The Nazis hated it. Remarque was declared “unpatriotic” and his books were removed from German libraries and added to the bonfires. He moved to live in Switzerland. In Germany the facts of his military service were denied by the Third Reich and his citizenship was revoked. He moved with his wife to the USA before the outbreak of the war and eventually became a US citizen in 1947.
His sister in Germany, Elfriede Scholz, was tried on a charge of undermining morale and was beheaded. The court stated “Your brother is unfortunately beyond our reach — you, however, will not escape us”.
“Kropp on the other hand is a thinker. He proposes that a declaration of war should be a kind of popular festival with entrance-tickets and bands, like a bull fight. Then in the arena the ministers and generals of the two countries, dressed in bathing-drawers and armed with clubs, can have it out among themselves. Whoever survives, his country wins. That would be much simpler and more just than this arrangement, where the wrong people do the fighting“. (3.42)