Isle of the Dead
Translated by Burton Pike
Collection Swiss Literature Series
Baur and Bindschädler, two old men, friends from their days in the army, share a habitual walk to the edge of town, Baur speaking incessantly—circling between past and present, inconsequential observations and profound insights—while Bindschädler, equally unmoored, listens, observes, reflects. A meandering meditation on mortality, and a gentle complement to the work of contemporaries Samuel Beckett and Thomas Bernhard—not to mention Gerhard Meier's countryman Robert Walser—Isle of the Dead elevates a simple ramble along a riverside to the status of a metaphysical inquest, with Baur and Bindschädler's words and thoughts looping and colliding until it is nearly impossible to tell one man from the other.
Translator Burton Pike reads from and discusses his new translation of Gerhard Meier's Isle of the Dead at New York's Center for Fiction.
Nb of pages CXX - 120 p.
GTIN13 (EAN13) 9781564786852
Nb of pages CXX - 120
Dimensions 5.5 x 8 in.
List Price $17.95
"Bindschädler, at three, four, five one lives off the images, the thoughts one has inherited, as a dowry for life.—At sixty-three, -four, -five one walks along a river of a Saturday, declares it North American, feels its gray, orange, yellow tones as Indian tones, hallucinates a canoe on it, with the last Mohican inside, crowned with two, three colorful feathers. And one understands, glancing at the oaks by the river, that the Germanic tribes revered oaks. And one looks back on the decades of duties fulfilled as a citizen," Baur stumbled, “that is, on decades when one produced shoes for example, rifles, made bricks, tiles, bicycles, cars, television sets, and so forth, or made oneself useful in some other way, focusing on punctually observing the start of the workday, the end of the workday, above all the start. And one remembers having tried to keep body and limbs clean all those years, the dirtying oneself that comes from inside and that comes from outside, from the street for example, from the lathe, from jam, to get rid of it, also the dirt between the toes and other parts. And you think of the Eau de Cologne you poured in your left hand to spread on your cheeks, neck, nape, forehead. And you think of the Eau de Cologne you poured in your right hand to spread on your cheeks, neck, nape, forehead. You see again the clothes that you put on, all those years; you see particularly the pants, and of these especially the legs, which couldn't be too long or too wide; but the jackets had to meet certain requirements too, for instance they absolutely had to have two and not three buttons in front, had to provide as it were freedom in the elbows, had to provide as far as possible pockets with flaps; coats likewise, coats in gabardine or in herringbone pattern; and umbrellas too surge into memory (the most recent ones springing open automatically)—and hats, berets, and above all of course shoes, which fascinated one again and again by their smell, their color (especially chestnut brown), their form—all that is really quite clear. And you think of the relations you entered into with the tender sex, that is, with a quite specific representative of this tender sex. And one is surprised that a tie of this kind can endure over decades, which would be impossible to ascribe to one’s own merits (and that “with the tender sex” is of course farcical). And one sees before one the children who issued from this connection, the son for example, as a three-, four-, five-year-old boy in late summer, Indian summer, or autumn, and how delighted he is with rolling potatoes, piling them in a heap as if he were counting them; or one sees one of the daughters as a three-, four-, five-year-old girl digging up wild carrots on the embankment of the local Amrain railroad, between the tracks, from which she could only be coaxed away by the threats of her playmates to call the police,” Baur said, stopped, looked at three gulls flying up the river, more or less at the height of the oaks, setting down, letting themselves drift, endeavoring to keep facing upriver.
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Countries : Switzerland