Print Story Le desespoir est assis sur un banc.
Diary
By Bartleby (Sat Jun 24, 2006 at 05:16:32 AM EST) Verzweiflung, history, literature, jalkapallo, talar du svenska? (all tags)
ATTN BlueOregon and toxicfur infidels! Small town, great writers. [[Pretty Old] Europe]. Today, we can't possibly lose.


Verzweiflung die dritte

About rozpacz:I found two Polish etymological dictionaries here at the central university library: One ends at the letter 'L', the other one at 'P'. Cholera jasna! Anyway, I remembered there is another word that means 'despair' and is actually ultimately derived from the word meaning 'to doubt'. Or rather, its meaning overlaps with those of 'doubt/'Verzweiflung'. This is 'zwątpienie', derived from 'zwątpić', the perfective aspect of 'wątpić', 'to doubt'.

Now, the verbal aspect is clearly an atrocity devised to demonstrate to nosy Teutons who are trying to learn a Slavonic language that they'll never quite get it. 'Zwątpić' meaning 'to despair' as 'to have no hope left' makes sense to me, but the dictionary definitions state quite clearly that even the perfective verb, and the noun derived from it, mean 'to doubt'/'doubt' (my biggest dictionary at home says something like 'zwątpienie 1. Ungewißheit [...] 2. Verzweiflung, Hoffnungslosigkeit'. Isn't doubting inherently imperfective? That's more than I can wrap my currently overstressed head around.

the nick

This in response to a comment by toxicfur: I was indeed thinking of Melville's Bartleby when I chose my nick. Bartleby is one of three literary characters that really struck me as soulmates of sorts at different points in my life (the other two being the "man from the country" in Kafka's "Before the law" and the narrator in Dostoyevsky's "Notes from underground" - angsty teenagers shouldn't be allowed to read Dostoyevsky). The Scrivener happened to come along at the right time, also I thought it would be nice to take a name from English language literature.

"Das Alphabet trug mich fort."

Yesterday (June 23rd) would have been the 100th birthday of German writer Wolfgang Koeppen (1, 2, 3). An article I read compared his position in his country's literature to that of William Gaddis: "Difficult" writers who didn't publish very much, who told their fellow countrymen things many weren't too willing to hear, who aren't exactly terribly popular, but held in high regard by fellow writers. Anyway, Koeppen earned his reputation mainly with three novels from the 1950s, "Pigeons on the grass", "The hothouse", and "Death in Rome". I have yet to read the first one, but I can highly recommend the latter two (provided the English translations are up to the originals). Yesterday a few big names in Germany's literary scene came here, to Koeppen's birth city of Greifwald, and read some of his texts in the cathedral. The place was packed. It probably helped that one of the readers was Günter Grass. Grass is one of those authors who are not only great writers, but also great readers. I find it always a joy just to listen to him, even, it turns out now, if he reads from somebody else's work.

Du gamla, du fria, du fjällhöga nord

Sweden's playing Germany today. I admit I don't care much for/about the entire event (except that I'm happy the FIFA World Cup (tm) went without major disruptions so far and everybody seems to have fun), but it's still nice that whatever the outcome of today's game, we will have won in the end.

I saw a protest on TV a while ago that was part of the university hospital doctors' strike that had been dragging on throughout spring. Doctors from Greifswald were holding a banner that read "Sweden's oldest university. We want back!"

That slogan may require an explanation. Actually, it's an excuse for lecturing you on some regional history. Skip the rest if you don't care about crumbled kingdoms and disappeared duchies.
In the beginning, there waFor most of the time since the Middle Ages, Pomerania was divided up among two lines of the ducal dynasty. The last dukes of both lines died without a male heir during the Thirty Years' War (during which Swedish, Brandenburgian and imperial forces and God knows who else were crisscrossing the country like tourists looking for the best booze and beaches). There was a treaty stating that in such an event the Prince Elector of Brandenburg (the core territory of what would later become the kingdom of Prussia) should inherit Pomerania. Problem was, at this time Pomerania was practically under Swedish occupation, and the Swedes had no intention of leaving. Eventually (i.e. eleven years later, in the Westphalian peace of 1648), Sweden and Brandenburg agreed to divide the area among themselves. Sweden kept the west, which was from now on known as Vorpommern or Hither Pomerania. Part of the booty was the university of Greifswald, founded in 1456 and thereby indeed the oldest university on Swedish soil.
Sweden lost its new province piece by piece, or peace by peace, to Brandenburg/Prussia, but they held on to the northernmost part of it until 1815. In a complicated Danish-Swedish-Prussian swapping operation involving the passing around of what was left of Swedish Pomerania, the duchy of Lauenburg, plus Norway and tons of money, the area was turned over to Prussia.
Relata referro. Apparently, it was popular when the GDR still existed to refer to this area as "Southern Sweden". Which brings me back to my starting point.

Du tysta, Du glädjerika sköna! Jag hälsar Dig, vänaste land uppå jord...

< Not OSHA-approved | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
Le desespoir est assis sur un banc. | 1 comment (1 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Excellent ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #1 Sat Jun 24, 2006 at 06:38:55 AM EST

Thanks for the continued despair ... er, doubt ...

The Polish information is a good addition. As noted (here, there, wherever) the difficulty with other languages in Central, Eastern, Etc-Europe is the long-term German influence (not Balkan-Sprachbund level influence, but still) ...

This is just an extended rhapsody for those who don't do German/Slavic/Hungarian philology.

In short, on the one hand I am not surprised that we only find (in Europe) a couple 'linguistic-conceptual roots', one might say, for "despair", though we have to be careful about our sources.

As for perfection ... I suppose "doubting" ought to be imperfective ... but I guess that's just the disconnect between grammatical 'structure' and semantics ... *though* it's worth noting that *knowing* (e.g. "wissen") is perfected *seeing* ... so one 'imperfect' can be derived by another 'perfect' ...

Next up: Grass: I respect him as a writer, have heard of him as a reader, and politically he is not as problematic as Handke ... but the other reason I love Grass, perhaps the main one, has to do with his skill as a visual artist ... I would say, a lot of my (drawing) style is derived from his expression of the grotesque.

Le desespoir est assis sur un banc. | 1 comment (1 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback