20. September 2004


Hugo Hamilton im Guardian über The loneliness of being German.

"On a visit to Dublin some time ago, Bernhard Schlink was asked if he could explain what was so special about the German concept of Heimat, or home, to which he answered simply that he was born in Hamburg and went to school there. Maybe it is not a priority for German writers, and his extraordinary book The Reader demonstrates this contemporary German view best of all, a book in which the main character's parents are unseen.

Could it be that the Germans are way ahead of other pre-modern societies where nationalism and homeland are still seen as virtues? Could the use of dreaming simply be obsolete in Germany? Artists such as Joseph Beuys famously mocked the German sense of home and home furnishings. But the intensity of German longing for Ireland also suggests that they still possess the same homing instinct as anyone else, only that they have trained themselves to suppress any potential patriotic links to their own origins. It's a rear-view blind spot which has erased their country from the emotional map.

Maybe that's a progression. Maybe German humility and remorse have become the new German virtues to replace love of your country and your people. Maybe this is what it means to be German, to have a clear, patriotism-free conscience. In Berlin's Potsdamer Platz, the ambitious new architectural plans were scaled down deliberately for fear of appearing too arrogant and mighty. With time, this quiet code of humility may have become the emotional core of the new German being. A sense of place no longer applies to the ground where you have your feet, but to a collection of books you've read, films you go to, people you meet, and what you remember."

Keine Kommentare: