lundi 14 juin 2010

Brecht's last summer

Sometimes I feel bad because of all the books that I read, I tend to neglect the German authors. Drifting along the shelves in my favourite bookstore, I always tend to head for the Bohemian ones like Rilke or Kafka or the Austrian ones like Thomas Bernhard, Schnitzler or Ingeborg Bachmann. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that while studying German as a teenager, we had things forced upon us like a novel for teenagers called Brandstiftung (Arson) or worse, Bertholt Brecht. There were four of us, two boys and two girls, in the A level class with two alternating teachers. All in all, I recognise I was an awful student who never learned the genders of words or which prepositions went with which case. Admittedly, the female teacher didn't help much; she had a clear preference for the male students, wore low cut dresses and bombarded us with her enthusiasm for Brecht which irritated me. After a year, I stopped classes, telling everyone that I'd no intention of going to Germany anyway.

The mouse is from a popular kids' programme called Die Sendung mit der Maus. The speech bubble translates as "Be proud of yourself!".

A few years back though, I became more interested in Brecht, firstly after reading a French book called La Maîtresse de Brecht and then more importantly after seeing a German film called Brecht's Last Summer, set in his garden house by the lake. It was nice discovering another side of him, seeing his relationships with women and those last precious days spent in the sunshine of his lakeside retreat. The thought of going to visit this place for myself filled me with emotion.

We set off in those early silent hours of Sunday morning when Berlin is still slumbering, headed for the part of Brandenburg known as the Märkische Schweiz (Schweiz or Switzerland is a popular term Germans use to talk about an area with rocks and nice landscape) along winding streets on a somewhat cool and colourless day. Alongside, fields full of barley, poppies and cornflowers were swaying in the wind and a little later we paused for sandwiches with tomato and mozzarella made with soft white bread as well as thick slices of lemon and poppyseed cake in a deserted park surrounded by a small red castle, an empty Biergarten and some targets for archery practice.

The same fields glowing in the evening sun on the way back

The first stop though was the palace of Neuhardenberg. Stepping out of the car, I noticed the spare white lines of the parish church at the end of two avenues of trees whose bells were calling the local inhabitants. It's impossible not to be charmed by wild beauty of the park which stretches on and on. The busy streets of Berlin seem like a million miles away and it's moments like this when I regret not leaving the city more often for the peace and wide spaces of the countryside. Somehow, I was drawn to the café in the palace grounds where the latte macchiato and apple cake with cream made me feel warm and comforted again.

On the lake in Buckow, my eye was drawn to a white sailing boat gliding along the surface of the lake. Couple and teenagers enjoyed cones of soft ice cream and beer by the edge of the water while at the end of the pier, an old fashioned pleasure boat was pulling out, transporting its passengers to the other shores. The Brecht house is situated on a peninsula. There are the blooming colours of the flowers of the garden, the roses climbing up the walls, the large room inside full of light where Brecht and his friends met to talk about literature and the spot by the water where I imagine him sitting peacefully, maybe writing poems with the hours of the day reflected in its calm surface . Later that afternoon, we listened to a readings from a book called Meetings with Brecht; he seemed so alive, full of humour, intelligence and charm. Coming out into the evening sun which finally made its reappearence, I had the impression of being on holiday. These are those days so special you never want them to end, even if it makes Monday mornings even crueller.

The Brecht Weigel house in Buckow

Some of the flowers in the Brecht garden

The nearby forests

Herring and potato wedges at a lakeside café

Chocolate pudding from Smitten Kitchen (click here for the recipe)

I know I've been making a lot of Deb's recipes but I honestly couldn't resist the rich silkiness of her chocolate pudding. Every spoonful was sheer indulgence and you really have to make this yourself. Next time though, I promise to give you a recipe from somewhere else, even if the asparagus pizza is at the top of my list for this week.

17 commentaires:

  1. wow, so much loveliness! the words + flowers + chocolate. wonderful :)

    xo Alison

  2. So peaceful... Your pictures make me dream. A lovely trip.

    That pudding looks delicious, yummy!

    Cheers and have a great week,


  3. In all honesty I am not a big fan of German authors. Your photo journey is amazing, just a voyeuristic look at some magnificent locales. Your eye for capturing the moment is unrivaled.

    Herring and potato wedges a very British course for sure.

    Great post!

    Be well

  4. Was fuer einen huebschen Blog Du hast. Gefaellt mir sehr. Habe laenger in Berlin gearbeitet. Thanks.

  5. J'avais la même image de Brecht jusqu'à ce que j'aille à Berlin (il doit y avoir une maison aussi en ville, non ?). J'y avais acheté une pièce que j'ai vue ensuite dans ma petite ville, montée par un metteur en scène qui m'impressionnait. Ma soeur avait étudié une nouvelle qu'elle aimait bien, et finalement Brecht n'était plus si intimidant...

  6. Je n'ai jamais lu Brecht; en fait je ne connais que Faust. Bon, mais le plus important, ce sont tes photos, tes photos dont la sensibilité à fleur de peau me touche beaucoup et me ravissent; au diable les auteurs, vive l'image qui vibre plus que tous les mots de la terre!

  7. Beautifully written, Vanessa, and gorgeous photos. I felt as though I was right there with you!
    (Don't those potato wedges look crispy and delicious!)

  8. Great series of photos. Captivating. The Brecht Weigel house looks magical. Love the architecture of it. I tried to find the movie on Netflix, but it appears not to exist in their library. Argh.

  9. Thank you for taking us along on your journey and sharing what you observed and what you imagined. I enjoyed it. I see you are reading The Bell Jar, one of my favorite books.

  10. @Alison - Thanks so much dear Alison!
    @Rosa - I hope it'll be the first of many wonderful trips to come and the pudding was amazing.
    @Lazaro - I'm trying to get more into German authors, even if I lost my heart to French literature. It's a joy being able to capture such wonderful moments to remember them by. You can't get anything more British than herring and potato wedges for sure!
    @My kitchen in the rockies - Vielen Dank für deinen Besuch und dein Kommentar. Es ist immer schön, andere Fans von Berlin zu finden.
    @Rose - Oui, il y a aussi la maison de Brecht à Mitte à côté du cimetière où il est enterré. Je ne suis pas encore allée mais j'en ai très envie maintenant. J'aime surtout ses poèmes qui sont parfois très simples mais beaux et puis ses pièces écrits quand il était jeunes sont plus poétiques et moins intimidant je trouve.
    @Joumana - C'est vrai que les images nous unissent souvent plus fort que la littérature. J'ai un peu de mal avec les pièces par Goethe, Schiller etc., même si je reconnais que l'allemand peut-être un très belle langue.
    @Barbara - The lakeside café where I had those wedges was a nice surprise; I wasn't expecting anything special but it wasn't expensive and the food was tasty.
    @Tracy - The Brecht weigel house is a really wonderful place and just imagine what it must have been like to live there. The movie's quite old, maybe 8 years old but fingers crossed you'll find it because it's really good.
    @Denise - It's funny because I hesistated for ages over the Bell Jar but now it seems everyone i know is either reading or has read it and absolutely loves it so I realised i must be missing something. Plath's writing is so extraordinary.

  11. What an outstanding post. You've made me want to read Brecht's work.

  12. wonderful book, delish treats and amazing photos... i love the pic of the house in buckow and you can never go wrong with smitten kitchen recipes


  13. I just found your lovely blog from Lazaro's. Your pictures are absolutely captivating.

  14. We found your awesome blog from LAzaro's the clicks...a real treat to the eyes...

  15. @Des - I like Brecht's earlier work which is less dogmatic and more poetic as well as his poems.
    @Bonnie - It's true that Deb's recipes are always a pleasure to make and you know it'll turn out great.
    @Faith - Thank you so much Faith, that's so nice to hear.
    @Turmericnspice - Thanks for stopping by and for the lovely comment.

  16. Thank you for this amazing tour. And you're inspiring me to want to spend tomorrow READING.

  17. Thanks for your visit Lecia and for the kind words. I'm such a huge fan of your blog so it means a lot to me. Reading is such a big part of my life, often when I think back to what I was doing at different points on my life, I remember them through the books that I had.