Page 1

German Literature Naomi Wuerthele Teaching World Literature LAE 4469 Summer 2013


Contemporary Schlink, Bernhard. (1998). The Reader. New York: Vintage International. (218 pp.) ISBN: 0679781307 This book is broken into three parts; in the first part, it is 1958 and Michael Berg finds himself sick with hepatitis. A woman, unknown to him at that time comes to his aid after he throws up on the sidewalk outside of her apartment. He is bed ridden for a few months, but after recovering, he is sent to go thank his savior. From that night on a strange relationship blooms, one of intimacy and learning. They are an odd pair as Michael is only 15, and Hanna (whose name he asks about a week after they begin to become intimate) is 36. A few months into the relationship Michael meets Sophie and begins to spend more time with his friends. Hanna disappears and after some searching, he finds out that she has moved to Hamburg and he is crushed. Michael finishes high school and goes on to study Law. The second part of the book opens up with Michael being in law school and rekindling his relationship with Sophie (who has suffered tuberculosis). His relationship with Sophie (after she returns from the sanatarium) becomes sexual, but she craves more, which he cannot give her. He decides to take a class where he sits in on a trial, which, unknown to him at the time, is a trial involving Hanna and her actions as an SS soldier at Auschwitz. Hanna is sentenced to life in prison. Michael meets Gertrude in the last part of the book and they marry and have children. While his marriage does not work out, he is reintroduced to Hanna to help with her reintroduction to society as she is being released early from prison. He is 50 at the end of the book, and thus spans 35 years of his life in which he experiences much, from love to loss. Country’s Infusion George, Alex. (2012). A Good American. New York: Berkley Trade. (432 pp.) ISBN: 0425253171 This novel is about Jetta and Frederick Mesenheimer. They are a young couple who flee to America to escape Jetta’s mother, who disapproves of them being together, and of Jetta’s pregnancy. The couple are supposed to board a boat for New York, but instead take one bound to Louisiana. From Louisiana they travel North, and are forced to halt in the town of Beatrice, Missouri because Joseph (Jetta’s son) was no longer waiting to come out. They arrive in Missouri not knowing a word of English, and are able to build a foundation for their family. The novel is narrated by Frederick and Jetta’s grandson, James who learns a lot about himself throughout the novel.

Non-Fiction Kor, Eva Mozes and L.R. Buccieri. (2009). Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz. Tanglewood Press. (141 pp.) ISBN: 1933718285 Surviving the Angel of Death is a true story told by Eva Mozes Kor, who, along with her twin sister, was forced to be a part of the experimentations performed by Dr. Mengele at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. In her retelling of her tragic story, she begins with the background of how she came to be in Birkenau, and the rise of the Nazi’s to power. While in the concentration camp she and her sister, along with other twins must suffer the cruel and unusual experiments that Dr. Mengele performed. In the novel she talks about her life in the concentration camp and her fight to survive, both for sister, as well as for herself.

Classic Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. (1774; 2007). The Sorrows of Young Werther. FQ Classics. (148 pp.) ISBN: 1599867672 Werther is a young, arrogant man, who leaves his hometown to settle in the country so that he can paint. However, he spends most of his time exploring the countryside, and eventually, the town of Wahlheim. Here he meets Lotte, and becomes immediately infatuated with her. After finding out that she is engaged, he builds a friendship with her and her fiancĂŠ, but cannot take not being able to have her, so he leaves to start an official job. He endures many trials and tribula-

tions there and decides to leave. He travels a little more, but eventually returns back to Wahlheim, back to his Lotte, and lives out the rest of his days there Short stories

Classic/ American Infusion/ Young Adult Protagonists Kafka, Franz. “The Stoker.” The Sons (1927; 1989). New York: Schocken Books Inc.(pgs. 1750). ISBN: 0805208860 “The Stoker” is a short story by Franz Kafka that is the beginning of a novel he did not finish. It is the story of Karl Rossman, who we find out at the beginning of the story, is seduced by a servant girl, who he impregnants, so he must leave the country. He sets sail for America and finds himself living in New York. He becomes friends with a stoker, and through a strange set of events, winds up living with his uncle, who is a senator. He leaves his uncle and befriends who wanderers who steal from him, and eat his food. He leaves them and acquires a new job, but after he is fired, he finds himself living back with them, until by chance, he finds a means to venture forth to the West. Classic Tieck. “Eckbert the Fair.” Romantic Fairy Tales. (1795; 2000). New York: Penguin Classics. (pgs.33-52). ISBN: 0140447326 Eckbert the Fair was a knight who lived in solitude with his wife in the Harz mountains. They were happy in their marriage and in their solitude aside from the fact that they did not have any children. While accompanying their only friend, Philip Walther, Eckbert had his wife recall the story of her youth and how they came to meet. Eckbert suffered many hardships and found himself only enjoying brief moments of happiness after the final visit of his dear friend. Contemporary Hermann, Judith. “Lascia.” Short Stories in German. (2003). New York: Penguin Books. (pgs. 79-89). ISBN: 0140265422

Poetry Classic Goethe, Johann W, and Joseph S. Height.”Neue Liebe, Neues Leben.” (Pp. 10-11). Gold of Goethe: Selected Lyric Poems with Modern English Translations. Evanston: Schori Press, 1964. Print.

Neue Liebe, Neues Leben

What, my heart, what means this feeling? Why are you oppressed so sore? What strange new life are you revealing? I scarcely know you any more. Gone is all that you once cherished, The cause of grief itself has perished, Gone your peace and industry. Wherefore came such things to be? Does this form, so bright and youthful, Glowing like a fresh-blown flower, Do these eyes, so kind and truthful, Bind you with relentless power? Though I try to leave her boldly, Steel my heart to flee her coldly, In a trice my footsteps strain To take me back to her again. For this thread of witchery, Which I cannot break apart, Holds me bound reluctantly To the maiden’s wanton heart. In her circle of enchantment I must live by her commandment. Ah, how great the change in me! Love, O love, come set me free!

Fairy tale

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. “The Fairy Tale� Romantic Fairy Tales (1797; 2000). New York: Penguin Classics. (3-32). ESBN: 0140447326 Goethe’s fairy tale is one of love and loss, and love regained. It begins with two will-o-wisps who want to cross the river and try to pay the fairyman in gold, which he gets upset about because if the gold had fallen in the river, the river would have overtaken him. He tells them the payment they must give him and takes them across the river. The ferryman takes the gold given to him and deposits it in a high place, where it is then consequently eaten by a snake. The snake, now able to glow, descends into a cavern where he meets a man who can only use his lantern in the presence of another light. There snake meets 4 kings, one in gold, one in silver, one in bronze, and one that is a mix of all three. The story moves on to an old wife of the ferryman who meets a prince who has fallen in love with a Lily. He cannot touch her however, or he will die, as is her curse. As the story comes together the prince meets Lily and the lives of the prince, the ferryman, the snake, and the will-owisps all intertwine in the most fantastical way.

Films Contemporary “Shindler’s List.” (1993). Universal Pictures. Dir. Steven Spielberg. Run time: 195 minutes, MPAA rating: R Shindler’s List is a story about a German man who, during the Holocaust, saved the lives of many Jewish people and their families by allowing them to work in his factory. It is based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, who was a business man turned humanitarian during the time of the Nazi regime. This movie shows how even the crudest business man, who first is out to exploit cheap labor, can turn into a caring man, looking out for others above himself. He was able to save 1000’s of Jews from certain death, while risking his own life in doing so.

Documentary “Night and Fog.” (1955). Argos Films. Alain Resnais. Run time: 32 minutes, MPAA rating: NR This documentary is done by Frenchman Alain Resnais. It is a compilation of stills, old news clips, and more modern day shots. It depicts, in vivid details, the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. This film is used as the basis for many other fictional films, such as”Schindler’s List” and “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”. It is a film that, although spoken in French and having to read subtitles, moves a person to their core.


Contemporary Suskind, Patrick. (1985; 1986). Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. New York: Vintage Books. (255 pp.) ISBN: 0275725849. This is the rather strange story of Grenouille, who was left by his mother to die when he was just a baby. After she is killed for the attemptive murder, he is left to an orphanage where he lives until he is old enough to obtain an apprenticeship. His first apprenticeship is with a Tanner, who treats him poorly, until after he recovers from anthrax is treated better. He has a keen sense of smell and is quickly given an apprenticeship with a perfume maker. Grenouille becomes obsessed, and makes it his life mission to create the “master scent” , the best perfume ever. Young Adult/ Contemporary Zusak, Markus. (2006; 2007). The Book Thief. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. (576 pp.) ISBN: 0375842209 Liesel Meminger and her brother are traveling on a train to go live with faster parents in the town of Molching. Liesel’s brother dies, and during the burial, Liesel steals a book entitled The Grave Digger’s Handbook even though she can’t read. Hans, Liesel’s faster father, teachers her to read, and upon doing so Liesel learns that Hitler and the Nazi’s are behind the disappearance of her mother and father, and the death of her brother. She then swears that Hitler is her sworn enemy, which Hans warns her against stating, as it could mean death. She then goes on to steal the book The Shoulder Shrug from a pile of books that the Nazi’s are set to burn in her town. Her foster family, during this time, is housing a Jewish boy named Max, who after being sent away from Liesel’s house, is caught 5 months later and taken to Dauchau. During the book, Liesel becomes friends with the Mayors wife, who, after Liesel has given up books, gives her a blank one, in which she writes this story. During a bombing she drops the book which is returned to her much later by an unlikely person, and narrator.

Short stories Classic Hoffmann, E.T.A. “The Mines of Falun” Selected German Short Stories (1934) London: Oxford University Press. (pgs. 3-38). We meet Elis Fröbom at a party, where we find out that he is depressed because his life goal was to provide for his family, which has since died out. At the party he encounters an old miner, who tells him of the spelndors of mining. He goes to the mine expecting to see a beautiful, crystal world, but what he discovers there instead horrifies him. He leaves, but then decides to go back and meets a bunch of miners on his way. From this group he meets Pehrson Dahlsjö and his daughter Ulla who he falls in love with. We find out the old miner’s name is Torbern who died hundreds of years ago, but is still tormenting Elis. On the day of his wedding Elis goes into the mind to find a gem that tells of the future and during the excavation, there is a cave-in. Contemporary/ Infusion Klein, Georg. “Chicago/Shanty Town” Short Stories in German (2003). New York: Penguin Books. (pgs. 91-115). ISBN: 0140265422 This short story depicts the life in Chicago of a husband and wife. The husband, who is the narrator followed his wife, who is an artist, a drummer to Chicago. Here they found themselves living in not so ideal conditions, a shanty town, to be precise. She refused, at all costs to speak English, and felt that it was essential for her, especially as a drummer, to speak German, and even spoke to other, unlikely people, in German. He got a job with the postal service but quit his job rather quickly. They meet a gentleman named Arno, and his wife, who they become friends with. Brentano, Clemens. “The Tale of Honest Casper and Fair Annie” Romantic Fairy Tales.(2000). London: Penguin Group. (pgs. 127-159). ISBN: 0140447326 This short story is the tragedy of Casper and Annie. The narrator is an unknown person to the reader, but not the grandmother of Annie, to whom the story is told to. Casper is on his way home from France when he stops at an inn to give his horse a rest. Two men come to rob the inn and he discovers that they are his father and stepbrother. After turning his family in, he is dishonored, and while set to marry Annie, he cannot allow her to marry a dishonored man. She in turn has caused dishonor of her own while he was away in France.


Hesse, Hermann. "Poetry Archive." How Heavy The Days : Hermann Hesse :. Sanjeev Narang, 2000. Web. 10 June 2013. <>. How Heavy The Days How heavy the days are. There's not a fire that can warm me, Not a sun to laugh with me, Everything bare, Everything cold and merciless, And even the beloved, clear Stars look desolately down, Since I learned in my heart that Love can die. Goethe, Johann W, and Joseph S. Height.”Vollmondnacht (Full Moon Tryst).” (Pp. 24-25). Gold of Goethe: Selected Lyric Poems with Modern English Translations. Evanston: Schori Press, 1964. Print Full Moon Trust (Vollmondnacht) Tell me, mistress, why these whispers, Why this trembling of your lips, Sweeter than the wine one sips? Two kindred lips for those twin sisters Are you trying to allure? “I want kisses! kisses! said I.” See, how is the dwindling light Every bough is brightly glowing! Star on star is beaming clear, A myriad emeralds earthward flowing Sprinkle through the trees to-night! But your heart is far form here. “I want kisses! kisses! said I.” Your distant lover will to-night Taste that love is bitter-sweet, And feel unhappy in his bliss. And so you both did scheme to greet Each other to the moon’s full light; The moment now is ripe for this.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;I want kisses! kisses! said I.â&#x20AC;? Lenau, Nikolaus. "Malerei of Death." My Favorite German Poems. Usgermany, 15 Dec. 2011. Web. 17 June 2013. <>. Malerei of Death Translated by Google translate I would like to when I die, as the bright Pale stars, quickly and unconsciously, Succumb I should like once the death strike, As sagas also tell us by Pindar. I do not even want in life or densities 5 Reach the large Unerreichlichen, I should like, my friend, same to him only in death; But now listen to the most beautiful of stories! He was sitting in the theater, moved itself to the song, And had, who was tired, the cheeks 10 Yet laid on his favorite beautiful knee: And when the chorus melodies faded away, Want to wake him, the geheget him so gently, But to the gods, he went home Storm, Theodor. "Abendlied." My Favorite German Poems. Usgermany, 11 Nov. 2010. Web. 17 June 2013. <>. Abendlied Translated by Google translate Eyes, my dear little window, Give me so long sweet note, Let friendly image to image inside: Once you shall be darkened! Fall once the weary eyelids, Deletes from it, then the soul will rest! Groping it strips off the hiking boots' Places in their gloomy Truh '.

Two spark smoldering looks they stand Like two little stars to see inside, They fluctuate up and then pass away, Like a moth of Fl端gelwehn. But still wandered I on the evening field, Only the fink luminary joins border; Drink, oh eyes, which keeps the batting, From the golden abundance in the world!

"Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe: Abendlied (Wandrers Nachtlied II) Notturno (Wanderer's Nightsong) (Translation / Uebersetzung) ." Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe: Abendlied (Wandrers Nachtlied II) Notturno (Wanderer's Nightsong) (Translation / Uebersetzung) . N.p., Feb. 2006. Web. 17 June 2013. <>. Abendlied Above, all the summits are still. In all the tree-tops you will feel but the dew. The birds in the forest ceased talking. Wait: after walking you shall rest, too.

Film Analysis

Schindler’s List “Schindler’s List” is a story about one man’s turn from greed to compassion. Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, Steven Spielberg created this masterpiece in 1993. The story is a bit of a telephone story as Spielberg took it from the novel “Schindler’s Ark” by Thomas Keneally which was based off the true story. Oskar Schindler was an arrogant businessman during the time of the Nazi regime. He was attempting to use cheap Jewish labor to turn a profit in his company in which he created household items such as pots and pans. However, what first turned out as a shrewd business move, wound up saving the lives of over 1000 Jewish people and their families, who would surely have perished in Nazi Germany. Although this movie is not entirely factual, as it is “based” off a true story, it is done extremely well. The movie itself won many Oskar awards, but it is a fantastic movie for other reasons. The movie clearly, at least to my knowledge, depicts what life was like for Jewish people in Nazi Germany. It shows the hardships that they went through, and the hopes that many of them had for surviving. It also depicts how one man can change from a mindset of greed to that of compassion. Oskar saw the atrocities being committed against the Jews, and instead of turning his head, he did everything in his power to help these people out, as he knew they did nothing wrong. He started wanting to exploit cheap labor, but wound up penniless in the end, but was still happy that he was able to save so many lives. In the end of the movie, the survivors are gathered together, and the descendants of the survivors to honor Oskar Schindler for his courage, and for helping save so many lives.

Naomi Wuerthele  
Naomi Wuerthele