Monday, July 20, 2020

“Have been and will always be”

Germany has invaded France. An unnamed man has fled Paris. He’s stuck in Marseille, living on pizza, rosé, and ersatz coffee.

Anna Seghers, Transit. 1951. Trans. from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo (New York: New York Review Books, 2013).

The narrator’s reverence for “things that have been and will always be there” reminds me of Holden Caulfield’s affection for museum dioramas: “everything always stayed right where it was.” See also “Ode on a Grecian Urn.”

Seghers’s novel, the basis for the 2018 film of the same name, is a forlorn meditation on contingency and identity. It’s another New York Review Books rediscovery.

This post is for the pizza makers in the fambly. And yes, the most cursory search will confirm that Marseille, still, means pizza.

A related post
Pizza with sardines (Inspired by Transit)

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