Tuesday, July 14, 2020

“The craziest postcards”

“When he leaves, the craziest postcards arrive the next day,” says Peter to his girlfriend Lydia about his friend Karlchen, who’s been visiting them in Sweden while they vacation. This time Karlchen has sworn: no postcards. But the day after he leaves, four postcards arrive, each from a different railway station on the way back to Germany.

Kurt Tucholsky, Castle Gripsholm. 1931. Trans. from the German by Michael Hoffman (New York: New York Review Books, 2019).

I love the cheerful lunacy of youth at work or play here. I am reminded of my friend Aldo Carrasco.

Castle Gripsholm is yet one more NYRB rediscovery from Weimar Germany. All is long walks and witty banter and sex, with a pair of lovers who, after the arrival of another visitor, turn into a trio at the drop of a crossword puzzle. But along with the summer fun is a spirited effort to defeat autocracy, at least on a small scale, when a chance encounter offers the opportunity to save a young girl from the evil headmistress of a boarding school. Another NYRB book I recommend with enthusiasm.

[I read “Don’t search” as the start of the third message.]

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