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Showing posts from 2008

Who is Goethe?

We are living in the land of Goethe and Schiller and more recently Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass – both worthy Nobel Laureates in Literature. But there is no official body saying that a child should have been introduced to certain authors by a certain stage.

Recently an Irish mother told me how her daughter's German class full of 17-year olds, was asked who Goethe was and 75% of them have never heard of him. I am not even shocked anymore by the ignorance of pupils who selected German as their main subject.

After ten years at school, my daughter had read one poem by Goethe and one play by Schiller. Pandering to the needs of the youth, some teachers try to read modern German texts that in many cases disappear again after a few years. A nation of ignoramuses is waiting to be let loose on the world.

When I was getting worked up about the ignorance about Goethe – my daughter was in the tenth grade and sixty percent of young people never get beyond that grade, my husband admitted that he …

Roman(tic) Trier

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This is where I live

Since being founded by the Romans in 17 BC, Constantine the Great bestowed Trier with its Golden Age; Karl Marx was born here and the apostle Matthew is supposed to be buried here; while the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre was here as a Second World War POW, and William Turner painted it.

This has become my home: Germany’s oldest town with its Catholic conservatism, its staggering beauty, its steep vineyards, its Moselle viniculture and traditions, the Roman ruins scattered around every corner and its architectural sins dating from the sixties right through to the present day.

I have developed a deep love for the region. That includes an appreciation of the Moselle cuisine and steep viniculture and, after the high pressure, quick-paced life in Johannesburg, its charming, laid-back lifestyle.

And trust me the living is good! We live the vineyard seasons. Big cities are still fun to visit - but to live in, no thanks!