Summary of Cultural Events 11th March 2018

Quite easy to summarise the last fortnight of cultural events: there were none! The snow spoiled plans to go and watch tango at Sadler’s Wells (but I managed to change the booking for this coming week). The International Women’s Day event organised by the University of London got postponed because of the UCU strikes. I’ve felt pretty run down and tired this week (also fed up with those everlasting financial disagreements with the ex), so I caught the bug that had been doing the rounds at the office, so I’ve cancelled plans for this weekend.

However, I did go to watch Lady Bird at the cinema just before the Oscars. While it was not the greatest film of all time (but then, how many of them are?), it was a rather delightful coming of age story from a girl’s perspective (we’ve watched so many from a young man’s perspective), with a lot of relatable humour, nuanced observation and characters we all remember from high school (the spoilt popular girl, the elusive poseur, the just-a-shade-too-encouraging married teacher etc.) and a fraught mother/daughter relationship which reminded me a little too much of mine.  I even wrote a thread about that on Twitter (and I normally never do threads – or at least not more than 2-3 tweets at a time). Maybe I was overthinking it because of the lack of other cultural events.

I did get quite a batch of books to add to my March reading plans though. While searching for something else at the library, I found Ödön von Horváth’s Tales of the Vienna Woods in both German and English and thought I would do one of my ‘closely observed translation study’ of it. Horváth was a true child of the Austro-Hungarian empire and learnt German only in his teens.

If you ask me what is my native country, I answer: I was born in Fiume, grew up in Belgrade, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna and Munich, and I have a Hungarian passport, but I have no fatherland. I am a very typical mix of old Austria–Hungary: at once Magyar, Croatian, German and Czech; my country is Hungary; my mother tongue is German.

Perhaps I can relate to him just a little… For the rest of his brief life, he would write in German – mainly plays, but also essays and novels. He was a keen observer of the absurdities of life and the rise of totalitarianism through indifference and the subjugation of popular culture, especially in the 1930s Germany and Austria. He fled to Paris after the Anschluss of Austria in 1938 and died that same year in a freak accident on the Champs-Elysées. Tales of the Vienna Woods was not only required reading at school, but I also happened to live on the outskirts of town, just about where those woods began, so it felt like he was writing for me. His work is full of quotable moments of flawed humanity:

Actually I’m quite different. But I so rarely have time to show it.

Based on Ann Morgan’s recommendation (it is she who read her way around the world in 2012), I also ordered Tiphaine Rivière’s Tiphaine Carnet de These, a humorous but realistic look at the life of a Ph.D. student. It is now available in English as well (translation by Francesca Barrie) and is a BD, which I really miss. There are comic books and manga available here in England, but it’s not quite the same.

Another local library find was Keigo Higashino’s Journey under the Midnight Sun, which looks seriously chunky, so I will probably have to renew it indefinitely. But you know I can never resist Japanese fiction!

Last but not least, I was sent an interesting crime novel from South Africa (another of my weaknesses), translated from Afrikaans. It is Karin Brynard’s Weeping Waters, translated by Maya Fowler and Isobel Dixon, and to be published by Europa Editions in April.

10 thoughts on “Summary of Cultural Events 11th March 2018”

  1. So sorry to hear that you got run-down and ill, Marina Sofia. Not surprising, considering how busy you are. Add stress to that, and you’re a walking target. I am glad you enjoyed Lady Bird, though. And I’m glad you’ll get to see the tango at another time. And I like Higashino’s writing, so I will be interested in what you think of that one…

    1. Thank you for your kind wishes, Margot. I think I wrote this post to prove to myself that even on the quietest of weeks, there is something going on in my life and my head!

  2. Too bad about the illness and being worn down. Time to settle in, drink tea, eat biscuits and read fiction. I’ve discovered Chimamanda Adichie’s book Americanah and will be reading more of her books.
    Does Higashino write crime fiction or noncrime fiction?
    Am eager to read what you say about Weeping Waters, as I’ve not heard of this writer. Hope you’re up and at-em soon.

  3. Despite your shortcomings, you still had a culture-filled week! I really want to read ‘Carnet de These’ as well – hoping to eventually embark on my own PhD journey, I find this topic extremely interesting. I’ll be looking forward to your thoughts 🙂
    I had watched the Japanese TV adaptation of ‘Journey under the Midnight Sun’ (Byakuyakou, in case you want to look it up) and it’s one of my absolute favourites. I haven’t had the chance to read the novel yet, but if the adaptation was so good I can only expect the best from Higashino’s pen 😉
    Hope you’re feeling much better by now, Marina, and ready to conquer yet another week 🙂

  4. I feel so sorry for all those people whose events got cancelled after months of hard work in preparation. The amateur dramatic group my husband works with were able to do just one performance before snow closed the venue….

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