Reading Zettel’s Traum: Week 17, pp. 158-171

“[M]y homeland is literature”, declares Pagenstecher. This definitely holds true for Arno Schmidt as well. Zettel’s Traum as, among other things, an encyclopedia of Schmidt’s voracious reading gives us ample proof of how comfortable its author feels navigating the wide variety of literary works that get mentioned, quoted, and discussed in the book with a kaleidoscopic intensity.

Miguel Cervantes’ Don Quijote is the next big subject of the discussion. Pagenstecher speaks about the similarities between the DP (Dichter Priester) and Cervantes’ character. Just like Don Quijote, the writer-priest figure theorised earlier cannot describe reality without falsifying it. To remind his listeners of Don Quijote’s peculiar way of treating reality, Daniel provides an extended quotation from Chapter 2, Book 1, in which the delusional Knight of the Woeful Countenance mistakes an inn for a castle and two prostitutes for noble ladies.


Quijote arrives at the inn, Gustave Doré

Back to Poe.  A Tale of the Ragged Mountains is discussed in some detail.  Pagenstecher makes Paul read the panoramic description of the “Eastern-looking city” visited by the main character under ambiguous circumstances that might or might not have been a morphine-induced hallucination. The influence of the panorama on narrative can also be detected in Landor’s Cottage, a companion piece to The Domain of Arnheim that also focuses on the possibilities of “enhancing” nature through ingenious landscape architecture.

The indispensable etym-analysis of the word “panorama” yields the following: pan – pen, penis, pun; ano – anus; ora – orifice, ram – male sheep and rammeln  (to mate); ma – my and mother.

The company climb down the hunting blind and continue their walk through the forest. Pagenstecher, contrarian as he is, surpasses himself by stating that the unfinished and rarely read nowadays Julius Rodman is one of the most important works by Poe. Moreover, it can be regarded as his Book of Metamorphoses. This statement takes time to sink in, enough to have a short digression into the topic of the so-called “feral children” mentioned in Herder’s  Ideas upon Philosophy and the History of Mankind, in particular Marie-Angélique Memmie Le Blanc. After that, Wilma confronts Daniel with his position vis-a-vis the “universally despised” Rodman.

to be continued

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