The Bells in Their Silence: Travels through Germany by Michael GorraThe Bells in Their Silence: Travels through Germany by Michael Gorra

The Bells in Their Silence: Travels through Germany

byMichael Gorra

Paperback | April 2, 2006

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Nobody writes travelogues about Germany. The country spurs many anxious volumes of investigative reporting--books that worry away at the "German problem," World War II, the legacy of the Holocaust, the Wall, reunification, and the connections between them. But not travel books, not the free-ranging and impressionistic works of literary nonfiction we associate with V. S. Naipaul and Bruce Chatwin. What is it about Germany and the travel book that puts them seemingly at odds? With one foot in the library and one on the street, Michael Gorra offers both an answer to this question and his own traveler's tale of Germany.


Gorra uses Goethe's account of his Italian journey as a model for testing the traveler's response to Germany today, and he subjects the shopping arcades of contemporary German cities to the terms of Benjamin's Arcades project. He reads post-Wende Berlin through the novels of Theodor Fontane, examines the role of figurative language, and enlists W. G. Sebald as a guide to the place of fragments and digressions in travel writing.


Replete with the flaneur's chance discoveries--and rich in the delights of the enduring and the ephemeral, of architecture and flood--The Bells in Their Silence offers that rare traveler's tale of Germany while testing the very limits of the travel narrative as a literary form.

Michael Gorra is Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English at Smith College. He is the author of After Empire and The English Novel at Mid-Century, and the recipient, for his work as a reviewer, of the Nona Balakian Citation of the National Book Critics Circle. He reviews books for the New York Times Book Review, the Times Literary Supp...
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Title:The Bells in Their Silence: Travels through GermanyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:232 pagesPublished:April 2, 2006Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691126178

ISBN - 13:9780691126173

Reviews

From the Author

Nobody writes travelogues about Germany. The country spurs many anxious volumes of investigative reporting--books that worry away at the "German problem," World War II, the legacy of the Holocaust, the Wall, reunification, and the connections between them. But not travel books, not the free-ranging and impressionistic works of literary nonfiction we associate with V. S. Naipaul and Bruce Chatwin. What is it about Germany and the travel book that puts them seemingly at odds? With one foot in the library and one on the street, Michael Gorra offers both an answer to this question and his own traveler's tale of Germany.Gorra uses Goethe's account of his Italian journey as a model for testing the traveler's response to Germany today, and he subjects the shopping arcades of contemporary German cities to the terms of Benjamin's Arcades project. He reads post-WendeBerlin through the novels of Theodor Fontane, examines the role of figurative language, and enlists W. G. Sebald as a guide to the place of fragments and digressions in travel writing.Replete with the flaneur's chance discoveries--and rich in the delights of the enduring and the ephemeral, of architecture and flood--The Bells in Their Silenceoffers that rare traveler's tale of Germany while testing the very limits of the travel narrative as a literary form.

Table of Contents

Preface The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog xi

CHAPTER ONE: Cultural Capital 1

CHAPTER TWO: The Peculiarities of German Travel 25

CHAPTER THREE: Visible Cities 52

CHAPTER FOUR: The Dentist's House 79

CHAPTER FIVE: Fragments and Digressions 107

CHAPTER SIX: Hauptstadt 132

CHAPTER SEVEN: Family Chronicles 160

Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading 191

Acknowledgments 205

Index 207

Editorial Reviews

Nobody writes travelogues about Germany. The country spurs many anxious volumes of investigative reporting--books that worry away at the "German problem," World War II, the legacy of the Holocaust, the Wall, reunification, and the connections between them. But not travel books, not the free-ranging and impressionistic works of literary nonfiction we associate with V. S. Naipaul and Bruce Chatwin. What is it about Germany and the travel book that puts them seemingly at odds? With one foot in the library and one on the street, Michael Gorra offers both an answer to this question and his own traveler's tale of Germany. Gorra uses Goethe's account of his Italian journey as a model for testing the traveler's response to Germany today, and he subjects the shopping arcades of contemporary German cities to the terms of Benjamin's Arcades project. He reads post-Wende Berlin through the novels of Theodor Fontane, examines the role of figurative language, and enlists W. G. Sebald as a guide to the place of fragments and digressions in travel writing. Replete with the flaneur's chance discoveries--and rich in the delights of the enduring and the ephemeral, of architecture and flood--The Bells in Their Silence offers that rare traveler's tale of Germany while testing the very limits of the travel narrative as a literary form."The Bells in Their Silence is on one level a deeply thoughtful and seductive meditation on Gorra's year in Germany, and on the uneasy disjunction between Germany's liberal present and its Nazi past. The book is generously illuminated from within by a parallel meditation on the conventions, limitations, and possibilities of the travel narrative. Exemplarily postmodern in its self-awareness, The Bells in Their Silence is an engrossing and original contribution to the literature of travel."-Jonathan Raban, author of Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings