What's all this then?

My name is Victoria Stiles and I'm an Early Career Historian currently doing whatever odd research / consulting / outreach / tutoring jobs come my way. I blog here about some of the interesting texts I've found.
My research focusses on books about Britain and the British Empire which were in circulation in Nazi Germany but you'll also find a smattering of school textbooks, witchcraft beliefs, bog drainage, bemused travellers and weird illustrations that caught my eye.
Translations from German are my own. Comments are currently unmoderated and are mostly spam for leather jackets anyway.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

"the most worthy-to-be-visited of all historicoromanticalbeautyspotagglomerations"

Title: Germany
Author: Gerald Bullett

This is my first purchase since moving back to England. It's from "Black's new series of coloured books" and has 32 colour illustrations by E.T. Compton and E.Harrison Compton (who I think did the illustrations for other books in the series too).

It was published in 1930 and the text has a whimsical P.G. Wodehouse / Jerome K. Jerome feel to it. The reader and three travelling companions - a brother and sister as well as the author - are touring Germany together, very much not mentioning the war. We start our sightseeing in Cologne:

And, let me confess at the outset, we have not among all three of us more German than could be written on the back of a postcard. When Alf was at school the language of Goethe and Beethoven fell into disgrace before he had begun to master it; Angela, for a similar reason, was never given a chance; and so it falls to me to be the linguist of the party. I do my best; and the resulting dialogue, if it could be rendered in English, would be something after this fashion:
Q. Please how much clock goes the boat by with or from Cologne?
A. (but this, you must understand, is pure guesswork). Please a very fine express steamship will in the early morning down the beautiful Rhine a much-to-be-enjoyed journey make.
Q. Boat. The Rhine. How much clock?
A. The distinguished gentleman will the ancient and sumptuous castles on the many hills situated to enjoy not fail.
Q. Please how much clock?
A. It is the considered opinion of ladies and gentlemen the best and wisest that the Rhine country is in the whole world the most worthy-to-be-visited of all historicoromanticalbeautyspotagglomerations.
Q. What is the weather? I wish, how much clock?
A. Please very much.

In the end we discover what we want to know from a time-table hanging on the wall; and, having time to spare, we go and look at the Cathedral. [...] When you suddenly come upon it in the middle of Cologne its size and splendour make you gasp. And inside, lost in its vastness, you almost wish it would dwindle and become a small parish church. (pp.2-4)

And just because I like showing off, here are some of my photos of Cologne Cathedral, taken last month.

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