Thursday, August 11, 2005

ONLY IN GERMANY

I finished Heinrich Böll’s The Clown, as discussed in the Garfield post. I did not love the book, but it did have a very funny characterization that I think is uniquely German. The protagonist’s family is from the Rhineland. This is a very, very Catholic area of Germany. So Catholic that after World War I the French thought the Rhinelanders might join France rather than stay in a (Protestant) Prussian dominated Germany. Oddly, the protagonist’s family is Protestant.

The family has a Protestant maid from Potsdam. The maid had a problem because “the mere fact that, although we are Protestants, we speak the local dialect of the Rhine country seems somehow weird, almost unnatural to her. I believe that she would think a Protestant who spoke with a Bavarian accent was the devil incarnate.” That is so funny to me. It's like a Catholic with a Southern accent. It just isn't right.

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