Josef Fritzl’s literary forebears/Ahnen Fritzls in der österreichischen Literatur

In the Times Literary Supplement of May 16 2008, Ritchie Robertson searches Austrian literature for examples of men who terrorized or imprisoned their families. The article is available online too.

Adalbert Stifter: Turmalin 1852
Franz Nabl: Das Grab des Lebendigen 1917 – later reissued as Die Ortliebschen Frauen
Ferdnand Raimund: Der Alpenkönig und der Menschenfeind 1828
Johann Nestroy: Eine Wohnung ist zu vermeten in der Stadt 1837
Elias Canetti: Die Blendung 1935
Veza Canetti: Die gelbe Straße 1932-3

Robertson finds that John Fowles’s The Collector has more to do with class, whereas the Austrian examples relate to the father’s Züchtigungsrecht – right to chastise his family. He finishes by finding that some of Freud’s famous cases were surprisingly soft on the fathers and insensitive to the mothers.

Some legal links/Rechtslinks

1. Chappell Pascoe Solicitors call themselves ‘The long and short of legal advice’, as their photo shows.

2. LAWgical has posted links to videos for German law students.

Juristische Lehrfilme von Tele-Jura auf Youtube.

3. A later entry links to the active German law tutorial on Second Life.

4. The Advocate General Dámaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer has recommended to the European Court of Justice that it should be sufficient for the Impressum (legal notice) on a website to give email contact details – a second means of communication, such as a phone number, should not be needed. The court is not obliged to agree, of course.

Der Europäische Gerichtshof ist dabei, die bisherige deutsche Rechtsprechung zu kippen: Ein Online-Diensteanbieter muss neben der elektronischen Post nicht noch für einen zweiten Kommunikationsweg sorgen, empfahl jetzt Generalanwalt Damaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer dem Europäischen Gerichtshof in Luxemburg (EuGH) in seinem Schlussantrag. Es ist damit zu rechnen, dass sich der EuGH seiner Begründung anschließen und innerhalb der kommenden drei Monate sein Urteil verkünden wird.

(and also Telepolis – via Handakte WebLAWg)

Oak processionary caterpillars/Eichenprozessionsspinner

This was taken on May 6 at about 10 a.m. at the entrance to the Hainberg. Actually, I saw a lot of oak trees but no processionary caterpillars, nor the people out fighting them. In the past couple of days, helicopters have apparently been spraying.

A copse with an infestation of Nordic walkers:

I’m not sure why the Nordic walkers are congregating here, but they may be attracted by the shade.

Asparagus 2008/Spargel 2008

Time for the annual asparagus rant. I understand that people in this country much prefer white asparagus. Unfortunately, that means they have to peel it, as it doesn’t have the innate delicate melting quality of green asparagus.

The curiously punctuated Munich weblog delicious:days has an entry called The white asparagus deal according to which some sellers at the Viktualienmarkt will actually peel your asparagus for you and give you the peelings in a bag to make soup (see their photo).

Meanwhile, here are some tools to get at asparagus in a shop window in Fürth:

Misleading advice for foreigners/Irreführende Tipps für Ausländer

These were the New Statesman‘s readers’ suggestions for misleading advice for foreigners visiting London for the first time:

Never pay the price demanded for a newspaper; good-natured haggling is customary.

Never attempt to tip a taxi-driver.

On first entering an underground train, it is customary to shake hands with every passenger.

Try the famous echo in the British Museum Reading Room.

Visitors in London hotels are expected by the management to hang the bedlinen out of the windows to air.

Parking is permitted in the grounds of Buckingham Palace on payment of a small fee to the sentry.

London barbers are delighted to shave the patrons’ armpits.

I read them in the 1960s, and later they were reprinted in a book, long since out of print. This is the first time I have found them on the Internet, in the blog I spilled the beans, in which William encourages the English of – er – foreigners.

Wigless judges/Richter verzichten auf Perücke

From October this year, judges in civil cases in England, including family cases, will be wearing no wigs and new robes by the fashion designer Betty Jackson.

Barristers and criminal-law judges will be keeping their wigs. Some say it makes it harder for villains to recognize them.

At present, the judges wear several different types of robe on different occasions.

The new robes dispense with wing collars and bands. The collar looks a bit like a dressing-gown (bathrobe to some). The exciting bit is two coloured stripes below the collar, recalling the different colours and styles of traditional robes.

The Times reports:

The gown is made of a dark navy gaberdine and wool mix, trimmed with velvet on the cuffs and facings. The version for women has a pleated white removable ruff.

Coloured bands incorporated in the outfit are a nod to tradition and denote seniority. There is gold for the Court of Appeal judges and heads of High Court divisions; red for the High Court judges; lilac for circuit judges when they sit as deputy High Court judges; blue for the district judges. The colour for masters and registrars has yet to be decided.

The gown is described as a simple continental-style gown.

Lord Phillips only modelled the men’s version. Why do women get some white?

Photos also in the Telegraph, Guardian

Drat the Boys/Max O’Rell unterrichtet französisch in England

Injured by friendly fire in the second siege of Paris, Max O’Rell found himself travelling to England and finished up teaching French to English schoolboys. His reminiscences are entitled ‘DRAT THE BOYS!’. Max O’Rell was the pseudonym of Léon Paul Blouet – see Wikipedia.

English boys have invented a special kind of English language for French translation.

It is not the English they use with their classical and other masters; it is not the English they use at home with their parents, or at school with their comrades: it is a special article kept for the sole benefit of their French masters.

The good genus boy will translate oui, mon père, by ‘yes, my father,’ as if it were possible for him to forget that he calls his papa father, and not my father, when he addresses him.

He very seldom reads over his translation to ascertain that it reads like English; but when he does, and is not particularly satisfied with the result, he lays the blame on the French original. After all, it is not his fault if there is no sense in the French, and he brings a certain number of English dictionary words placed one after the other, the whole entitled FRENCH.

Of course he could not call it ENGLISH, and he dared not call it NONSENSE.

He calls it FRENCH, and relieves his conscience.

I remember Latin unseens from school. Collins says for unseen unvorbereitete Herübersetzung. I seem to think we sometimes prepared them for homework. Was the translation into the foreign language called translation? At all events, writing natural English was never the point. This French schoolmaster sees things differently, though.

I once read the following sound advice given in the preface of a French Translation book:


‘1. Read the passage carefully through, at least twice.’

‘2. Keep as close as possible to the original in sense, but use English idiom boldly.’

‘3. Never write down nonsense.’

Now, and whilst I think of it, why unseen?

It may be that I do not perceive the niceties of the English language, but this commonly used word, ‘unseen,’ never conveyed any meaning to my mind. Would not ‘unforeseen’ be a better word? I would timidly suggest.

If the book in question succeeded in making boys carry out the foregoing suggestions, it would be worth its weight in gold.

As far as my experience goes, the only hint which I have known them follow is the one that tells them to use English idiom boldly.

A drawback to these hints is that they are given in the preface. Now, dear colleagues and confrères, which of you has ever known a schoolboy read the preface of his book?

And a few would-be translators could take advice from him on dictionaries.

Oh! the French dictionary, that treacherous friend of boys!

The lazy ones take the first word of the list, sometimes the figurative pronunciation given in the English-French part.

Result: ‘I have a key’ — ‘J’ai un ki.’

The shrewd ones take the last word, to make believe they went through the whole list.

Result: ‘A chest of drawers’ — ‘Une poitrine de caleçons.’

The careless ones do not take the right part of speech they want.

Result: ‘He felt’ — ‘Il feutra’; ‘He left’ — ‘Il gaucha.’

With my experience of certain French dictionaries published in England, I do not wonder that English boys often trust in Providence for the choice of words, although I cannot help thinking that as a rule they are most unlucky.

Very few boys have good dictionaries at hand. I know that Smith and Hamilton’s dictionary (in two volumes) costs twenty shillings. But what is twenty shillings to be helped all through one’s coaching? About the price of a good lawn-tennis racket.

I have seen boys show me, with a radiant air, a French dictionary they had bought for sixpence.

They thought they had made a bargain.

Oh, free trade! Oh, the cheapest market!

Sixpence for that dictionary! That was not very expensive, I own — but it was terribly dear.

Thanks to Alex at

Small dramatist/Müllers Sohn

You may have heard of Heiner Müller, the East German dramatist.

But have you heard of Heinerle Müller? According to Handelsblatt, and Spiegel Online too, this is the law firm representing Siemens:

Derzeit überprüft eine der führenden deutschen Kanzleien, Heinerle Müller, im Auftrag von Siemens die Sachverhalte.

I’m not sure if Hengeler Müller – sorry, make that Hengeler Mueller (you see, it is difficult) – will be suing.

(via jurabilis)