An English-language resource for people interested in Jakob Wassermann.

As a first point of reference, the excellent German website has a wealth of information. It is well worth a visit, even if your German is as poor as mine.

Details about Wassermann's life and work are hard to obtain in English: I hope this helps, in part, to correct that.

Comments, suggestions, and corrections are more than welcome. Contact.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

'... the beloved night...' excerpts from The World's Illusion

'She lived in a world of flowers. Jean Cardillac had furnished her an exquisite house, the garden terrace of which was like a tropical paradise. When she reclined or sat there in the evening under the softened light of the lamps, surrounded by her gently chatting friends, whose most casual glance was an act of homage, she seemed removed from the world of will and of the senses and to be present in this realm of space only as a beautiful form.' (Volume One, page 47)

'Shortly thereafter Johanna slipped into the room. She had on a dress of simple, black velvet which set off her figure charmingly. Eva sat before the mirror. Susan was arranging her hair. She had a book in her hand and read without looking up.

On a chair near the dressing-table lay an open jewel case. Johanna stood before it, smiling timidly, and took out of it a beautifully cut cameo, which she playfully fastened to her bosom; she looked admiringly at a diadem and put it in her hair; she slipped on a few rings and a pearl bracelet over her sleeve. Thus adorned she went, half hesitatingly, half with an air of self-mockery, up to Eva.

Slowly Eva lifted her eyes from the book, looked at Johanna, and asked: "Is it true?" She let a few seconds pass, and then with wider open eyes she asked once more: "Is it true?"

Johanna drew back, and the colour left her cheeks. She suspected and knew and began to tremble.

Then Eva arose and went close up to her and stripped the cameo from the girl's bosom, the diadem from her hair, the rings from her fingers, the bracelet from her arm, and threw the things back in the case. Then she sat down again, took up her book, and said: "Hurry, Susan! I want to rest a little."

Johanna's breath failed her. She looked like one who has been struck. A tender blossom in her heart was crushed forever, and from its sudden withering arose a subtle miasma. Almost on the point of fainting she left the room.' (Volume One, page 365)

'... to lay my head into a woman's lap and feel nothing but the beloved night; and when the silence falls, to feel a hand in my hair and hear a word, a breath, and so to be redeemed!' (Volume Two, page 181)

'And Eva said: "I have read, and wise men have told me, that Saturn has ten moons and also a ring of glowing fire that surrounds the great star with purple and violet flame. The planet itself, I am told, is still composed of red-hot lava. But on the ten moons there might be life and creatures like ourselves. Imagine the night in those regions - the dark glow of the great mother star, the purple rainbow forever spanning the whole firmament, and the ten moons circling beside and above one another, so near perhaps that those beings can speak and communicate from world to world. What possibilities! What visions of happiness and beauty!"' (Volume Two, page 298)

From The World's Illusion, (Harcourt, Brace & Howe, 1924, trans., Ludwig Lewisohn)

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