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Posts Tagged ‘Theodor Storm

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Gathering Storm

Inspired by Wuthering Expectations (an excellent blog fearlessly striking out into 19th century literature), I’ve just begun reading Theodor Storm, starting with Immensee. I thought I’d have a look at Husum (his birthplace) and environs in Google Earth. While there is no shortage of evocative photos uploaded by Panoramio users – here, here, and here (for example) I found myself most struck by the beauty of the satellite photography, and the ebbs and surges of cause and effect that it suggests.

This North Frisian landscape has seen many changes over time, according to WorldAtlas.com:

Over many centuries violent North Sea weather (storm tides) and the resulting flooding and land erosion produced this chain of islands. The power of water movement literally washed away, or covered existing land, and then separated what remained from the mainland by the shallow waters of the Wadden Sea. From the Langeness south to Pellworm Island and the Nordstrand Peninsula, (all) are the remains of the much larger Island of Strand. It was literally torn apart into many smaller pieces by a great storm of tidal surges. Renamed the Halligen Islands, hundreds of the original pieces of Strand remain submerged.

A wider overview of the general area (the largest area of tidal-flats in Europe, known as the Wadden Sea), is available here.

(This is also, incidentally, the landscape of Erskine Childers’ great thriller The Riddle of the Sands.)

Here’s a quote from Immensee:

Elisabeth sat down under an overhanging beech tree and listened carefully in every direction; Reinhardt sat a few paces away on a tree stump and gazed silently across at her. The sun was directly overhead; it was a scorching midday heat; tiny, brilliant steel-blue flies with quivering wings hovered glistening in the air; all around them a faint buzzing and humming, and sometimes the hammering of a woodpecker and screeching of the other woodland birds could be heard deep in the forest.

Sylvan, rather than littoral, true, but if this is an example of how the man writes about the environment, then I’m keenly anticipating what’s next up in this Angel Classics edition, Journey to a Hallig. Not to mention what is generally regarded as his masterpiece, Der Schimmelreiter: but there are two translations – the Angel Classics one, as The Dykemaster, and now NYRB Classics have published it as The Rider on the White Horse, in an edition translated by the American poet James Wright, which also includes Immensee!

Written by Dave Lovely

March 4, 2009 at 10:32 am