bentrovato (bentrovato) wrote,
bentrovato
bentrovato

Last full day in Germany

Jürgen and I went on a special trip back to Göttingen. Barbara had invited us to see some of the rare books in the university's collection of materials on the Americas. We took the train down, spent a little over two hours with her, had a döner, and went back. She told us about her work in European descriptions of the Iroquois and then led us to the reading room. (J and I had to surrender our passports in exchange for temporary ID's we could use at the library's electronic gates.) We saw books in Latin, French, German, and English. We spent a lot of time looking at illustrations in De Bry's America. We leafed through Hakluyt's anthology, Lafitau on the Iroquois and an early captivity narrative. Wow! These were beautiful examples of the printer's craft. They captured a little of the experience of hearing about America when it was new.

On our last afternoon in Germany we drove to the ruined castle of Plesse. A plaque there noted that Goethe visited there in 1801 - doubtless for the same reason as we: to soak up the romantic atmosphere. We were there in the late afternoon, surveying the long valley before us, the ridge to the west across from us, and the thickly forested hillside behind us. We squinted at the trucks on the highway to judge whether a passing caravan of traders would have been visible and imagined means of defense and attack of the castle. Anabel and I had an interesting talk about overcoming the antipathy towards studying war. Regardless of its folly, it is another window on the human soul, which is the great subject. Not to mention the watershed effect of certain wars on the development of societies. This subject came up as we walked toward a playground near the castle. Simon and I and the three younger children played for a long time - first balancing on fallen tree trunks and duelling with sticks and then making castles in the sandbox.

For me, one highlight of our last meal together was trying some different beer. We had been drinking mostly Einbeck lager and some of their excellent bock. I had also enjoyed Hasseröder Pils at one stop. This night, J and I picked up a sampling of beer at the supermarket, the best of which was Andechs Doppelbock Dunkel - made in a Bavarian monastery and worth a pilgrimage.
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