The Germans are an amazing people. Despite having suffered terribly in two World Wars (and please, don’t say they brought it on themselves) they have risen from the ashes and for the past couple of decades have been the dominant force in Europe. They also have that invaluable ability to look beyond their own horizons. Although it didn’t play well politically, Angela Merkel responded to the flood of refugees in recent years more generously than any other European leader.
They also have a strong interest in Irish culture. Many of them know more about Irish traditional music than most Irish people; and they a display a knowledge of Irish writers that is astonishing.
An example of the last is Jorg Rademacher. He is a German academic and every so often he sends me his latest publication. This year it was a volume on Oscar Wilde. The first half is written in German and the second in y an English translation, with the title translating as Oscar Wilde: A Writer Trapped by His Own Words. In it, Rademacher shows not just a love of Wilde and his writings, but an awareness of how he intersects with other writers. One example: he notes that it was Wilde in A Picture of Dorian Gray who first used the phrase ‘a terrible beauty’, which some decades later Yeats picked up and used to catch the response to the Easter Rising in his famous poem Easter 1916.
The book is filled with photographs and details of the major points in Wilde’s life. I can only marvel at the time and concentration which must have been involved in putting a work like this together. But then again, when you love the work you do, it’s not work at all.
As a companion piece to the book, Rademacher has produced a 2018 calendar, again in German and English, with quotations from Wilde for each month.
If you’re interested in Oscar Wilde, you should check out Rademacher’s writings on him. If you’re not yet familiar with Wilde’s work, you should check out Rademacher’s writings on him. But be warned – his enthusiasm is infectious.