March 16, 2012
Heinrich Böll in Ireland
by Kevin Murphy
Heinrich Böll’s Irish Journal is one of three books Melville House is offering for a discounted price as part of its St. Patrick’s Day Book Bundle.
The video below could very nearly be considered an accompanying visual element to the book, as it chronicles Böll’s time spent and affinity for the Emerald Isle.
Following The Second World War, Böll and his family gained solace and enchantment during their many visits to Achill Island, a tranquil, charming place that inspired the celebrated German author, after a trip to the movie theater, to write:
The rosy glow from the shells on the walls gives out a feeble light, and in the semidarkness the atmosphere is as lively as at a fair. Conversations are carried on across four rows of seats, jokes are shouted over eight; up front in the cheap seats the children are making the kind of cheerful racket heard otherwise only in school breaks; chocolates are proffered, cigarette brands exchanged, somewhere out of the dark comes the promising squeak of a cork being pulled out of a whiskey bottle; make-up is renewed, perfume sprayed; somebody starts singing, and for those who do not allow that all these human sounds, movements, and activities are worth the trouble of occupying the passing time, there remains time for meditation; The “when God made time, He made plenty of it” meditation comes surprisingly easily and is pleasant enough in this fairground of lighthearted gaiety, where bog farmers, peat cutters, and fishermen offer cigarettes to and accept chocolates from seductively smiling ladies who drive around during the day in great cars, where the retired colonel chats with the postman about the merits and demerits of East Indians. Here classless society has become a reality.
Have a look at this video. It does a fine job demonstrating why Irish Journal has become something of a “cult book” among Böll’s many readers.
Along with Irish Journal, the St. Patrick’s Day book bundle includes The Lonely Voice, by Frank O’Connor, and The Dead, by James Joyce.