From…Speculations About Jakob

“…drugged with heat I lay in the brown grass of the forest, half in the shade of a fir, while Jakob pulled the horses evenly, and something from inside me suddenly asked Is it true Jakob about the concentration camps? days I’ve never been able to think of as: yesterday, and tomorrow it will have been the day before yesterday, or: that was ten years ago; in the meantime, I’ve learned much more about monopoly capitalism as a form of imperialism and can look at the past with the eyes of today. Those days never pass. Every minute I’m thirteen years old before Jakob’s wide-spaced motionless face with the half-closed lids, and I hear him say Yes it’s true. Impossible to live with that. It’s useless. How can you answer for that? How does it fit with the wet rustling beech leaves under our feet, with the swaying circling fir tops overhead against the gray night sky, with my wretched life, with Jakob whom I can’t see in this black high-walled ravine, he shouldn’t walk so fast, is this how I wanted it? that’s how I wanted it. That’s what is worth wishing. What had it to do with Jerichow that was lying at our feet as we emerged from the thicket on top of the hill and halted, Jakob and I standing silently side by side: a somber lump in the hollow, its church tower pointing and a light on in my father’s house: what did I want in my father’s house?”

Mutmassungen über Jakob by Uwe Johnson (translated by Ursula Molinaro).

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