Blognotice 10.11.2012: back sight on a rainy November Wednesday morning in South West Germany

Daybreak in Grünstadt: 7. November 2012, 5.50 am. local time,  raindrops were falling on the roofs of a sleepy German town. Some minutes later I turned my notebook on to get news from the results of presidential election in the U.S. The first info I got was an alert message by email from le – sent by le  at 5.21 – “   “Barack Obama réélu président des Etats-Unis (Barack Obama reelected as President of the United Staates) . At the same moment my wife shouted, – Barack Obama wiedergewählt (Barack Obama reelected) – it was six a clock in the morning – she heard the message in the regional radio news.

At 6.22 am. I received an electronic message from U.S., from a former schoolmate now living in California “looks like Obama won”. At 6.30 arrived the New York Times Alarm – “Breaking News Alert – The New York Times Wednesday, November 7, 2012 — 12:13 AM EST Breaking News: President Obama Wins Re-election, The New York Times Projects”. At 7.01 I read the Le alert messages announcing  Mitt Romney conceded (Mitt Romney reconnaît sa défaite face à Barack Obama) – and got the same info’s on the NYT live coverage.

At 7.15 am. I mailed back to California “Good Night in California, – ich freue mich für Amerika, – I feel glad for the U.S.!” In Grünstadt the black colors of night changed to diming grey daylight, and it was still raining. The projection of the victory of Barack Obama done in Blognotice 05.11.2012, – had become reality, – but the reelection was much more impressive than I projected it in paysages – because I thought (and wrote) that it could very narrow – similar as the reelection of Gerhard Schröder in 2002 as Chancelor in Germany after the Elbhochwasser . But the political impact of the Hurricane Sandy can’t be compared to situation in Germany in 2002 following the Elbhochwasser, – after all I have read the political impact of the Hurricane Sandy on Obamas Victory seemed to have been minimal – but without the Elbhochwasser Gerhard Schröder would have had enormous difficulties to be reelected as Chancellor . Being sure that Barack Obama was reelected I also remembered my souvenirs of the first election of Barack Obama four years ago. I had to work in Tunis in November 2008 and I followed the historical moment of Barak Obama election in French TV and on CNN. It was an unbelievable atmosphere in Tunisia at that time. I remember a rainy November week in Tunis and la Marsa – on one hand a beginning “fin de règne” ambience in Tunisia – and on the other hand – the United States people for the first time elected an Afro-American to hold the presidential office. Now four years later we know that this November 2008 election of Barack Obama was not an historical accident.

At about 7.50 am. I started my car ride to Office in Karlsruhe, – and it was still raining. Some hours later I learned that Jérôme Ferrari had won the 2012 Prix Goncourt for his novel “Le Sermon sur la chute de Rome” („The Sermon on the Fall of Rome“). So unfortunately the second forecast in paysages  Blognotice 05.11.2012 for the Prix Goncourt winner in 2012 was not as good as the projection for the U.S. presidential election. Neither «La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert »  (Joël Dicker)   nor   « Lame de fond » ( Linda Lê) won the Prix Goncourt. Following Pierre Assouline in the Republique des Livres the novel of the Swiss-French writer Joel Dicker is a great American novel describing the 2008 electoral America. A great American novel written in French by a Swiss-French author – this sounds very strange. I have not read the book, but after all what Pierre Assouline wrote about the novel (see here; in French) it would merit a translation into English.

On that last Wednesday morning I also read in our local News Paper, die Rheinpfalz, in an article signed Dagmar Gilcher (Gilcher, D. 2012: Aber die Bilder bleiben) that the novel “L’Art français de la guerre” (Alexis Jenny), the Prix Goncourt winner 2011, has now been translated into German. “Die französische Kunst des Krieges” is the German title of the war novel written by Alexis Jenny . I have read the book in July 2012 and I think it was one of the best French novels I read in the last years. Of course this book would also merit an English translation. The German translation (translator = Uli Wittmann) was released in October 2012 on the German Book market.  L’Art français de la Guerre („The French art of war“) immerges deeply into the recent military past of France – and in that recent military past France had to suffer hard in Indochina and Algeria. In Indochina – as did the U.S. forces some years later what now was called Vietnam. The name of the region had changed, – but the place, the geography remained unchanged – Vietnam (and Laos & Cambodia). For both, the French colonial troupes in Indochina and the US-Forces in Vietnam it was a terrible experience – a war in foreign land. Indochina – or as we call it now – Vietnam – confronted the French – and later the U.S. Soldiers with a strange and unfamiliar geography, and an alien people – far away from European – French or U.S. American culture.  A very detailed critic of the “L’Art français de la guerre” can be read in “Le grand art si français d’Alexis Jenni (in French)” published in the Pierre Assouline book blog la Republique des livres in August 2011. It sounds strange that this book has not been translated into English, – it is an impressive novel which describes us how war scares over our cultural heritage and interior landscapes – I am sure that the story of Victorien Salagon would find a large audience in the English-speaking world, particularly in the U.S.A.

The morning of the Wednesday 7.11.2012 was a grey November morning in Southwest Germany. All over the morning we heard the rain falling on the autumn leaves. Now four days later as I write down this blognotice it’s still raining. Yesterday we have had some hours of sun shine, – but except this little time of sunshine – I have the feeling that the week of the reelection of Barak Obama for four more years – was a very rainy week – as it was in Tunis in November 2008.


Gilcher, Dagmar (2012): Aber die Bilder bleiben. „Die französische Kunst des Krieges“: Alexis Jenny gefeiertes Romandebüt ist jetzt auf Deutsch erschienen. In: Die Rheinpfalz, Nr. 259, Kultur, Mittwoch, 7 November 2012.

Christophe Neff, 10. November 2012

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