Sunday, May 30, 2010

Herr und Hund

My wife found this book: Bashan and I in the Harvard Bookstore in her trip to Boston last week. I have been reading it and it is a delightful read. The review of the book does better then I can so I just post it here. - Rod

Herr und Hund by Thomas Mann (1919) 144 pages.

Click on link to find out more about the book: Bashan and I (Pine Street Books)Bashan and I (Pine Street Books)
The English title of this little novella is Bashan and I and I can heartily recommend this book to both Thomas Mann fans and dog lovers. If you happen to be both, as I am, then you're in for a delight. Mann is a master of capturing thoughts and actions in elegant prose and – while he was often arrogant, clinical and distant in his writing and in person – the beauty of this book lies in the obvious love, joy and respect that exists between the man and his dog. The playful side of Thomas Mann is something one doesn't encounter very often (that said, some parts of The Magic Mountain make me weep with hilarity), but this is a great example of unadulterated and unashamed feeling, displayed for all to behold.

It is a masterclass in the art of observation and description. Mann succeeds in beautifully pinpointing the minute actions of his short-haired pointer in such a way to be familiar to all of you who, for example, have ever experienced the mad, dervish-like scramble of your dog as he runs to greet you – tongue hanging out, front paws on your chest, out of his mind with joy and excitement. There are scenes in which Bauschan (his German name) sniffs around after squirrels and rabbits, or examines twigs and leaves, or is just bored in the garden – all of which is very mundane, but not when described by Mann.

It's a charming and delightful little book that has often made me think of my own little dog, who was with me from my ninth to my 21st year. My thoughts have also very much been with two friends, each of whom has lost a beloved canine companion this week. While Thomas Mann never lets us forget how much separates humans and dogs, he has, at the same time, given us a timeless gift of prosaic affection and erected a wonderful monument to his noble and silly friend.

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