Last Christmas I bought for the husband Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues played by Nikolayeva and a night for two in the Lake District. Both were safe choices. Johannes had been playing Nikolayeva on YouTube for some weeks, and the Lake District is Alpine enough for Johannes to feel at home, yet close enough to our actual home (Durham) to make it viable. Then I thought I’d take a risk with a third gift: a book. Johannes and I converge on some literature, mostly of the ancient Greek variety, but otherwise do not seem to share our preferences. I like novels; Johannes does not read anything much AD. Excepting Whymper’s Scrambles amongst the Alps (which he must have read at least four times), he generally sticks to things that have matured for a couple of millennia; cuneiform literature is, currently, in favour. I suspect that Middle Egyptian hieroglyphics may be next, but there is no knowing. Anyway, I decided to chance it and go for Sebald. I ordered Die Ausgewanderten because Johannes sometimes talks of himself as an emigrant, or even an exile (which irritates me). Then, abandoning the pretence that this was a present for Johannes, I also ordered the English translation, The Emigrants: I would find that easier to read.
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