Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Showing posts with label E.F.Benson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label E.F.Benson. Show all posts

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Studio l'italiano!

Britta Huegel

Dear You,
I did it - for the fourth week now each Monday evening you find me sitting on one of the dwarf-chairs of an Italian-German primary school in Berlin, trying to "parlare - parlo, parlai, parla" in that beautiful language, Italian.
I have to confess that I always looked with a sort of prejudice at women who started to learn Italian when advancing in life and years - those that I know were always at the shady side of forty
(hopefully reading books like "The Tao of Turning Fifty" or "Younger by the Day" - the latter an excellent book by the way, written by Victoria Moran). They were always members of a posh tennis or golf club, flirting somehow desperately with their coaches (insegnante for tennis or Italian - it was the same to them - only young he had to be, and beautiful).
Of course now, when I signed in at the Italian cultural institute, one of my acquaintances thought it illuminating and helpful to remind me of my beautiful Italian massage therapist.
'Innocent until proven guilty' will hopefully apply to me, too (and by the way: he speaks German, so why bother?)
Why bother indeed? 
(It is not that I have a trauma as the photo above might indicate, taken at one of my youthful stays in Italy, entitled : "All dressed up and nowhere to go" - in German we say "booked and unclaimed", which doesn't sound better). 

My reasons: 
- I love the language
- I want to train my brain, yep
- maybe we will at one stage of our life live in Munich, and then Italy is oh so near
- I want to read Fruttero & Lucentini in Italian

Those of you who know my deep passion for E.F.Benson might fear of having a "déjà-vu", entering my salotto:

'Georgie found Britta Lucia very full of talk that day at luncheon, and was markedly more Italian than usual. Indeed she put down an Italian grammar when he entered the drawing room, and covered it up with the essays of Antonio Caporelli. (...) 
"Ben arrivato, Georgio," she said. "Ho finito il libro di Antonio Caporelli quanto momento. E magnifico!" 
Georgi thought that she had finished it long ago, but perhaps he was mistaken. The sentence flew off Lucia's tongue as if it was perched there all quite ready. 
"Sono un poco fatigata dopo il - dear me how rusty I am getting in Italian, for I can't remember the word," she went on. 
(from: Make Way For Lucia)  

If you think, as many of my friends do, that it must be EASY- PEASY for me to learn Italian, because I'm quite fit in French, and less fit in Latin, and know those beautiful English words that have Latin roots, you are wrong. It isn't.
Take the word: "to repeat". In French: répéter. In Italian: ripetere.
See it at one glance? "ripetere" - but the French é instead of the Italian i is not easily erased from my mind.
But though I have to cram hard, it is fun - our (female!) teacher is an Italian who writes her dissertation on Kierkegaard here at Berlin's university, and she and my classmates are very interesting and funny.

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Weeding Cultivator - Quote from E.F.Benson's "Queen Lucia"

Britta Huegel

"A yew hedge, bought entire from a neighboring farm, and transplanted with solid lumps of earth and indignant snails around its roots, separated the small oblong of garden from the road, and cast monstrous shadows of the shapes into which it was cut, across the little lawn inside. Here, as was only right and proper, there was not a flower to be found save such as were mentioned in the plays of Shakespeare; indeed it was called Shakespeare's garden, and the bed that ran below the windows of the dining room was Ophelia's border, for it consisted solely of those flowers which that distraught maiden distributed to her friends when she should have been in a lunatic asylum. Mrs. Lucas often reflected how lucky it was that such institutions were unknown in Elizabeth's day, or that if known, Shakespeare artistically ignored their existence. Pansies, naturally, formed the chief decoration - though there were some very flourishing plants of rue. Mrs Lucas always wore a little bunch of them when in flower, to inspire her thoughts, and found them wonderfully efficacious. Round the sundial, which was set in the middle of one of the squares of grass between which a path of broken paving stone led to the front door, was a circular border, now, in July, sadly vacant, for it harbored only the spring flowers enumerated by Perdita. But the first day every year when Perdita's border put forth its earliest blossom was a delicious anniversary, and the news of it spread like wildfire through Mrs. Lucas' kingdom, and her subjects were very joyful, and came to salute the violet or daffodil, or whatever it was."