«Gegengabe» in Paremiology, Folklore, Language, and Literature – Honoring Wolfgang Mieder on His Seventieth Birthday
Edited By Christian Grandl and Kevin J. McKenna
"Ein Sprichwort entsteht neu auf einem Stand der Sprache, wo sie noch schweigen kann."
One of the most interesting literary correspondences from the 20th century spans the years 1931–1968.1 The two writers involved were the poet Wilhelm Lehmann and the Jewish writer Werner Kraft. Neither writer is generally looked upon as particularly steeped in folklore or as proponents of folkloristic language. And neither, given the political climate of their time, could be expected to be particularly interested in words and phrases involving the "Volk." Nonetheless, both are consumed with language in the broader sense, and the correspondence does contain some revealing forays into linguistic realms that are of interest to folklorists.
As a school-boy, Lehmann excelled in German, English, and French. As a student he maintained and developed his interest in foreign languages, particularly English, and wrote a doctoral dissertation on the prefix uz- in Old English. Throughout his working life he taught German, English, and often French. He wrote essays concerning language and read widely in all three languages. He translated poems into German. He was capable of formulating his own aphorisms such as, for example, "Übersetzte Gedichte kommen mir meistens wie durchschwitzte Gedichte vor" (2009:276).2 He travelled to England, Ireland, and Scotland. He corresponded with English writers and scholars, and he was in constant contact with British troops while a POW after World War I and with the occupational forces after World War II.
Werner Kraft was a librarian in Germany and then, after emigrating in 1933, in Palestine/Israel....
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