Episode 20: “UNDERSTATEMENTS”

“Ecstasy” is a word that would be an understatement to define the emotion that took hold of the group of romantic travelers when they saw the half-ruined castle, with its turrets swirled around by the scrub and overflown by the squawking crows. And “bewilderment” would be another understatement to express the state of transient sensory loss that overwhelmed Johann Wolfgang von Goethe when a centuries-old stone was detached from the high wall and hit on his head. Squinting and staggering like a drunkard and with his tongue hanging out, he was quickly driven by his companions to the nearby river in order to clear his mind in the cold water. “Babbling” would also be putting it mildly to define the sound of the water that flowed fast downstream and in whose current accidentally Goethe fell into before the horrified look of his companions, some of whom ran along the bank following the course of the river that dragged with it the literary glory of Germany as if it were an autumnal leaf.

And lo and behold, it was an illiterate fisherman who, with his simple fishing rod, caught that genius of the universal Literature who was about to drown. 

“Astonishment” would be an understatement to describe the surprise that seized this man when he saw his strange capture. He had never seen a genius, so he could not distinguish him from any other man. He could hardly distinguish between a genius and an idiot, and between an idiot and a marsupial. But he could distinguish a man from a fish (because fishes are covered in scales). And as the companions of the genius were still upstream making their way through the weeds that populated the banks of the river, the fisherman believed that he has caught a drunkard who had fallen into the river and, as he did with all the drunkards he caught, he took him in his cart to Eisenach, where, in exchange for a sum of money, he enlisted him under the name of Karl Tuppenfower in the Prussian army (a delegation of which was in the area recruiting soldiers for the War of the Sixth Coalition).

Meanwhile, the group of Romantics were busy searching the banks of the river, looking for their friend in the gloom (for the sun had already set). “Sorrow” would be an understatement to describe the feeling that seized the group of Romantics when they understood that the greatest German literary figure of their time must be already on the way to the sea. When it was completely dark, the group accepted that it was useless to keep searching and, therefore, decided to return to the castle following the course of the river (so as not to lose themselves also and, with them, much of the best German literature of the modern era). “First Byron and now Goethe”, Bettina Brentano didn’t stop repeating in a semi-catatonic state. But Friedrich Schlegel refused to give up and began to walk the bank of a tributary of the Horsel River. There he found a man laying and, although he could not identify him in the darkness, he took it for granted that it was his friend, and with the heart full of joy, he check that he was alive and just slept. And, being careful not to wake him up, he carried him to his back until he arrived at the camp that the group of Romantics had installed among the ruins of the castle. All of them felt the hope rise in their hearts when they saw Schlegel unloading his human cargo on the ground. With such blow, the sleeper woke up, and they hurried to give him a quill pen and a writing surface. But when they saw that the man did not know what its utility was (first he put the pen in his nose and then he blew it with the paper), the discouragement spread. 

The disappearance of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a great loss. Anyway, all together decided not to say anything and trust that no one would notice his absence. 

This is a non-profit blog whose purpose is to raise funds for children in need. So if you want to make a donation in exchange for this story, click on this link to UNICEF. I really appreciate it!

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