Each June, I review my blog posts as well as the stats of my blog at http://www.frenchquest.com . There are several reasons for this: 1) WordPress recommends this exercise in order to keep current and relevant in the “blogosphere”; 2) to see which of my blog posts are being frequented and read around the world; and 3) the most important, to revisit my journey through the year of consuming literature, art, and language.
I love writing blogs. I love sharing information that I have discovered through reading and studying about topics of interest to me and hopefully to my readers. It is similar to studying for a class in college and then meeting with a study group to share your notes to aid in the learning experience. I also love connecting with other bloggers from all over the world who hold the same interests and help me discover new insights and truths about these passions.
This has been my busiest year writing blogs in both senses of the word: in the number of blogs I have written—36—and in my professional life. I have the privilege of teaching English Composition and Literature at a University in Dallas and World Literature and Art History Online for a Seminary. As has been true in the past, every course that I am prepping and researching, I will compose formal lectures with my research to use in my classrooms and then rewrite and post them for my Frenchquest.com followers and for university students around the world to use as a reference.
My 2019-2020 blogging year began with posts on MY CZECHQUEST after an amazing trip with my daughter, Madison, to celebrate her completion of a post-graduate work in Psychology. We toured Austria and the Czech Republic including Vienna, Hallstatt, and Prague.
I knew very little before visiting these countries. Thus, I began to discover these worlds dating back to the 1st century. My modes of discovery were quite varied: 1) I began using the Atlas du Moyen Age as a reference of the great dynasties from the 1st to the 15th centuries; 2) Documentaries about the Habsburg Dynasty and Holy Roman Empire on Great Courses Lectures and Netflix, and 3) Madeleine Albright’s Prague In Winter about the German occupation of Czechoslovakia and Europe from 1937-1948.
One of the worst atrocities which Albright includes in her history of WWII was to come out of the Nazi regime — the complete annihilation of Lidice. This story affected me deeply. Hitler ordered a complete destruction of the town of Lidice and to completely erase the town from the map and all inhabitants from its history. The whole town was burned; the cemetery plowed under and the name of the town was excised from the map [see post].
One of my readers alerted me soon after reading my blog post that her family was from Lidice and they had just returned from a visit to Lidice. After the war, a memorial to the town and the citizens who were murdered was built on her family’s farm. Her family had just returned from a very emotional visit to Lidice.
On the other hand, one of the great treasures of visiting Vienna was an introduction to the works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I had been acquainted with the name Goethe through my research of Longfellow who was greatly influenced by his literature of poetry and romance while living in Germany. Longfellow infused the German language and writings into the spirit of the American mind in his classroom lectures and translations while at Harvard [see post].
After my return home, I began searching for German editions of Goethe’s poems. I soon found a seven-volume set of Goethe’s poetry in Middle German and began to learn Fraktur script in order to translate these poems [see post]. Many of my posts over the past two months have been translations of Goethe’s Middle German poems. My favorite is An die Gunstigen (To the Kind Reader). This has been an exciting adventure, Très Magnifique!
During this period of research of the intersection of Longfellow and Goethe, I discovered a Literary Travelogue of Longfellow’s entitled, Outre Mer, “A piece of writing about travel”; can you imagine a travelogue without pictures in our modern world high-tech Iphone cameras? I loved reading this little book about Longfellow’s travel around Europe and wrote four blogs about Longfellow’s observations and experiences in Rouen, Paris, and Auteuil France. Yet again, an intersection of three worlds that are my passions: Longfellow, France and German!
For my Frenchquest this past year, my journey took me to the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre during the German occupation of Paris in World War II. In Sartre’s “What is Literature”, he addresses these questions: How does a major World War and subsequent Occupation change the way a writer views literature? How significant is a fiction novel after this event? Does literature engage directly or by implication?
For my purposes as an English Lit Professor, I was most intrigued with Sartre’s questions “Why write?”, “What is Literature?”and took these questions straight into my lectures. [see post] His essays also helped me to examine the importance of my role as a Reader: “Writing and reading go hand-in-hand. You cannot have one without the other. This is obvious. It is the joint effort of author and reader which brings upon the scene that concrete and imaginary object which is the work of the mind (52).” So many good things to share about this book! I tried to include as much as I could into subsequent blogs. [see post]
These are some of my favorite posts of this year!
Finally, my most recent blogs are from the research of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, one of the epics that I’m using in my World Literature course that I’m teaching this summer. Part of the curriculum for this Seminary course is to relate the Biblical history to Classic World Literature. So I began to brainstorm: Did Homer use Bible language and ideas in the Iliad and the Odyssey? What were the pagan traditions of the Greek gods in this world in which Paul and Barnabas traveled and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Did they believe Sophocles that “there is nothing which is not Zeus”? What was their world view? Were these just stories which entertained, or did they believe that these gods and goddesses had the same power and influence over their lives? As Paul preached about the LORD GOD, what were they thinking? How were the messages of Paul and Barnabas so powerful and transformative in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ? My responses and reflections of these questions can be found in [these posts.] [Homer post ]
On to Shakespeare’s MacBeth, where “fair is foul, and foul is fair”!
Of course, language acquisition continues to be a strong pursuit of mine. I am still translating German each week for JerusalemMessenger ministry newsletters, Russian and Greek scriptures in my Bible studies, and French every opportunity I can.
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Copyright 2020. May be quoted in part of full only with attribution to Robyn Lowrie (www.frenchquest.com)