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‘Fragments of Inheritance’ by Karin Heyer (Fragment 3, FreeSpace #3)

17 Dec

Fragments

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‘Whatever else it is autobiography is not non-fiction’

(Timothy Dow Adams, Modern Fiction Studies, 40)

Welcome to Karin’s last FreeSpace on ArtiPeeps  in which she has been exploring the relationship between autobiography and fiction through her own autobiographical story ‘Fragments of Inheritance’. Within her three slots on ArtiPeeps she has offered up, in sequence, a part of her story along with an audio reflection of her response to the particular fragment that we have featured. This week it’s Fragment 3 and the concluding part of her story. Karin lived through a very particular part of European history (WWII) and her work engages with very significant subject matter that is universally meaningful and individually personal. We hope you enjoy Karin’s last exploration.

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Fragments of Inheritance

Fragment 3

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**

She needed distraction from her thoughts. She chose to go to the City of Ely and visit Ely Cathedral. Along the winding road to this ancient place, suddenly, this magical building rises out of the flat landscape on the right-hand side and after a while the road bends and then strangely the cathedral appears to be on the other side of the road!!! There she is, Ely Cathedral, story of survival, beautiful and wise. She enters with a serious heart, it is Remembrance Day. She walks to the Octagon, turns left into the heart of the place reaching the ‘Showcases of Remembrance’, where on this day the letter ‘M’ mourns the lives of soldiers who lost their lives in WW2.

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She lights a candle and remembers them.

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living for the evidence of remembrance 1995
mourning: the dead
madness of persecution
lunacy of war
the irreparable destruction of children in war
disrespect for the preciousness of human
life of all kind
forgive or not forgive
but tell your story of that dark time
for the sake of time to come.

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 You can find Fragment 1 here and Fragment 2 here

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Biography

I was born on the 4th of November 1937, just one day before Gun-powder Day! So, I celebrated my entrance with a BANG, yet far away from England then, in fact, in Leipzig, Germany. After the end of the Second World War, Leipzig in Saxony became part of East-Germany, which I left, illegally, in 1953. My family and I settled in West-Berlin, where I went to High-School, when finished there I left Berlin for Cambridge, England. I was a student of English for a while, took a BA Honours Degree in European Thought and Literature and English History at Anglia Polytechnic University, where I also took a MA in Women’s Studies with a Dissertation on German History. I became a teacher of the German Language,Literature and History during my working life. I have now retired from teaching and find myself writing, reading and enjoying life to the full.

As yet Karin does not have a website, but you can make contact with Karin via ArtiPeeps through the comment box on this post or contact form on the ‘What’s On’ Page.

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* FreeSpace offers any creative or group from any discipline  3 post slots on ArtiPeeps which can be taken in sequence or in a cluster for showcasing, self-expression or projects (encouraged). If you are interested in taking up a FreeSpace slot in our next run of work please do get in contact via the comment box or contact form on the What’s On Page  You’d be welcomed.

‘Fragments of Inheritance’ by Karin Heyer (Fragment 2, FreeSpace #2)

11 Dec

Fragments

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‘Whatever else it is autobiography is not non-fiction’

(Timothy Dow Adams, Modern Fiction Studies, 40)

Welcome to Karin’s second  FreeSpace on ArtiPeeps  in which she is going to be exploring the relationship between autobiography and fiction through her own autobiographical story ‘Fragments of Inheritance’. Within her three slots on ArtiPeeps she will be offering up, in sequence, a part of her story along with an audio reflection of her response to the particular fragment that we have featured. This week it’s Fragment 2. Karin lived through a very particular part of European history (WWII) and her work engages with very significant subject matter that is universally meaningful and individually personal. We hope you enjoy Karin’s exploration.

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Fragments of Inheritance

Fragment 2

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Now she returned to Leipzig after an absence of 34 years. She is on her way to visit a friend to whom she only had written or sent parcels at Christmas-time, because that was all she could do. The car turned a corner, here she was: Karl-Liebknecht-Srasse, 91, Leipzig, Germany, we are one country again. One country. East-Germany had seized to exist, but the houses and the ruins told a different story. Hitler’s legacy was still visible here and she recalled the horrors of war, the Holocaust, the destruction of men, women and children of all races, beliefs and talents, whose lives she mourned.

This was not a country of which she could be proud.

She greeted her friend with a full heart. She talked, but she was burning to see the centre of the city again. She wanted to discover her childhood at will. She wanted to meet the long-buried other. She walked along the streets, where she knew she had experienced this architecture before, saw the trams rattling along, ‘kling’, ‘kling’. She does not take a tram, she savours the walk, she fathoms the atmosphere, slowly reaching the centre of her birthplace. She stands bemused on the Karl-Marx-Platz, the clock is on the hour, sombre bells suddenly sound, hit her ear: the bell-ringers strike the hour. Back, back, backwards I go. I stood here before! I have heard these bells long ago. Yes, when I was little, just seven years old, 1944. I remember this song, this melody of bells. I glide backwards into my past. It was war then, when peoples purple blood burst, bells weep, where she learned the meaning of ‘Angst’.

And there she was once again amidst a familiar sound-scape and heavy inheritance, facing her fears still living and breathing in the Now, still vivid, visceral…

…and all the memories and circumstance melted through once again…

Cellars of Fear

This 4. December 1944, NIGHT, sounds of sirens, get the children, house shaking, lights fade, people running into cellars, trying to save their lives.

I choke because of smoke in the cellar, the cellar an awesome place, huge pipes run through it, modern technology – a central heating system, it could burst.

It is utter darkness, will I get out of this cauldron of misery seven years old, having lost a just war against Hitler when I was born in 1937. Evil starting under the guise of progress in 1939.

I am still speechless now in 1995, thinking of cruelty, the holocaust, suffering that need not be.

My memories of war are horrific: stifling smoke in the cellar, my granny-aged, my baby-sister in pram not conceiving this lunacy or innocence conceiving lunacy, my mother trying to rescue some possessions from our home above burning. An old man – not fit for fighting in the war came to our cellar. He took me into his arms, carried me covered with a wet sack through the burning streets of Leipzig. All streets around us burning houses, full of lives trying to survive. Flying burning beams fell beside our distracted heads seeking safety in a street blocks away which did not burn yet. No thought of my mother, sister, grandmother, just being saved for some saner place in this burning inferno. My mother, baby-sister, grandmother were saved the same way.

All I can remember are cellars of fear, but escaping into what? What kind of life could there be after that.

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Yes, what life? This burning inferno was deeply buried into her subconscious. But now she must live forwards. A sun-beam struck her, today there was a blue, kind sky above her, the dominant sky of the Fens of East-Anglia, where she now lived.

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Biography

I was born on the 4th of November 1937, just one day before Gun-powder Day! So, I celebrated my entrance with a BANG, yet far away from England then, in fact, in Leipzig, Germany. After the end of the Second World War, Leipzig in Saxony became part of East-Germany, which I left, illegally, in 1953. My family and I settled in West-Berlin, where I went to High-School, when finished there I left Berlin for Cambridge, England. I was a student of English for a while, took a BA Honours Degree in European Thought and Literature and English History at Anglia Polytechnic University, where I also took a MA in Women’s Studies with a Dissertation on German History. I became a teacher of the German Language,Literature and History during my working life. I have now retired from teaching and find myself writing, reading and enjoying life to the full.

As yet Karin does not have a website, but you can make contact with Karin via ArtiPeeps through the comment box on this post or contact form on the ‘What’s On’ Page.

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Karin will be returning with Fragment 3 of ‘Fragments of Inheritance’ on Tuesday 17th December.

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* FreeSpace offers any creative or group from any discipline  3 post slots on ArtiPeeps which can be taken in sequence or in a cluster for showcasing, self-expression or projects (encouraged). If you are interested in taking up a FreeSpace slot in our next run of work please do get in contact via the comment box or contact form on the What’s On Page  You’d be welcomed.

‘Fragments of Inheritance’ by Karin Heyer (Fragment 1, FreeSpace #1)

4 Dec

Fragments

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‘Whatever else it is autobiography is not non-fiction’

(Timothy Dow Adams, Modern Fiction Studies, 40)

Welcome to Karin’s first FreeSpace on ArtiPeeps  in which she is going to be exploring the relationship between autobiography and fiction through her own autobiographical story ‘Fragments of Inheritance’. Within her three slots on ArtiPeeps she will be offering up, in sequence, a part of her story along with an audio reflection of her response to the particular fragment that we have featured. Karin lived through a very particular part of European history (WWII) and her work engages with very significant subject matter that is universally meaningful and individually personal. We hope you enjoy Karin’s exploration.

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Fragments of Inheritance

Fragment 1

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‘standing in the shadow of Hitler

born 1937

condemned 1939, just two years old

attempting redemption 1983

living for the evidence of remembrance 1995′

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She was born with a heavy inheritance. She felt her moon-baked icy heart wanting to melt the shock of recognition of deeds done between 1939 – 1945. That scar rested upon her. This bloody war weighed on her creating a violent hatred of war within her heart. This in turn nurtured a deep love of peace, and fueled her need to work for reconciliation between the two nations she most cherished, England and Germany.

Now, she lives in England.

It was a splendid, warm early spring morning when she looked around her sun-lit room, a milky way of memories rushing through her: her books standing upright as a witness of times gone by, like friends in certain hours of need; a still candle of remembrance burning; a piece of rock , insignificant to look at, but it is a tiny part of ‘The Berlin Wall’ coming down in 1989, a precious symbol of an irrepressible need for freedom. This forceful voice of resistance still echoed in her mind. ‘ Totalitarianism can only be defeated if many people unite and fight against it.’ The word-call still had meaning.

Much courage rushed through Europe and Germany on that day she never thought she would ever see. The 9th November 1989. Freedom had triumphed, ‘The Wall’ had fallen. The Berlin-Wall was a sight of joy. She witnessed the coming together of people who had been visibly forced apart for 28 years. These amazing days had an almost dream-like quality.

She suddenly believes in miracles! Leipzig, too, where she was born, had become an active instrument in the struggle for freedom. The ‘Monday Demonstrations’, which had began in September continue. The door of the ‘Nikolai Church’ long open to the people of Leipzig before the heated autumn days of 1989 had become the symbol for peaceful gathering of men and women. This House of God was: open for all After many years of oppression it was possible to say: we want free elections; we are the instruments of peace; we are standing here; down with the Stasi; we are the people; the ‘Wall’ must go. It was in Leipzig where history was turned up-side down. And it all happened peacefully. ‘I write and think as a woman against war, I write and think as a woman for peace’. The word-call still had meaning.

Yes, she remembered it all so well, these heady days. She was now able to return to the place where she was born without visas or other difficulties.

**

She is now sitting in a car moving forwards, being driven from a small town, Pottenstein in West-Germany, to Leipzig in the former East-Germany. The landscape near the industrial town Karl-Marx-Stadt, now Chemnitz again was grey, the fields with their products are covered by a faint, shadowy substance, which came from factories, where no concerns for the environment reigned. The smell of the ‘Trabi’, with its two-stroke engine hung in the air, but no Stasidogs were barking. She could not believe that this was real, but it was! There grew an awareness of time having stood still, arrested under a regime that thousands of people had fled from in the hope of finding a better life, like she had done. As a young girl she had left Leipzig illegally from East-Germany to West-Berlin, and later, moved on for England, off to Cambridge.

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Biography

I was born on the 4th of November 1937, just one day before Gun-powder Day! So, I celebrated my entrance with a BANG, yet far away from England then, in fact, in Leipzig, Germany. After the end of the Second World War, Leipzig in Saxony became part of East-Germany, which I left, illegally, in 1953. My family and I settled in West-Berlin, where I went to High-School, when finished there I left Berlin for Cambridge, England. I was a student of English for a while, took a BA Honours Degree in European Thought and Literature and English History at Anglia Polytechnic University, where I also took a MA in Women’s Studies with a Dissertation on German History. I became a teacher of the German Language,Literature and History during my working life. I have now retired from teaching and find myself writing, reading and enjoying life to the full.

As yet Karin does not have a website, but you can make contact with Karin via ArtiPeeps through the comment box on this post or contact form on the ‘What’s On’ Page.

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Karin will be returning with Fragment 2 of ‘Fragments of Inheritance on Thursday 12th December.

* FreeSpace offers any creative or group from any discipline  3 post slots on ArtiPeeps which can be taken in sequence or in a cluster for showcasing, self-expression or projects (encouraged). If you are interested in taking up a FreeSpace slot in our next run of work please do get in contact via the comment box or contact form on the What’s On Page  You’d be welcomed.

Classic Friday #1

30 Nov

Welcome to our first Classic Friday with Nisha Moodley, your monthly journey into  Classic authors  and their Literature!

 

Nisha MoodleyNisha is a South African writer, blogger, amateur historian, mystery-chaser and former ghost-hunter who, with a completed collection of short-stories under her belt, is currently working on her first full-length novel.

http://nmwritersbloq.wordpress.com

I hope you enjoy this ‘Classic Friday entry and I’ll be back on  Friday 28thDecember for some more…

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ELIZABETH GASKELL

 

 While writing this, I struggled with how to introduce Elizabeth Gaskell. In my eyes the woman needs no introduction yet many bibliophiles have never heard Gaskell’s name, more still, are unfamiliar with her work.

Referring to her as the ‘lesser known Jane Austen’ would have not only been predictable, but somewhat unfair to Mrs. Gaskell who, considering her unique writing style and compassionate themes, deserves no comparisons.

Indeed, few have questioned her talent for storytelling. Charles Dickens himself, in his letters to her, addressed her often as ‘My dear Scheherazade,’ in reference to the heroine of Arabian Nights.

Having won fans amongst literature’s 19th century elite, her life I feel, is worth taking a look at…

LIFE AND TIMES OF ELIZABETH GASKELL

Elizabeth Stevenson was born on 29 September 1810 in London, England but was raised by her aunt in Cheshire. In 1832 she married Reverend William Gaskell, of the Unitarian faith and in 1832 the couple moved to Manchester. They had 4 daughters and one son who died of Scarlet Fever in infancy.

The Gaskells were known for their humanitarian ways. Elizabeth helped her husband with his Church duties, distributing food and clothing to the poor. In between her domestic duties, Mrs. Gaskell dabbled in poetry writing but when she had a breakdown following her son’s death, her husband suggested she channel her grief by writing a novel. She took his advice and the result was Mary Barton (published in 1848). Mary Barton brought Mrs. Gaskell some recognition and caught the attention of the famous Dickens.

When the two met in 1849, Dickens invited her to write for his serial publication, Household Words. Gaskell soon became Dickens’ protégée although the two often locked horns when Gaskell refused on many occasions to take the advice the great man had to give. Her independent nature was legendary and was often a source of frustration for Dickens.

He was not the only famous author whose admiration Gaskell had won. In 1850, she met Charlotte Brontë and the two became firm friends. After Brontë’s death, Gaskell wrote her autobiography, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, which was published in 1857.

Apart from her literary career, she travelled extensively and dedicated much of her life to helping the poor. She passed away suddenly from heart failure on 12 November 1865 at the age of 55.

In 2010, Elizabeth Gaskell was honoured at Westminster Abbey’s prestigious Poets’ Corner where a memorial window was put up bearing her name.

Her Works

What is easily noted about Gaskell, gathered from the themes of her novels alone, was the fact that she was a woman who had a conscience and a mind of her own. In a period of social unrest (the early 1800’s) she did the unthinkable and sided with the disadvantaged and so-called lower classes. Indeed after Mary Barton (in which she highlighted the plight of the poor and the injustices of the class systems) was published, a few of her husband’s middle-class parishioners burnt the book in protest.

The criticism did not stop her though. She started writing a similar themed story in 1854, the brilliantly poignant North and South, where conditions of the factory and mill workers were put under the spotlight as well as the differences in lifestyle and attitude between England’s Industrial North and the more genteel South.

Unlike Jane Austen, whose stories focused on the lives of the middle class, Gaskell’s novels lacked a social bias. They contained characters that were diverse in their social standings but her messages were also very clear. An advocate for the disadvantaged, she was quick to hit out at the wealthy and privileged where need be.

Illegitimacy might have been a common motif in Victorian literature but few authors have handled the theme with as much compassion as Gaskell did with Ruth (1853), about the sufferings of a young girl, pregnant by rape, and the injustice inflicted upon her by society.

Her fiction writing did not always have a sombre-serious element to it however. Cranford (1851) seems to be one of Gaskell’s most popular novels, a satirical look at the lives of a group of women in a small village. Her talent as a writer can really be seen in the characterization and humour is put to good effect in her portrayal of each of the characters, their prejudices and their idiosyncrasies.

Wives and Daughters was her last novel. It was left incomplete following her death in 1865. Frederick Greenwood, editor of Cornhill magazine which published many of her works, finished the book and had it published as a serial in 1867.

In a writing career spanning 20 years, Gaskell wrote six novels, over 25 short stories, four works of non-fiction (including Brontë’s autobiography) as well as a few novellas.

In the addendum that was included in Wives and Daughters, Greenwood added a final note that I feel best sums up the woman that was Elizabeth Gaskell:

It is unnecessary to demonstrate to those who know what is and what is not true literature that Mrs Gaskell was gifted with some of the choicest faculties bestowed upon mankind; that she has gifted us with some, the truest, purest works of fiction in the language. And she was herself what her works show her to have been- a wise good woman.

The Gaskell Society – http://www.gaskellsociety.co.uk/

The Gaskell Web – http://www.lang.nagoya-u.ac.jp/~matsuoka/Gaskell.html

Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Gaskell

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