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The Heartbreaking Destiny of Yonder Fraktur Editions

Written by Ari von Nordenskjöld on March 21, 2019.

These beautiful editions of Hesse’s main works have been gathering dust on our top shelf for quite some time now (as have Goethe’s collected works, too - but let’s leave the discussion of that for another time). As you can see, the printing is just delightful. As you can not see, the paper is also wonderful and smells just like paper from the fifties should.

An interesting tidbit is that while the Fraktur script is often associated with the Nazis, many do not know that it was in fact banned by the regime in 1941 as Judenlettern (though it is likely that the real reason was that it caused difficulties in communication).

The script itself is not that hard to read, but takes a bit of getting used to. Once you’ve been reading it for twenty minutes or so, there shouldn’t be any problems. I should know, as I’ve started reading Das Glaperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game) several times now. What stopped me was not the script, but the language. My vocabulary simply isn’t extensive enough to make the reading of books at this level an enjoyable experience. Having to look up several words per page makes it a chore.

There is a somewhat offensive solution, of course. Reading foreign language books on an e-reader greatly improves the experience of looking up words. It also harms the aesthetic experience, and especially so in this case, but life is all about trade-offs after all.

I have previously read two of Hesse’s other books on my trusty Kobo e-readers, but I was under the impression that Das Glasperlenspiel was not possible to obtain in ebook format. After checking Amazon today, that impression must be revised – it is indeed available from Amazon’s German kindle store. Not, unfortunately, through the Kobo Store, though – which means that I will have to buy it from Amazon and remove the DRM in order to read it on my Kobo. That is a relatively easy process, but somewhat annoying, as I don’t currently have the Calibre de-DRM plugins installed.

Once my vocabulary is up to scratch I will give those beautiful editions their due attention, though.


Tagged: German, books, languages, e-books, fraktur, Hesse, Das Glasperlenspiel