The 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage aims to encourage more people to discover and engage with Europe's cultural heritage. In an article in the Swiss cultural magazine SoRock, Felix Epper reports on how Helen Wallimann has contributed by translating Erhard von Bueren's Swiss novels and thus making them available to the English-speaking world.
To read the article (in German) see: http://www.sorock.ch/ausgabe-nr-4/ (pages 54-55).
Interview with the translator, Helen Wallimann, on
Excellent novel of a not so ordinary man
I have read all three of Erhard von Büren's novels and enjoyed all three. If you are into car chases and post-modernism this may not be the book for you but if you like a good story, well told, this definitely works. Our hero, Paul Ganter, is writing his story forty years later. Back then, in the 60s, he, was a gawky youth from a poor background, fell for Claudia, an attractive young woman from a well-off background. He tried to woo her in various ways - taking her to see American films was one - till he eventually hit on the idea of writing not just one play but a trilogy of autobiographical plays.
While we follow his early life, we also follow his current life. He is writing a book on Sherwood Anderson but also struggling with his past (Claudia, his difficult family) and his current marriage. Von Büren skilfully mixes the two together, as we get an excellent portrait of an ordinary man who, like most ordinary men in the hands of a good writer, is not really all that ordinary and who has, of course, his own complexities and contradictions and who like most seemingly ordinary people tries to find a way to muddle through.
by John Alvey
by John Alvey
A fascinating read. Erhard von Büren has a wonderful, natural insight and understanding for the tribulations of a young country lad in the throes of puberty. This working-class boy longs for the love of a lass who is clever, classy and of rich parents. Erhard von Büren’s wonderful descriptions of the young man‘s yearnings, his complicated plans to arrange surprise meetings with Claudia, his times of hopefulness falling to desperate disappointments and the ups and downs of life with its frustrations, longings, joys and welcome surprises.
I would recommend this book to anyone and especially those interested in the psychology of youth and their personal relationships.
Helen Wallimann’s translation flows brilliantly as if the story had been written in English.
by Heidi Inman
This is a gentle and melancholic tale of a recently retired teacher who has never been able to put his first love behind him and still remembers clearly the time he spent in her company. Forty years on from when he knew her, every detail is still real and raw to him. From a working class family himself, he found Claudia and her circle of friends glamourous and exciting but never felt confident in their company. The only way he could express himself was to write a trilogy of plays that perhaps Claudia would respond to. Loosely based on Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, he puts his heart and soul into its composition but it comes as no surprise to the reader that life never works out quite like it does in the books and films he reads and watches. When we first meet him he has moved out of his family home to concentrate on finishing a book on Sherwood Anderson – still writing, still trying to find meaning in his life through literature. Nothing much happens in the book – just Paul Ganter’s reminiscences – and the novel moves along slowly, but I found it nevertheless compelling and often moving. It’s evocatively and atmospherically written and the author’s descriptions of nature and the landscape in his native Switzerland are vivid indeed. But the book is more than just an older man’s memories of his unrequited love. It’s also an interesting snapshot of life in Switzerland in the 1950s and set very much in the real world of that time. Paul’s father is a drunk, and often violent, a Union man accused of being a communist. His mother works at a local factory. When not studying Paul works at a variety of labouring jobs. Money is tight. Claudia on the other hand lives a privileged life. The mismatch between them reflects societal divisions. References to teacher training, life in the classroom and military service all add to the authenticity. A sensitive and insightful novel about ordinary people living ordinary lives.
by Mandy Jenkinson
…a very complex, rich book… It’s introspective and very quiet. Far more analysis of thoughts and feelings, than scenes and action.… The [nature] descriptions are lyrical and beautifully crafted. They are the most eloquent sign of the narrator’s rich interior life.… While reading A Long Blue Monday, I couldn’t help but think of another Swiss author, who writes similar descriptions – Robert Walser.
by https://beautyisasleepingcat.com 28.11.2018
Erhard von Bueren was born near Solothurn, Switzerland. After a PhD in Psychology and German philology from Zurich University and study stays in France he worked as a teacher in advanced teacher training.
Besides various articles in anthologies and journals, he has had three novels published in Switzerland: Abdankung. Ein Bericht (Zytglogge Verlag, Bern 1989), Wespenzeit (Rotpunktverlag, Zurich 2000), Ein langer blauer Montag (verlag die Brotsuppe. Biel/Bienne 2013).
After Epitaph for a Working Man and Wasp Days, A Long Blue Monday is the third of his books to be published in English.
Erhard von Bueren has won various literary awards including the Canton of Solothurn Prize for Literature in 2007. He lives in Solothurn.