I viewed the mist and missed the view

That's what Mark Twain said when he reached the top of a mountain trail in the vicinity of Vienna.

Mark Twain spent most of the years 1897 and 1898 in Austria, and according to Carl Dolmetsch who wrote bis biography "Our Famous Guest", those 20 months were quite a prolific time.

Austria, especially Fin-de-siecle Vienna, had an impressive intellectual elite then, with Sigmund Freud, Gustav Klimt, Theodor Herzl, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Karl Kraus, Gustav Mahler, to name but a few outstanding names.

This week, on the occasion of the Mark Twain Centennial, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at the Hotel Ambassador, the former Hotel Krantz, where Twain spent most of his time in Austria.

There are some nice stories about Mark Twain's stay in Vienna here and here.

Some references in Twain's work to Vienna and Austria can be found in The Appetite Cure.

In 1897, Twain spoke to the Concordia Press Club in Vienna as a special guest about "The Horrors of the German Language", in German, to the amusement of the audience.

Here's the essay "The Awful German Language".

Notes and quotes on the German language:

A dog is "der Hund"; a woman is "die Frau"; a horse is "das Pferd"; now you put that dog in the genitive case, and is he the same dog he was before? No, sir; he is "des Hundes"; put him in the dative case and what is he? Why, he is "dem Hund." Now you snatch him into the accusative case and how is it with him? Why, he is "den Hunden." But suppose he happens to be twins and you have to pluralize him- what then? Why, they'll swat that twin dog around through the 4 cases until he'll think he's an entire international dog-show all in is own person. I don't like dogs, but I wouldn't treat a dog like that--I wouldn't even treat a borrowed dog that way. Well, it's just the same with a cat. They start her in at the nominative singular in good health and fair to look upon, and they sweat her through all the 4 cases and the 16 the's and when she limps out through the accusative plural you wouldn't recognize her for the same being. Yes, sir, once the German language gets hold of a cat, it's goodbye cat. That's about the amount of it.


Hattie said...

Mark Twain certainly got around. He visited Hawaii, too and viewed a steaming lava crater, the same one that is now smoldering and giving parts of this island the worst air quality in the country on some days.

francessa said...

That's interesting, Hattie! How's that crater doing in the meantime?

Hattie said...

Oh, it's busy. We went out and took a look on Sunday!

francessa said...

Oops, and what did you see?

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