About the Author
Herbert Rosendorfer, born in 1934, one of Germanys most important post-war writers and his first novel, The Architect of Ruins (Dedalus) is regarded as a masterpiece of German fiction. This was followed by the highly acclaimed Stephanie (Dedalus) shortlisted for The Schlegel Tieck Translation Prize.
Mike Mitchell is an award winning translator, has translated over forty novels and plays from German and French. He lives in Scotland.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
My dearest friend, Two more days have passed, days during which, as always, I have been subjected to new, astonishing, strange and inexplicable experiences. However, for the moment I will continue with my description of the events immediately following my arrival. The street I told you about, the one I wanted to cross, was an avenue. On either side of the cobbled carriageway is a wretched, neglected strip of grass. The stones, too, have been set in the road in a very slipshod manner, making it pretty bumpy. If the Exalted Son of Heaven had driven along this street just once, he would immediately have had the mandarin in charge of road construction beheaded. In the strips of grass there are ugly, unkempt trees growing. All unsuspecting, I was just starting to cross this avenue when I heard an unimaginable roaring, grinding, rattling noise approach; there is simply no comparison for it in our world. At the same time a huge animal or a fiery demon, that was the thought that flashed through my mind came rushing towards me at lightning speed; no, even faster than lightning, so incredibly fast that I could not see the animal or thing at all. Since then I have found out, more or less, what these things are (they arent demons, though they are at least as dangerous as demons are for superstitious people) but on that first day I was naturally completely unprepared. I was half-way across the road when, as I assumed, this snorting beast noticed me. Everything happened in the time it takes a bat to beat its wings. I realised that the demon was not after me. It made an even more hideous roaring noise, if possible, and tried to avoid me. I too tried to get out of the way and, with a couple of bounds, reached the safety of the bridge. But, like a wild boar in a frenzied charge, the animal (bigger than ten wild boars) could not change direction so quickly. Still roaring, then making a bang such as you would only get if you set off the whole Imperial stock of fireworks for the New Years celebrations at once, the demon, so it seemed to me, leapt up a tree. I collapsed to the ground and fainted. By the time I regained consciousness an even greater crowd of bignoses had gathered, and again each one looked like the next.