Nikolaus, right on time

December is a good month to be a French living in Germany. First, we had a beautiful snowfall all morning, and I granted myself the pleasure of walking through Tiergarten instead of taking public transportation between 8:30 an 9:00 (bike is not an option any more, for a few weeks at least). Crisp air, still a few birds trying to convince themselves that  it is not that cold, fresh snow under the feet – nothing to do with the cold rain of Paris. What do I want from this day, I asked myself. I want to get some real, good, solid work done, something palpable.

My expectations were met and even outreached. I had an application sent out, and joyfully sent out, with as low hopes as possible concerning its chances of being successful (I am really taking a weird turn with this application mania). Then, after getting pressured for a paper due a few days ago and for which I thought I would still have 10 days, I miraculously managed to write almost half of it in 3 hours. And in between those, I was delivered a huge box, so big I would in no way have been able to carry it myself. It contained, two weeks ahead of schedule, 54 copies of volume 2 of my collection.

(Even the dinosaur is interested, see!)

This book contains mainly, but not only, the papers from the German-French doctoral Workshop I had organized with Iwan d’Aprile in June 2011. It  considers today’s operability of French-German cultural transfers, based on case studies. Which branches of research operate with that concept today, which fields are still open to that kind of approach? We had onboard German Literature Studies, French Literature Studies, Comparative Literature Studies, History, History of Art. The scholarly horizon is very diverse, and yet such big figures as Alexander von Humboldt or Adelbert von Chamisso are to be encountered in several papers.

Preparing the book took over a year and showed once again the extreme difficulty of bringing together different disciplines – and the difficulty of bringing together the German and the French way of writing papers. The papers are all in German, but preceded by an abstract in French. The three directors of publications have also mastered the challenge of writing a good introduction to a book that lives from the variety of the aspects it deals with. Correcting the last, and the next last, and this time it is the last, and the last of the last sets of  proofs drove me and Anna to the edge of blindness and dullness a month or so ago. But obviously, it was worth it, because when I received volume 1 from the press a year ago, I immediately spotted a few typos and have been reluctant to re-open it ever since, while I still haven’t found a single one in volume 2 yet.

December is a good month because of all these gifts coming from everywhere, advent, Nikolaus (that was today). I am really looking forward to see what my Christmas treat will be after all that…(and yes, I know, I have not been very digital lately, but I promise that will improve after tomorrow’s Stammtisch)

Anne Baillot

I am a Professor of German Studies at Le Mans Université. My areas of research include German literature, Digital Humanities, textual scholarship and intellectual history.

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