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JOHAN W0LLER ZEST FOE LIFE Recollections of a Philosophic Traveller TRANSLATED FEOM THE DANISH BY CLAUDE NAPIER 1937 ALFRED A KNOPF NEW YORK CONTENTS Part I GOOD-BYE TO DENMARK 3 BELGIUM 1 PARIS ON THE WAY TO ITALY 39 EASTER IN NICE Jfl VENICE 70 ON THE WAY TO EGYPT 8 CAIRO 96 PORT SAID US INDIAN OCEAN SUMATRA Part II RATTAN 131 THE FLYING FOXES Part III GOOD-BYE TO MID-JAVA 171 Part IV PENANG-AND TOKG-KAH 4,9 A FEW BEMABKS ABOUT MOHS Q65 APPENDIX 77 PART I GOOD-BYE TO DENMARK BELGIUM PARIS ON THE WAY TO ITALY EASTEE IN NICE VENICE ON THE WAY TO EGYPT CAIRO PORT SAID INDIAN OCEAN SUMATRA L Good-bye to Denmark IN ones youth one said good-bye to Denmark, and later, throughout life, again and again one went away from Denmark. One drove, one sailed, one fl ew by train and motor-car, in big ships or small yachts every means of transport served when it was a question of leaving Denmark and the Danish maidens. This country is too small it lacks all perspec tive and prospect, all the distant and the wild. It is as neat and tidy as an old maids bedroom. It is so close-combed that soon the last louse will have been nipped and the last flea will have made its death-leap not to speak of other game. It is as thoroughly docketed and labelled as a mutual in surance company. 3 ZEST FOR LIFE It is necessary to leave it. And has one ever met a Dane of the younger generation who was something other and more than his fathers son who did not nourish plans of travel in his heart, who did not with eagerness accept questionable offers from the most unques tionably out-of-the-way corners if only those cor ners were situated in other continents pref erably as antipodal as possible in relation to Denmark From thedays of the Cimbri and Regnar, the young Danish men have felt the lust to travel gnawing at their heart-strings as they roamed our placid but peculiarly bountiful and living land scape. In few places in the world can one perceive as in this country that the earth is alive, actually see it raise and lower its softly rounded breast and capture the summer wind in its breathing. The young men who do not apprehend the deep wis dom in the lands long and quiet tempo, who can not draw breath in time with the sedate rhythm of these latitudes, they must out and away to see and hear and savour, to seek the wisdom of vanished times, the lore of distant lands well, not always exactly that, perhaps. But for most men it is not the quest for gold or honour. We are not particularly ambitious, we 4 GOOD-BYE TO DENMARK Danes many would say we are not ambitious enough, and there are few people with so little Jewish blood in their veins. It is with a certain secret shamefacedness that we dance round the golden calf even if we are well versed in the ritual. No, what many of us longed for with the most se cret longings of our romantic souls was in truth only the distant and the wild, that which could fill us with the fruitful wonder which makes the soul, as it were, pause and come to rest and precipitate something. We have not, like the Germans, the desire absolutely to understand and analyse the unfamiliar, which with them all too often leads to the worst, the most fundamental misunderstand ings. But we dimly perceive that something will germinate later on, for we are an ancient earth tilling people, and the soil of our soul is still deep and fertile. We wanted but this was before the age of jazz and steelfurniture, when, as we know, human nature suddenly changed we only wanted to sa vour, to accept adventure through all our nerve fibres, and preferably in secret and without strik ing an attitude. We wanted to be allowed to enjoy in peace seasick weeks in the tail of a typhoon, to try a sand-storm in Peking, to listen to the tropic rain that falls like lances...
Zest for Life - Recollections of a Philosophic Traveller
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