Wuthering Heights in German

English is crisp, elegant, and terse.

I once said to a friend, “English is like a bonsai tree.  German is like…a wild overgrown forest.”   So I could only nod and smile when I came across this piece in The Germans by Gordon A. Craig: “…the most frequent cause of foreign misunderstanding is not the sometimes clumsy form assumed by written and spoken German but rather the difficulty of determining what is actually being said.  The non-German reader has the impression of trying to cut his way through the jungle of words, many of which have no precise meaning, a good percentage of which are clearly redundant, and some of which appear to be superfluous.”

German will never be known for its succinctness.

German’s worth lies in its strength, its passion.

Due to the inherent differences in the languages they evoke quite different feelings in the listener or reader.  And  some things just naturally sound better in one rather than the other.   There is a reason why Germany is not known for its comedies.  But drama!  The German language was made for drama- and the more dramatic the better.

So what better book to try reading next than my beloved Wuthering Heights?  How will it fare?

Entitled Die Sturmhöhe in German, here is a piece that you will probably be able to recognize:

“Mein Liebe zu Linton ist wie das Laub im Walde: die Zeit wird sie änderen, ich bin mir dessen bewußt, wie der Winter die Bäume verändert.  Meine Liebe zu Heathcliffe gleicht den ewigen Felsen dort unten; sie ist eine Quelle kaum wahrnehmbarer Freuden, aber sie ist notwendig.  Nelly, ich bin Heathcliffe!  Ich habe ihn immer, immer im Sinn, nicht zum Vergnügen, genausowenig, wie ich mir selbst stets ein Vergnügen bin, sondern als mein eigenes Sein.”

Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 9:11 pm  Comments (23)  
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23 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m sure you will still love it

  2. And how are you faring with it? 🙂 I will admit, I did not get most of that paragraph, until you got to the “ich bin Heathcliffe” and then I knew what part it was! But my German vocabulary is pretty limited, I wouldn’t even attempt WH auf Deutsch!

  3. I need to read Wuthering Heights again! Considering I loved the book, when I take the ‘Never-Ending Book Quiz’ on Goodreads and get Wuthering Heights questions wrong it makes me sad 😦

  4. very good blog

  5. Heya Chazz,

    I have a feeling you are right. 😉

  6. Heya DD,

    I read the first two chapters last night and there are tons of words I don’t know! I’ll do a follow-up post when I finish it.

    I selected that piece because I thought people would recognize it from the, “Ich bin Heathcliffe!” 🙂

  7. Chazz,

    It is definitely the kind of book meant to be reread.

    Now I am curious about this quiz site you mentioned. 🙂

  8. Hi My Smile,

    Thank you so very much! 🙂

  9. German is awesome! Even though I don’t know any of it. I’m working on Chinese, ha.

  10. I love doing those book quizzes on Goodreads! 🙂 Tasha you should sign up on Goodreads.com, it’s kind of cool to keep track of all the books you read, see what others are reading, make a ‘to read’ list, etc. That’s where the quiz is, you just keep answering questions as long as you like. It’s like Trivial Pursuit with books 🙂

  11. Hey Abby,

    How long have you been studying Chinese?

  12. Oh gee. Thanks, DD. Suggest that I join a book/quiz site so I can spend countless hours playing around on it when I should be writing or studying!


    I joined, of course. 🙂

  13. Heehee 😉 “Friend” me on there, I’m registered as D.D. Syrdal.

  14. DD, I tried to friend you, but it said there was no one registered by that name. I registered as plain old, “Tasha” if you want to try friending me.

    Chazz, as you also belong, feel free to also “friend” me if you wish.

  15. Yikes, there are a lot of people registered as “Tasha.” I found one listed as being in Germany, I hope that’s you! I sent a friend request.

  16. I absolutely adore Wuthering Heights. Do let us know if its just as good (or better) in German.

  17. Hopefully I sound the right Tasha as well 😛

  18. Heya Chazz,

    I didn’t receive your invite, but I found you under DD’s profile, so I sent you an invite. 🙂

  19. Hey Brownpaperbaggirl,

    I’m always so happy to hear from another WH fan. I will indeed let you know how it fares in German. 🙂

  20. Oh, there’s a book I need to re-read. (In English, but still.)

    Keep us posted! I felt the same way about Russian: a thicket of words, easy to get lost in, but full of passion.

  21. Hey Amy!

    Russian has always struck me as so beguiling!

  22. I’m not very good at languages (speaking them, that is) but I find languages utterly fascinating! I love Wuthering Heights and I need to reread it too. Every time the movie version with Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff comes on TCM, I drop everything and watch it. I should just buy the DVD. 🙂

  23. Heya Jenna,

    I’m not good at languages either! Any German I’ve acquired thus far has come from necessity and sheer will! 😉

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