“My eyes sought out the clouds that wandered as I did, resembling one another as they had for millennia, and yet they were so painfully changeable, showing to me that no future moment would ever be like this one.” – Evening Light
I came across Evening Light by Stephan Hermlin in a second hand book shop on a recent trip to Chicago. At the risk of sounding superficial, I was drawn to it because of its stunning cover. It shows a man with angular features and a severe stare. In the background are leaning buildings. The scene is made more disturbing by the fact that it is coloured in violent shades of orange and purple.
Hermlin came from a well-to-do family. His father was a German Jew and his mother was English. He had a brother who was killed in action during the second World War. Hermlin joined the Communist party at the age of sixteen and published a volume of poetry during the war. He eventually left Germany and travelled extensively before settling in East Berlin. Evening Light is a memoir in which Hermlin relates his life as a young man in short, concise chapters. His descriptions are poetic and his style lucid. He offers the reader an insightful account of life in pre-second World War Germany.
I read Evening Light following a trip to the Bull and Castle beside Dublin’s Christchurch Cathedral. I went with my mum who was visiting and we had the Sunday lunch. It was decadent and delicious and the setting resembled a hunting lodge. The meat is all from F.X. Buckley butchers and melts in the mouth.