Write Nothing about Politics: The Life of Hans Bernd von Haeften is Barbara von Haeften’s account of the life of her husband, a lawyer, diplomat, and member of the Kreisau Circle resistance group in Nazi Germany. The Kreisau Circle–led by Peter Yorck von Wartenburg and Helmuth von Moltke–participated in the assassination attempt of Hitler on July 20, 1944, carried out by Claus von Stauffenberg and Werner von Haeften, the brother of Hans Bernd von Haeften. The Kreisau Circle had also developed extensive plans for a new government to be put into place after the removal of Hitler. Barbara von Haeften’s biography describes the life and political activity of her husband, who was executed after the failed assassination attempt. It furthermore sheds light on her own knowledge of and participation in the resistance movement.
The featured excerpt describes Hans Bernd von Haeften’s last days from the point of Helmuth von Moltke’s arrest until von Haeften was executed by the Nazis.
– Julie Winter
Devi Priya’s writing recuperates the India of the past, and issues a challenge to the India of the present. Her essay on the Mandala discusses an often faddish or academic subject without conceding to either camp. The author has had an eventful life, and alongside the argument introduced in the essay’s opening–setting the record straight about the origins and significance of the Mandala–one finds a profound record of the India of another time, before partition. Her memoir, entitled More than one life (Più di una vita), from which the excerpt here is taken, is a lyrical recounting of the shared past of the author and her country. As Devi writes:
Just as the cane thrown by the beautiful young country girl from Rajputana mortally wounds an enormous wild boar fleeing the royal hunt, and in the same moment pierces the prince’s heart, so one is captivated by the memory of a time that is this story’s source and inspiration.
The story is not always linear: as it moves through the childhood, adolescence, and youth of the author, it follows the historical period of the ’30s up to India’s declaration of independence, and beyond. Through an ancient, intimate, and familiar world the reader is shown those ideals, social and cultural, that were transformed into the Beauty celebrated by the mystical poets, and the carefully selective memory of an India that for centuries was adept in preserving the useful and the positive.
In the story, nature, landscapes, aromas, and animals are all living presences, inseparable from the happiest years, rich with knowledge, at school and university, with dear friends and in the good company of many others, at joyful festivals, in the India of the Ganges and the Himalayas. And then among those who practice ancient creative arts, in contact with the local, rural people, discovering their own distant origins.
Memories interweave with the present as in a dance, guiding our protagonist to reveal, according to the rhythm of her intuition, the progressive realization of her “identity.”
Riding along in life’s carriage, the present appears before one’s eyes for a blurred instant, while the past takes on the limpid serenity of a field of flowering mustard, flowers of a shade of yellow called…”basantì,” stretching all the way to the horizon, harbingers of spring… The impression remained in my mind like spring personified. “Basant” is spring, “basantì” the soft yellow of the shoot: its color. Like all things, it comes and goes and returns. You await the point of its return in the cycle…
– Nicholas Benson
The Brooklyn Rail welcomes you to our web-exclusive section InTranslation, where we feature unpublished translations of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and dramatic writing. Published since April 2007, InTranslation is a venue for outstanding work in translation and a resource for translators, authors, editors, and publishers seeking to collaborate.
We seek exceptional unpublished English translations from all languages.
Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry: Manuscripts of no longer than 20 pages (double-spaced).
Plays: Manuscripts of no longer than 30 pages (in left-justified format).