Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Arcades, melancholy & the late 1930s

Here's a funny thing I noticed the the other day.
By now you should all be aware of this:
Hence, the light that fell from above, through the panes between the iron supports, was dirty and sad.

-Walter Benjamin, Arcades Project, [F1,1] p.150 (1927-40)

But what about this then eh?
The Zwinger [...] is altogether lovely, with such sudden sad passages [arcades] ...

-Samuel Beckett, Letter to Thomas McGreevy, 16/2/37

There are sad passages, the arcades leading up to the entrance on the garden side.

-Samuel Beckett, Letter to Günther Albrecht, 30/3/37


Murphy said...

I am of course aware that Beckett was visiting a Baroque palace, rather than a shopping arcade.

Lang Rabbie said...

Except that (whatever the English Wikipedia may claim) the Zwinger isn't actually a palace.

As a series of all-weather covered routes linking pavilions used mostly for entertainment, and with access restricted to the leisure class resident in the nearby Schloss and surrounding courtiers townhouses, Pöppelmann's structure was surely a proto-arcade.

Lang Rabbie said...

By the way, were you aware of the suggestion that Caspar David Friedrich's "Two Men Contemplating The Moon" in the Dresden collection might have inspired Beckett to write Godot.


Today the picture is housed across town at the Gemäldegalerie Neue Meister but back in the 30s it would have been crammed into Semper's gallery at the Zwinger.