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German Phrase of the Day: eines Echtheitskusses Unangekränkeltheitsdruck

eines Echtheitskusses Unangekränkeltheitsdruck

the non-sicklied-o’er pressure of an authenticity-laden kiss (tr. Susan Bernofsky)

Robert Walser uses this phrase in his wonderful short story “A Kind of Cleopatra,” available in his collection of Microscripts.

According to Bernofsky, Walser’s use of “angekränkelt” stems from Schlegel’s translation of Hamlet, where it is used at the end of the famous soliloquy.

And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,

Der angebornen Farbe der Entschließung
Wird des Gedankens Blässe angekränkelt;

Here used in the negative and applied to “pressure [druck]” for a seemingly positive descriptor. How very odd.

1 Comment

  1. This is funny. Even for my german ear the phrase obviously sounds like a parody on the german’s affectation for nominalizations which are linked to bureaucratic manner of speaking as well as to german philosophy which is very much based on nominalizations (“das Sein” etc). “Eines Echtheitskusses Unangekränkeltheitsdruck” is so much over the top of this german style of philosophical-bureaucratic manners of speaking that you only understand it if you stop and take it apart. Then you find that the phrase is about the opposite of this manner – about the feeling of a true kiss not weakened by thoughts — not weakened by considering what is allowed and what not nor thinking about philosophical questions. So one might take it as a commentary to the german language – in german, it’s easier to speak philosophically than straight from the heart.

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