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Lebensbeschreibung Hans Joachims von Zieten

Von ZietenLatest bit of light reading.  A biography of Prussian General von Zieten by his niece Louise Johanne Leopoldine von Blumenthal published in Berlin in 1806.  Heavily watermarked and annotated but solidly bound and complete with two coloured maps.  I only wanted a reading copy hence I was happy to get this from Abe Books for only 40 quid.  Here is an English translation (complete with scanned fingers) that I downloaded from archive.org

Several things with this one:

Firstly, it’s 210 bloody years old!  Which to me is quite amazing.  Where has it been all these years? Who has read it before?

vonZietenXSecondly there is some interesting typesetting; a small ‘e’ instead of umlauts, an indication of the use of
a  small Kurrentschrift ‘e’ which went on to become the umlaut, and the strange ‘x’ symbol (image left, at the end of the first paragraph) that I’ve also seen in Friedrich Gerstäcker’s “Das Alte Haus” that seems to stand for u.s.w.  There may yet be more to discover.

IMG_20160423_095504Thirdly it’s been heavily, really heavily annotated, in a fashion that seems to make not a lot of sense, enough to suggest that the annotator was not quite in their right mind.  I feel safe enough in mentioning this because the few legible comments seem to be in Kurrentschrift, so unless like me they were a modern fan it’s unlikely that it was done after WWII and the perpetrator is most likely Mausetot.  Really though, what were they thinking, and when, and where, and what else was going on around them?  The image to the right is a
good example, the text looks like “seine Gemahlin” (his wife) in Kurrent, which makes sense as that’s what the passage covers, but why all the lines?  Lost it, undoubtedly.

Fourthly, it’s a surprisingly interesting read, the somewhat archaic language adding to the charm.  Von Zieten would appear to have been devout and patriotic, but basically an ugly, stroppy short bloke with a massive chip on his shoulder who couldn’t handle his drink.  Despite, or perhaps because of, which he turned out to be a very impressive soldier, once he’d run out of superiors to have fights with.  My girlfriend has always had the same sort of relationship with her bosses.

More later as I read more of it, maybe.