Bavaria: On the death of the polymath Josef Fendl – Bavaria

Josef Fendl wrote more than 60 books and thousands of articles, he was a polymath and humanist in the best sense. From the farmer’s dung heap to atomic physics, nothing was alien to him. Now he has died, he was 93 years old.

“Anyone who makes another person laugh saves a poor soul from purgatory” is an old popular belief, which is why it is quite logical that in old Benedictine monasteries separate joke chairs were reserved for the abbots. Josef Fendl would have found a comfortable seat on such a chair, since he made countless people laugh in the course of his life. The former junior high school teacher, local curator and author from Neutraubling represented much more than just the humorist and joker that many saw him as. Fendl was a highly educated man, a polymath of the old school, indeed a humanist in the best sense of the word, who was familiar with everything from rural dunghills to atomic physics. He was rightly considered the philosopher of the Bavarian Forest.

He proved this amply in his more than 60 books and in thousands of texts for newspapers and magazines. In addition, he excelled with readings and lectures, and he put together many radio programs. Fendl’s works are an inexhaustible treasure trove. Among other things, he has compiled a huge collection of aphorisms, proverbs and so-called sagawords, which are mini farces, which were already of great importance in ancient Athens. Having grown up in a remote area in the Bavarian Forest, Fendl picked up a lot of what was said there even as a boy. Later, folk sayings were also brought to him from other channels, for example in the district council of Regensburg, to which he belonged for 30 years, and in the Benedictine monastery in Metten.

As a self-confessed offliner, he collected his knowledge in libraries and archives to the end. While he knew how social media worked, he avoided it. Anyone who wants to even begin to understand the dichotomy of the Bavarian soul cannot ignore Fendl’s works. He has taken the usual Bavarian folklore ad absurdum, but he often fared like Karl Valentin: he was put in the humorous corner, although he was a philosopher. He also wrote the world’s shortest poem: “I”. It deals with the topic of selfishness. Fendl died last Saturday, he was 93 years old.

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