The cosmos of the writer Eckhard Henscheid, who unexpectedly turns eighty this Tuesday, can be entered in different ways. Via Regia, the main street, remains comedy, satire, humor, the crude joke of time and language criticism. Here, Henscheid and his companions have to do with the magazines pardon and Titanic Historical and lasting achievements, to liberate and relax public speaking in Germany, today under the sign of wokeness no longer safe, but for the time being unshaken. There have always been sensitive headwinds.
A path leading deeper into the undergrowth is the Road of Romance and Music. Let’s listen to the Eichendorff book from 1999 (“From the home behind the red lightning bolts”), possibly the linguistically most virtuoso of all Henscheid texts. There is talk of the “sunrise-round novel finale” in Eichendorff’s “Awareness and Present”; Here his language becomes “in places quite atypical and alien to the style of Jeanpaulian, hymn-like and pathetic, X-ray like more urgent and at the same time more emotional, abandoning its own confused sound and visionary in tone and content”.
A little later, on the occasion of the “Spring Night” set to music by Robert Schumann, Henscheid speaks of the “who knows most German of all words, as the premonition of great happiness already fulfilled, the almost militant light fanfare of Romanticism, a particularly German Romanticism at the same time – especially when this Eichendorff -Schumannsche ‘Mondesglanz’ this time is uttered less by Hermann Prey, but by a specific German like the well-known Jessye Norman: It’s like a gorgeous trump card in the middle of a foamy feeling of triumph, oh yeah. “
There is an eloquence that enjoys itself and pokes fun at it
Oh yeah! In this flow of words, the Jessye-Norman punchline – the taking back of false German drudgery – falls rather casually. What glitters are precious gimmicks with “trump” and triumph, as before with “x-ray-like” and “confused sound”. This is very eloquent and at the same time an eloquence that enjoys itself and takes it on the shovel – an eloquence on the second level, almost like with Thomas Mann, which may come as a surprise to some.
It is not surprising that it, the eloquence, is ignited by the music. Because even Henscheid’s very first successful book, the fabulously funny “idiots” read hundreds of thousands of times, consisted not only of often meaningless talk; The novel, which is spread over seven days, also has the fourth day in the central axis, which begins with music and ends with music – anyone who has not recognized the special position of this fourth chapter will misunderstand the entire masterly book.
The fourth day begins with the morning freshness that is “woven into the” Oberon “overture by Carl Maria von Weber, as it were, with her” dreamy horn call, those strings that sleep through their eyes rubbing capers “, and it ends with the” forever- eternal “from Gustav Mahler’s” Song of the Earth “. The music more and more urgently overpowers the characters’ frail talking, which goes on and on. Music becomes audible as the actual, wordless language, albeit in the medium of the narrator’s word.
The “New Frankfurt School” was possibly more than a joke
And suddenly it becomes clear that the term “New Frankfurt School”, which the group of satirists around the Titanic it was probably more than a joke: Because she picked up on Adorno’s dream of musicality and unharmed language. Because, of course, Henscheid’s Eichendorff book also organizes a semi-serious contest, a “Paragone”, with Adorno’s eloquent essay on precisely this poet.
That all sounds very victorious, but Henscheid’s force is at least as much the damaged and helpless language, the disturbed babbling, and by no means just polemical. Yes, there is “Dummdeutsch”, the dictionary of the epoch around 2000, there is the history of misunderstandings, all the chatter with which Henscheid applies his second authoritative hero, namely Dostoevsky, to our world. But next to it are delicate structures like the short fictional obituary pieces “We stood at open graves”, which is a funeral column of the Central Bavarian Newspaper picked up.
One hears the language that fails before death. It becomes an involuntary instrument of helplessness, the neediness of people who have little to do with eloquence. “Now his shell went into the realm”, read the sentences, “but his soul found a new home in the cemetery below the old graves.” The other way around !, one is tempted to exclaim, but one immediately pauses because what is wrong here again strangely makes sense and is somehow correct. And the completely natural religious sentence about a “cranberry woman Kuni” is completely correct: “The forest cemetery is now her soil.”
The matter described is the frailty of people and their language
“All irregularities in the text – grammatical errors, punctuation, intentional misprints – are in the service of the matter described,” explains the “Gräber” booklet. This statement could stand above the entire work of Henscheid – the matter described is the frailty of people and their language, and the irregularities are the artistic means of their illustration, which is not depiction but mimesis. Such linguistic self-reference becomes more apparent the longer the empirical world of the Henscheid novels, Frankfurt around 1975, then the small Franconian town of Seelburg / Amberg become historical.
This turns Henscheid’s language into music itself, most unmistakably in his eternal masterpiece “Maria Schnee” from 1988. Brigitte Kronauer praised this book shortly before her death. The “idyll”, which Henscheid himself called “idyll”, “without exception, right down to every observation, right down to every sentence, is determined by mild musicality. Everything that happens to the wandering protagonist Hermann in ‘Maria Schnee’ appears in the gentle mirror of his childlike , the mind producing a lot of weird effects. It defeats all the rudeness of life through this perspective. ” And that is why, according to Kronauer, the last sentence of the little novel is so particularly dear to her: “With the flat, fanning hand, he waved to Hermann, moved and friendly, and followed him for a long time.”
Friendly to and long after him: It is no coincidence that prose becomes blank verse here. Henscheid has long since withdrawn to his homeland, the soulful Amberg, he publishes very little, and his physiognomy is increasingly weathered into questioning. But a work edition has long been available which, in addition to the great novels, brings together all the many interventions of the day, a “great flow of language” (Dante / Borchardt). This language shows itself, the more its often accidental and incidental occasions decay, in its playful, deeply funny, deeply touching sound form.
The coarse falls away, the delicate lasts.