The novel is set largely during the last days and immediate post-war years of WWII, in the British and Soviet Zones (later German Democratic Republic) of Berlin. Hermine (whose name comes from a novel by Hermann Hesse, proscribed by the Nazis) marries an English academic, Duncan, who encourages her to write her own account. This relates to her complicated experience of (English) Michael, his brother Henry (Heinrich), her German father Wartmann and others. Falling in love with Henry, she heartily dislikes Michael, whose only desire is to seduce as many women as possible.
From the Preface: “If one looks at the events leading to World War Two and resulting from it, it is all too easy to condemn the Germans. How could a highly civilized people have turned to the doctrine of Fascism as dictated by a vicious racist and psychopath? All of this, though, leads to a more basic question: could I, had I been brought up in a different society, ever have behaved in a similar fashion?”
“Henry found himself dreaming: “Oh I’m clever, oh I’m great. I rule. Eurore shudders at my might. I the Fuhrer, the artist they rejected: fools like all rest. I the people, I the nation, I the leader. Cheering me, admiring, fearing me. . . A Berlin of the mind, split between East and West, two hemispheres, left and right, now with an irrevocable dividing wall and the greatest tension at the crossover from one side to another. A peaceful man, a dull man even … A house in the country, and if I had children there’d be… what is it? . . . 1.7 of them. And there were no signposts. That was the thing about wartime Britain too: so as not to assist the enemy should he invade across the divide all the signs were removed.”
From Chapter One, Hermine:” I was raised in a concentration camp, without which my whole story would have been different. North of Berlin, Ravensbrück was specifically for women and, of course, their children. You can visit the museum there today and see the memorial, which was set up by the Soviets when Berlin was part of East Germany, and part of my story too.”
Book Review: As the author says in the book description and I quote, “The novel is set largely during the last days and immediate post-war years of WWII, in the British and Soviet Zones (later German Democratic Republic) of Berlin.”
I found this part of the Author’s Preface most interesting: “A friend of mine once suggested that the period in question was comparable to the Trojan War in the minds of those who lived through it. But I simply do not believe that Germans are fundamentally worse than other people. There are, to my mind, arseholes in all countries: it all depends on historical conditions leading to particular societies. The British can be as bad as Germans, sometimes more so, with their neo-Nazis, soccer riots, etc. The U.S.A has its deep-seated racist attitudes and violent gun culture. Canadians by and large are fortunate, except for their country’s residential schools and relations with its indigenous peoples. And Israel, which suffered more than any country in the holocaust, is unforgivingly anti-Arab. All of this leads to all kinds of abuses, which I have no intention of listing here, for a little thought will reveal them. As for Russia, or the most extreme manifestations of Islam and other religions with their sects—one thinks too of Christianity with Catholicism and others—well, again their problems are evident.”
Prologue, 1945, sets the stage where in the next seven chapter tell the stories of Hermine (survived Ravensbrück), Dr. Michael Warner (the antagonist) and Henry Warner or (again) Heinrich Werner.
The Interlude states: “I learnt later that there were other players in that ultimate drama: Henry’s first wife, Estelle, amongst them.” Chapters Eight to Ten bring us back into Michael’s, Henry’s and Hermine’s life. The book concludes with Epilogue One: Michael and Epilogue Two: Hermine.
This is intense and satisfying reading for history buffs.
I, Theodocia McLean endorse A Berlin Of The Mind by A. Colin Wright as an intellectual read. As intense as this period of time so is the knowledge and passion with which the author writes. I have had the pleasure of reading the authors other book titled Veronica’s Papers. It is important to know his bio and I quote.
“A. Colin Wright was born and raised in the county of Essex, England. After serving as a linguist in the British Royal Air Force, Wright attended Cambridge University, where he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. In 1964, he was appointed a professor of Russian at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He remained at Queen’s until his retirement in 1999 and still resides there today. Dr. Wright is married and has two grown sons. He acts and directs in the local theatre. With a love of languages (he speaks English, French, German, Russian and Italian, with a smattering of Spanish and Scottish Gaelic), he is adamant about correct grammar in his writing. This unfortunately also makes him highly critical of others! He also loves travel and has led various groups for Craig Travel in Toronto to Russia, Ukraine, China, South Africa, Southern India, Alaska and the islands of the North Atlantic.”
This review was completed on May 28, 2017.
by A. Colin Wright
Veronica’s Papers by A. Colin Wright has an amazing premise that makes the reader think about the likelihood and outcome of such an experiment in his or her own life. Review by Cold Coffee Press.
Gerald Clayton suffering from Amnesia, receives a package of papers from Veronica, a former clinical hypnotist. She tells him they accomplish his fantasy of gathering together, on the ship Marguerite, his past loves with the two of them present, but in disguise. In hopes of discovering his own past Gerald invites the passengers to share in a mystery by guessing what, or who, they all have in common.
Book Review: Veronica’s Papers by A. Colin Wright has an amazing premise that makes the reader think about the likelihood and outcome of such an experiment in his or her own life.
Well-developed characters like Gerald Clayton, who finds himself in a nursing–home after losing his memory; his wife Elizabeth; and Veronica Castell (who has assembled papers documenting Gerald’s life along with other people from Gerald’s past) help the reader understand Gerald’s and Veronica’s thought processes.
The unlikely setting is a cruise ship named Marguerite. This ship is of British registry, sailing out of Southampton to a variety of destinations like the Azores and the Canary Islands. Passengers receive an invitation (Compliments of ‘Creative Travel’) awarding them a fully paid seven-day cruise for two that includes a special program geared to meet their individual needs and interests.
The intensity of the author’s style of writing is evident when he writes: “Humans are like individual atoms jostling in time and space in a constantly changing relationship, and every so often what we call chance brings together those who’ve met before so that we wonder whether there isn’t some further purpose. But what of the coincidences that fail to become evident? The odds against Janet’s being on the other side of that train were almost as great, but we’d never have known we were even close. How often have we been in such situations without knowing it? Only our ignorance prevents us from calling those coincidences and from seeing the basic oneness of life.”
A. Colin Wright causes the reader to think and question mortality with its limitations in relationship to moral and spiritual concerns. This passage is an example: “The tragedy is that Christianity could be so much more. Christ’s words, it seems to me, rarely limit people to a narrow morality. Rather it’s Saint Paul and those who followed, more concerned with establishing orthodoxy under the leadership of a politically powerful church-who brought a small-minded understanding to a vision that encompasses all people’s strivings. Christians simply couldn’t tolerate rivals: a pettiness repeated often enough since. Yet there’s no contradiction between the worship of pagan gods, say, and that of Christ, for the reality they represent is the same. Why couldn’t Christianity have had vision enough to see this?”
I, Theodocia McLean endorse Veronica’s Papers by A. Colin Wright as a thought–provoking work of literature that raises the question of whether or not “creation, fantasy and truth are the same”. This review was completed on October 31, 2015.
A Cupboardful Of Shoes: And Other Stories
by A. Colin Wright
“After a life dedicated to the study of languages, A. Colin Wright has distilled his life’s observations into this engaging collection of short stories, most of which have been previously published in literary journals. Now retired, his life’s adventures, which include serving in the British Air Force, attending Cambridge University, and being a professor of Russian, have inspired this collection.
“I’m a librarian and I kissed a film star once. I touched her nipples too. At least, I think I did.” So begins “Queen’s Grill.” Horatio Humphries, one of the unreliable narrators, strikes up a brief friendship with a movie star on a rough Atlantic crossing, but his “twin” brother doesn’t believe him. In “A Pregnant Woman with Parcels at Brock and Bagot,” an unnamed woman may or may not have an affair with a man she met at a party—depending on whether she can get by a woman in front of her. “Distantly from Gardens,” a variant on the theme of the “double” found often in Russian literature, presents a man with a split personality, inhabited by two narrators who are his past as well as his present. While other stories are told in either the first or third person, the subject here demands the use of the second.
The stories in A Cupboardful of Shoes explore subjects as wide-ranging as disappointed love, violence, and war, sometimes with an underlying religious theme, serving to illustrate Wright’s eclectic style and literary interests.”
The following stories make up the collection A. Colin Wright: A Cupboardful of Shoes, published in 2008. Those marked * may be viewed in their entirety at www.authorsden.com/acolinwright.”
A Pregnant Woman with Parcels at Brock and Bagot.
A Cupboardful of Shoes
Night Train to Cologne
The Trouble with Saints
Make Someone Happy
Sketches of Natasha
Distantly from Gardens”
The Bells of Khatyn
Seven Minutes’ Silence
The President Reminisces
The Comedy of Doctor Foster
Mikhail Bulgakov: Life and Interpretations
by A. Colin Wright
Non-fiction, Education, Reference
by A. Colin Wright
To Arthur Fraser, a young Englishman, Sardinia in 1960 is perfect. It’s an island filled with Roman ruins, exotic scenery, local customs, and morally traditional values-he loves everything. To assimilate into the strange and belong to a society different from his own has always been his desire.
Arthur arrives in the resort town of Alghero to work as a representative for a tourist company. His ambition is to find a Sard girl for himself. He is quickly thwarted, though, by the unorthodox beliefs of the inhabitants. Unmarried couples cannot meet without chaperones, and anyone with “”continental”” attitudes is immoral. Arthur quickly learns that dating is fraught with real dangers.
When Arthur finally falls in love with Anna, a Sard girl, he discovers that she lives in Rome and is no longer accepted at home. But she then falls in love with one of his best friends, and Arthur becomes irrationally obsessed. He incessantly schemes about winning back her affections, despite her efforts to dissuade him.
What I Believe: (But You Don’t Have To)
by A. Colin Wright
A brief discussion of religious ideas from a non-traditional viewpoint that should be of interest for all those questioning what life is all about.
Cold Coffee Press Spotlight Interview With Author A. Colin Wright
A. Colin Wright was born and raised in the county of Essex, England. After serving as a linguist in the British Royal Air Force, Wright attended Cambridge University where he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. In 1964, he was appointed a professor of Russian at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He remained at Queen’s until his retirement in 1999 and still resides there today. Dr. Wright is married and has two grown sons.
In his fiction he is interested primarily in works dealing with the purpose and meaning of life. Thus he has a horror of post-modernism and simple, sentimental descriptions of everyday life, and has little interest in works dealing with specific problems. Religion in its broadest sense (but not that of specific churches or creeds) is obviously important to him. He tries above all to create a good story, with realistic characters who question established norms of behaviour, with particular reference to the sexual.
He acts and directs in the local theatre.
With a love of languages (he speaks English, French, German, Russian and Italian, with a smattering of Spanish and Scots Gaelic), he is adamant about correct grammar in his writing. This unfortunately also makes him highly critical of others!
He also loves travel and has led various groups for Craig Travel in Toronto to Russia, Ukraine, China, South Africa, Southern India, Alaska and the islands of the North Atlantic.
Directing: (Domino Theatre, Kingston)
Ladies in Retirement (assistant director)
The Importance of Being Ernest
The Night of the Iguana
The Freedom of the City
The Troll King, Monsieur Ballon and two other roles, Peer Gynt
Malvolia, Twelfth Night
First Voice, Under Milk Wood
Rosenberg, Amadeus(Theatre 5 and Grand Theatre, Kingston)
Father Jack, Dancing at Lughnasa (Domino Theatre, Kingston)
Claude Amory, Black Coffee (Domino Theatre, Kingston)
Tell us what makes you proud to be a writer from Kingston, Ontario, Canada? Canadian literature is of course well known, but I’d regard myself as a British and international writer rather than just a Canadian one. I was born in Chelmsford, Essex, England. After serving as a linguist in the British Royal Air Force (learning Russian), I attended Cambridge University, where I earned M.A and Ph.D degrees. In 1962 I lived for six months in Sassari, Sardinia, followed the next year by a longer period in Reggio Calabria. I speak five languages reasonably fluently, and can stumble along in two more. In 1964, after a year’s study at the Herzen Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), I was appointed professor of Russian at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. I remained at Queen’s until retirement in 1999 and still reside in Kingston. I am married and have two grown sons.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? My French/German teacher at school in England, who subsequently became a writer of detective novels.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? At a relatively early age, I read a book on English history from the local children’s library. I decided to dramatize the kings of England, using paper cut-outs as puppets. The project didn’t get very far, but I still have a few pages of elementary dialogue, such as William II dying by an arrow in the New Forest, with him falling off his horse and saying “Oh blow! It was in 1956 that I began writing with the intension of being published, but I wasn’t first published until 1967.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and why? Encouraged by a teacher at grammar school in England, I just wanted to write, trying short stories — which were so terrible that I haven’t the courage to reread them. I studied French, German and Russian, which included their literatures, at Cambridge University and then taught Russian Language and Literature at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada) for 35 years. I’ve always regarded literature as a serious activity which should challenge readers; thus I dislike post-modernism and simple stories about everyday life, particularly if there’s not much plot. Then, when I was teaching at University, I published academic articles on Russian and comparative literature, including a major book on Mikhail Bulgakov. But I still wrote novels, short stories and plays.
Do you come up with your title (s) before or after you write the manuscript (s)? Depends. With my current novel, Sardinian Silver, the title really suggested itself: the name of an actual wine which seemed appropriate symbolically.
Tell us why you write the genre (s) that you write? Well I have written academic works (many articles and a major book published by University of Toronto Press, Mikhail Bulgakov; Life and Interpretations.) I’ve published about twenty short stories, written novels and plays (some performed locally). In fact I think I’ve written everything–even some journalism–except poetry, which I don’t relate to. Basically I choose whatever genre seems most appropriate.
Tell us your most rewarding experience while in the writing process? Crafting something into good writing.
Tell us your most negative experience while in the writing process? Writer’s block, which I’ve been suffering from for a while now.
Tell us your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Having things appreciated by an audience.
Tell us your most negative experience in your publishing journey? Sending out endless query letters to no avail.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Just keep at it if you’re sure you want that, but be sure that you do.
Who Is Your Favorite Author? Mikhail Bulgakov, who was my main academic research interest. I regard his ‘The Master and Margarita’ as the greatest book of the twentieth century.