Friday, March 24, 2017

A Translation of "Straßenbahn ist Kleinod" a Letter to a Newspaper by Thomas Bernhard

Streetcar Line Is Local Treasure

Each time I return from abroad, I reflect that I am coming home to one of the most beautiful parts of the world and that the Gmunden area, inclusive of the town and its environs, is quite surely the absolute pinnacle of the Salzkammergut.  Today your paper, which I have always valued very highly, has informed me to my horror that the streetcar line is slated to be discontinued.  My beloved town could hardly suffer a greater misfortune!  Currently this streetcar line is one of the town’s most striking landmarks, and I use it regularly with enormous enjoyment upon arriving at the train station.  This streetcar line is a local treasure and irreplaceable and with its discontinuation Gmunden would lose one of its foremost attractions for young and old alike.  Moreover, like one of my predecessors on your letters page, I am of the opinion that the streetcar line should once again extend as far as the town hall square; the recovery of an asset that has been so sorely missed for so many years would be a feast for the eyes of not only the citizens of Gmunden themselves but also of everyone who visits this town.  If Gmunden retains its streetcar line and extends it to the town hall square, it will be a town not only in step with its time but even far ahead of it.

Thomas Bernhard
Translator's Note: As of the date of this post, the Gmunden streetcar line has not been discontinued, although a planned re-extension of the line to the town hall square has not been completed.
Source: Thomas Bernhard, Der Wahrheit auf der Spur.  Reden, Leserbriefe, Interviews, Feuilletons, edited by Wolfram Bayer, Raimund Fellinger, and Martin Huber; Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2011, p. 296.  Bernhard’s letter was originally published in Gmunden’s Salzkammergut-Zeitung on January 12, 1989.
Translation unauthorized but Copyright ©2017 by Douglas Robertson

1 comment:

Flank S. said...

Padova in Veneto, and formerly a possession of the KaK crown, is a good five hours' by car from Gmunden, but is an equally pleasant place and I happily note that it brought its streetcars back in 2007 after a 53 year absence.