Zettels Traum (ZETTEL’S TRAUM as the author wrote the title) is a novel published in 1970 by West German author Arno Schmidt. Schmidt began writing the novel in December 1963 while he and Hans Wollschläger began to translate the works of Edgar Allan Poe into German. The novel was inspired by James Joyce's novel Finnegans Wake, particularly Schmidt's use of columns (his "SpaltenTechnik"), which Schmidt claimed was borrowed from the Wake.
- "I have had a dream, past the wit of man to
- say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go
- about to expound this dream. Methought I was—there
- is no man can tell what. Methought I was,—and
- methought I had,—but man is but a patched fool, if
- he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye
- of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not
- seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue
- to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream
- was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of
- this dream: it shall be called Bottom's Dream,
- because it hath no bottom;..."
Christoph Martin Wieland translated the play in 1762 into German prose. His weaver Bottom (bottom = ball of yarn) bears accordingly a German term of weaving as his name : Zettel. Bottom's Dream = Zettel's Traum.
The novel is set in 1968 at 4 AM in the Lüneburg Heath in northeastern Lower Saxony in northern Germany. It follows the lives of Daniel Pagenstecher, visiting translators Paul Jacobi and his wife Wilma, and their teenage daughter Franziska. The story is concerned with the problems of translating Edgar Allan Poe into German.
- Woods, John E. "Translator's Introduction." Collected Novellas: ix.
- Langbehn, Volker Max. Arno Schmidt's Zettel's Traum: an analysis: 15.
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