Wednesday, March 12, 2008

POB ~ discussion questions 11-23

Hanna ~ Vienna, Spring 1996 ~ (pp. 91-104)

11. What do you think of Herr Doktor Doktor Werner Maria Heinich, Hanna's colleague and teacher?

12. What do you think of Frau Zweig, chief archivist at Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien?

13. What do you think of the assertion that "a charge of collaboration was a useful way for the Communists to get rid of anyone who was too intellectual, too religious, too outspoken" (p. 100)?

Feathers and a Rose ~ Vienna, 1894 ~ (pp. 105-127)

14. Herr Doktor Franz Hirschfeldt (Jewish) and his half brother Kapitan David Hirschfeldt (Christian, but with a Jewish name) are an interesting pair. Even though the Waidhofen manifesto was supposed to stop duels with Jews (p. 114), David comes to his brother to be stitched up because "it seems my Bavarian Mutti no longer provides enough pure blood to counteraact the taint of our father" (p. 115). What do you make of this strange situation?

15. Franz Hirschfeldt chooses not to visit his mistress on his way home, then becomes furious when he realizes his wife has been with a lover (pp. 117-120). What a double standard! Then, when his mistress Rosalind decides to go out for the evening after their "untender coupling" (p. 120): "He was chagrined. It was he who should decide when to end the affair, not she" (p. 121). What do you think of his thinking?

16. Herr Florien Mittl (Christian bookbinder, Franz's patient) noticed a "beam of sunlight lay like a stripe of yellow ribbon across the workbench. It hit the sad, tattered, untouched cover of the book. And then it flared on the freshly polished silver of the clasps" (p. 124). Do you think he sold the silver to pay for a "cure" for the disease that's stealing his memory?

17. The silver clasps are destined to become earrings for the doctor's mistress and another pair for his wife, his "fallen Angel" (p. 127). What do you think about that?

Hanna ~ Vienna, Spring 1996 ~ (pp. 129-144)
Razmus Kanaha (Raz is chief conservation scientist at the Fogg)

18. Dana Faber (p. 135) is a hospital in Boston, an interesting thought in that Faber is the name of the German general who tried to get his hands on the haggadah. Do you think the author did that on purpose?

19. Hanna's mum paced as she made her presentation to the medical society, and she had her audience transfixed. "She loved the strut and swagger of being a top surgeon, a top woman surgeon" (p. 136). Does she deserve credit for having reached a position that was difficult for a woman to attain?

20. Hanna was impressed by the ethnicity of her postdoc friend Raz, "one of those vanguard human beings of indeterminate ethnicity" (p. 141): part African American, part native Hawaiian, part Japanese, part Swedish. Raz's wife was a mixture of Iranian-Kurdish-Pakistani-American. Hanna thought, "I couldn't wait to see their kids: they'd be walking Benetton ads" (p. 141). Do you think this is where we humans are headed?

Wine Stains ~ Venice, 1609 ~ (pp. 145-189)

21. Judah Aryeh (a rabbi in the Geto) said to Giovanni Domenico Vistorini (Catholic inquisitor): "Your church did not want your holy scriptures in the hands of ordinary people. We felt differently. To us, printing was an avodat ha kodesh, a holy work" (p. 156). What do you think about burning (or banning or challenging) books?

22. What did you think about the reason Vistorini sometimes allowed Jews to keep some of their books (p. 157) and especially his reason for finally signed and saving the Savajevo Haggadah (p. 189)?

23. Why would a Venetian Christian like Dona Reyna de Serena have a Jewish prayer book?

1 comment:

Zorro said...

Bonnie, Thanks for the new questions. I have been missing from Book Buddies for a few days because it is spring break for my grandkids and they have been here. I will try to work on my answers soon.