When you read this, I’m actually not in the office, I’m off to follow the call of the mountains! This is also the title of a little section within Seeing Europe with Famous Authors (1914). Today, I’m intending to set off from Berne, to a more remote area of Switzerland just south of Berne; after three days at the Swiss capital and having had a little tour of the Swiss National Library, I yearn to get to see some mountains. I want to follow up how the writer Frederic Harrison described this area:
‘The Alps are international, European, Humanitarian. Four written languages are spoken in their valleys, and ten times as many local dialects. The Alps are not especially Swiss – I used to think they were English – they belong equally to four nations of Europe ; they are the sanatorium and the diversorium of the civilized world, the refuge, the asylum, the second home of men and woman famous throughout the centuries for arts, literature, thought, religion. The poet, the philosopher, the dreamer, the patriot, the exile, the bereaved, the reformer, the prophet, the hero – have all found in the Alps a haven of rest, a new home where the wicked cease from troubling, where mean need neither fear nor suffer.’ (BL shelfmark: 10106.aa.18, p. 73)I’d better stop Harrison here. This claiming of a landscape and space for humankind, and beyond the national borders sounds more enlightened than what I would expect of the year 1914. Somehow I can’t quite believe that this was written in the year of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and of course the beginning of the most senseless of all wars (in terms of numbers of people dying for no tangible immediate gains).
But maybe it’s better to go back to Switzerland and Seeing Europe with Famous Authors, now that I’m here. And just because I cannot share photos I’m just taking, I have added a second interesting photo: The Tonhalle Zurich. Please note that the caption for the first photo says Turnhalle Zurich – i.e. Zurich Gym, as opposed to Concert Hall Zurich. Oh, and the photo at the top of this post is just one of two random viaducts which I just threw in for extra measure, as the mountains are calling me now.