Next Year in Marienbad: The Lost Worlds of Jewish Spa Culture

By Mirjam Zadoff; William Templer | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
A Conversation

Young man: You haven’t been here very long, have you?
Young woman: But, you know, I was already here before.
Young man: Do you love this place?
Young woman: No, not especially… (The words become
progressively fainter, and the end of the sentence is almost not
audible
.) … It’s accidental: you come back here again and
again.
—L’Année dernière á Marienbad, directed by Alain Resnais,
                              screenplay by Alain Robbe-Grillet, 19611

In Shop Talk, a collection of conversations with colleagues about their work as writers, Philip Roth published a conversation he had with Aharon Appelfeld in Jerusalem in the late 1980s. Over the course of several afternoons, during walks in the city and visits to coffeehouses, the two writers spoke about Appelfeld’s novels, which were available in English translation, among them Badenheim.2 In this story, Appelfeld describes a fictive health spa in Austria that is mainly frequented by Jews, and as he says to Roth: “a rather real place, and spas like that were scattered all over Europe, shockingly petit bourgeois and idiotic in their formalities.”3 In the timeless locality, historically impossible to unambiguously identify, extreme characters encounter one another: “Every spring they came back like horses in the stable. Here you could find a schoolgirl who had run away from school, a man with a jaunty manner and a haggard face whose mind was worn out with books, and tall women to whose brows vague secrets clung like skin.”4 The summertime life in Badenheim turns into a farce, people consume apple strudel and strawberry cream cake with almost desperate delight, take horse-drawn carriages through the town and go on hikes in the nearby woods. They live with the impression that they are cut off from the outside world, long before they actually are.5 There is

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Next Year in Marienbad: The Lost Worlds of Jewish Spa Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Jewish Culture and Contexts ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction- The (Mirrored) Playroom 1
  • Part 1- Be’Era Shel Miryam 11
  • Chapter 1 - A Letter 13
  • Chapter 2 - Consuming Places 17
  • Chapter 3 - In a Large Garden of Modernity 32
  • Chapter 4 - Bourgeois Experiential Spaces of Worry and Concern 49
  • Part II - Beit Dimyoni 67
  • Chapter 5 - A Conversation 69
  • Chapter 6 - Miscounters 76
  • Chapter 7 - Encounters 106
  • Part III - Odradek 135
  • Chapter 8 - A Story 137
  • Chapter 9 - The City in the Hills 141
  • Chapter 10 - Warmbod Grotesques 157
  • Part IV - Jutopia 177
  • Chapter 11 - A Map 179
  • Chapter 12 - Traveling to Bohemia 182
  • Chapter 13 - To Bohemia and beyond 197
  • Afterword Return to Bohemia 219
  • Abbreviations 225
  • Notes 227
  • Bibliography 265
  • Index 295
  • Acknowledgments 303
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