Byron: The Erotic Liberal

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Rowman & Littlefield, 2001 - Literary Collections - 231 pages
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The photographic essay The Lace Curtains of Berlin is a kind of archaeological experiment, studying studies things used by a certain group of people in order to investigate who they are. The people in question are the Berliners and the things studied are their lace curtains. Though oblivious to most people, the curtains send out messages and tell almost as much about the people behind them as many an anthropological study would.

The Lace Curtains of Berlin is the graphic, non-fiction part of the Twin Projects: Berlin. The fiction part is the novel The Games. There is a character in the novel called Rainer-Werner Sprengberg who photographs lace curtains. These are "his" curtains.

The 196 pictures shown in this book are only a very small sample of what is available. There are literally hundreds of different kinds. To those readers who will make it to Berlin, it's like an appetizer. To the majority who won't, it's the only chance to experience this wonderful example of textile poetry.

You will need time to educate your eye. At first glance the curtains do not look beautiful. They seem ugly, tacky, sometimes even barbaric, the textile equivalent to sauerkraut with bratwurst. But take your time. Just walk around. It's a wonderful experience. With time you will learn to differentiate between them, to delight on the "variations on the same theme." You will rejoice when you discover a new type. Sometimes you will laugh out loud, other times you will want to cry even louder.

Slowly your feelings toward the curtains will change. And here comes the scariest part: someday you will lose all your inhibitions and will start to love them. Because they transcend their tackiness! The lace curtains of Berlin are the proof that tackiness, when taken to extremes, can acquire a poetic dimension.


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About the author (2001)

Jonathan David Gross is associate professor of English at DePaul University. He is the editor of Byron's 'Corbeau Blanc': The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Milbanke, Lady Melbourne (1997).