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Raoul Schrott: Eine Geschichte des Windes

© 2019 Carl Hanser Verlag, München

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A History of the Wind, or The German Gunner who Once Rounded the World and then a Second and Third Time.
Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag, 2019.
ISBN 978-3-446-26380-2.

Raoul Schrott

Review

Excerpt – Section 50

There he is now on Plaza Mayor in Sevilla: back again, but not at home and with no sense of where to go—he has not become a Juan, after all. Neither is he the same old Hannes; the throngs who marvel at him as a homecomer from a voyage akin to Noah’s of yore now call him "Ahnes" and venerate him—undeservedly, in his opinion, for he has merely survived something, but not truly accomplished anything. He cannot see the audacity written into his own face—it only occurs to him that he now finds it easier to cloak his old timidity without grandstanding either, and that his heart is a gentle one: for what should he tell the poor souls who gather around him begging to hear about the fates of their dear husbands, fathers, brothers, or sons? At least he actually recalls them, and only knows that most of them suffered painful ends, starved to death, fell to some pestilence, or were stabbed, impaled, or otherwise. And so he fabricates all manner of Christian burials and soon comes to regret the fabulations and words of comfort; he is no parish priest, all he wants is a peaceful arrival and, preferably, permission to stay on the Victoria, on his bedroll between the bombards, but he can only do so until she is unloaded (before being dry-docked). So he must find lodging, and although he feels rich enough to rent a good home, he only has a handful of borrowed maravedi in his pocket, as the Casa de Contractación is postponing all wages. That is, until the day they resolve the questions of which contracts were signed with which ships (although he landed in the same ship, the bookkeeper still has doubts about whether he should be classed as a higher-paid artillery captain, and as of when), not to mention the legally unresolved mutiny situation, regarding which the prematurely returned San Antonio issued a report (on which no one has yet laid eyes). Until further notice his claims and, consequently, rightful share of the proceeds from the ship’s valuable cargo are, as is, effectively null and void. He dare not pawn his ruby from the fourth Carvalho sack—the contents of which the crew furtively divided amongst themselves—because, by now, he is a well-known and conspicuous figure in the town: to do so would immediately raise questions as to the legality of its acquisition, questions that would come back to haunt him. The same holds for the sack of cloves and nutmeg that he traded for on Tidore, as all valuables and spices from the journey are the express property of the Emperor, who summoned loyal Elcano to report to him personally. Said Elcano is now taking his pilot and Bustamante the barber—who proved a useful surgeon on the voyage—as right-hand men along to Valladolid; for that purpose, the Casa de Contractación is issuing them with the requisite clothing and a little pocket money, as a special exception—unlike Hannes, who must content himself with a shabby establishment, which does not trouble him in the least as it almost seems opulent compared to his previous quarters; nor is he troubled by the innkeepers who see his presence under their roof as a mark of fame and glory and are willing to tally up the rent on credit for the time being (for although he is quite close-mouthed, he is worth double to them thanks to the guests he draws to their tavern).

© 2019 Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich. 
© Translation by Jake Schneider

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