Monday 30 September 2019

ALS: Schwitters

08.03 schwitters

‘The kindling spark’, a very short story from 1926 by Kurt Schwitters, I read aloud in 1965 for Class Five of the Grotius Gymnasium School in Delft. It is a dialogue between Mr. Gross (a doctor) and Mr. Levy(the proprietor of a fashion shop). Gross is the acknowledged darling of all the ladies, he dances excellently, is good company, stylish and well-groomed. He has never had a sweetheart – in every woman he discovers something that displeases him. All this changes when he catches sight of a highly attractive young woman in the shop-window of a fashion shop. It is a mannequin, she is made of wax. He enters the shop and asks the proprietor if he may speak to the girl’s mother. The manager explains that she has no mother, she is a mannequin, he is her boss. Gross explains to him that he nevertheless wishes to marry her. Levy is not in favour of this, a discussion ensues, he loses the battle and says that in that case, they must marry in the shop-window. Gross agrees to this. Then the first sales assistant, who has been following the conversation says: ‘May I draw your attention to the fact that the lady in question writes shorthand using the Groote system?’ Gross says: ‘In that case, a marriage is completely out of the question, for I write shorthand using the Pont system. Good day to you!’
The next day I am rung up at school by the mother of a girl from Class Five. Her daughter is very upset because of the Schwitter’s story. I can understand that, on further consideration I regard it as a blunder on my part to have read the story aloud to children who are 17 years old. I offer my excuses.

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