History, Luther

Martin Luther Awakened to Find Someone a Husband

A treasure from the Table Talk.

When the doctor had gone to bed a man came who had been sent by the widow of the pastor in Belgern to ask for a husband. He [Martin Luther] said, “Give [her a husband]? She’s over seven years of age! Let her find her own husband! I can’t provide one for her.”

When the messenger had departed he said to me, laughing, “For God’s sake I’ll inquire. Write this down, Schlaginhaufen! What a bother! Am I to furnish husbands for these women? They must take me for a pimp! Fie on the world! Write it down, dear fellow, make a note of this!”

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Dolnstein, History, Luther, Northern Plains

Double Book Progress & Toxic Tourism

The Black Band: Finished draft 2 of chapter 3 and fired it off to my editor. Today I have a 3 hour Write-In with a colleague to work on chapter 4, in which Paul Dolnstein drinks a beer with Martin Luther.

The War with the Sioux: Today brings a Skype editing meeting with my co-translator.

Toxic Tourism: Apparently this is a thing. Toxic Tourism is a form of activist tourism where people pay to visit environmental disaster zones. These would be zones created by human actions – pollution in particular.

Bill Caraher notes that Toxic Tourism tends toward a less than helpful focus on “economically disadvantaged, minority, and marginalized communities which do not have the political standing to challenge unscrupulous producers or the location and precautions associated with dangerous and toxic industries.” Caraher talks about its impact on the Bakken oil patch here.

Dolnstein, Luther, Workshopping a Novel. "The Hundred: A Novel of Young Luther and His World"

Things To Keep In Mind While Working On The Next Novel

  • If it is not central to the plot, do not include it.
  • If you must include it, change the plot.
  • Every chapter is its own story.
  • Tight, clean book. (There will be foul language as it is about Luther, peasants, and mercenaries. Clean here means clutter free.)
  • Keep the goals of the book ever in mind.
  • Do not explain. Rather, let the characters live the story. If you must explain, let the characters do it for you.
Dolnstein, History, Literary Project, Luther, Northern Plains, Village Arts

Book Updates

The War with the Sioux: Norwegians against Indians, 1862-1863 is with the publisher now. We are working on images and maps. The hope is a fall print date. The War with the Sioux is a collaborative translation of Karl Jakob Skarstein’s Krigen mot Siouxene: nordmenn mot indianerne, 1862-1863.

Voices from the Prairie is printing, as I understand it. Voices from the Prairie is a regional literary anthology.

The Black Band, the novel of Martin Luther and the Peasants’ War, is receiving all of my writing time now. I am adding several new chapters and have rewritten those I posted earlier to Scribd. I have hopes of being done by the end of the summer. We shall see. In the meantime, if I seem stranger than usual it is because I am in the 16th century.

Dolnstein, Luther, Workshopping a Novel. "The Hundred: A Novel of Young Luther and His World"

Workshopping Chapter 1

Luther's Parents, Hans and Margarethe (called Hannah)
Luther’s Parents, Hans and Margarethe (called Hannah)

The Hundred: A Novel of Young Luther and His World

As noted when I posted the Preface, I am putting provisional chapters of my novel out there as I work toward finishing this book. There are numerous problems I’ll need to overcome with these working drafts. Feedback on drafts of my non-fiction has been useful; I expect similar results from feedback on fiction drafts. Two writers’ groups are workshopping drafts. Through Scribd, the public will also have access to the work as it happens. I appreciate any and all feedback. It probably goes without saying, but please be polite.

Two Notes:

  1. This chapter and Chapter 2 may be switched in order in the final manuscript.
  2. Working covers are only visual aids at this point, but feedback on those is welcome as well.

Purposes of a Public Approach to Drafting a Work of Fiction:

  • To generate feedback on drafts.
  • To allow those with an interest in the book to watch it unfold.
  • To open Luther’s world for the curious.
  • To motivate me to finish a project that has driven my academic research for a number of years.
Dolnstein, Luther, Workshopping a Novel. "The Hundred: A Novel of Young Luther and His World"

Workshopping a Novel: Preface.

The Hundred: A Novel of Young Luther and His World

I have been working on two Luther novels for more years than I care to admit now. A full initial draft of the second novel is done, and I am presently adding to a draft of the first novel. I have decided to put chapter drafts out there on the interwebs, as they say, as I get to them. By “out there” I mean that two writers’ groups will workshop this with me. Through Scribd, the public will also have access to the work as it happens, and will have the opportunity to provide feedback. The cover is more a visual aid than anything else, but input on cover design is welcome too.
This public approach has several purposes:
  • To generate feedback on drafts. 
  • To allow those with an interest in the book to watch it unfold. 
  • To open Luther’s world for the curious.
  • To motivate me to finish a project that has driven my academic research for a number of years. 
Luther, Workshopping a Novel. "The Hundred: A Novel of Young Luther and His World"

Darkness

I am often struck by how very black and alive the darkness used to be. Lately I have been waking in the middle of the night. Nightmares, which so rarely visit me, have been a constant in recent days. Waking to a house that is never entirely without light because of nearby streetlights, I am reminded how very dark a moonless night must have been five hundred years ago.

In a world as full of demons as of people, fraught with “quotidien violence” as Julius Ruff describes it, and constant threats of war and deadly illness, the dark was very frightening indeed. One always had to be on one’s guard, even in the moment of death, as here demons tempt the dying.

Johan Huizinga described the late medieval world beautifully:

“The contrast between silence and sound, darkness and light, like that between summer and winter, was more strongly marked than it is in our lives. The modern town hardly knows silence or darkness in their purity, nor the effect of a solitary light or a single distant cry.

“All things presenting themselves to the mind in violent contrasts and impressive forms, lent a tone of excitement and of passion to everyday life and tended to produce that perpetual oscillation between despair and distracted joy, between cruelty and pious tenderness which characterize life in the Middle Ages.”

How different this is from the homely coziness of modern lamplit rooms late in the evening. It is almost impossible to imagine living with such unlovely companions as the demons above. How bizarre this seems to us, but people found ways to deal with darkness.

My favorite medieval response to night and the fears that haunted it comes from Martin Luther:

“Almost every night when I wake up, the devil is there and wants to dispute with me. I have come to this conclusion: When the argument that the Christian is without the law and above the law doesn’t help, I instantly chase him away with a fart.”