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Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
Journey through the Island of Rügen: A Classical Journey by Arthur Strohmeier is a fresh rendition, a translation of the work of Johann Jacob Grümbke published in 1803, and a work of adventure with hints of sociology. In a collection of twelve letters, Grümbke describes the island, allowing readers to discover its geography and hidden pearls, providing insights and information on the people who lived there — their unique culture, livelihood, and mode of travel. He describes some of the notable people on the island and explores their religious beliefs and customs. The writing is intimate, and done in a style that unveils the narrator’s eagerness and excitement to share his experiences with his friend.
This non-fiction work takes readers to the Island of Rügen — and it honestly feels like a great place to visit — and takes them on an adventure through the unique landscape, its peculiarities, and the singular cultural expressions of the inhabitants. Here is one of the images the author captures upon arriving and it’s interesting to notice how he communicates his emotions through the narrative: “I encounter a second bay, with a similar breadth through which I even go through, but in its scenic aspect it was still eventually surpassed. Near it lies the small church village (Kirchdorf) of Landow and aside to the left, behind full-fronted trees, is the Ralow estate.”
For a work that is translated, I found Journey through the Island of Rügen: A Classical Journey to be utterly engaging. The writing flows with simplicity, and it is sprinkled with scenes and moments of wonderment. The turn of phrase is unique and it reflects — undoubtedly — the writing in the original letters. It is at times poetic, laced with powerful imagery, like when the narrator describes his arrival in Bergen, where the “ground is continuously flat and fruitful” with grain flowers, estates, clover fields, and villages. Arthur Strohmeier does an impeccable job in bringing to readers this adventure and an island they can visualize in all its aspects.