Schloss Nymphenburg, by Klaus G. Forg
While I was waiting for dinner last night at the home of a friend, as is frequently my fashion, I picked up a coffee table book . As might be expected, this short book (less than 100 pages, albeit fairly large pages) comes with a few surprises. One of the main surprises is that this book is mostly written in German, although about a quarter or so of the contenet, give or take, is translated into four other languages: English, French, Italian, and Japanese. For those whose German is even less proficient than myself, and my German is not particularly good, the book offers a great deal aside from the text, and that is a large number of elegant and high-quality photos of the mansion, its outbuildings, garden, objects d’art, and a fine collection of Chinese tapestries. As someone who enjoys reading books about manorial houses, this was the sort of book I enjoyed reading even with the linguistic challenge the book offered. There are likely plenty other people who would agree with me as well.
The contents of this book are well-organized and divided into several sections. The first section discusses how Nymphenburg Palace is a world-famous attraction, something that can easily be believed. Then there is a lengthy section on the main palace, a look at the contents of the park, and then a look at Amalienburg, Badenburg, Pagodenburg, and Magdalenklause. In the German, but not in the English, French, or Italian language sections, the book contains somewhat detailed discussions of the people involved in building the palace and the precise conditions involved in the acquisition of the various lovely paintings and tapestries and the creation and expansion of the garden. The other languages provide a much more brief discussion of the building and its contents, but the photos alone offer sufficient detail that it is plainly obvious just how gorgeous a sight this house must have been to its inhabitants and how it remains so for contemporary travelers. Of perhaps greatest interest, aside from the way the palace looks, is the way in which it represents a tribute to the struggle on the part of elite families to procreate and carry on their family name, something that many of us an relate to in our own way.
There is a lot to appreciate about a book like this–it offers a good deal of linguistic challenge for those who want to try their hand at German or any of the other languages the book is written in, it offers beautiful pictures with some compelling family stories, and it is the sort of book that one can read quickly and with great pleasure while waiting for dinner. A coffee table book that serves this set of qualities is something to be appreciated, and this book gives credit to its author, photographer(s), and publisher. There was likely pleasure at every step of the way in this book’s production and there would likely be pleasure to be found by anyone who picks up this book idly and reads through it over the course of a few minutes. What is not to appreciate about that, even if most of the language is difficult to understand? Some things in life are simply meant to be enjoyed.
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