Reading the first pages of Jean Paul’s novel, I have rediscovered how difficult it is. And it’s the narrator’s fault! He knows so much about so many things that he can’t help stuffing it all into every sentence. He is also impatient—and here the first moment of reading when I burst into laughter.
The narrator is describing why Albano’s father has summoned him from Germany (where he has undergone two decades of education) to northern Italy where they will see one another for the first time. Perhaps it’s this, the narrator thinks, or maybe it’s for another reason, or . . . and here he comes to a stop and declares that he would be a fool if he were to burden the beginning of his book with a detailed and meticulous and magnetically declined astronomical chart of all the reasons behind the thinking of this great man who is the father of Albano: “—he, not I, is the father of his son and he is the one to know why he has so gruffly summoned him.” And that’s that.