The Guesthouse at the Sign of the Teetering Globe
Franziska Zu Reventlow
Translated from the German by James J. Conway. In 1917, the world appears to be tilting on its axis. Accustomed certainties are no more, alliances are forged and just as soon abandoned. In the first of seven thematically related stories, we meet reform-minded German eccentric Hieronymus Edelmann on a Spanish island, where he leads a crocodile around on a leash and lures his compatriots to a precarious guesthouse. His motives are opaque, but one of his schemes is a correspondence association which appears to be an analogue chat room. Elsewhere we find the “polished little man” who moves in truly mysterious ways and may in fact be a group delusion; a séance that turns into an illicit affair across dimensions; and a band of travellers overawed by the occult power of their luxury luggage–consumers possessed by their possessions. The surreal scenarios of The Guesthouse at the Sign of the Teetering Globe remain vivid and unsettling a century later. With dry humour and a profound sense of the uncanny, “bohemian countess” Franziska zu Reventlow diagnoses a world in feverish transition.