Selected Letters from Mozart
Translated by Wolfgang Hildesheimer
This first excerpt is from a 22 year old Mozart to his cousin Bäsle his first "love." Just after leaving to go to Mannheim in 1777 he requests her to "deliver his compliments" to two women, mutual acquaintances. Read it first, and then Ill explain what he is really saying!
|"And say that I beg the youngest one, Fraulein Josepha, to forgive me, why not? Why should I not beg her to forgive me? Strange! Why should I not? Say that she must forgive me for not having yet sent her the sonata I promised her and that I shall send (schicken) it as soon as possible.- Why not?- What?- Why not?- Why should I not send it?- Why should I not dispatch it?- Why not?- Strange! I don't know why I shouldn't Well then - you will do me this favor. - Why not?- Why should you not do it?- Why not?- Strange! I shall do the same for you, when you want me to. Why not? Why should I not do it for you? Strange! Why not! - I can't think why not?"|
Whats really going on in the letter is a playful word game involving what obviously was an erotic tryst he had with Bäsle. By replacing the German word schicken (send) with one that rhymes with it ficken (fuck) the whole letter takes on a crasser tone, but what at the same time had to be understood as flirtatious. As Hildesheimer points out in his book on Mozart, the question of "Why Not?" must have occurred to the cousins often at the beginning of their relationship, until they came to see there was no reason why they shouldnt: "Do it "
In this letter, also to Bäsle, he engages in his favorite literary technique of what I call Potty-patter.
|"Perhaps you think or are even
convinced that I am dead? That I have pegged out? Or hopped a twig? Not
at all. Don't believe it, I implore you. For believing and shitting are
two very different things! Now how could I be writing such a beautiful hand
if I were dead? How could that be possible? I shan't apologize for my very
long silence, for you would never believe me. Yet what is true -is true.
I have had so many things to do that I had time indeed to think of my little
cousin, but not to write, you see. So I just had to let things be. But now
I have the honor to inquire how you are and whether you perspire? Whether
your stomach is still in good order? Whether indeed you have no disorder?
Whether you still can like me at all? Whether with chalk you often scrawl?
Whether now and then you have me in mind? Whether to hang yourself you sometimes
feel inclined? Whether you have been wild? With this poor foolish child?
Whether to make peace with me you'll be so kind? If not, I swear I'll let
off one behind! Ah, you're laughing! Victoria! Our arses shall be the symbol
of our peacemaking I knew that you wouldn't be able to resist me much longer.
Why, of course, I'm sure of success, even if today I should make a mess,
though to Paris I go in a fortnight or less. So if you want to send a reply
to me from that town of Augsburg yonder, you see, then write at once, the
sooner the better, so that I may be sure to receive your letter, or else
if I'm gone I'll have the bad luck, instead of a letter to get some muck.
Muck! -Muck! - Ah, muck! Oh, sweet word! Muck! Chuck! That too 'is
fine. Muck, chuck!-muck!-suck-oh, charmante! muck, suck! That's what I like!
Muck, chuck and suck! Chuck muck and suck muck!
Now for something else. When the carnival was on, did you have some good fun? One can have far more fun at this time in Augsburg than here. How I wish I were with you so that we could run about together. Mama and I send our greetings to your father and mother and to you, little cousin, and we trust all three of you are well and in good spirits. Praise and thanks be to God, we are in good health. Don't believe it. All the better, better the all. A propos, how are you getting on with your French? May I soon send you a whole letter in French? You would like one from Paris, would you not? Do tell me whether you still have that Spuni Cuni business?"
Spuni Cuni is one of the mystery words that appear in Mozarts letters. We are unable to ascertain its real meaning, though this too seems to have erotic overtones. Interesting note however, the rhythmic "patter" he gets into in the letter is not unlike arias found in certain Italian operas. As Hildesheimer observes, "Oh sweet word" sounds suspiciously close to a opera libretto with the exclamation, "O dolce parola."