Reading Across Cultures: Global Narratives, Hotels and Railway Stations
Zitzlsperger, Ulrike C.
Fudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
© The Author(s) 2016. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
This article takes its cue from the English critic, novelist and painter John Berger. He argues that what we know determines what we see. Hotels and railway stations, though they differ in size, design and appearance, are places of temporary national and international congress that are recognized by everyone. They become visible or even iconic once their history or their role is turned into at least part of a wider narrative—in literature, film or in other arts. This provides a representative focus by which we may read a city’s or a nation’s past. In exemplifying such connections I focus first on the long-term history of Friedrichstraße station and some of the surrounding hotels in the context of the history of Berlin, situating them within the national and, by implication, also the international context. Secondly, I will consider the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 as an event in which the role of railway stations generated both personal and collective memories across cultures and over several decades.
This is the final version of the article. Available from Springer Verlag via the DOI in this record.
First online: 13 January 2016