Frederick von Kammacher, about whose life cluster the incidents of the book, sets sail from Bremen in January, 1892. The date calls to mind Hauptmann's own visit to America: and the character suggests something of his creator's. Frederick is one of the "twilight souls" that lurked in the twilight of the late century: souls and days that seem faraway, tho Hauptmann is still their spokesman.(Translated by Adele and Thomas Seltzer.)
om the engine-room. One at a time five or six passengers came on board, porters carrying their luggage. The saloon was nothing more than a glass case on deck, inside of which, below the windows, a bench upholstered in red plush ran around the sides. At irregular intervals the bench was heaped with disorderly piles of luggage.
Everybody was taciturn. No one felt reposeful enough to settle in any one place for a length of time. What conversation there was, was conducted in a subdued, frightened sort of whisper. Three young ladies, one of whom was the Englishwoman of the reading-room, unwearyingly paced up and down the full length of the saloon. Their faces were unnaturally pale.
"This is the eighteenth time I have made the round trip," suddenly declared the clothing manufacturer, unsolicited.
"Do you suffer from seasickness?" somebody asked in reply.
"I scarcely set foot on the steamer when I turn into a corpse. That happens each time. I don't come back to life until shortly before we reach Hoboken