Friday 4 March 2011

Le Rouge et le Noir

When I was doing stage 2 French at Canterbury University, I'm afraid I managed to slip through without more than the most superficial acquaintance of this novel by Stendhal (ie, going to the lectures but not actually opening the book. Shhh.) I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it, if it was like the ones I did plough through, especially the modern ones later on: stiflingly intense and humourless. And so many words. Surprisingly, perhaps, I much preferred the German literature I studied, especially Wolfgang Borchert, especially Nachts schlafen die Ratten doch (I love that use of doch) - a wartime story about a little boy worried that rats would eat his brother's corpse under the rubble, if he didn't keep watch through the night; until an old man tells him "The rats sleep at night."

Yesterday they officially switched from rescue to recovery in Christchurch. It's been a week since anyone was rescued alive. Many bodies still lie under the broken buildings, and the work continues to find them, but it will be a long, slow business, despite heartening help from disaster teams here from Australia, the UK, US, Korea, Japan, China...

And today it was officially Red and Black Day: Canterbury colours worn around the country in support by everyone from schoolkids to the Prime Minister. A couple of streets away here on Auckland's North Shore, a Canterbury student is organising a grand garage sale to raise money for Christchurch. She looks so young, and eager, and has energy in spades (literally) like all the newly-formed and fabulous Student Volunteer Army. Good for them.
Photos show the old Townsite university, now the Arts Centre. That tower above was how it looked in 2009; the photo below was taken in November after the first earthquake. I wonder how it looks today?

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