One of the most unusual books that I have ever read is the novella Mine-Haha, or On the Bodily Education of Young Girls (Original German title is ‘Mine-Haha oder Uber korperliche Erziehung der jungen Madchen) which was originally published in 1903.
It describes the bizarre education and socialisation of a young girl, Hidalla, at a boarding school located in the idyllic ‘park’ which is isolated behind high walls. The lessons, taught by the older girls, consist of gymnastics, dance and music.
The ‘park’ is funded by the takings from a theatre where the girls perform nightly in ‘pantomimes’ of an adult nature which they do not fully understand. On the onset of menstruation the girls leave the school by an underground train to the outside world.
Nothing is clear cut in this book and events can be interpreted in several ways.
There is a copy available in the Education in Literature Collection. Why not read it for yourself and see what you think?
The author Frank (Benjamin Franklin) Wedekind (1864-1918) was a German playwright whose work often criticized bourgeois attitudes (particularly towards sex) and is considered to anticipate expressionism.
One attempt at a cinematic interpretation of the novella is the French film Innocence (2004) directed by Lucile Hadzihaililovic and starring Marion Cotillard. The DVD is also in the Education in Literature Collection.
As with the majority of books in the Education in Literature Collection this novel may be borrowed for 3 weeks. The DVD may be borrowed for 1 week. The Collection is shelved Library Teaching Room on Level Four of the Newsam Library and Archives.