There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Monday, December 10, 2007

Richard Brautigan and The Old Bus in Germany

Are you from Germany and looking for something about Richard Brautigan's short story "The Old Bus" from his "Revenge of the Lawn" collection? Leave a comment explaining what brought you here. I'm curious.

OK. For the rest of you, let me explain. Each day, one or two people from Germany visit this blog after searching for "the old bus richard brautigan" on Google. My post, The young bus and the old guy, is on the first page of results but far from the top and obviously not authoritative on the topic. But still these people in Germany continue to arrive.

I'm assuming that there's an American Literature class somewhere in Germany that is using Brautigan. I'd love to know how the teacher introduces him to the class. He was my favorite writer in high school, but I'm at a loss to imagine why he would be of interest in Germany today and especially that particular short story.

As an aside that moves this post even more off topic, I want to say "Wow, that's neat" to the Google Translate people. One of the Germans who visited today used Google Translate to read my post in German. Here's the link to the German translation. What's fun here is the ability to click on a sentence and see what the original text said. If you don't like the translation, you can click on a plus symbol and add your recommended translation. Needless to say, I don't know anything about German and have no idea how accurate the translation is.


jen l said...


well i came to the site by searching brautigan + german. i run the brautigan pages site ( ) & someone on our mailing list was looking for translations... and here i am!

if you're getting lots of german hits then i think you're spot on with the literature class. did u ever find out?

John said...

No word yet from anyone in Germany. I'd love to know the context in which Brautigan is discussed. Why was he chosen?

Ray said...

Since no one has commented yet...

Maybe make a new post with the lead sentence in German, asking the same question (Warum sind Sie something-or-other?).

John said...

I suppose posting in German might solicit a comment, but I was expecting (hoping for) someone taking an American literature class who could read and understand English. I don't know German and I'm hesitant to rely on online translation services to create a German post for me.

chr said...

Hi John,

Well, I'm German and from Germany. Sorry to disappoint you. No American lit class. Just a new German translation of "Willard and His Bowling Trophies". I just entered "Richard Brautigan" looking for new reviews, as I read all the articles on Jen's above-mentioned site. Nothing to do with "The Revenge of the Lawn" at all. Google isn't all that specific at times. And automatic translations are... guess what? Exactly :-) The least said the better.

simon said...

hi there,
i´m teaching an advanced level english course at a german high school. currently we are discussing texts that all deal with protagonists in a moment of crisis (e.g. ´A box-social´ by James Reaney, ´The Baby´ by Donald Barthelme).
that´s what brought me to your page- and I had a good laugh reading your comments on google hits and online translation efforts.

Anonymous said...

I'm an American living in Germany, with a German stepson. His high school English class is using "The Bus" as a way of teaching the kids how to analyze and write about literature. It's an odd short-short to be using for such an exercise at this level in an ESL class (too many grammatical quirks), but that's what they're doing. I searched the story on Google, because I didn't remember it and had the impression that the photocopied version the kids have was not the complete version. But it is.

Roman Wolfgang said...

Please help me! I believe I understand the first part of the sentence, but what does Brautigan mean with:

"... with cantle floors following me onto the bus." ???

I'm a native German speaker from Austria

Roman Wolfgang

Anonymous said...


"The Old Bus" is a suggestion for English teachers in Germany to discuss short stories. As a tutor for a high school student, I read the story today and was just searching some more material with which to provide my student. Personally, I do not find this story the best example for discussing the general genre of short stories, but Brautigan is for sure a nice pick in broadening the literary horizon.

Regards from Germany, Jess