Last week, one of my friends asked me to write a short text for her website. She wanted it to be some kind of fanfiction about the impressionist writer Rainer Maria Rilke. Well, she didn’t actually employ the word “fanfiction”, but she wanted me to invent a story about why the writer had spent a part of his life in Paris, mentioning, that it hadn’t necessarily need to be true – so basically fanfiction.
It’s very funny how things happen in life. Only a couple of days before, I had read an article about students being much more into literature than their teachers would have expected. They invent alternative story-endings, or add some funny details to their beloved book or movie characters lives, letting them experience great adventures and unexpected relationships. Although the author of the original book might not be too happy about the fan’s rich and wild imagination, I think that fanfiction is a very interesting and delightful way of interpreting a story. And in some cases, it even gives space to new productions, like Snow White as a horror movie. Well, this is more of a reinterpretation than fanfiction, but I think that it’s pretty close, though.
While reading the article, I was already thinking about what I would do to the characters of Harry Potter. And since the book is so incredibly detailed, I found it quite hard to imagine anything which still would make sense to the book, but be totally new to the story. Also, I’m respecting my childhood heroes way too much to imagine them in a threesome or anything of this kind. (According to the article, people’s imagination is endless and touches all areas.) And so I came to the conclusion, that I would probably never write anything which can be categorized as fanfiction. Despite of all that, I surprisingly did, just a few days later, on the request of my friend. And it was fun! And since I had to do some research as well, like finding out more about Rilke’s biography, learning more about historic and cultural events which were important at that time, I actually upgraded my general knowledge.
And le voilà the text I finally wrote:
The Story of a Youth to Discover Paris
“Why Paris of all cities? That’s a good question.
It mostly was thanks to my friend Auguste Rodin, who had had a big influence on me taking this decision, after all, it was him who had offered me the position as his secretary. I could never have rejected such an offer, particularly as I have always been a great admirer of his artwork. And of course, Paris is a very scenic city, considerably more charming than London, which seems to be a little too gloomy for my taste. And considering that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle probably found the inspiration for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in current events, then I’m feeling a little uneasy about England. Besides, the weather there seems to dampen one’s mood and to make one miserable. I do not want to deny at all that the English culture has its appeal and that it produced quite a few great and brilliant authors and artists, let’s just name Charles Dickens or William Turner. But it seems as if Paris was more pleasant after all.
I find it especially interesting that the Russian culture, which has always aroused my enthusiasm, has been following the French example. Who knows, if my friend hadn’t made this offer, I maybe would have traveled to Russia first. I think it’s a fascinating country.
Paris isn’t any less splendid, of course. Art and beauty are always celebrated there, even in everyday’s life. Just think of Parisian fashion! This makes me think of how impassioned my mother used to talk about French couture. From my very early age, she tried to share her love for French fashion with me. I suppose, and Sigmund Freud would certainly agree, that the enchantment my mother felt for the French style has left its mark on me in a manner that it explains my curiosity for Paris. Besides, I’m convinced that there’s almost no other city which could be more suitable for an artist. Magnificent beauty always surrounds you, everything is incredibly picturesque. Not to mention the remarkable architecture. And the gardens! They’re just a true paradise. If you have ever been to the Jardin du Luxembourg or the Jardin des Plantes, you know what I’m talking about. It’s almost impossible not to find any inspiration in those places and not to be impressed by Paris.”