Thursday, June 24, 2010

Madame de Stael, Stefan Zweig, and Hermanus.

Madame de Stael lived in Paris and Switzerland in the late 18th / early 19th centuries, and was famous for her literary and political salons; Stefan Zweig was an Austrian cosmopolitan whose books were read all over the world during the first half of the 20th century; Hermanus is a picturesque vacation and whale-watching town in South Africa's Riviera.

OK, fine, but what is the connection?

A bookstore.

Not just a regular bookstore but
a most unique and charming second-hand bookstore owned by a cool South African couple: Beth and Noel Hunt.

Beth and Noel Hunt in front of the "Hemingway's Bookshop"
Photo: Wolfgang Leander
Click to enlarge

It was at the "Hemingway" bookstore where I found, and bought, a book by Stefan Zweig ("Drei Meister"), published in Germany in 1923, and Madame de Stael's classic oeuvre "De l'Allemagne".
I would have never met the Hunts were it not for my buddy Jean-Francois Avenier, aka "Jifa", who lives in Hermanus and is a good friend of them.

Both Beth and Noel love books - most definitely a prerequisite to open a store to sell used and rare books which is what they did some fifteen years ago to fulfill an old dream of theirs.

Beth is also a published author; she has written
a beautiful book about Hermanus, a coffee table book, richly illustrated and even featuring some of Jifa's wildlife photographs.

Beth and her first book "Hermanus"
Photo: Wolfgang Leander
Click to enlarge

A second, very personal book is underway, and almost ready to be born, as it were. It's Beth's autobiography, and since she is a youthful lady, more books by her can be expected in years to come. Noel is the president of the Beth Hunt Fan Reader Club, and a passionate painter in his spare time.

This remarkable couple owns a handful of dogs, all rescued from the streets, which gives you an idea about the size of their hearts. Not long ago they
started a crusade against the killing of baboons.

I absolutely love Beth and Noel - they are my kinda people!

The HuntsPhoto: Wolfgang Leander
Click to enlarge

Here's to the Hunts! They have been married to each other for the past 25 years; may they live together another 25 years - at the very least!!

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