The Story Behind ‘The Lübecker’ by M.J. Joseph

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The Lübecker was written primarily on a breezy, inset porch of a large, white, lap-sided, 1912 house overlooking Pensacola Bay, so architecturally typical, but now, so frequently disappearing, before gentrification along the coastal South. While this setting recalled childhood memories that influenced the novel, I began constructing character apologues that ultimately inspired the development of The Lübecker after a conversation I had with a friend two years before in England, while sitting on a weathered old bench located on the apex of the Lincoln Edge, overlooking a long abandoned Roman well. Our chat concerned, amongst other things,  the life of his German grandmother, the effect that the sight of film actress Gina Lollobrigida’s bosom had on us as adolescents, Lawrence Durrell’s autographical book, Bitter Lemons and the life, work and milieu of Lou Andreas-Salomé.  And, of course, the Roman well. As I wrote during the months subsequent to this conversation, I found myself remembering other stories, as told to me by other European friends, of their relations and acquaintances who wandered about their continent seeking adventure, or employment, or love, or the fulfillment of some spiritual or intellectual cacoethes, which had further effect by recalling the restless history of Andreas-Salomé.

After constructing several character sketches, the structure of another work by Lawrence Durrell, his most famous, The Alexandria Quartet, began haunting my attempts to build a narrative to capture the characters developing rapidly in my imagination. I decided that parallel narratives, spun on their own as farraginous tales using the influence of place, which figures so importantly in The Alexandria Quartet, the old, reliable Bildungsroman and a few shared philosophical challenges, would allow the characters growth, with the presentation of the historical dynamics, chosen to anchor the book, pushing them toward a final, convincing resolution.  I also fancied them as the children of Lou Andreas-Salomé, who bore no children, but I wanted my revelation of Lou, experienced over forty years, to arouse a familial sense among the disparate, primary characters offered in The Lübecker.

Finally, the realization that all of the principal characters were proving to be restive and impatient for progression as I excogitated them, led me to bow to the inevitable commitment to give the most singular among them a book of their own, further imitating Durrell, allowing them their own unique voices to expand the world of The Lübecker.

9781614935247-JacketGray_Lubecker COVER.inddNameM. J. Joseph

Book TitleThe Lübecker

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Peppertree Press

The Lubecker explores the dynamics of personal identity and self-knowledge in a thematically braided journey of characters toward a dramatic and unexpected finale. M.J. Joseph achieves this by plunging the reader into a world of parallel and lively narratives drawn into the roiling milieu of European history leading to the onset of World War I. the book also recalls many of Western Literature’s most engaging philosophical and religious challenges and its most memorable and moving human struggles.




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