The Corona Diaries: To Live and Die in Paris and here


Everything is changing. We might not yet know how the world will look like once the air is clear again, but not many things will remain the same, in the same place, in the same way. At the very least, things will look the same, but feel different. That’s in large part because we are no longer the same, already now, and even more so later. We must get our bearings back. That might mean all kinds of consequences, from excellent to catastrophic.


They say that you could rebuild Dublin just by reading James Joyce’ Ulysses. That is true to an even greater extent for Hugo’s Les Misérables. I had started a German audiobook version of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables before the Covid days, but I listened to the latter two thirds in just over a week. Like many others, all I had was time. It is read by Gert Westphal, an actor whose voice I was already familiar with because it was on poetry tapes that our German teacher played for us. It’s a 59 trip through French history, and it’s worth it. Westphal has one of those voices that work for me. I’ve abandoned audiobooks because the voice didn’t fit the book.And then there is the BBC series from 2019, a six-parter, starring Dominic West, Lily Collins, David Oyelowo, Olivia Coleman, Adeel Akhtar, David Bradley, Erin Kellyman and David Bradley, among many, many others. I am not entirely sold on Ellie Bamber’s Cosette, but it’s a good series that made me realize connections that I must have missed in the book. It also defuses some of the novel’s moments where Hugo got carried away with his dramatic moments.


If Mr Yellowhair insists on using the term ‘Chinese virus’, somebody should tell him that the Spanish flu, much deadlier than what we are going through here, started in the U.S. in 1918.


We got informed today that in the retirement home where someone of my extended family resides since January, two very old people with severe pre-existing illnesses have died from the virus. Staff members have tested positive and are at home, self-isolating. Just imagine: you are a health-care worker, testing positive, and people in your care die because of the virus. You then need to go home and self-isolate, where you get all the time in the world to think about the possibility that it was you who gave the virus to a member of an at-risk group. I don’t think I would be prepared to deal with such a thing.


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