Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Unheimlich / Uncanny * National Post Review

Google the German word unheimlich, and you will find the English-language Wikipedia page for “uncanny.” Google Translate “uncanny” into German, and “unheimlich” will appear. But the words have distinct roots: Wikipedia says that “uncanny” derives from the Anglo-Saxon ken, or knowledge, and means “something outside one’s familiar knowledge or perceptions.”
“Unheimlich” breaks down as “un-home-like.” In This Great Escape, Andrew Steinmetz pursues the uncanny in the English sense, by investigating the story of a distant cousin, Michael Paryla, who died in Hamburg not long after he appeared, uncredited, as a Gestapo agent in the 1963 film, The Great Escape.

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