During these days, literature can also be experienced outside of the fair: the audio walk “Balado Book Fair” leads across the city.
She gets on the bus and sits down, pressing her hot forehead against the cool window. (…) He’s heading for the bridge. ”While I hear the first sentences from the novel“ Taqawan ”by the Canadian author Éric Plamondon through my headphones, my mind is already far away – somewhere in Canada, a country that I think most from literature and film connoisseurs. But physically I am standing on the Ignatz-Bubis Bridge, the Main flows below me and I look at the Frankfurt skyline, which seems to support the dark gray autumn sky.
I am at the first stop of the “Book Fair Balado”, a listening walk designed by the Institut français, which should lead me through the city to the book fair with French-language literature in my ears. The route that I have to take is drawn on an app and I can listen to audio pieces at twenty stations. While the literary bridge to this year’s host country Canada is being built right from the start, Dominique Petre, the cultural representative from the Institut français Frankfurt, accompanies me in my ears. It tells of encounters with well-known authors in the city and incorporates numerous anecdotes. I now walk past the Literaturhaus, along the banks of the Main. There are still around eight kilometers to go and a lot of unheard words ahead of me.
The audio walk
“Balado Book Fair” is a project for the 2021 book fair by the Institut français. The 85-minute listening program is divided into twenty stations in the city. The path is about 8.5 kilometers long.
The audio program can be called up via the “Guidemate” app with a route map. It’s free and in German. App and information at: guidemate.com, institutfrancais.de/frankfurt-am-main
With read passages from the novel “Testament russe” by the Indo-French writer Shumona Sinha, I try to be carried away by the beautiful words and to perceive my surroundings a little more literarily. The red autumn leaves, the graffiti lettering, the people who pulled their hoods over their faces. But before I can really dive down, I turn to the cathedral. Here I fall briefly into another time, the year 1840, the year in which Victor Hugo traveled to Frankfurt and described the view from the cathedral as “Un ensemble pur et charming”. Voltaire is also said to be just around the corner after a dispute with the future King of Prussia, Friedrich II. have been held captive for a short time.
The streets of the old town are lively, a street musician plays the violin, as if he would consciously want to accompany my walk. In the direction of Römer, I also find out where the French President Emmanuel Macron ate after his election on the beef fillet with “la sauce verte”. Now I have to take the tram in the direction of Willy-Brandt-Platz while sitting with my ears in the Paris metro. Then my way goes through the Gallusanlage towards the Alte Oper and I hear from the stars of the French literary scene: Michel Houellebecq, Édouard Louis, Leïla Slimani.
But while the head seems to drift away, the walk continues in Frankfurt and leads through Rothschild Park to the Goethe University campus. The places change in my head and at the same time cityscapes die and people die around me. The transition from university to Grüneburgpark is accompanied in the ears with the science of walking with passages from “Éloge de la marche” by the sociologist David Le Breton:
“Going is opening up to the world. It brings people back into the blissful feeling of their existence. ”I now concentrate entirely on walking, watch people die around me and am fascinated by how differently they move. Slurping, pedaling, jogging, synchronously in step, tripping, staggering. What poetry of walking! In the meantime I am on the last third of the way, walking past the Palmengarten, past the Senckenberg Museum and after about three hours of listening to my walk I am in front of my destination: the exhibition halls. And here the journey continues with all the senses.