Letter: Conrad and the Polish laureates

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The Independent Online
Sir: I. I. Magdalen (16 October) supports an argument that 'ambiguity pervades Polish writing' by referring to E. T. A. Hoffmann's Maerchen ('the word derives from 'mark', the 'marches', the borderlines, which are always ambiguous'). The derivation is false. Hoffmann did indeed write Maerchen, 'fairy tales' in English. The word is a diminutive form of Middle High German maere, 'news, tale'. Critic hit by philology?

Yours sincerely,

JOHN MORRALL

Durham

17 October

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