Inspirational Books Part 1: Manfred Kyber
Manfred Kyber, born on March 1, 1880 in Riga, Latvia (then under Russian rule), grew up on his father’s estate. He studied philosophy in Leipzig and later moved to Berlin, where he lived for ten years and published his first works. He lived in Löwenstein, Württemberg (southern Germany) since 1923. In addition to poems, a novel, plays, theater criticism and an introduction to occultism, he primarily wrote fairy tales and animal stories – partially humorous, partially serious – which, reminiscent of La Fontaine, humanize animals to a certain degree to convey their feelings and elaborate on philosophical questions. He became famous for his stories “Unter Tieren” (“Among Animals”). He was a pacifist and advocate of animals’ rights. He died on March 10, 1933 in Löwenstein.
As a child I was lucky to have discovered this wonderful writer who in more than one ways has helped me sooth, uplift and strengthen me at the start of my life and inspired me as a person and as a writer.
There are two books that stand out for me: ‘Die drei Lichter der kleinen Veronika’ (Engl. translation: The Three Candles of Little Veronica: The Story of a Child’s Soul in This World and the Other), novel, 1920 and ‘Tiergeschichten’.
‘Veronika’s Drievoudig Licht’ as it’s called in my native Dutch, is a beautiful profound and insightful story about the spiritual connection we are all having with one another and the burdens we are carrying in this life. It’s about a sensitive little girl with an old soul who can still see and hear the things around us, that most of us can’t any longer. She can talk to animals and sees elves, gnomes(who can be black or white) and spirits and angels in her favourite garden. She is protected on her life’s journey by her uncle, Johannes, who is connected to her through out many lives as a sort of guardian angel.
“-Worst of all is that you people understand less and less of it all when your body ages and it entangles itself with you.- ‘Have we come to this earth to become stupid?’, Veronika asked, ‘that would be strange?’‘No,’ said the elf, ‘you only become stupid because it grows darker around you and then you’ll have to find the light to understand everything again. And if you have found the light in the darkness then your understanding of life has improved. God has given this task to humanity to find the light. They shouldn’t just look for it and find it for themselves, but also for the animals, the plants and the rocks, and for the elves and the gnomes and for all that lives with them.”
“We have to do this voluntarily, Veronica. We have to try to help each other with carrying the burdens, for people, animals and all that lives. That is the way to the light.”
This emotional story will touch almost everyone that reads it, as the mysticism that is embedded in it is understood and sensed. It is a story of the heart; that cannot be reached by the thought process.
I have until now only read it two or three times in my life, but I often thought back about it and it made me want to re-read it. It has certainly helped and changed me.
“There is a distance that once was, that’s where we come from. There is distance, that once will be, that’s where we’re going to. Yet every distance is close by if we think about it. Build your temples and light works, light your candles, you who live in the now and remember: midnight is over and morning has arrived.”
‘Tiergeschiften’ (collected animal stories) is an anthology of fables with depth and insight where animals are the main characters. It’s written at the beginning of the last century but can still be read as freshly as then. Subjects such as anti-vivisection, anti-hunting, vegetarianism and animal love are as modern as ever.
Manfred Kyber is a master storyteller and animal activist who uses a combination of the show and tell technique without ever being long winded or preachy. His characters touches your heart and are as real as people with the same emotions and pain.
“Animals, just like us, have their own sense of humour and tragedy. Between us and them are similarities and mutual affairs. People often believe that between them and other animals there is a deep abyss. It’s only a minor rotation of the wheel of life. Because all of us are children of a unity. To understand nature, we have to understand her creatures. To understand a creature, we have to look upon it as our sibling.”
“The world is full of unheard cries for help. There are people that don’t hear them. It seems impossible to count all those in vain unheard calls. There are that many. But they are all counted. They are written down in the book of life.”
Der Schmied vom Eiland, poems, 1908
Unter Tieren, animal stories, 1912
Genius astri [Engl. translation: Genius astri: thirty-three poems], poems, 1918
Märchen, fairy tales, 1920
Im Gang der Uhr, novellas, 1922
Einführung in das Gesamtgebiet des Okkultismus, 1923
Neue Tiergeschichten, animal stories, 1926
Puppenspiel, fairy tale, 1928
Die drei Lichter der kleinen Veronika [Engl. translation: The Three Candles of Little Veronica: The Story of a Child’s Soul in This World and the Other], novel, 1920
Gesammelte Tiergeschichten, collected animal stories (combines Unter Tieren and Neue Tiergeschichten; the collection won the Literature Award of the Bureau International Humanitaire Zoophile in Geneva in 1930), 1934
Gesammelte Märchen, collected fairy tales, 1935
Other English translations (all out of print)
The Little Slipper Man