Anyone who went for a walk on the beach in Noordwijk aan Zee in 1964 could see the ship of the pirate broadcaster Radio Veronica anchored off the Dutch coast. One who did that was eight-year-old Rolf Parr. The later literary scholar spent his summer vacation with his family in the coastal town. He thought he knew what these pirates looked like from his favorite film at the time: “The Red Corsair” with Burt Lancaster as pirate captain Vallo. The superimposed images and fantasies, the author suggests, belong to the mixture that, in retrospect, formed a starting point for the 1968 revolution.
In fact, according to the description attributed to Daniel Defoe of the pirate republic Libertalia from the year 1724, which is attributed to Daniel Defoe, pirates belong to the basic stock of progressive freedom myths. They offer an almost inexhaustible fund, which continues to inspire the imagination of authors to this day, as the volume 282 of the literary magazine “Die Horen” entitled “Allerlei Seestücke” proves once again. The pirates cavort in numerous adventure stories, but they have always inspired authors who later became part of high culture.
Friedrich Schiller’s “Das Schiff”, “Die Flibusters” and “Das Seestück” are three fragments of drama from around 1800, in which the poet describes the pirate ship as a place where the demands of just a few years past French Revolution for freedom, equality and fraternity is realized. The booty is shared fairly and usually consumed immediately in lavish festivals. “Everything won,” says Schiller, “is immediately faded away. Tremendous waste and the greatest shortage quickly follow one another. ”In doing so, the pirates, however, violate the principles of bourgeois society, which are geared towards the accumulation of wealth.
The captain, in turn, is elected and, if he tries to extend his powers beyond the area of control that is incumbent on him, is immediately disempowered. “One has mistrust of the leader,” said Schiller, “that he wanted to betray the common cause.” Therefore, according to the literary scholar Torsten Hahn, the poet is also fascinated by the subject of mutiny, which plays a role in all three fragments. “A commander is suspended if the ship has rebelled,” says Schiller’s fragment “Das Schiff”. According to Hahn, these are aesthetic experiments with the help of which the poet wants to demonstrate to his audience how equality and freedom can become possible.
But by no means only leftists took the pirates’ free and independent way of life as a model. The writer Alida Bremer recalls that those proto-fascist militants who rallied around the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio and took control of the coastal town of Fiume, now Rijeka in Croatia, from 1919 to 1920 saw themselves as pirates and even ships raided to finance their “republic”. “The legionaries and the poet,” said Bremer, “took cocaine, bathed naked in the sea, felt overwhelming in an unleashed, intoxicating constellation that D’Annunzio had designed as a decadent total work of art.”
His intention was to join Fiume to the Italian nation. Although the constitution that D’Annunzio had drafted by a socialist and syndicalist named Alceste de Ambris, the later fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, with its freedom of the press and guaranteed rights for trade unions, was on the whole too democratic, his black shirts were enthusiastic about the short-lived community of Outlaws who went down in history as the “Commune of the Fascists”.
It is therefore surprising that Hakim Bey, of all people, who has dedicated himself to the anarchist utopia of a society free of domination, was enthusiastic about this strange pirate republic and declared it a prime example of a »Temporary Autonomous Zone« (1991) in the cult book of the same name. Fiume, according to Bremer, was “discovered again and again by some writers who are hardly interested in the real consequences of this adventure and who glorify their own projections as the greatest freedom.”
More than half a century after D’Annunzio’s invasion of Fiume, another pirate made a solemn entry into the territory that was then called Yugoslavia. However, this time it was not a flesh and blood pirate, but the title character of a TV series.
The writer Jurica Pavičić tells how the title hero of the Italian television series »Sandokan« has thrilled audiences in non-aligned Yugoslavia since 1976 as a heroic anti-imperialist pirate in the Malaysian sea. “The British colonizers were the bad guys, the anti-colonial resistance was portrayed as praiseworthy and the hero was played by an actor from friendly India.”
On a total of 280 pages, the “Horen” volume contains numerous pieces of fictional and non-fictional short prose that revolve around the broad topic. There are also poems and depictions about the role of pirates in the universe of the Asterix comics, the afterlife of piracy on the opera stage, in film and in video games and finally numerous illustrations in color and black and white, including photographs with pirate grafitti.
All sorts of seascapes. In a scuffle with pirates. The hearing. Journal for literature, art and criticism (No. 282), Wallstein Verlag, 280 p., Brosch, € 16.50