Wednesday, September 18, 2019

From Rock Crystal

Adalbert Stifter. Rock Crystal. 1845. Trans. from the German by Elizabeth Mayer and Marianne Moore (New York: New York Review Books, 2008).

After reading Stifter’s The Bachelors, I suggested Rock Crystal [Bergkristall ] as a candidate for our household’s two-person reading club. All I knew about this novella: the 1945 translation is by a distinguished translator and a great poet, with an introduction by another great poet, reissued by New York Review Books. Sold.

Rock Crystal is an extraordinary piece of storytelling: cozy, eerie, dream-like, fairy-tale-ish. Early on in our reading, Elaine and I came to the same conclusion: the setting is a lot like Schladming. That’s the name of the Austrian town where Elaine taught music in 1980 and 1981. I’ve never been, but Elaine, like Adalbert Stifter, is a good describer.

And lo: it turns out Stifter had a strong connection to Schladming and environs, and that those environs are indeed the setting for Rock Crystal. Schladming even has a street named for the writer: Adalbert-Stifter-Weg. Elaine explains it all in this post.

Early holiday shopping: Rock Crystal would make an excellent Christmas present.

Also from Stifter
An excerpt from The Bachelors

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