LIMESTONE by Adalbert Stifter


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The resurrection of forgotten worthies is a benevolent undertaking, especially so in the case of foreign authors. All of us welcome the recent translations of works by Jules Renard or Knut Hamsun or Alfred Jarry. Unfortunately, time has a way of making once pertinent writing seem a little quaint or archaic. Alienation, for instance, is a very chic contemporary theme, and it is also. the dominant motif in the three long tales by Adalbert Stifter, a classic figure of German literature during the nineteenth century. But individual isolation as depicted through the modernist anti-narrative, anti-psychological school, and that which figures in a parabolic or idyllic way in Stifter, are almost literally worlds apart. Stifter is classicist in style and basically a moralist in content. ""Limestone,"" ""Tourmaline,"" and ""The Recluse"" are all enacted against an inward landscape of innocence lost or innocence regained, where lonely protagonists reach decisions about life akin to religious conversions, and where the eccentricities or the shadowy emblems of human character and situation are observed re Nature or fate or laws of life. This gives great dignity, a symbolic austerity, and even mystery to Stifter's creations. Yet the lasting impression is one of sentimentality, a dated dream world. Superbly translated.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1968
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World