THE WATERFALLS OF SLUNJ by Heimito von Doderer


Email this review


In 1961, Doderer's Demons, which many Europeans considered the finest Austrian novel of this century, appeared here. This new book has many qualities in common with it; it proceeds horizontally rather than vertically, to give a perspective of a whole society as well as an era; it is meant for leisurely reading; and it is conservative, sometimes ponderous, often priggish, but enormously worthwhile. Beginning with one small coincidence, when a young British industrialist and his new bride meet a delightful Dalmatian clerk at their honeymoon hotel near the falls of Slunj in 1877, the story moves on to other coincidences, all plausible, until it completely contains a slice of society in that unlamentable Europe of the turn of the century. The industrialist moves to Vienna; the Dalmatian helps him staff his office there; the office staff, the new acquaintances, all are somehow interrelated with the narrative. What happens is of an abstract nature--a solid, established society moving imperceptibly downhill. It is all very real, very solidly, if a bit heavily, done, and the translation by Eithne Wilkins and Ernst Kaiser is excellent. The book is as rich as a torte, and for the reader who reads to learn as well as to be entertained. Doderer has often been compared with Mann, not unjustifiably.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1966
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World