Monday, 10 February 2014

Droste-Hülshoff, Annette von "The Jew's Beech"


Droste-Hülshoff, Annette von "The Jew's Beech" (Die Judenbuche) - 1842

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff is probably to Germany what Jane Austen is to Great Britain, the most famous female author of the 19th century. She is mostly known for her poetry but has also written a few novellas and short story. She used to be on the 20 DM bill in Germany once, just to show how important she is.

The novel is an easy read, it's short and read by students of the 8th or 9th grade in Germany. It is based on the true story of a murder, actually two murders but both the story before as well as after the act are fictional. An Intriguing account, not just about the crime itself but also about life in Germany or Middle Europe at the time which we can compare to life in other countries at the time as well as life today.

The language is as can be expected by a poet, very poetical. There is symbolism in the tale and a lot of wisdom.

This is a good read for someone interested in classic and international literature.

From the back cover: "Based on a true story, this haunting tale centers on two brutal murders, the first of a local forester and the second of a Jewish moneylender near a beech tree, and the impact these events have on the life of Friedrich Mergel, a herdsman with a turbulent family history. A prototype of the murder mystery and a thoughtful examination of village society, this intriguing novella contains hints of the Gothic and the uncanny, including ominous thunderstorms, mysterious disappearances, eerie doppelgangers and grizzly discoveries, as well as a famously ambiguous climax."

If you read German and are interested in the author's life, I recommend “Das Spiegelbild” [The Mirror Image] by Irina Korschunow

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