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- DescriptionSeemingly the simplest of stories-a passing anecdote of village life-Rock Crystal opens up into a tale of almost unendurable suspense. This jewel-like vella by the writer that Thomas Mann praised as one of the most extraordinary, the most enigmatic, the most secretly daring and the most strangely gripping narrators in world literature is among the most unusual, moving, and memorable of Christmas stories. Two children-Conrad and his little sister, Sanna-set out from their village high up in the Alps to visit their grandparents in the neighboring valley. It is the day before Christmas but the weather is mild, though of course night falls early in December and the children are warned t to linger. The grandparents welcome the children with presents and pack them off with kisses. Then sw begins to fall, ever more thickly and steadily. Undaunted, the children press on, only to take a wrong turn. The sw rises higher and higher, time passes: it is deep night when the sky clears and Conrad and Sanna discover themselves out on a glacier, terrifying and beautiful, the heart of the void. Adalbert Stifter's rapt and enigmatic tale, beautifully translated by Elizabeth Mayer and Marianne Moore, explores what can be found between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day-or on any night of the year.
- Author BiographyAdalbert Stifter (1805-1868), the son of a provincial linen weaver and flax merchant, was born in the rural Bohemian market town of Oberplan, then part of the Austrian Empire but today in the Czech Republic. When Stifter was still a child, his father was crushed under an overturned cart; the family was left poor, but Stifter's grandfather sent him to school at the the Benedictine Monastery of Kremsmunters and he proved a brilliant student. Stifter attended the University of Vienna, where he studied law but failed to obtain a degree. Instead he supported himself as a much soughtafter tutor to the children of the high Viennese aristocracy while also acquiring a small reputation as a landscape painter. For a number of years Stifter eagerly courted the daughter of a rich businessman, but his lack of worldly position turned her family against him, and in 1835 he married Amelia Mohaupt, a milliner. In 1840, he published his first story, the success of which started him on a career as a writer, and in 1850, after working as an editor on two newspapers, he was appointed supervisor of elementary schools for Upper Austria. Stifter's works include numerous stories and novellas, as well as Witiko, a historical novel, and Indian Summer, considered one of the finest examples of the German bildungsroman. Stifter's mental and physical health deteriorated in his final years. In 1868, suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, he committed suicide. W. H. Auden (1907-1973) was born in North Yorkshire, England, the son of a doctor. He studied at Oxford and published his first book, Poems, in 1930, immediately establishing himself as one of the outstanding voices of his generation. Auden emigrated to New York in 1939, where he became a US citizen and converted to Anglicanism. He wrote essays, critical studies, plays, and opera librettos for such composers as Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky, and Hans Werner Henze, as well as the poems for which he is most famous.
- Author(s)Adalbert Stifter
- PublisherThe New York Review of Books, Inc
- Date of Publication02/10/2008
- SubjectGeneral & Literary Fiction
- Place of PublicationNew York
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintNYRB Classics
- Weight119 g
- Width129 mm
- Height205 mm
- Spine7 mm
- Translated byMarianne Moore,Elizabeth Mayer
- Introduction byW. H. Auden,Fanny Howe
- Format DetailsTrade paperback (UK)
- Edition StatementMain
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