Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Peter Schlemiel by Adelbert Chamisso (1814)

There are still several days left in German Literature Month IV.  Lots of time left to participate. There are already over a hundred posts, reading through them is much like a fine class in German literature at a top academy.

Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014

1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

2.   Gertrude by Hermann Hesse 

3.  "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)

4.  Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

5.  Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925

6.  Life Goes On by Hans Keilson

7.  Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

8.  "The Wall" by Jurek Becker

9.  "Romeo" by Jurek Becker

10.   "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.

11.  Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard

12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser

13.  "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler 

14.  Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker

15.  The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,

16.  "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke  1894

17.  "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950

18.  "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924

19.  "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810

20.  Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923

21.  Concrete 1982

22.  "Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser 1913

23.  "Incident at Lake Geneva" by Stefan Zweig (1924)

24.  "The Governess" by Stefan Zweig 1927

25.  "The Sandman" by E. T. A. Hoffmann 1817

26.  "The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran" by Ingeborg Bachmann 1971

27.  "Twilight" by Stefan Zweig 1928

28.   "The Lunatic" by Georg Heym 1913

29.    "Dissection" by Georg Heym 1913 - no post 

30.   "Blackbird" by Robert Musil

"Peter Schlemiel" by Adelbert Chamisso (1781 to 1838, born Klagenfurt, Austria-Hungaria), "Schleiel" is a Yiddish word referring to a person who is a hopeless screw up, is a very influential story.   Peter meets a mysterious man at a party, what ever anyone requests he can pull out of his pocket, he evens pulls out three magnificent horses.  The man, who is a minion of the devil if not the devil, offers Peter an endless purse of gold in exchange for his shadow.  Peter excepts but when people see he has no shadow he is shunned and repudiated by his fiancé.  He tries to hide his loss by going out at night ad on cloudy days mostly.  He finds a faithful servant and luxuriates in his endless supply of gold coins.

However, compressing a good bit, he meets up with the devil again, the devil says he will return his shadow in exchange for his soul.  Peter refuses and begins to explore the world in seven league boots.  To me this was the most interesting part of the story.  I will leave the end untold.

This story is important for its historical impact.  The author was a poet and botanist living in a time when one person could still hope to "know every thing" and you can see this in Peter's trips around the world, studying nature and cultures.

I read this story in Tales of the German Imagination, edited, introduced and translated by Peter Wortsman, a very good anthology.

Mel von ü

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

I read this last year and thought it was a hoot.