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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

“The Duchess of Albanera” - A Short Story by Johannes Urzidil - 1965- included in The Last Bell- translated from German by David Burnett -2017

Works I Have So Far Read for German Literature Month, November, 2017

  1. “You’d Have Larvae Too” by Nora Wagener, 2016
  2. Vertigo by W. G. Sebald, 1990
  3. The Last Weynfeldt by Martin Suter, 2006
  4. “An Earthquake in Chile” by Heinrich Von Kleist, 1809
  5. Who is Martha? by Marjana Gaponenko, 2012
  6. “The Legal Haziness of Marriage” by Olga Grjasnowa, 2015
  7. “Aladdin, COB” by Isabelle Lehn, 2015
  8. “The Last Bell” by Johannes Urzidil, 1968
  9. The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald, 1995
  10. Late Fame by Arthur Schnitzler, written 1892, published 2016
  11. Blood Brothers by Ernst Haffner, 1933
  12. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin, 1929
  13. Confessions of a Murderer by Joseph Roth, 1936
  14.   “Compulsion” by Stefan Zweig,  1929
  15. “Borderlands”by Johannes Urzidil, 1956 (no post)
  16. “A School Boy’s Diary” by Robert Walser, 1910 (no post
  17. Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald, 2001, Second Reading 
  18. “The Duchess of Albanera” by Johannes Urzidil, 1965

Pushkin Press and David Burnett has done Anglophone literary World a major service by making available for the first time in English fiction from Johannes Urzidil (born Prague 1896, moved to New York City, after a stop in London, with his wife in 1941. It was his home unti he died in Rome in 1970, on a Publicity tour. There is more bio data in my prior posts.  His work has previously been translated from several languages)

There are five works in The Last Bell (assembled by David Burnett with a very good introduction).  I have so for posted on two of them.  

“The Duchess of Albanera” is set in Prague and centers on Wenzel Schaschek, a bachelor and a long time bank employee. The story made me think of “The Overcoat” by Nikolai Gogol and “Bartleby The Scriviner” by Herman Melville.

Wenzel has never broken a rule in his Life.  The bank owners trust him so much they give him control of all their money.   His biggest treat in Life is a daily visit to a quality delicatescent.  He goes six days a week and has a set routine where he buys ham on Monday, Salami on Tuesday and so on, never varying his routine.  But one day buys Salami on a ham day and from this he moves on to the first act of rule breaking in his life, he steals from the local museum a 
painting of The Duchess of Albanera.  He hides the painting in his apartment and begins to converse with the Duchess.  As a result of this theft the museum Guard was fired, his daughter and his wife both end up dying shortly after he is fired.  Wenzel is racked with guilt.  

This is a funny, very funny at times, and a tragic story.  The ending of The story, which I Will leave untold, is just wonderful.

Mel ü

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