Read so far during
German Literature Month Eight
- Once a Jailbird by Hans Fallada - 1947
2. The Loser by Thomas Bernhard - 1988
- Doctor Fausus by Thomas Mann - 1948
- The Rider on the White Horse by Theodor Strom - 1888
1817 - Born Schleswig -Holstein. Then an independent state
1846 - Marries a cousin
1853- moves to Potsdam in Prussian when Schleswig -Holstein is incorporated into Denmark, being very Germanic in orientation. Becomes a circuit judge- he had a law degree
1864 - when Schleswig -Holstein is conquered by Prussia, he moves back
1888 - dies
The Rider on the White Horse is considered the masterwork of Theodor Strom. (It is the only one of his works available in translation as a Kindle.) The setting is the low lying coastal area bordering on The North Sea. The area is under continual threat from flooding. In the past floods have caused great damage and loss of life. Strom focuses on the impact of a dyke built to protect the area.
The start has a bad omen. The son of the dyke master maliciously kills the cat of an old woman. She issues a curse on him even though he tries to mollify her. A mysterious rider on a white horse is observed racing on the top of the dark.
There are five main characters.
- The Dyke Master, in charge of maintaining the dyke
- His wife, she is the daughter of the prior Dyke Master
- Their mentally challenged daughter
- The Prior Dyke Master
- The old dyke masters top employee, who had expected to become dyke master and is now very critical of how the dyke is maintained
The dyke is owned by a few local shareholders, with the Dyke Master and his father in law the major owners. Strom did not really make it clear how the dyke functions as a business, how it makes money but it does. In the local pub there is a lot of worried talk about whether or not the Dyke will hold.
Sure enough the sea rises up. I will leave the ending untold
This is classified as a novella. I see it as for sure worth reading for those wanting to expand their knowledge of 19th century German Literature. I enjoyed the depiction of the importance of the dyke and the community.