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Das Haidedorf   By: (1805-1868)

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von Adalbert Stifter




professor of the German language and literature, Washington University


If any prose writer may be called a poet, none is more worthy of that name than Adalbert Stifter. And, unless it be a requirement that, to be ranked as classic, a writer must be dead for many years, Stifter is entitled to an honorable place among the classic writers of Germany. Not all he has written bears the stamp of beauty and genius, but at his best he is truly great, and of his best we have a great deal.

Adalbert Stifter was born in Oberplan, Bohemia, October 23d, 1806. His father was a poor linen weaver who was killed by an accident when the boy was only ten years old. An uncle assumed charge of his education and sent him to the monastic Latin School at Kremsmünster. His education was completed in Vienna, whither he went in 1826, principally to study history and philosophy, but also to cultivate his love of nature by the pursuit of natural science and landscape painting. His love for nature remained throughout his life the most characteristic trait of the man. In all his works, but especially in his "Studien," he showed himself to be a painter of words who has only one equal in German Literature Paul Heyse. His love of detail confined him to one form of literary production, the short novel. And even within these narrow limits Stifter's works show little action. But for this we are amply compensated by the simple beauty of his diction, its calm moderated tone, with never a word superfluous or lacking, the manly nobility of his sentiment, and the almost womanly delicacy of his perception. No one can read "Das Haidedorf" without feeling the poet's love for man and nature.

The two volumes of which "Das Haidedorf" forms a small part are entitled "Studien." In an English translation of extracts from Stifter this is rendered by "Sketches." Far from being sketches, they are exquisite studies carefully finished by a master hand. It may be said without exaggeration that the following beautiful prose idyl will suggest to a sensitive and appreciative mind a succession of pictures destined to remain as permanent possessions of art. And, when it is added that the style is simple and modern, no further apology need be made for this publication, save this, that the "Studien" have not, as far as I have been able to gather, been reprinted singly.

Stifter's life, like his writings, was idyllic. He was appointed in 1846 to one of the higher educational posts by the Austrian government, and took up his residence in Linz. This post he had to resign in 1856, owing to impaired health. His remaining years were spent in happy retirement, given to literary work, landscape painting and his favorite pastime of horticulture. Adalbert Stifter died at Linz, Austria ob der Enns, January 28th, 1868.


Philadelphia, February, 1891.

N.B. The orthography of this edition is that used in the original edition of the "Studien."



Im eigentlichen Sinne des Wortes ist es nicht eine Haide, wohin ich den lieben Leser und Zuhörer führen will, sondern weit von unserer Stadt ein traurig liebliches Fleckchen [1] Landes, das sie die Haide nennen, weil seit unvordenklichen Zeiten [2] nur kurzes Gras darauf wuchs, hie und da ein Stamm Haideföhre, [3] oder die Krüppelbirke, an deren Rinde zuweilen ein Wollflöckchen hing, von den wenigen Schafen und Ziegen, die zeitweise [4] hier herumgingen. Ferner war noch in ziemlicher Verbreitung die Wachholderstaude [5] da, im Weitern [6] aber kein andrer Schmuck mehr; man müßte nur [7] die fernen Berge hierher rechnen, die ein wunderschönes blaues Band um das mattfarbige Gelände [8] zogen.

Wie es aber des Oeftern [9] geht, daß tiefsinnige Menschen, oder solche, denen die Natur allerlei wunderliche Dichtung und seltsame Gefühle in das Herz gepflanzt hatte, gerade solche Orte aussuchen und liebgewinnen, weil sie da ihren Träumen und innerem Klingklang nachgehen können: so geschah es auch auf diesem Haideflecke... Continue reading book >>

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