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Immensee   By: (1817-1888)

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IMMENSEE

BY THEODOR W. STORM

TRANSLATED BY C. W. BELL M. A.

PREFACE

We are at the beginning of a new era which will, it is to be hoped, be marked by a general rapprochement between the nations. The need to know and understand one another is being felt more and more. It follows that the study of foreign languages will assume an ever increasing importance; indeed, so far as language, literature, and music are concerned, one may safely assert that fas est et ab hoste doceri .

All those who wish to make acquaintance with the speech of their neighbours, or who have allowed their former knowledge to grow rusty, will welcome this edition, which will enable them, independently of bulky dictionaries, to devote to language study the moments of leisure which offer themselves in the course of the day.

The texts have been selected from the double point of view of their literary worth and of the usefulness of their vocabulary; in the translations, also, the endeavour has been to unite qualities of style with strict fidelity to the original.

INTRODUCTION

Theodor W. Storm, poet and short story writer (1817 1888), was born in Schleswig. He was called to the Bar in his native town, Husum, in 1842, but had his licence to practise cancelled in 1853 for 'Germanophilism,' and had to remove to Germany. It was only in 1864 that he was able to return to Husum, where in 1874 he became a judge of the Court of Appeals.

As early as 1843 he had made himself known as a lyrical poet of the Romantic School, but it was as a short story writer that he first took a prominent place in literature, making a most happy d├ębut with the story entitled Immensee .

There followed a long series of tales, rich in fancy and in humour, although their inspiration is generally derived from the humble town and country life which formed his immediate environment; but he wrote nothing that excels, in depth and tenderness of feeling, the charming story of Immensee ; and taking his work all in all, Storm still ranks to day as a master of the short story in German literature, rich though it is in this form of prose fiction.

IMMENSEE

THE OLD MAN

One afternoon in the late autumn a well dressed old man was walking slowly down the street. He appeared to be returning home from a walk, for his buckle shoes, which followed a fashion long since out of date, were covered with dust.

Under his arm he carried a long, gold headed cane; his dark eyes, in which the whole of his long lost youth seemed to have centred, and which contrasted strangely with his snow white hair, gazed calmly on the sights around him or peered into the town below as it lay before him, bathed in the haze of sunset. He appeared to be almost a stranger, for of the passers by only a few greeted him, although many a one involuntarily was compelled to gaze into those grave eyes.

At last he halted before a high, gabled house, cast one more glance out toward the town, and then passed into the hall. At the sound of the door bell some one in the room within drew aside the green curtain from a small window that looked out on to the hall, and the face of an old woman was seen behind it. The man made a sign to her with his cane.

"No light yet!" he said in a slightly southern accent, and the housekeeper let the curtain fall again.

The old man now passed through the broad hall, through an inner hall, wherein against the walls stood huge oaken chests bearing porcelain vases; then through the door opposite he entered a small lobby, from which a narrow staircase led to the upper rooms at the back of the house. He climbed the stairs slowly, unlocked a door at the top, and landed in a room of medium size.

It was a comfortable, quiet retreat. One of the walls was lined with cupboards and bookcases; on the other hung pictures of men and places; on a table with a green cover lay a number of open books, and before the table stood a massive arm chair with a red velvet cushion.

After the old man had placed his hat and stick in a corner, he sat down in the arm chair and, folding his hands, seemed to be taking his rest after his walk... Continue reading book >>




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