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Peter Schlemihl   By: (1781-1838)

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Peter Schlemihl by Adelbert von Chamisso is a thought-provoking and philosophical tale that delves into the themes of identity, acceptance, and the pursuit of happiness. The story follows the unfortunate protagonist, Peter Schlemihl, who sells his shadow to the enigmatic Man in Grey in exchange for a seemingly bottomless wallet.

As Schlemihl embarks on his newfound wealth, he quickly realizes that life without a shadow comes at a great cost, as he becomes an outcast and constantly faces ridicule and rejection. Chamisso masterfully examines the profound impact of societal judgment and the desire for conformity on an individual's sense of self-worth.

Throughout the narrative, Chamisso raises profound questions about the true essence of a person and the importance of individuality. Schlemihl's desperate attempts to regain his shadow and, by extension, his lost identity, parallel the universal search for belonging and acceptance. The author beautifully captures the struggle between conforming to societal norms and embracing one's unique qualities.

The character development in Peter Schlemihl is exceptional, as Chamisso skillfully portrays the protagonist's internal journey of self-discovery. Schlemihl's gradual realization that true happiness cannot be achieved through material possessions exposes the emptiness of a life driven solely by external validation.

This novel is not only a captivating story but also a pertinent social commentary on the damaging effects of superficial judgments and the inherent value of human individuality. Chamisso's elegant prose and vivid descriptions intricately depict the world of Schlemihl, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the protagonist's emotional turmoil.

Overall, Peter Schlemihl is a timeless classic that explores profound existential themes within a captivating narrative. Chamisso's masterful storytelling and insightful exploration of the human condition make this novel a thought-provoking and impactful read. It is a true gem for anyone seeking a compelling story that challenges societal norms and encourages self-reflection.

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Contents: Introduction by Henry Morley Peter Schlemihl by Adelbert Chamisso Peter Schlemihl Appendix Preface by the Editor Brief Sketch of Chamisso's Life From the Baron de la Motte Fouque The Story Without An End by Carode translated by Sarah Austin Hymns To Night by Novalis translated by Henry Morley


"Peter Schlemihl," one of the pleasantest fancies of the days when Germany delighted in romance, was first published in 1814, and was especially naturalised in England by association with the genius of George Cruikshank, who enriched a translation of it with some of his happiest work as an illustrator. An account of the book and its author is here reprinted at the end of the tale, as originally given by the translator. To this account one or two notes may be added. Louis Charles Adelaide de Chamisso de Boncourt was born on the 27th of January, 1781, at the Chateau of Boncourt, in Champagne, which he made the subject of one of his most beautiful lyrics. He belonged to a family faithful to Louis XVI., that fled to Wurzburg from the fury of the French Revolution. Thus he was taken to Germany a child of nine, and was left there when the family, with other emigrants, returned to France in 1801... Continue reading book >>

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