Brigitta – Adalbert Stifter

Title: Brigitta

Author: Adalbert Stifter (1805-1868)

Genre: German literature

Having been born in Austria and also going to school there, I naturally discovered German literature over the course of the years and certainly came to enjoy it.

The german language is often described as harsh and hard, not even to close to the beauty of romantic languages like Spanish and French. Which is right, neither Austrians nor Germans sound particularly nice, the written german language however, is a bit different.

Especially in the epoch of Sturm and Drang, when German authors flourished, the language is beautiful to read and made me kind of fall back in love with my mother-tongue after having slipped off into English (I still prefer to write in English though). For that reason I decided to occasionally upload a German-literature-post on here, for those of you who are studying German or are generally interested in that topic.

The first book I would like to review is “Brigitta” by Adalbert Stifter.

The book has first been published in 1843 but reappeared as an edited version in 1847. Compared to other pieces of German literature, Brigitta is a fairly easy read, which makes it the perfect book to get started with in this genre.

I first read the book in High School and for some reason loved it straight away. Something about the protagonist just resonated with me and I’ve been rereading it every once in a while.

Now, what’s the book about. 

The short novel Brigitta is separated into four parts or chapters. In the first chapter we follow the first-person narrater on his journey through Hungary, where he is visiting an old friend and fellow traveler.

In the second part, we get to know that friend who is called the Major, and his surroundings a bit better. The reader also gets a very good picture about one of the neighbours of the Major, whose name is Brigitta.

The third chapter makes it clear that the Major and Brigitta share a very special history and the story of how they met and what happened between them is unfold.

In the fourth chapter there’s an accident, tears and finding back home.

What makes this story so appealing is Stifter’s incredible talent of describing landscapes. His style of writing is so accurate and precise, it feels as if he were painting with words. And in Brigitta it also becomes clear that Stifter was very much in favour of emancipation which wasn’t the norm during the 19thcentury.

The main characters of the book are:

  • The Major, who even as a middle-aged man has the looks and the brains to make women swoon
  • Brigitta, who is so ugly even her own mother repelled her, but has a huge heart and works hard
  • The first person narrator of whom we know nothing more than how much he used to love travelling, but starts to long for a settled home

To conclude this review, in my opinion Brigitta is a great book to get started in German-literature but also for those of you who want to increase their ability of describing landscapes and scenes.

Dracula – Bram Stoker

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Well, I don’t even know where to start with this book. Dracula is obviously a classic and I don’t have clue why it took me 21 years to finally read it.

But let me tell you, that book is astonishing and so incredibly gripping I basically lived one-handed for two days because I just couldn’t put it down.

Apparently, it took Bram Stoker ten years to finish his masterpiece, which is understandable once you see the thought-through structure of Dracula. Also, he did such a good job in researching all those tales about Vampires and spinning together an amazing plot I’m honestly quite impressed he could finish it in that time-frame.

What makes Dracula so gripping is probably the fact that the book consists solely of diary-entries written by various characters. That gives the reader the feeling of actually having been there. The whole story starts when the protagonist Jonathan Harker sets out to Transylvania to visit Count Dracula who has bought an establishment in London and wants to go over the details with Harker in person.

At first, everything seems rather normal to Jonathan, but as the days go on he realizes that the Count is quite odd. He never seems to eat, is pale as death and never shows himself during the daytime. Slowly but surely Harker comes to the conclusion that the count has to be a vampire and tries to flee from the castle. Even though he eventually succeeds in doing so, he is in a grave condition when other people find him and pamper him back to health.

Meanwhile, his fiancé Mina is visiting her friend Lucy, who establishes an odd sort of illness and sadly dies after having battled for her well-being for weeks. Dr Seward, who is a former admirer of Lucy and his friend Van Helsing have, alongside Mina and Arthur, Lucy’s husband, tried to cure Lucy. But instead of a common illness, they discover something way more demonic has happened to their friend. Lucy had been bitten by a vampire and thus has become one herself. After her death, Mina, who had by then been joined by her now-husband Jonathan, and the rest of the group set out to free Lucy of her existence and to kill the vampire, who brought that misfortune to them all.

With dread, Jonathan realizes that his acquaintance with Count Dracula reaches way deeper than he ever feared since the count is, of course, responsible for the death of Lucy. But his journals about his time in Transylvania are crucial for the success of the hunt, and slowly the friends understand the plan of the count.

But the closer they come to kill the beast the more dangerous their quest becomes and so Mina Harker is bitten by the Count. Afraid for the life of his beloved wife, Jonathan tries everything in his might to rescue her from the fangs of death.

Well, to find out more please read the book for yourself. But please make sure to not be alone in a big house when reading it at night, because it really does get quite spooky.