The List: Fiction
A-Z by author
Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales have always overshadowed his other works, among them The Ice Virgin. Paul Binding’s new translation is the first to present this very special story on its own for full appreciation. Previous English translations have placed The Ice Virgin among fairy tales and classified it as one. But while Andersen uses the terrifying figure of the Ice Virgin and her eerie minions to personify the hostile forces of nature, the tale is a novella for a mature readership, among the most ambitious and searching of all Andersen’s narratives and set firmly in the real world . . . More
Hans Christian Andersen
In his later years Hans Christian Andersen wrote novellas and stories for an adult readership, uniting the immediacy of the fairy-tale and the novel’s concern with social perspectives. Like The Ice Virgin written two years later, A Story from the Dunes is of this kind.
It was published in 1859, the year of Darwin’s Origin of Species. A son of high-ranking Spanish parents is born out of shipwreck and lives his life in an alien country without knowledge of his origins . . . More
Bely’s The Silver Dove published four years before its author’s celebrated Petersburg (ranked by Nabokov with Proust, Kafka and Joyce), is the first modern Russian novel. Breaking with Russian Realist tradition, a pioneering Symbolist work set in the aftermath of the failed revolution of 1905, it reaches subconscious layers of experience through images of the surface world, capturing ‘the living rhythm of the soul’. At the same time, its vividly drawn characters, elemental landscapes, and richly wrought, Gogolian style are immediately accessible to the Western reader. This brilliantly faithful new translation makes the complete work available in English for the first time . . . More
Valery Bryusov; Mikhail Bulgakov et al.
Russian writers from Pushkin to Bulgakov and beyond have produced outstanding ghost stories, supernatural thrillers, and other tales of the uncanny. In the first decades of the 20th century the Gothic-fantastic genre flourished in Russia, despite official efforts to stamp it out. Few of these stories have been translated or published outside Russia. This collection includes eleven vintage tales by seven writers of the period: Valery Bryusov, Mikhail Bulgakov, Aleksandr Grin and Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky; the lesser known but important figure Aleksandr Chayanov, whose story ‘Venediktov’ influenced Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita . . . More
Theodor Fontane, chronicler of post-1871 Berlin in its new role as capital of a Germany unifed for the first time in modern history, lifted the German nineteenth-century novel from provincialism to the European mainstream, and is now regarded as one of the outstanding German novelists. English translations of several of his works have appeared, but none hitherto of Cécile (1887), first of a brilliant trio of female portraits culminating in Effi Briest (1895). The Baroness von St Arnaud, a delicate beauty married to a retired army officer who neglects her, is a tantalising mystery to the much-travelled civil engineer von Gordon who makes her acquaintance at the fashionable spa . . . More
Jaroslav Hašek was a humorist and satirist of a rare order long before he wrote his celebrated novel The Good Soldier Švejk (1921–3). This selection of 32 pre-1914 stories of Prague life – most of them translated into English for the first time – revels in the twisted logic of politics and bureaucracy in the Czech capital which was also an Austrian provincial city. The sad fate of an idealistic mission to protect the morals of country girls arriving in Prague for the first time; an Austrian returning from abroad, where his left kidney has been replaced by a pig’s, in serious trouble with Customs because the importation of pigs has become illegal; a Prague barber, in full flow against the Turks, the Serbs, the Hungarians, the Eyeties, who is over-enthusiastic with his razor… With unabashed relish, Hašek documents the Disorder Principle in life . . . More
The tales that Heym wrote in the last year of his life, the most powerful in German literature since Kleist, have a strong gothic flavour and prefigure the great era of the Expressionist film. An ageing, Apocalypsecrazed dropout who sees it as his God-given mission to steal and cut up the Mona Lisa, a sweet moment of memory in a corpse lying opened for autopsy, a released maniac who journeys homeward to murder his wife, the ghastly fate of a crew marooned off New Guinea – the disaffected young writer’s compulsive relationship with his material is reflected in the mesmeric, spellbinding character of these stories, which partake of the violent imagery of paintings of the time. On publication they were compared to the tales of Edgar Allan Poe and the prose pieces of Baudelaire . . . More
Hugo Von Hofmannsthal
The restless, alienated spirit of turn-of-the-century Vienna is brilliantly caught in these tales – hitherto not readily available together in English translation – by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, one of the major writers of the Early Modernist period and Richard Strauss’s librettist. Powerful issues and emotions lie below the surface of these narratives – of a young aesthete’s crack-up as he wanders through a terrifying psychic landscape (The Tale of the 672nd Night); of an insubordinate soldier’s brutal nemesis during Field Marshal Radetzky’s 1848 campaign against Italian insurgents (A Cavalry Tale); of love and death in time of plague in seventeenth-century France (Marshal de Bassompierre’s Adventure). The celebrated Letter from Lord Chandos, a fictional epistle addressed to Francis Bacon, records a young writer’s crisis over the mismatch between words and truth . . . More
Heinrich von Kleist et al.
This selection of short fiction embodying some dominant concerns of German Romanticism takes the reader into a world of strange potency and inner logic. Ludwig Tieck gives a fairy-tale form to horror stories that delve darkly into the unconscious. Eckbert the Fair is a compelling study in paranoia and retribution; The Runenberg a story of the mind-destroying power of Nature. In Kleist’s The Betrothal on Santo Domingo, conflict and persecution during the slave revolt of 1803 on Haiti symbolise a world-view in which evil seems destined to prevail over good. The Earthquake in Chile, despite its brevity perhaps the most epic of all Kleist’s stories, presents an extraordinary pile-up of cataclysmic events, at the high-point of which the horror is turned on its head . . . More
Arthur Schnitzler is best known for his plays, such as La Ronde and The Game of Love, but his short fiction, in which the pulse of early twentieth-century Vienna can be felt as in no other writer, is no less masterly. Characteristic of this observer of the late Habsburg world of balls, adultery and duels is an ironic, bitter-sweet tone reminiscent of another doctor-turned-writer, Anton Chekhov. Schnitzler’s intuitive understanding of the human psyche was much admired by his contemporary Sigmund Freud, and the primary focus of his stories is on the volatile, turbulent inner lives of his characters as revealed in dreams, unconscious sexual impulses, and psychopathic states. This volume containing thirteen stories provides the balanced selection of Schnitzler’s short fiction that has long been needed . . . More
On his death in 1916, Henryk Sienkiewicz, author of panoramic historical novels such as With Fire and Sword and The Deluge, enjoyed a towering reputation; he is still the most celebrated Polish novelist. The three novellas in this selection, less well-known than his novels, nevertheless display their author at his best: his narrative mastery, his engaging irony, and his brilliance at bringing history to life. Charcoal Sketches is a headlong satire on village life in Russian-ruled Polish territory after the failure of the Insurrection of 1863/64, its targets a negligent, absentee squirearchy and an administration that uses the Tsarist system to feather its own nest at the people’s expense . . . More
Thomas Mann found the nineteenth-century Austrian writer Adalbert Stifter ‘one of the most extraordinary, the most enigmatic, the most secretly daring and the most strangely gripping narrators in world literature’. Yet he is little known to the English-speaking world; translations of mostly single works have only occasionally appeared, and major works remain untranslated. He was for a long time grossly undervalued by Germanists. Stifter is far ahead of his time in portraying the diseased subconscious and the influence that the earliest years have on a person’s development. Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly’s masterly new translations constitute the most substantial selection of Stifter’s richly symbolic narratives to appear in English . . . More
This fifth selection of Denis Jackson’s definitive series of translations of the novellas of Theodor Storm includes the little-known late masterpiece A Doppelgänger, the dramatic story of an ex-prisoner’s struggle for rehabilitation, along with one of Storm’s most celebrated tales, Aquis submersus, a tragedy of passion and a powerful critique of the North German landowning Junker class.
In The Doppelgänger a reformed ex-prisoner finds himself an unemployable outcast on release from prison, his crime having been a consequence of harsh economic conditions in mid-19-century north Germany. The stark events of his life, pieced together after his death within an outer narrative . . . More
‘I value in particular,’ writes Eda Sagarra in her Introduction, ‘two features of Storm’s writing. First, his multiple perspectives, the way in which he seems to invite the reader to look over the shoulder, as it were, of the teller of the story, and judge accordingly. And secondly, his sense of place, his supreme sense that his native region, North Friesland, is as much the centre of the world as was Greece for the storyteller of The Odyssey.’
Theodor Storm (1817–88) has long been enjoyed in Germany as a supreme master of the novella, to whom later writers, from Thomas Mann to Christa Wolf, have been indebted . . . More
Der Schimmelreiter (1888), here translated as The Dykemaster, is one of the most celebrated works in all German fiction. Denis Jackson’s new translation sets out to recreate the full impact of Theodor Storm’s masterpiece – a task in which no previous English version has succeeded. The Dykemaster is the tale of a visionary young north Frisian Deichgraf of the eighteenth century, creator of a new form of dyke. The short-sighted and self-seeking community with which he is at odds turns him into a phantom, seen riding his grey along the dyke whenever the sea threatens to break through. The rationalistic storyteller, in a sophisticated narrative structure, belongs to a later age, and what he relates is a veiled critique of the dyke officials of his own day . . . More
Angel Classics celebrates the bicentenary of the birth of one of the most deeply affecting of German writers with a new translation of a long overlooked late masterpiece. Grieshuus: The Chronicle of a Family is the sixth and final title in Denis Jackson’s definitive series of translations of Storm’s finest novellas.
Grieshuus is the story of the decline and extinction of a noble line, which arises from the enmity between two brothers. Events take place in a remote, wolf-ridden corner of the northern German duchy of Schleswig, in the midst of an international power struggle – the devastating Northern Wars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, fought between the rulers of the expanding Swedish empire and coalitions of other European powers, from Denmark and the Low Countries to the Russia of Peter the Great . . . More
Theodor Storm’s fictional achievement goes well beyond the celebrated Novelle Der Schimmelreiter (The Dykemaster in Denis Jackson’s translation published in Angel Classics). This selection of three more of his most impressive narratives, two of them appearing in English for the first time, represents three stages in the development of a German writer whose best work ranks with that of Thomas Hardy. Immensee (1850), a love-story whose powerful atmosphere is heightened by all-pervasive symbols and folksong-like verse, has long been a favourite of both the German- and English-speaking worlds. Journey to a Hallig (1871) is the free-roving story of a journey in more than one sense, both a magical evocation of the German North Sea coast in high summer and a layered account of an inner journey back into an old man’s past . . . More
The narratives of Theodor Storm are among the outstanding achievements of classic German fiction. This third selection in Denis Jackson’s pioneering series of translations, which began with The Dykemaster (Der Schimmelreiter), contains three contrasting works of Storm’s middle period, the 1870s, when, in the words of Paul Heyse, he moved from ‘watercolours’ to ‘oils’. Paul the Puppeteer is a magical tale which speaks to all ages. Storm’s affectionate portrayal of the vanishing world of the marionette theatre also contains sharp social comment. The jeer in the Low German title of the story, Pole Poppenspäler, is that of solid, guild-dominated society at the travelling puppeteers and their gypsy-like way of life. The Village on the Moor arises directly out of Storm’s professional career: it is an account, told through an investigating lawyer’s eyes, of the case of a mysterious death out on the moor . . . More
‘Slaves in their Chains condenses more than fifty years of inexorable social change that began with the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece in 1864. This powerful novel, fluently and compellingly rendered into English for the first time, deserves to be much better known. ‘This is Corfu, but not as you’ve ever known it. Of the lush olive groves, shimmering crags and soft Mediterranean colours made famous in the landscapes of Edward Lear, or the travel writing of Lawrence Durrell, the most you’ll find in these pages are a ruined Venetian fortress or a bird in a lilac tree, glimpsed through a window. […] Konstantinos Theotokis’s masterly anatomy of the old ruling class of his native island in terminal decline is as tightly constructed and claustrophobic as a tragedy by Ibsen or Strindberg . . . More
Yury Tynyanov’s novel on the formative years of Russia’s greatest poet was first published in serial form between 1935 and 1943. Tynyanov pioneered a new kind of historical-biographical novel in Russia. ‘I begin,’ he wrote, ‘where documents leave off.’ In a blend of encyclopedic knowledge and creative imagination, he thrillingly brings early 19th-century Russia to life – Napoleonic invasion, rapid political change, and a vast gallery of characters, all representations of real life persons. Those who had a significant impact on Pushkin’s life include his unusual family, with its African blood stemming from his great-grandfather Abram Hannibal, Peter the Great’s protégé who became a distinguished engineer general; leading figures of state and Tsar Alexander I himself; educationists and teachers, peasants and writers, Pushkin’s classmates at the Tsar’s newly founded Lycée at Tsarskoye Selo . . . More
In his prime, Mikhail Zoshchenko was more widely read in his own country than Pasternak or Solzhenitsyn. His short stories give expression to the bewildered experience of the ordinary Soviet citizen struggling to survive in the 1920s and ’30s, beset by an acute housing shortage and scarcity of consumer goods, ubiquitous theft and corruption, and an impenetrable new ideological language. Written in the semi-educated language of the man and woman in the street, they enshrine one of the greatest achievements of the people of the Soviet Union – their gallows humour. Housing-block tenants who reject electricity because it illuminates their squalor too harshly, a young couple who live in a bathroom, a theft-hit community in every one of whose members . . . More