Imprisoned in his tyrannical uncle’s ruined mansion, the young hero of Adalbert Stifter’s The Bachelors (Der Hagestolz) must confront his past in order to regain control of his life.
Leaving the home of his foster mother to begin his working life, young Victor stops to visit his uncle, who long ago sealed himself away from the world, on a island in a lake, high in the Austrian alps. The old man, who has never known love, lives barricaded in a former monastery, surrounded by an atmosphere of death and decay. Portraying the friction between these two characters with keen psychological insight, Stifter’s masterful bildungsroman explores conflicting attitudes to life and their existential effects: stillness and movement, light and dark, openness and withdrawal.
‘Stifter, whose texts, on this evidence, possessed the same discursive and cumulative power as the writings of the late WG Sebald’
Adalbert Stifter’s The Bachelors is translated from the German by David Bryer and published by Pushkin Press
Adalbert Stifter (1805-1868) was an Austrian writer, painter and poet closely associated with the Biedermeier movement in European art. Following his studies at the University of Vienna, he was highly regarded as a tutor among aristocratic families. The success of his first story The Condor in 1840 inaugurated a steady writing career, culminating in Der Nachsommer, praised by Nietzsche as one of the two great novels of 19th century Germany.
He was especially notable for the vivid natural landscapes depicted in his writing, and has long been popular in the German-speaking world, influencing writers such as Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann and W.G. Sebald.