Rock Crystal by Adalbert Stifter Elizabeth Mayer Marianne Moore W.H. Auden Online

Rock Crystal
Title : Rock Crystal
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781590172858
Language : English
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 76

Seemingly the simplest of stories—a passing anecdote of village life— Rock Crystal opens up into a tale of almost unendurable suspense. This jewel-like novella by the writer that Thomas Mann praised as "one of the most extraordinary, the most enigmatic, the most secretly daring and the most strangely gripping narrators in world literature" is among the most unusual, movingSeemingly the simplest of stories—a passing anecdote of village life— Rock Crystal opens up into a tale of almost unendurable suspense. This jewel-like novella by the writer that Thomas Mann praised as "one of the most extraordinary, the most enigmatic, the most secretly daring and the most strangely gripping narrators in world literature" is among the most unusual, moving, and memorable of Christmas stories. Two children—Conrad and his little sister, Sanna—set out from their village high up in the Alps to visit their grandparents in the neighboring valley. It is the day before Christmas but the weather is mild, though of course night falls early in December and the children are warned not to linger. The grandparents welcome the children with presents and pack them off with kisses. Then snow begins to fall, ever more thickly and steadily. Undaunted, the children press on, only to take a wrong turn. The snow rises higher and higher, time passes: it is deep night when the sky clears and Conrad and Sanna discover themselves out on a glacier, terrifying and beautiful, the heart of the void. Adalbert Stifter's rapt and enigmatic tale, beautifully translated by Elizabeth Mayer and Marianne Moore, explores what can be found between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day—or on any night of the year.


Rock Crystal Reviews

  • Orsodimondo

    UNA PIETRA PER AMICO “C’era una volta…”.No, non comincia così questa novella. Ma potrebbe: perché ha molto della fiaba.Come spiega bene nella postfazione Gabriella Bemporad, specialista in letteratura tedesca e mitteleuropea, il racconto lungo di Stifter è pieno di riferimenti a spunti biografici: il fatto curioso è che, però, Stifter non andò mai così in alto in montagna, non aveva conoscenza diretta dei ghiacciai, ma solo attraverso i racconti e i dipinti dell’amico Friedrich [...]

  • Geoff

    I've read Rock Crystal three times in the past three years before the last three Christmases, and though I'm not a Christian and I'm only religious in the sense that I believe certain things to be sacred, there is within my being an almost overwhelming feeling of nostalgia associated with that time period between the end of November and the New Year, and I solemnize, if nothing else, that feeling and my family and I try to understand and be grateful for what they have tried to provide me with in [...]

  • David

    Who am I kidding? I'm not going to finish this thing. I'll get more enjoyment by just staring at the cover lovingly, stroking it with the tippy tip-tops of my fingers, and saying aloud, 'Pretty!' in the voice of an idiot manchild. This isn't the case of a book deserving a good cover; this is the case of a cover deserving a good book and this just ain't it.I should have taken the author's name as sufficient warning. I mean, what the hell does an Adalbert Stifter have to tell me? He sounds like th [...]

  • Pantelis

    Thanks to my library, this year I was the only Athenian who enjoyed a White Christmas

  • Diane S ☔

    Beautifully descriptive, simple but wonderful, this short novella tells the story of two children lost in the mountains. The care that Conner takes of his little sister is so incredibly poignant as is the way she listen to absolutely everything he says, the amazing trust she show in her brother. Loved the way all the villagers pulled together to search for the missing children. Much can be read into this story, interpretations of a Christian nature, acceptance into village life and a survival st [...]

  • Sandy (CA)

    In this very unusual story, two children travel a familiar route from their home in an alpine valley to visit their maternal grandparents who live in a neighbouring valley. It is Christmas Eve, and they are bundled off early for the return trip, with pockets and knapsack stuffed with gifts, edible and otherwise, for their siblings and parents. An unexpected snowfall disorients them and they become completely lost, following the wrong serpentine road up the mountain. They are unable to find the r [...]

  • Dhanaraj Rajan

    A Confession:I read this book in a wrong season (just before the commencement of Lent). It is a book for Christmas. And it is a wonderful book for Christmas. I will read it again and again mostly during the Christmas season.What is it about?It is about love and Christmas. Two kids (a brother and a sister) living in one of the Alpine villages go missing on the Christmas eve. As they return from the village of their grandparents, there occurs a heavy snow and they lose the track. They are lost and [...]

  • Hadrian

    A rather bland fable with stiff characterization and superb landscape descriptions. The story is as cloying as a Thomas Kinkade painting, but the long beautiful passages about the ice fields are hymns.

  • M. Sarki

    msarki.tumblr/post/8099536Adalbert Stifter suffered from anxiety and depression his entire life. Like so many writers, he depended on the approval of others and despaired over the public indifference to his novels. Obviously, his own character was one that could not overcome this perception regarding his own inadequacies. He took this public refusal of his life’s work so personally that his last act on earth was to unfortunately cut his own throat. This is a fiction, but all of us bring someth [...]

  • booklady

    A dear friend gave me Rock Crystal as a Christmas gift this year and I can highly recommend it as a great Christmas read! Originally published in 1845 it has the sort of timeless feel of a Dickensian classic (albeit without all the characters) and deserves to be better known—why it isn’t truly puzzles me. Perhaps it is because of the author’s unfortunate lack of success and premature demise, but that aside, this little novella is a delight and is going to be stored among my other Christmas [...]

  • Mikki

    Having finished the book a few days ago, I'm still perplexed by all of the glowing reviews (not just from readers but critics and revered authors). I kept thinking, "maybe it's me… what am I missing?"Nothing. It's a folktale that tells the story of two villages and one family separated by miles of high mountains and years of living in their enclosed separate worldsey cling to what is traditional and to the ancient ways of their forefathers…love their own valley ardently, and could scarcely e [...]

  • Jim Elkins

    Slow Pace and Harmony: Two Qualities Missing from Contemporary FictionBeautifully translated, perfectly formed novella. Stifter is the "landscape painter" of German realist novelists, and this little novel begins with a leisurely tour of a mountain range, so that as readers we know our way around. Then two little children get lost in the mountains. It's not meant to be melodramatic: it's the opposite: a potentially maudlin story told with absolute calm and with fastidious and accurate attention [...]

  • Jim

    A simple tale of two children who cross a mountain rane to visit their grandparents for Christmas Eve and return during a fierce blizzard that wipes out all their landmarks. They get lost, wind up in the mountains and crossing a glacier, finally finding a houselike structure of rocks and ice that provides some protection from the cold. There is something mythical about their predicament;Even though Conrad kept before his mind's eye the fate of the frozen woodsman -- even though the children had [...]

  • Debra

    This is one of my favorite books. I read it each winter and it so perfectly captures the atmosphere of the Alps, the descriptions of snow and survival and has a glorious ending. It always reminds me how beautiful writing can capture the most simple story, and yet also how difficult it is to render the beauty of nature in words when one tries it themselves. The book is set around Christmas Eve, and if I had children it would be one I read aloud to them in short chapters for 3 nights before Xmas. [...]

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)

    For scenery description, I'd give this 5 stars, unfortunately there is also a story. A brother and sister visit their grandparents through the woods (and around a glacier, I mean, this is the Alps) and get stranded in the ice on the way back home.The sister, Sanna, only says "Yes" to her brother, which drove me bonkers. The parents should have known better, the grandparents should have known better, after all they all have lived there for generations. At least they had a speedy rescue method.

  • Gill

    I initially listen to this on Librivox, and thought it was a very nice listen. Then I realised that there was a project Gutenberg read that went along with the audio. I read the book and also very much enjoyed that.My favourite section was the description of the mountains and the ice. I could really imagine what this was like. I also liked how the relationship between the boy and the girl developed, and how the boy looked after the girl and how she trusted him and looked up to him so much.When I [...]

  • Stephen

    A great story, simple (even banal) at first glance but full of myth, allegory, and quiet mystery just under the surface. Two kids, "the right road lost" (in Dante's words), wander out onto a glacier in the Austrian Alps on Heilige Nacht (Christmas Eve). Taking refuge in a stone cave or hut, Conrad and Susanna are kept awake - and from freezing to death - by a vial of coffee extract given as a gift by their grandmother, then by a stirring and inexplicable light show over a vast ice field at midni [...]

  • Bryant

    A strange little book. Stifter's descriptions of ice are remarkable. He finds, like the best of painters, unexpected colors in ordinary things. Stifter's ice is not just clear and pure but also green and blue and black. It does not surprise that Stifter also made landscape paintings. This is chiefly a novella about what divides people of apparent similarity, and what brings them together. In this case, the same things divides and unites. A mountain with "dazzling horn-shaped peaks" forms the bar [...]

  • Susan

    A seemingly simple story of two children walking home from a visit to their grandmother grows in scope and meaning as one thinks about it. Great descriptive writing from observations of landscapes and weather to human quirks and a touch of humor. Warning: The introduction by W.H. Auden (and even the back cover) have spoilers.

  • Ben Loory

    with an introduction by w.h. auden, you imagine you're going to be in for a certain clarity of prose and you're right. this is a short and very simple novella about two kids lost in the mountains during a storm on christmas eve. you can read it in about an hour and it will be an hour well spent. the translation is musical and very, very fluid. don't read the intro til afterward, though, AS IT GIVES EVERYTHING AWAY.

  • Vishy

    Loved, loved, loved it!

  • Ken

    ROCK CRYSTAL, a title out of the NYRB series, is a small (73 pp.!) gem that requires a certain mindset because, well, not a lot happens. Still, if you're into idylls and Christmas stories -- how about the Alps or winter? -- you may find this little foray worth the trip.Young Conrad and his younger-still sister Sanna are traveling on Christmas Eve morning from their parents' home to their grandparents' home in another valley. All goes well and Grandma sends them home with a few gifts. On the way [...]

  • Feliks

    Superb. I'm struck rapt by intense, finely-wrought, piercing little books such as this. They're rather rare and difficult to discover; they read like a vivid dream; the language is poetic and mesmerizing and all too succinct. That's their stamp.The story here--like the others I'm recalling (Light, for example; or Maxims, The Little Prince, The Velveteen Rabbit, or The Poetics of Space) is extremely simple, but filled with potency, poignancy, and brooding. All the more so considering the author's [...]

  • Antonomasia

    [3.5] Set at Christmas, but have you heard this weather?I can see why some people find Rock Crystal sweet, others cloying - I'm midway. A piece somewhere between a short story and a novella, it's very Victorian (actually Austrian, pub.1845, this translation made 100 years later) and the mental gear-shift it required was the same as the first such I remember making when, as a kid, I read one of Andrew Lang's Fairy Books found at my grandmother's. The two children, Conrad and Sanna, are impossibly [...]

  • Lisa

    Ice--nothing but ice.There were great slabs lying, covered with snow but on the edges glassy green ice showed; there were mounds of what looked like pushed-up foam, the sides dull but with inward glimmers as if crystals and splinters of precious stones had been jumbled togetherThe gorgeousness of the prose and the completeness of the nearly-alien world it depicts--life in a quiet 19th-century Alpine village--lend this slim book its heft and fascination. The plot concerns two children getting los [...]

  • Jonathan

    Oh, this book must be so unfashionable these days. The most unfashionable element is probably the detachment; the prose is clear, unemotional, controlled. In an age where everyone wants to express their emotions to everyone all the time then this sort of prose must seem unbearable. However, I imagine that fans of the equally unfashionable Eichendorff and Sherwood Anderson and possibly the more fashionable Kafka would be interested in giving this book a read.The next unfashionable element is prob [...]

  • Jos

    I'm afraid I'm with Germany's foremost literary critic Reich-Ranicki. Stifter had his time but it has passed. His elaborated descriptions of nature fail to move me, the characters and the plot are deliberately idyllic in line with the conservative introversive values of the Biedermeier, the time between Napoleon's occupation of Germany 1815 and the start of the European revolution in 1848. Nonetheless, reading the novella as an example for Stifter's gentle law ("Sanftes Gesetz") had its merits a [...]

  • Eric

    The simplest and most concisely and carefully written work I've read in some time. Rock Crystal revolves around Conrad and Sanna, two young children who get lost in the mountains on their way home from their grandmother's on Christmas Eve, right in the middle of a terrible snowstorm. Stifter doesn't present this as a gripping melodrama, but more of a simple story of man (though a more innocent pair as opposed to one of experience) vs. nature, and the more loving remembrance of nature having mana [...]

  • Maren

    Adalbert Stifter's Rock Crystal is a simple story almost a parable or a fairytale except that he spends so much time detailing the life and culture of the mountains. Stifter saves the story through is appreciation of the combined beauty and danger of nature (as expressed in the snow storm and the mountain pass). The moutain and the storm almost become characters in the story.I was also intrigued by the tension between the Catholicism of the villagers and a sense of the divine being dwarfed by na [...]

  • James F

    The book discussion at the library this month is to bring your favorite holiday book; I don't have a favorite holiday book, but I noticed that Stifter's Rock Crystal which just came in to be cataloged last month (newly republished in English by NYRB) was a Christmas story, so I looked in my garage and found the original version in a little Reclam paperback and read it for the first time. A short story based on a true occurrence, about a boy and girl who get lostin a snowstorm in the mountains on [...]