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Rock Crystal (novella)

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Wikipedia article

'Rock Crystal' (; 1845) is a novella by Austrian writer Adalbert Stifter, about two children who become lost in a snowstorm in the Alps on Christmas Eve. It influenced Thomas Mann.

Mann called Stifter "one of the most extraordinary, the most enigmatic, the most secretly daring and the most strangely gripping narrators in world literature".Peter Watson. 'The German Genius: Europe's Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution, and the Twentieth Century'. HarperCollins, 2010. Page 296. Poet W. H. Auden wrote: "To bring off, as Stifter does, a story of this kind, with its breathtaking risks of appalling banalities, is a great feat. What might so easily have been a tear-jerking melodrama becomes in his hands a quiet and beautiful parable about the relation of people to places, of man to nature."Wystan Hugh Auden, Edward Mendelson. 'Prose: 1939-1948: Volume 2', Page 254. The story's power, according to author Susan Choi, arises not from danger, but from "catastrophe's quiet avoidance: from the series of small miracles by which the children survive".

Hannah Arendt praised Stifter as a "friend of reality" and "the greatest landscape painter in literature" for his avoidance of generalities and impressions in favor of sensory details. In an unpublished review of an English translation she praised "the strange, innocent wisdom of Stifter's work".

It was translated into English in 1945 by Elizabeth Mayer and Marianne Moore, re-issued by Pushkin Press in 2001 and the 'New York Review of Books' in 2008. An earlier translation from 1914 by Lee M. Hollander is in the public domain.

It has been adapted to film and TV a number of times: in 1949 as the film 'Mountain Crystal' by Harald Reinl (Netherlands); in 1954 as the TV movie 'Bergkristall' by Friedrich Forster (Germany); in 1974 as the TV movie 'Bergkristall' by Paul Stockmeier (Austria); in 1999 as the TV movie 'Cristallo di rocca - Una storia di Natale' by Francesca Melandri (Italy); and in 2004 as the film 'Bergkristall' by Klaus Richter (Germany).


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