Nov 7, In Jeremias Gotthelf’s 19th century gothic horror story The Black Spider, newly translated by Susan Bernofsky, a young woman makes a pact. Apr 5, The Black Spider. by Jeremias Gotthelf. Translated by Susan Bernofsky. NYRB Classics, I picked up The Black Spider because of its. And yet, there it is, Jeremias Gotthelf’s “The Black Spider” (or, as it was titled in its original German, “Die schwarze Spinne”), holding pride of place in Jones.

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One of the wives, Christine of Lindau, takes up the green huntsman’s offer, thinking that when a new baby is born, the people will find a way to deceive him, and they do manage to stave off the devil for a while. And Bpack Black Spider is an unflinching, theologically correct look at what it means to believe in the Christian god.

Explore the Home Gift Guide. English translation copyright by Susan Bernofsky.

Another child is born, and this time Christine manages to steal it from the mother and take it to the green man. Not that there are spoilers here, because there aren’t, but if you’re settling in to read this book, you may want to be able gotthflf form your own ideas about what you’re reading, so wait until you’ve finished it yourself before reading what I’ve written.

At her inquiry, the grandfather tells everyone the story of the post.

This part of the story is wonderfully gothic and sinister, and I think the fact that it is framed within the initial charming pastoral scene makes it all the more effective. Strangely enough, the only time a real fear of God comes into play for me is when I read a good, old-fashioned scary horror story or watch a well-made horror movie. Especially when all the men folk run away, leaving a lone sass-mouthed female to deal with him all by her lonesome.

Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Published January 28th by Philipp Reclam jun. Its ultimate message, that we should all be pious and God-fearing individuals who trust in the Lord to see us through our terrible travails, is one that we might expect of Gotthelf, Protestant minister that he was; the fact that such a minister was able to come up with such a grisly horror tale might come as more of a surprise to readers.

There is much thunder and lightning and several dramatic set-pieces involving new-born babies, green huntsmen, evil knights, heroic priests, hideous deaths, and of course the anticipated variety of arachnean antics. One wrong step and you’re toast. How could anyone believe in a God like that, if it meant denial of reality? The story opens on a radiantly beautiful morning in a quaint Swiss village—black birds trill aubades amid dew-speckled flowers, and lusty cows traipse across lush fields.


Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. What Gotthelf imagines is, indeed, a horror-vision. The grandfather tells how a few centuries before, the village had been ruled by a Teutonic Knight named Hans von Stoffeln, who worked the farmers of the village very hard. The novella’s depictions of a town led astray in difficult times by a headstrong leader and the morality of collective guilt, gave it renewed relevance in the post-World War II era.

Why would I fear God if I can get away with anything? But it’s all good!

There is much weeping and wailing, but one peasant stands out from all the others: But really, if you’re okay with spiders crawling on your face, then I can’t trust you. When the women are told what’s going on, they believe they can help their men, but it becomes obvious that this is not working out.

Why is this happening to me? He wants particular trees from a location that is hours away, and he wants everything done within a month or disastrous consequences will follow for the peasants and their families. Here young Bitzius grew up, receiving his early education and consorting with the boys of the village, as well as helping his father to cultivate his glebe. They just accept it. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

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The Black Spider | Literary Hub

The Black Spider can be seen as a parable of evil in the heart or of evil at large in society Thomas Mann saw it as foretelling the advent of Nazismor as a vision, anticipating H.

It was a serious book, I’m not a very serious reviewer. It’s been filmed before, but there’s certainly room for proper Hollywood treatment of this very cinematic story. A terrific read from the 19th century, well worth the few hours it takes to get through it. There are a number of scenes that are bound to produce that wonderful frisson of chills crawling up your spine, making it a perfect pre-Halloween read; it’s also a peek into a specific society at a specific time and place making it a good story for historical fiction readers.

Thoroughly in despair, because this is an impossible task, the peasant men wonder how they’re going to tell their loved ones.


In he went to complete his education at Bern.

Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. The Black Spider, by Jeremias Gotthelf.

The Black Spider

The qualities that initially make her appealing to the reader—bravery, independence, curiosity—lead her to the devil. In a well-kept farmhouse, preparations are underway for a celebration: No actual redemption or relief is possible from god’s punishment if you try to avoid starvation and torture.

The novella’s structure, consisting of a frame story and two internal narratives, is not only pleasing in itself, but also an ideal conveyor of the narratives’ central themes.

Many Christians myself included have lost the ability to fear God because many have lost the ability to believe in any accountability in this world, let alone the next one. The author was a pastor and thought much on the human condition.

Yes, eventually the satanic presence is bested — and yes, that black window post has something to do with it — but the carnage before then is dreadful. Christine—the fallen Christian and, of course, a woman—and Christian—a more aggressive Jesus-like character and, of course, a man. It is written like the rest of his works in German, but contains expressions from the Bernese dialect of the Emmental, though Bitzius was not like Auerbach a peasant by birth, but belonged to the educated classes, so that he reproduces what he had seen and learnt, and not what he had himself personally experienced.

It is as if he wants to improve the lot of his peasant congregation but not at the expense of the values that hold the community together. Lists with This Book. In the following years, the valley’s citizens continued their lives with a newfound respect towards God. It does not go well. Apr 05, Meike rated it really liked it Shelves: It seems at first that these two tales are where the horror resides, but what is most chilling is how the stories themselves grisly and terrifying shed new light on the framing story of the baptism of the child, spreading, as if by contagion, a pall of fear and doubt onto what has previously been read as the splendor of a sacred day.