We need to reclaim Adalbert Stifter, a writer whose works were probably an anachronism already at the times they were written. While writers like Balzac and Dickens were having a close look at the sufferings brought by modern town life, while revolutions were raging through the Europe of around 1848, while trains were built and industrialisation had started to jump from the British Isles over to the continent, while Marx and Engels were jumping over to the British Isles to bring the working classes together, while commerce was tying the nations ever closer together, Stifter's personage kept living in remote forests. The substantial problems that plagued Stifter's country people were wild animals, rough weather, and... well, the usual universals, no matter what the times are like: love, miscommunication and misconception, wars, cooperation. The anachronistic side has caused that too many reactionary anti-modernist readers have taken refuge in Stifter and misused his work. The last words of Wolfram Gramowski's afterword to this edition proves that quite clearly: "[Stifters Werk] stellte noch einmal die reine und ferne Schönheit des Lebens vor uns hin, ehe sie in dem maß- und gewissenlosen Macht- und Geldstreben unterging, das sich immer beherrschender gegen Schluß des 19. Jahrhunderts verbreitete." If that were all, then to read Stifter could only be of historical interest. But no, it isn't. We can still relate to questions like: What is the use and the role of beauty in society? What is trust? How to live in a world that we cannot control by ourselves?
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