Storm Tina

Hans and Heinz Kirch
with Immensee
and Journey to a Hallig

(Hans und Heinz Kirch, 1882; Immensee, 1850; Eine Halligfahrt, 1871)

Theodor Storm's fictional achievement goes well beyond the celebrated Novelle Der Schimmelreiter (The Dykemaster in Denis Jackson's translation published in Angel Classics). This selection of three more of his most impressive narratives, two of them appearing in English for the first time, represents three stages in the development of a German writer whose best work ranks with that of Thomas Hardy.

Immensee (1850), a love-story whose powerful atmosphere is heightened by all-pervasive symbols and folksong-like verse, has long been a favourite of both the German- and English-speaking worlds.

Journey to a Hallig (1871) is a free-roving story of a journey in more than one sense, both a magical evocation of the German North Sea coast in high summer and a layered account of an inner journey back into an old man's past.

Hans and Heinz Kirch (1882), one of Storm's masterpieces is a tragic tale of father-son conflict set among the Kleinbürger mercantile community of the German Baltic seaboard.

Denis Jackson's absorbing introduction and end notes, and maps to two of the stories, will enhance the reader's enjoyment of this poetic, eloquent fiction which is so strongly rooted in time and place.

Cover Illustration

COVER ILLUSTRATION: 'Marktplatz. Alt-Heiligenhafen', etching by Ingrid M Schmeck.

Hans and Heinz Kirch Selected text:

But this night, it seemed, there was something else besides; hours had passed and still he lay awake on his pillows. He seemed to hear a rocky coastal stretch of the Mediterranean hundreds of miles away, which he had once sailed in his youth; and when his eyes had at last closed he immediately forced himself to keep awake; for he had quite clearly seen a ship, a full-rigged sailing ship with broken masts, being tossed about among towering waves. He tried to rouse himself fully, but his eyes closed again, and he recognised the ship once more; clearly he saw the figurehead between the bowsprit and the stem post, a huge white Fortuna, now plunging into the foaming sea, now rising proudly from it again, as though wanting to hold ship and crew above the water. Then suddenly a crash made him start, and he found himself sitting upright in bed.
           All around him was now quiet, he could hear nothing; he tried to remember if the storm had still been raging a short while ago; then he had the feeling that he was not alone in the room; he rested both hands on the sides of the bed and opened his eyes wide. And -- there it was, there in the corner stood his Heinz; he could not see the face, for the head was bowed, and the hair, dripping with water, hung down over the brow; but he recognised him just the same -- how, he did not know or ask himself. Water even dripped from the clothes and the arms that hung down; it continued to flow and formed a wide stream which ran towards his bed.
           Hans Kirch wanted to call out, but he sat as though paralysed with his arms braced; at last a loud cry broke from his chest, and immediately he also heard crashing sounds above him in the young couple's bedroom, and again he heard the storm furiously shaking the timbers of his house.
           Soon afterwards his son-in-law entered the room with a light to find him sunk in his pillows. 'We heard you shouting,' he asked; 'what is wrong, father?'
           The old man looked straight towards the corner. 'He's dead,' he said, 'far from here.'
           'Who's dead, father? Who do mean? Do you mean your Heinz?'
           The old man nodded. 'The water,' he said, 'move away, you're standing in the middle of the water!'
           The younger man lowered the light towards the floor. 'There's no water here, father. You've had a bad dream.'
           'You're no seaman, Christian; what do you know about it!' said the old man fiercely. 'But I know about it -- this is how our dead return.'

Translation © Denis Jackson and Anja Nauck 1999. isbn 0 946162 60 3

Immensee Selected text:

Immensee Illustration Illustration to Immensee by Wilhelm Haseman, 1888.

Reproduced by kind permission of Verlag Boyens & Co., Heide in Holstein.


On a late autumn afternoon a well-dressed old man walked slowly down the street. He appeared to be returning home from a walk; for his buckle-shoes, of outdated fashion, were dusty. He carried a long gold-headed cane under his arm; his dark eyes, in which his whole lost youth appeared to have taken refuge and which contrasted strangely with the snow-white hair, gazed quietly about him or down into the town which lay before him in the soft evening sunlight. -- He appeared almost a stranger; for few passers-by acknowledged him, although many were instinctively drawn to look into those serious eyes. At length he stopped and stood before a tall gabled house, looked once more towards the town, then went into the entrance hall. At the sound of the doorbell, the green curtain at the small living-room window which looked out onto the hall was drawn aside, revealing behind it the face of an old woman. The man beckoned to her with his cane. 'Still no light!' he said with a somewhat southern accent; and the housekeeper let the curtain fall back again. The old man now crossed the spacious hall, then went through a parlour where large oak cupboards filled with china vases stood against the walls, and through a far door entered a small corridor from which a narrow staircase led to upper rooms at the rear of the house. He slowly climbed the stairs, unlocked a door and entered a moderately large room. Here it was peaceful and quiet; one of the walls was almost covered with bookcases and repositories; on the other hung pictures of people and places; before a green-covered table, upon which several opened books lay strewn, stood a heavy armchair with a red velvet cushion. -- After the old man had put away his hat and cane in the corner he settled himself in the armchair, and with folded hands appeared to be resting after his walk. -- As he sat there, it gradually grew darker; eventually a moonbeam streamed through the window-panes and fell on the oil paintings on the wall, and as the bright band crept slowly onward the old man's eyes instinctively followed it. Now it passed over a small painting in a plain dark frame. 'Elisabeth!' said the old man softly; and as soon as he uttered the name the time changed; he was back in his youth.

Translation © Denis Jackson and Anja Nauck 1999. isbn 0 946162 60 3

A Journey to a Hallig* Selected text:

Seascape with Haliggen

And the sails billowed gently and the boat drifted quietly on; the water could be heard at the bow rippling against the keel. After an hour we had left the large neighbouring island behind us and now drifted on the broad tide. Close by us a gull glided over the water; I saw its yellow eyes peering down into the depths. 'Rungholt!' cried the boatman, who had just shifted the sails to tack . . .
           . . . 'In King Abel's time, and also much later, it stood above the sea in the sunshine with its splendid gabled houses, its steeples and mills. The ships from Rungholt sailed over all the seas of the world and carried home treasures from every part of it. When the bells rang for mass, the market and the streets filled with fair-haired women and girls hurrying to church in silk garments, and at the time of the equinoctial storms the men, especially when they had come home from their feasts, would clamber up onto their high dykes again, stick their hands in their pockets, and shout mockingly down at the roaring sea: "You can't touch us now, Wild Hans!" . . .
           . . . The men of Rungholt -- at least, according to the religious chroniclers -- summoned a priest one day and ordered him to give Communion to a sick pig. This angered God and he made his waters rise as in Noah's time; and they rose over the dykes, mills and steeples. And Rungholt with its fair-haired women and its defiant men' -- and I pointed behind us where the water swirled in the sun from the keel of our boat -- 'lies down there, lost and invisible on the floor of the sea. Only occasionally in fine weather when the pennant hangs limply from the mast in the stillness of midday and the sailors are snoring in the cabin, then -- as people say -- "it rises up." -- Then anyone with keen eyes who looks overboard into the water can see the steeples with golden weathercocks rising up out of the green gloom; he or she might perhaps even recognise the roofs of the old houses and see strange slow-moving creatures crawling in the seaweed that has grown over them, or might look down between the jagged gables into the narrow lanes where shellfish and amber have obscured the gateways to the houses and the never-resting ebb and flow of the tide plays with the treasures of sunken ships. -- Even the sailors below decks wake and sit up, for they hear the sound of ringing beneath them from the deep -- it is the bells of Rungholt.

* (Hallig: a small un-dyked island on the North Sea tidal flats)

Translation © Denis Jackson and Anja Nauck 1999. isbn 0 946162 60 3


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