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The Rider on the White Horse and Selected…

The Rider on the White Horse and Selected Stories (1888)

by Theodor Storm

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A potentially interesting book, but not that interesting in practice and not particularly enjoyable either. When reading his early stories it's clear that Storm had a very distinctive style, as the transitions between scenes and times have a dreamlike quality where you just barely manage to hold on to how one passage flows into the next. While this quality is interesting in the abstract, Storm doesn't pair it with engaging stories so it's largely wasted. In general his style wasn't one I enjoyed, a problem magnified by the fact that Storm's stories are often overly reliant on coincidences (notably the stories "In Saint Jurgen" and "Aquis Submersus") and the characters are not distinctive. In most of the stories, even the titular story of The Rider on the White Horse that lasts a hundred pages, the main character is defined by a single quality or interest, or at most two. There are many characters who you can sum up as "man in love" or "woman in love" or "bad person keeping lovers apart." It's boring, and because of this the writing fails to make you empathize with the characters. Characters also make nonsensical decisions on occasion for the sake of whatever story Storm was trying to tell (a man marrying someone he doesn't love for no reason, a wife riding her carriage into the sea when she would have been perfectly safe at home, etc.). Storm also has the tendency to add a frame narrative to his story, as the main tale is often conveyed through a storyteller or old documents or something similar, but nothing is ever added to the story through this. It's the appearance of adding another layer to the meaning of the story without actually adding any depth.

Even the interesting style seemed to have gotten less pronounced in Storm's later stories, leaving some works in this collection that are entirely dull. There's nothing wrong or especially bad about any of the Storm stories included here, but they're all so unremarkable that I can't imagine myself ever recommending this author to anyone. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
Der Schimmelreiter is a great story even when you have to read it to get through exams ( )
  jon1lambert | Jun 13, 2009 |
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This is the collection translated by James Wright. It was first published by Signet Classics in 1964, and later re-printed by New York Review of Books Classics in 2009, they are otherwise the same. It contains:

In the Great Hall,
A Green Leaf,
In the Sunlight,
In St. Jurgen,
Aquis Submersus,
The Rider on the White Horse

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