A young painter – who we soon discover to be the future world-famous Nicolas Poussin  pays a visit to the studio of a celebrated master, Porbus, where he is admitted behind a rather strange old man who has also come to visit the master, whose works he proceeds to ruthlessly criticize for their lack of life and truthfulness. This visitor turns out to be an unknown master painter himself, who passionately describes the magnificent masterpiece that he has almost but not quite finished for (...)
Home > Stories
"The Unknown Masterpiece" by Honoré de Balzac (1831)
18 September, by Honoré de Balzac
"Mountain Cristal (Bergkristall)" by Adalbert Stifter (1853)
11 September, by Adalbert Stifter
Two children go over into the neighbouring valley high up in the Austrian Alps to visit their grandmother on the day before Christmas and get lost on their way back when a terrible snowstorm unexpectedly hits the whole region and covers up not only their tracks but all the recognizable landmarks that usually guide them on their way.
A story about life in the mountains, a story about the diverse and ever-changing environment in the mountains, a story about Christmas in the mountains and (...)
"Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad (1899)
5 August, by Joseph Conrad
This famous story (with its 38,000 words Heart of Darkness is a novella, not a novel) manages in a mysterious way to create an intriguing atmosphere of significance, even if the narrator’s mysticism and his unbounded admiration of the long-sought-after figure of Kurtz, a European trader of ivory in the upper reaches of what is clearly the Congo River who only appears towards the end of the story, is not to everyone’s taste in these more down-to-earth days.
And the rather complacent (...)
"The Love Song of the Tomcat Murr" by E.T.A. Hoffmann (1821)
30 April, by E. T. A. Hoffmann
The account of his love affair with the lovely Miesmies by the very gifted tomcat Murr, who had been taught to read and write by his erudite master and who had then proceeded to write his autobiography, including this most delightful episode from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s wonderful masterwork “The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr (1821).” (2,400 words)
Translated specially for this site An e-book, with the original text in an annex, is available for downloading below.
The original text can (...)
"Twice-Told Tales" by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1837)
22 April, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The first book published by the future author of The Scarlet Letter, a collection of stories that had previously appeared in various New England newspapers, all evoking the past epochs of that English colony, all with a tinge of the occult and the mysterious, and just about all with a quite passionate anger at the rigidities and injustices of the rigorous Puritan mentality that was so characteristic of that colony and that was still somewhat present in later times there.
A precious and (...)
"Youth is Beautiful" by Hermann Hesse (1916)
17 March, by Hermann Hesse
Hermann Hesse, the celebrated author of Siddharta and Steppenwolf, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947, was also a masterful writer of short stories, of which this delicate, charming account of a young man returning to his birthplace is an outstanding example.
It has been specially translated here for this site. (14,400 words) An e-book, with the original text in an annex, is available for downloading below.
The original text can also be seen here. > CHAPTER ONE (...)
"Granite" (1853) by the Austrian writer and painter Adalbert Stifter
25 February, by Adalbert Stifter
An account of life and death and nature in the high alps in upper Austria long before modern life changed the ancient ways in those remote parts, recounted with strong poetic overtones by the narrator as he remembers a striking incident from his youth in that magnificent region.
A charming, captivating and finally very moving reading experience.
By the Austrian writer, painter and teacher Adalbert Stifter (1805-1868), one of the leading figures of the Biedermeier literary movement that (...)
"Immensee" (1849) by Theodor Sturm
5 February, by Theodor Sturm
An elderly man meditates on the great love of his life, a young girl who had promised to follow him around the world but who had married one of his oldest friends while he was away from her pursuing his university studies.
Delicately told in the light, poetical and nature-loving style of one of the most gifted and prolific German writers of his time, the distinguished jurist, poet, novelist and story-writer Theodor Sturm (1817-1888).
Translated by C. W. Bell M. A. an e-book, with the (...)
"Cards at Dawn" (Spiel im Morgengrauen), aka "Night Games", by Arthur Schnitzler (1926)
21 December 2022, by Arthur Schnitzler
A young officer in Vienna decides to help a former comrade in need by risking his meagre funds in a card game with fellow officers and a selection of respectable local citizens. A decision that leads inexorably to drama and downfall culminating in a final existential crisis that plunges him into the very depths of his soul and a final understanding of just what kind of a man he really is.
Clearly although not specifically set in the years prior to the outbreak of World War I, this (...)
"The Stone Heart " by E. T. A. Hoffmann (1817)
14 November 2022, by E. T. A. Hoffmann
The Court Counsellor Reutlinger organizes an elaborate festival on his grounds every three years to which everyone in the area, young and old, is invited – on the condition that they put on the clothes and accoutrements of the year 1760, a particularly important moment in the Counsellor’s life, as he explains to a distinguished lady of his own age some forty years afterwards as they stroll through his grounds among the revelry – and resolves a lifelong dilemma in doing so.
A charming (...)