Biography of Adalbert Stifter (1805-1868)

Austrian writer, born in Oberplan (Bohemian Forest) in 1805 and died in Linz in 1868. Born in a family of weavers and traders of linen, Stifter attended the Institute of the Benedictine Abbey of Kremsmünster after the early death of his father. In Vienna, he/she studied law, mathematics and natural sciences, but he/she soon left the studies to dedicate himself to his true vocation: the painting and literature. A first love experience not excessively positive results, followed the marriage with Amalie Mohaupt dressmaker in 1837. During the first years Stifter combined his artistic activity with the job as a tutor and editor of newspapers. In 1850 he/she was appointed counselor school, and from 1853 was a very positive work in the struggle for the conservation of monuments and works of art. Some disappointments in the personal attached to a hard disease led him to a suicide attempt which, although unsuccessful at the time, produced you the death two days later as a result of fatal wounds.

His early writings show a clear influence of writers such as Heinrich Heineand Ludwig Börne, but above all Jean Paul Richter and Fenimore Cooper. His short novels and stories, collected in six volumes entitled Studien (studies, 1844-1850), are a good example of his mastery in the art of description of landscapes, in very close relationship with his talent for painting. The best known stories of these six volumes are, surely, Der Hochwald (forest of mountain, 1841), Die Narrenburg (the castle of fools, 1842), and Obadiah (Abdias, 1842). His ability to describe the landscapes down to their most recondite detail is also evident in the two volumes of Bunte Steine (stones of colors, 1853), which appears as a basic force to which the individual is unable to cope.

His style is characterized mainly by its objectivity, for his efforts to present a harmonious and ideal world in which the individual must be able to set aside some of their own inclinations for a life in harmony with nature and the society that surrounds it, elements that constitute the plot of one of his best-known novelsDer Nachsommer (the Indian summer of San Martín, 1857), made following very closely the novel training model proposed by Goethe in his Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjare (the years of learning from Wilhelm Meister, 1795/96).

Stifter also wrote a novel in three volumes of historical content, Witiko (Witiko, 1865-1867). The action is situated in Bohemia during the middle ages and, rather than historical events, in the novel they weigh the stylization and abstraction. Neither the novel nor the previous had good reception among the public of his time, and had to wait until after the first world war to make critics and audiences pay them attention. Perhaps it is due to its tight and sometimes alienating style that came without a doubt of the necessity of the author reflect his conception of art and of the world, the idea of the need for the harmony of human beings with their environment, which led him to resign on many occasions to elements of reality.

IHG