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Stellaby Siegfried Lenz
Synopses & Reviews
In a small town on the Baltic coast, in a community steeped in
maritime industries and local mores, a teenager falls in love with his
English professor. Christian looks older than his years, Stella younger
than hers. The summer they spend together is filled with boat rides
to Bird Island, secret walks on the beach, and furtive glances. The
emotions that blossom between Christian andStella are aflame with
passion and innocence, and with an idealistic hope of a future. The
two lovers manage to keep their mutual attraction concealed, but
as the hot months comes to an end, their meetings become more
difficult to conceal.
Stella begins at the end, at Stella Petersen's memorial service,
where Christianrelives the memories he shared with his first love.
There is nothing salacious about their relationship, nor is it just a case
of a teenager's crush on his teacher. Their affair changesboth
Christian and Stella, allows them to expand their views, and pushes
them out of social and familial constraints. Theirs is a tender love
story of a time, and yet speaks to any time; it isactually through
death that their love is transformed.
The sparseness of Siegfried Lenz's narrative is reminiscent of the
existential stringency of ErnestHemingway. Only a master stylist of
his standing could compose such a story that is equally modest and
powerful, a work that leaves a lasting authentic impression, and that
strives to comply withW.H. Auden's famous request, Tell me the truth about love.
Siegfried Lenz, born in Lyck in East Prussia in 1926, is one of the most important
and widely read writers in postwar and present-day literature. He has published
twelve novels, including The German Lesson, and produced several collections
of short stories, essays, and plays. His works have been published since 1951 by
Hoffmann und Campe, and he has won numerous prizes, including the Goethe Prize
and the German Booksellers’ Peace Prize.
Anthea Bell is a freelance translator from German and French, specializing in
fiction. She has won a number of translation awards in the UK, the USA, and Europe.
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