Theodor Storm, A Doppelgänger: with Aquis submersus, translated by Denis Jackson (Angel Classics, 2015)
Reading Denis Jackson’s translations of Theodor Storm’s ‘Ein Doppelgänger’ and ‘Aquis submersus’ was, for me, both a nostalgia trip and a voyage of literary discovery. As the daughter of a German teacher who taught – and indeed loved – ‘Aquis submersus’, I grew up familiar with the name Theodor Storm long before I could speak any German. I also experienced the wonderful coastal region of Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany on numerous family holidays, complete with trips to Husum and to the ‘Storm-House’, where Storm lived from 1866-1880.
Some years later, I encountered Storm’s writing myself for the first time when I was studying German at university. I was able to appreciate his literary mastery to a greater degree because I had spent time in the region in which he lived, worked and set his fiction. As Barbara Burns, author of the thought-provoking and illuminating introduction to these translations, observes, ‘Storm’s prose has the mark of the ethnographer, with its precise descriptions of regional landscapes, local farming techniques, architecture and dyke construction, as well as indigenous customs, rites and superstition. But his writing reaches far beyond its Schleswig-Holstein setting in terms of the pain and adversity it explores.’
In his lovingly crafted translations of these two works, Jackson has, I think, achieved a fine balance between these two aspects of Storm’s work. He notes himself in his introductory comments that Storm was ‘essentially a poet’, and the lyricism of the German author’s writing shines through in ...
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