Imprisoned in his tyrannical uncle's ruined mansion, the young hero of Adalbert Stifter's The Bachelors (Der Hagestolz) must confront his past in order to regain control of his life.
Leaving the home of his foster mother to begin his working life, young Victor stops to visit his uncle, who long ago sealed himself away from the world, on a island in a lake, high in the Austrian alps. The old man, who has never known love, lives barricaded in a former monastery, surrounded by an atmosphere of death and decay. Portraying the friction between these two characters with keen psychological insight, Stifter's masterful bildungsroman explores conflicting attitudes to life and their existential effects: stillness and movement, light and dark, openness and withdrawal.
Translated by David Bryer
Cover illustration by Adalbert Stifter
Published 28 March 2008