The Black Spider

byJeremias GotthelfTranslated bySusan Bernofsky

October 8, 2013|
The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf
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An NYRB Classics Original

It is a sunny summer Sunday in a remote Swiss village, and a christening is being celebrated at a lovely old farmhouse. One of the guests notes an anomaly in the fabric of the venerable edifice: a blackened post that has been carefully built into a trim new window frame. Thereby hangs a tale, one that, as the wise old grandfather who has lived all his life in the house proceeds to tell it, takes one chilling turn after another, while his audience listens in appalled silence. Featuring a cruelly overbearing lord of the manor and the oppressed villagers who must render him service, an irreverent young woman who will stop at nothing, a mysterious stranger with a red beard and a green hat, and, last but not least, the black spider, the tale is as riveting and appalling today as when Jeremias Gotthelf set it down more than a hundred years ago. The Black Spider can be seen as a parable of evil in the heart or of evil at large in society (Thomas Mann saw it as foretelling the advent of Nazism), or as a vision, anticipating H. P. Lovecraft, of cosmic horror. There’s no question, in any case, that it is unforgettably creepy.
Jeremias Gotthelf, the pen name of Albert Bitzius (1797–1854), was a Swiss pastor and the author of novels, novellas, short stories, and nonfiction, who used his writing to communicate his reformist concerns in the field of education and with regard to the plight of the poor. After the success of his first novel, Der Bauernspiege...
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Title:The Black SpiderFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:120 pages, 7.99 X 5.02 X 0.34 inShipping dimensions:120 pages, 7.99 X 5.02 X 0.34 inPublished:October 8, 2013Publisher:New York Review BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1590176685

ISBN - 13:9781590176689

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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