Contribution

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Although primarily known within the history of German literature as an outstanding lyrical poet of the nineteenth century, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff also wrote a novella, Die Judenbuche: Ein Sittengemälde aus dem Gebirgichten Westfalen (1842; The Jew’s Beech Tree, 1914), that ranks among the best of both novellas and the historical mystery genre. Tightly constructed and vividly written, this story of murder, guilt, and the eventual triumph of justice presents a realistic picture of village life in Westphalia (now in Germany) during the late eighteenth century as well as psychological portraits of individual characters that suggest the author’s keen sense of observation. In 1844, Droste-Hülshoff began another mystery prose piece, “Joseph: Eine Kriminalgeschichte” (Joseph: a crime story), but it unfortunately remained a fragment and has never been translated.