Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Heinrich Drendorf

Heinrich Drendorf (HIN-rihkh DRAYN-dohrf), the narrator, a young man who has been reared in an ideal home, with kindly, wise, and loving parents and a devoted sister, Klotilde. A few years previously, Heinrich and Klotilde had each inherited a substantial sum of money. Now that he is an adult, Heinrich can, by being frugal, live off the income from his inheritance and devote himself to the study of his chosen field, science, without needing to work and support himself. While on one of his scientific journeys, Heinrich meets Risach, whose house, estate, and very existence radiate a profound sense of unity and harmony. He is already quite mature and discerning, but with Risach’s guidance, Heinrich gradually acquires a deeper knowledge and understanding of nature, literature, art, and, especially, humanity. Through Risach, Heinrich meets Natalie. Her beauty and his steadily deepening love for her inspire him further in his development, especially in his appreciation of art.

Baron Gustav von Risach

Baron Gustav von Risach (fon REE-zakh), an elderly gentleman farmer and former statesman, a self-made man of humble origins. He becomes Heinrich’s mentor. Still very vigorous, mentally and physically, Risach radiates a sense of stability, unity, harmony, serenity, and wisdom, uplifting all around him. Many years ago, while working as a private tutor, he fell in love with one of his students, Mathilde. He dutifully talked to her parents about marriage, but they requested, considering their daughter’s youth, that the wedding be postponed. Risach felt obliged to...

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The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Adalbert Stifter has a visual imagination which disposes him to call the reader’s attention to the dark eyes and brown hair of Natalie and Gustav, for example, as well as to the characters’ clothing. Typically, however, he suggests rather than describes. All the main characters are what human beings could be under ideal conditions; this precludes any real individualization. The most impressive character is Baron von Risach, who possesses the proverbial wisdom, kindness, and serenity of old age and whose present sphere of activity is large enough to allow him to realize all of his formerly unfulfilled dreams. Mathilde’s beauty reflects the grace and calm resignation which she personifies. Heinrich is a model son and brother, Klotilde is the ideal daughter and sister, and Gustav is an exemplary youth. So much perfection in the main characters would be unbearable without the human failings shown in the flashback and some hints at the dangerous depths of human nature that are revealed in two minor characters in the novel, the vagabond zither player Joseph and, especially, Eustach’s brother, the artist Roland.


(Great Characters in Literature)

Gump, Margaret. “Der Nachsommer,” in Adalbert Stifter, 1974.

Naumann, Ursula. “Der Nachsommer,” in Adalbert Stifter, 1979.

Oertel Sjogren, Christine. “The Marble Statue as Idea”: Collected Essays on Adalbert Stifter’s “Der Nachsommer,” 1972.

Pascal, Roy. “Adalbert Stifter: Indian Summer,” in The German Novel, 1956.

Steffen, Konrad. “Der Nachsommer,” in Adalbert Stifter, 1955.