Lichtenberg and the Little Flower Girl Summary

Gert Hofmann

Lichtenberg and the Little Flower Girl

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Set in Gottingen, Germany, in the 1700’s, Gert Hofmann embellishes historic events from the life of famed mathematician, physicist, and astronomer, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg in a novel that is simultaneously depressing and amusing.

Lichtenberg, a lonely misshapen professor, no more than 4 foot 9 inches tall, with an enormous hunchback, horrible teeth, and little bits of stringy oily hair, longs for a woman that he could love and who could love him back. Followed and whispered about everywhere he goes by onlookers hoping to catch a glimpse of, or better yet touch, his hunchback, Lichtenberg frequents town events and concert halls in vain, hoping to find his love.

In his lecture hall at the University of Gottingen, his students are more concerned with his deformities than the knowledge he has to offer. Among his colleagues he is considered a mixture of an annoyance and a novelty, and “because of his hunchback, he had to be clever the whole time, people expected that of him.”

One day, Lichtenberg happens upon a strikingly beautiful twelve-year-old flower girl, Maria Stechard, known as the little Stechardess. With her parents’ approval, he arranges for her to live with him as his servant. She cooks and cleans for him, and eventually she becomes his lover. Together they find an unimaginable happiness.

Lichtenberg and the Little Flower Girl offers a look into true loneliness and happiness through a bizarre beauty and the beast love affair.