Adalbert Stifter

Adalbert Stifter

date of birth : 23/10/1805 | date of death : 28/01/1868
Born on 23 October 1805, Oberplan, Austria, writer, poet, painter, pedagogue,He was especially notable for the vivid natural landscapes depicted in his writing, and has long been popular in the German-speaking world, while almost entirely unknown to English readers.

Birth, Birthplace, Time of birth:

Adalbert Stifter was born on 23 October 1805 in Oberplan, Austria.

Father's name: Johann Stifter
Mother's name: Magdalena Stifter
Brother: -
Sister: -
Spouse: Amalia Mohaupt
Children: Juliana (adopted)

Personal Information:

Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight

Life events:

Personal life

Stifter, Adalbert, by birth an Austrian citizen, was the son of a flax merchant, who died when the boy was 11. His childhood was spent in the Bohemian Forest, the landscape of which repeatedly enters into his novels and stories. In 1818 he was sent to school at the Benedictine monastery of Kremsmünster in Upper Austria, where his outstanding intelligence was recognized. He then studied at Vienna University, turning his attention especially to science. In 1828 he fell in love with Fanny Greipl, but after a relationship lasting five years, her parents forbade further correspondence, a loss from which he never recovered. In 1835 he became engaged to Amalia Mohaupt, and they married in 1837, but the marriage was not a happy one. Stifter and his wife, unable to conceive tried adopting three of Amalia's nieces at different times. One of the children ran away, and another, Juliana, disappeared and was found drowned in the Danube four weeks later.

Influences and legacy

Stifter's artistic interests were at first centred on landscape painting, but in 1840 he published, with some reluctance, his first story, Der Condor, which has as its central episode a balloon flight in which a young woman participates. This story was later included in the first volume of Studien. Other stories followed and were eventually incorporated in the six volumes of Studien (1844-50): Feldblumen (1840), Das Haidedorf (1840), Der Hochwald (1842), which was Stifter's first masterpiece, Die Narrenburg (1843), Die Mappemeines Urgro ßvaters (1841), Abdias (1843), Das alte Siegel (1844), Brigitta (1844), Der Hagestolz (1844), Der Waldsteig (1845), Schwestern (1846, original version of 1845, ZweiSchwestern), and Der beschriebene Tännling(1845).During the political turmoil of 1848–50, Adalbert Stifter was deeply involved in the debate over the role of education; in 1850 he moved from Vienna to Linz, becoming an inspector of schools. The novel Der Nachsommer (1857; “Indian Summer”), his greatest work, depicts a young man learning and growing; the work radiates a still and sun-soaked beauty and a restrained idealism, set against the landscape Stifter loved. His epic Witiko (1865–67) uses medieval Bohemian history as a symbol for the human struggle for a just and peaceful order. Other stories followed, but he was too ill to finish his project of expanding Die Mappemeines Urgrossvaters into a novel: only the first volume was completed. Stifter's later years were darkened by the childlessness of his marriage and the suicide in 1859 of an adopted daughter. In 1867 he was seriously ill, suffering, it is thought, from cancer. During the night of 28 January 1868, while beset with agonizing pain he ended his life by cutting his throat with his razor. The nature of his end was concealed at the time, but the facts were revealed some thirty-five years later.


Stifter was educated at the Benedictine Gymnasium at Kremsmünster, and went to the University of Vienna in 1826 tostudy law.

Occupations and Career:

Adalbert Stifter was an Austrian writer, poet, painter, and pedagogue. After many years of precarious living as a tutor, artist, and writer, in 1840 he began to publish stories, including Der Condor (1840), Feldblumen (1841; “Wildflowers”), and Die Mappemeines Urgrossvaters (1841–42; “My Greatgr and father’s Portfolio”). In Brigitta (1844) the basic structure of his major work began to emerge: he saw that an inner unity of the landscape and people—a crucial part of life for him—must also determine the shape of his story. Collections of revised stories, Studien, 6 vol. (1844–50; “Studies”) and BunteSteine (1853; “Colourful Stones”), brought him fame. In the important preface to the latter book, he expounded his doctrine of the “law of gentleness” as the enduring principle.Stifter's Der Nachsommer (1857) and Gottfried Keller's Die Leute von Seldwyla (The People of Seldwyla) were named the two great German novels of the 19th century by Friedrich Nietzsche. Der Nachsommer is considered one of the finest examples of the Bildungsroman, but received a mixed reception from critics at the time. Friedrich Hebbel offered the crown of Poland to whoever could finish it, and called Stifter a writer only interested in "beetles and buttercups." Witiko is a historical novel set in the 12th century, a strange work panned by many critics, but praised by Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann.


  • Julius (1830)
  • Der Condor (3 vols. 1839)
  • Feldblumen ("Field Flowers") (1841)
  • Das alte Siegel (1844)
  • Die Narrenburg (1844)
  • Studien (6 vols. 1844-1845)
  • Der beschriebeneTännling (1846)
  • Der Waldgänger ("The Wanderer in the Forest") (1847)
  • Der armeWohltäter (1848)
  • Prokopus (1848)
  • Die Schwestern ("The Sisters") (1850)
  • BunteSteine ("Colorful Stones") (2 vols., 1853)
  • Der Nachsommer ("Indian Summer") (1857)
  • Die MappemeinesUrgrossvaters (1864)
  • Nachkommenschaften (1865)
  • Witiko (3 vols., 1865–1867) concerning Witiko of Prčice and the House of Rosenberg
  • Der Kuß von Sentze (1866)
  • Erzählungen ("Tales") (1869)

Death, place of death, Time of death, place of burial:

In deep depression, he slashed his neck with a razor on the night of 25 January 1868. He died on 28 January 1868 in Linz, Austria.

Quotes and Memoirs:

For us there still exists a serene, unfathomable abyss in which God and the spirits dwell. The soul, in moments of ecstasy, often soars across it; poetry unveils it at times with childlike naivete; but science with its hammer and yardstick is often perched at the rim and may, in many cases, contribute nothing atall.
Everyone is out for himself. Not everyone will say so but everyone behaves so. And those that don't say so often behave in an even more grossly selfish way.
Here for example the beautiful silver mirror of a river swells, a boy falls in, the water ripples sweetly around his locks, he sinks - and after a short while the silver mirror swells asbefore.
How great inexperience and innocence is. On the authority of their parents they go to a place where they could meet their death; for the Zirder in flood is very dangerous and, given the ignorance of the children, can be incalculably dangerous. But they know nothing of death. Even if they speak its name, they do not know its essence and their aspiring life has no feeling for annihilation. If they were on the brink of death themselves, they would not know it and they would die before they found it out.
Everything that God sends us is beautiful, even though we may not understand it - and we only need to give it some proper thought to see that what God gives is just sheer happiness; the suffering is what we add to it.
While they were speaking of - in their opinion - great things, around about them only little things - also in their opinion - were happening: everywhere the bushes were turning green, the brooding earth was germinating and beginning to play with her first little Spring creatures, as one might with jewels.