And yet, there it is, Jeremias Gotthelf’s “The Black Spider” (or, as it was titled in its original German, “Die schwarze Spinne”), holding pride of place in Jones. The Black Spider. by Jeremias Gotthelf. Translated by Susan Bernofsky. NYRB Classics, I picked up The Black Spider because of its. A review, and links to other information about and reviews of The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf.

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The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf. Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review ‘s biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers.

Die schwarze Spinne

Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure. The complete gotthepf ‘s Review:. The Black Spider begins cheerily and bright, a Sunday dawning with preparations for an infant’s baptism and the attendant celebrations.

The locale is the Swiss countryside, but the family of the child seems fairly well-to-do, and they’re putting out an impressive spread some of the courses seasoned even with precious saffron.

The Black Spider

It’s a happy occasion, and everything seems to be going well — but a guest remarks that, while the new house is such a splendid, perfect structure, there is one blemish, a: The grandfather offers some explanations, but nobody is fooled; as one of those present notes: So the grandfather does — and it is this that is the heart of the very dark story of The Black Spider.


Spiddr story goes back hundreds of years, when the local peasants had to do whatever the lord of the day said.

One of these, a Hans von Stoffeln, was particularly demanding. First the peasants had to build him a castle, and when that was done he insisted they also transplant a hundred full-grown beeches to line a shady walk for him leading up to the castle.

He only spideg them a month for the overwhelming task, too. Despairing of ever being able to do as von Stoffeln demands, they encounter: He says he can help them out: He gives them a few days to think it over — and, despite all their reservations, of course, eventually the deal is struck although in such bkack way that the community can claim not to have been fully on board As every child knows, making deals with the devil is a dangerous business.

The locals think they might be able to avoid holding up their side of the bargain — just get those little newborns baptized almost as soon as they’re out of the womb!

The devil lives up to his side of the deal, and then the locals try to weasel out of theirs.

It does not go well. What Gotthelf imagines is, indeed, a horror-vision. This is not a story for the kids — they’ll have nightmares for weeks. To offer just one incidental casualty, as an example: There his body was found, and his helmet; the spider’s feet had burned their way through the helmet and into his brain, igniting the most horrific flames there, until death overtook him.

Yes, eventually the satanic presence is bested — and yes, that black window post has something to do with it — but the carnage before then is dreadful.

Book Review: The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf

And it’s also a lesson for the community in the present day, which is why the grandfather decided to share the long-kept-in-the-family story, as a reminder of: As the framing story already suggests, The Black Spider promotes simple, proper devotion to and embrace of god as the safe and sensible way to go.


Get those blackk in the fold as soon as gotghelf via baptismand then don’t be tempted by grand promises beyond one’s station.

The untenable situation of the peasants forced to serve lords like von Stoffeln is unfortunate, but, hey, what can you do? Looking for the ‘easy’ way out — deals with the devil — remains a no-no, whatever the circumstances. And, regardless of what situation one has gotten into, acting honorably and trusting in god — rather than, say, trying to pull a fast one on powers far greater than you, or abandoning your fellow men to their fates — remains the way to go.

The horror part of The Black Spider is very good and even feels pretty modern; Gotthelf had quite the imagination, and spins his story out well. It’s been filmed before, but there’s certainly room for proper Hollywood treatment of this very cinematic story. The contrast with the framing story is also nicely done and effective. All in all, a fine — and very memorable — story. Orthofer7 October Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

The Black Spider – US. The Black Spider – UK.

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The Black Spider – Canada. The Black Spider – India. Die schwarze Spinne – Deutschland. Il ragno nero – Italia.