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Jeremias Gotthelf

Jeremias Gotthelf(1797–1854) Jeremias Gotthelf, the pen name of Albert Bitzius, was a Swiss pastor and the author of novels, novellas, short stories, and nonfiction, who used his writing to communicate his reformist concerns in the field of education and with regard to the plight of the poor. After the success of his first novel, Der Bauernspiegel oder Lebensgeschichte des Jeremias Gotthelf: Von ihm selbst beschrieben (The Peasants’ Mirror; or, The Life History of Jeremias Gotthelf: Described by Himself; 1836) the author adopted the name of the story’s protagonist. Among his major works to have appeared in English translation are The Black Spider; Ulric, the Farm Servant; and The Story of an Alpine Valley. Susan Bernofsky is the translator of six books by Robert Walser as well as works by Jenny Erpenbeck, Yoko Tawada, Hermann Hesse, Gregor von Rezzori, and others. The current chair of the PEN Translation Committee, she teaches at the Writing Program at Columbia University, where she is director of the Graduate Translation Program, and is at work on a biography of Walser.

The Black Spider: A horror novella

The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf

A novella-length piece written by a Swiss pastor in 1842 that initially seems to serve more as a religious parable than anything else — an unlikely choice as a Top 100 Horror selection, one would think. 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 Stephen Jones and Kim Newman's excellent overview volume Horror: 100 Best Books. In his article in that volume, author Thomas Tessier refers to the novella as "one of those relatively rare examples of an outstanding horror novel that deservedly ranks among the best of world literature." And in his scholarly introduction to the currently in pr... Read More