8.27.2009

#18. Heidi

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"Oh, I have the same dream every night. I always think I am with my grandfather again and can hear the fir-trees roar. I always think how beautiful the stars must be, and then I open the door of the hut, and oh, it is so wonderful! But when I wake up I am always in Frankfurt."

Author: Johanna Spyri

Synopsis: An orphaned Dutch child is taken to live on the side of a mountain with her grandfather, who has withdrawn from society. The little girl freely loves her angry hermit grandfather, her jealous friend Peter the Goatherd, the blind shut-in Grandmother, sickly Clara and sorrowing doctor; she loves her home on the mountain so much that when her aunt forces her into service in Frankfurt she becomes ill with missing it; she learns piety and makes her few blunders by being simple and compassionate and searching for her home.

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The title character belongs in a list of my favorite fictional characters; I sympathize with her more than almost any other character in novels anywhere. Her simple life and delights--her few and faithful friends, her roaring fir-trees, the goats and the eagle and the meadow full of flowers, her plain food and quiet routine--these are the sorts of things that make me happy as well.

The loved-to-pieces ancient translation I have is my favorite. Elisabeth P. Stork attempted to translate the story "as Johanna Spyri would have written it had she been writing in English." The copy I have has my grandmother's maiden name inscribed in the front, dated Christmas 1934.

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