Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Treasure Chest Paperback – 1995
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
Text: English (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Hebel is an underrated figure. _The Treasure Chest_ (1811) appears to be the only one of his works available in English. Yet his admirers include Goethe, Kafka, Tolstoy, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Hesse, Canetti, and Sebald, who dedicated a chapter of _A Place in the Country_ to him. Also a poet who wrote in the Alemannic dialect (Germany is "Alemania" in Spanish, "Allemagne" in French), Hebel was mostly known in his time for his work on an almanac, which included, besides the expected calendar, brief stories meant to instruct, inspire and/or entertain. _The Treasure Chest_ consists in a selection of these stories. The Penguin edition includes 93 of the original 128.
While unified by the voice of Hebel in his persona of the Family Friend, the stories are quite varied in topic, tone, and purpose, so everyone is likely to find at least a handful of tales that appeal to him or her. Fables ("A Strange Walk and Ride"), jokes ("A Short Stage"), descriptive stories ("The Mole"), character studies ("Suvorov"), mystery/murder tales ("A Secret Beheading"), ghost stories ("Settling Accounts with a Ghost"); there's space for all of these in _The Treasure Chest_. I will comment briefly on three types that I consider to be of special significance: the picaresque, the humanistic, and the poetic.
* The Picaresque: Many of Hebel's stories address the issue of how to survive in a world of tricksters. One must be ingenious, and this is the main trait of the pícaro. The stories revolving around the recurring character of Freddy Tinder are examples of this mode. My favorite of these is "How Freddy Tinder Got Himself a Horse to Ride." Outside the Freddy Tinder tales, one of the best examples of resourcefulness is to be found in "Strange Reckoning at the Inn," where a landlady outsmarts three men who try to eat for free at her Inn. "The Lightest Death Sentence" is also a hilarious tale about getting out of a tight spot.
* The humanistic: Uplifting stories are also a strong point of Hebel's. While the author is not naive, and has no problem describing how awful human beings can be to one another in certain occasions, throughout _The Treasure Chest_ we find examples of the wonderful acts of kindness that people are capable of. "The Hussar in Neisse," a piece about the power of forgiveness, is one of the most memorable examples. See also: "The Emperor Napoleon and the Fruit Woman in Brienne," "The Tailor at Penza," and "Mister Charles."
* The poetic: By this I mean stories that have an extraordinary power to transcend the plot, stories that continue to resonate in the reader's mind and expand as their themes inspire dozens of associations. These tales revolve around eternal subjects such as the nature of time, the permanence of the past, and the perplexing, enigmatic quality of the human condition. These are, to me, the most effective pieces to be found in _The Treasure Chest_. I will mention three: "Unexpected Reunion," "Kannitverstan," and "A Secret Beheading."
Kafka considered "Unexpected Reunion" to be "the most wonderful story in the world." It is my favorite too, but I was probably predisposed by Kafka's judgement.
Some will deem the stories in _The Treasure Chest_ simple, unsophisticated. I would disagree. As the translator, John Hibberd, points out in the introduction, simplicity was one of Hebel's goals--he was, after all, writing for the general public. And, as we know, it is quite difficult to achieve simplicity. The author, Hibberd tells us, sought to reduce a story to its essentials, but in order to do this he subjected his tales to careful revision and rewriting.
These are stories to savor, reread, and share with others. I'm sure you'll find many pieces of great value in this treasure chest.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the book!