Peter Schlemiel: The Man who Sold His Shadow

Front Cover
Fromm International, 1993 - Fiction - 87 pages
0 Reviews
Asked which book by another author he would most like to claim as his own work, Italo Calvino once said without hesitation, Adelbert von Chamisso's Peter Schlemiel. First published in 1814, this brilliant novel is not only a precursor of Poe, Kafka, and the magic realists - it is a timeless fable with a remarkably contemporary flavor. When a mysterious man in a gray coat asks Peter Schlemiel if he would sell him his shadow, that "lovely, lovely shadow" of his, he naturally thinks the man must be mad. But then the stranger makes him an offer he can't refuse. In return for his shadow, Schlemiel receives a neverending source of riches, and he is convinced he is on the road to happiness. Yet he finds that without a shadow he is rejected by society and unable to find the fulfillment of love. After a series of fantastic adventures, Peter Schlemiel realizes that he must discover a new way to give his life meaning if he is to go on in the world. Adelbert von Chamisso was born in France, but moved at an early age to Prussia, where he lived during the Franco-Prussian war. Chamisso felt that he belonged equally to both war-torn cultures. Peter Schlemiel was written soon after Prussia's defeat by Napoleon, and was Chamisso's answer to a world in turmoil. The novel was an immediate success, and it catapulted him to international fame. Peter Wortsman's new translation lets us rediscover all the charm wit, and power of this classic tale. In his introduction he gives us the historical background of the novel and traces its influence on the literature of the twentieth century.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

Peter Schlemiel: the man who sold his shadow

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This odd novel took Europe by storm when it debuted in 1814. Protagonist Peter Schlemiel sells his shadow to a mysterious stranger for great riches, believing it will put life's dreams within his ... Read full review

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

Bibliographic information