The Amazing Story of Peter Schlemil

The Amazing Story of Peter Schlemil

A. von Chamisso The
Amazing Story of Peter Schlemil
Germany, the beginning of the XIX century. After a long swim, Peter Schlemil arrives in Hamburg with a letter of introduction to Mr. Thomas John. Among the guests he sees an amazing man in a gray coat. Surprising because this person, one by one, takes out objects that seemingly can not fit there – a telescope, a Turkish carpet, a tent and even three riding horses. In the pale face of a man in gray there is something inexplicably eerie. Schlemmel wants to hide unnoticed, but he overtakes him and makes a strange proposal: he asks Shlemil to give his shadow in exchange for any of the fabulous treasures – the root of the mandrake, the pfennig-flip-flop, the tablecloth-scoop, the magic purse of Fortunato. No matter how

great is Shlemil’s fear, at the thought of wealth he forgets everything and chooses a magical purse.
So Schlemil loses his shadow and immediately begins to regret what he did. It turns out that without a shadow one can not even appear on the street, because “although gold is valued on earth is much more valuable than merit and virtue, the shadow is respected even more than gold.”
The wedding is played. Minna became the wife of Haskalah. Leaving the faithful servant, Schlemil sits on his horse and leaves under the cover of night from the place where he “buried his life.” Soon a foot stranger joins him, distracting him from sad thoughts by talking about metaphysics. In the light of the coming morning, Schlemil sees with horror that his companion is a man in gray. He laughingly suggests to Schlomil to lend him his shadow for the time, and Schlemmel must accept the offer, because people are coming towards them. Taking advantage of the fact that he rides, while the man in gray walks on foot, he tries to escape with the shadow, but that slips off the horse and returns to his rightful owner. A man in gray with a sneer declares that now Schlemmel can not get rid of him, because “such a rich man needs a shadow.”
Schlemmel continues the path. Everywhere there is honor and respect for
him – he is rich, and his shadow is beautiful. A man in gray is sure that sooner or later he will achieve his goal, but Schlemil knows that now that he has lost Minna forever, he will not sell the soul of “this trash.”
In a deep cave in the mountains between them there is a decisive explanation. Crafty again draws tempting pictures of life, which can lead a rich man, of course, with a shadow, and Schlemil is torn between “temptation and a strong will.” He again refuses to sell his soul, he drives the man away into gray. He replies that he is leaving, but if Shlemil needs to see him, then let him just shake a magical purse. The person in gray is associated with the rich close relations, he provides them with services, but Shlemil can return his shadow only by laying down his soul. Schlemmel recalls Thomas John and asks where he is now. The man in gray pulls Thomas John, pale and emaciated, from his pocket. His blue lips whisper: “By the righteous judgment of God I was judged, by the righteous judgment of God I was condemned.” Then Schlemil throws the purse into the abyss with a determined movement and says: “I conjure thee in the name of the Lord God, perish, evil spirit, and never again appear in my sight.” At the same instant a man in gray stands and disappears behind the rocks.
So Schlemil remains without a shadow and without money, but his weight drops from his soul. The wealth does not attract him any more. By avoiding people, he advances to the mines to work underground. Boots wear out on the road, he has to buy new ones at the fair, and when he puts them on again, he suddenly finds himself on the shore of the ocean, among the ice. He runs and after a few minutes he feels a terrible heat, he sees rice fields, hears Chinese speech. Another step – he is in the depths of the forest, where he is surprised to find out with concern that the shadow is returning. He sends the faithful servant Bendel to search for the cause of his misfortune, and he returns grieved – no one can remember a man in a gray dress coat from Mr. John. However, some stranger asks to convey to Mr. Shlemil that he is leaving and will see him exactly one year and one day later. Of course, this stranger is a man in gray. Schlemmel is afraid of people and curses his wealth. The only one who knows about the cause of his grief is Bendel, who helps the master as he can, covering him with his shadow. In the end, Schlemmel has to flee Hamburg. He stops in a secluded town, where he is mistaken for a king traveling incognito, and where he meets the beautiful Minna, the daughter of a forest warden. He shows the greatest caution, never appears in the sun and leaves the house only for Minna, and she responds to his feeling “with all the ardor of an unsophisticated young heart.” But what can give a good girl the love of a person without a shadow? Schlemmel spends awful hours in meditation and tears, but does not dare to leave nor reveal his terrible secret to the beloved. Until the time appointed by a man in gray, there remains a month. In the soul of Shlemil, hope is hovering, and he tells Minna’s parents of his intention to ask her hands in a month. But the fateful day is coming, the hours of painful waiting are dragging on, midnight is coming, and no one appears. Schlemmel falls asleep in tears, losing his last hope.
The next day, the calculation of his second servant takes on Raskal, stating that “a decent man does not want to serve a gentleman who does not have a shadow,” the forester throws the same accusation in his face, and Minna confesses to her parents that she has long suspected about it and sobs at breast of the mother. Schlemil wanders desperately through the forest. Suddenly, someone grabs his sleeve. It’s a man in gray. Schlemil was shortened for one day. The man in gray reports that Raskal gave Shlemil to marry Minna himself, and offers a new deal: in order to get the shadow back, Schlemmel must give him his soul. He already holds a sheet of parchment at the ready and dips the pen into the blood, which appeared on the palm of Shlemil. Schlemmel refuses – more out of personal disgust than from considerations of morality, and a man in gray pulls out of his pocket his shadow, throws himself under his feet, and she obediently, like his own, repeats his movements. To complete the temptation, the person in gray reminds that it is not too late to wrest Minna out of the hands of the scoundrel, just one stroke of the pen. He persistently pursues Shlemil, and finally comes the fatal minute. Schlemmel no longer thinks of himself. To save the beloved at the price of one’s own soul! But when his hand is already reaching for the parchment, he suddenly falls into oblivion, and when he wakes up, he realizes that it’s too late. The wedding is played. Minna became the wife of Haskalah. Leaving the faithful servant, Schlemil sits on his horse and leaves under the cover of night from the place where he “buried his life.” Soon a foot stranger joins him, distracting him from sad thoughts by talking about metaphysics. In the light of the coming morning, Schlemil sees with horror that his companion is a man in gray. He laughingly suggests to Schlomil to lend him his shadow for the time, and Schlemmel must accept the offer, because people are coming towards them. Taking advantage of the fact that he rides, while the man in gray walks on foot, he tries to escape with the shadow, but that slips off the horse and returns to his rightful owner. A man in gray with a sneer declares that now Schlemmel can not get rid of him, because “such a rich man needs a shadow.”
Schlemmel continues the path. Everywhere there is honor and respect for him – he is rich, and his shadow is beautiful. A man in gray is sure that sooner or later he will achieve his goal, but Schlemil knows that now that he has lost Minna forever, he will not sell the soul of “this trash.”
In a deep cave in the mountains between them there is a decisive explanation. Crafty again draws tempting pictures of life, which can lead a rich man, of course, with a shadow, and Schlemil is torn between “temptation and a strong will.” He again refuses to sell his soul, he drives the man away into gray. He replies that he is leaving, but if Shlemil needs to see him, then let him just shake a magical purse. The person in gray is associated with the rich close relations, he provides them with services, but Shlemil can return his shadow only by laying down his soul. Schlemmel recalls Thomas John and asks where he is now. The man in gray pulls Thomas John, pale and emaciated, from his pocket. His blue lips whisper: “By the righteous judgment of God I was judged, by the righteous judgment of God I was condemned.” Then Schlemil throws the purse into the abyss with a determined movement and pronounces; “I conjure thee in the name of the Lord God, perdition, evil spirit, and never again appear in my sight.” At the same instant a man in gray stands and disappears behind the rocks.
So Schlemil remains without a shadow and without money, but his weight drops from his soul. The wealth does not attract him any more. By avoiding people, he advances to the mines to work underground. Boots wear out on the road, he has to buy new ones at the fair, and when he puts them on again, he suddenly finds himself on the shore of the ocean, among the ice. He runs and after a few minutes he feels a terrible heat, he sees rice fields, hears Chinese speech. Another step – he is in the depths of the forest, where he is surprised to learn plants that are found only in Southeast Asia. Finally Schlemmel understands: he bought seven-mile boots. A man who is inaccessible to the society of people, the grace of heaven is given to nature. From now on, the goal of Shlemil’s life is the knowledge of her secrets. He chooses a refuge for a cave in Thebaid, where he is always waited by the faithful poodle of Figaro, travels across the land, writes scientific works on geography and botany, and his seven-mile boots do not know wear and tear. Describing his adventures in a message to a friend, he conjures him to always remember that “first of all a shadow, and only then money.”


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
The Amazing Story of Peter Schlemil