In a small town on the Baltic coast, in a community steeped in
maritime industries and local mores, a teenager falls in love with his
English professor. Christian looks older than his years, Stella younger
than hers. The summer they spend together is filled with boat rides
to Bird Island, secret walks on the beach, and furtive glances. The
emotions that blossom between Christian and Stella are aflame with
passion and innocence, and with an idealistic hope of a future. The
two lovers manage to keep their mutual attraction concealed, but
as the hot months comes to an end, their meetings become more
difficult to conceal.
Stella begins at the end, at Stella Petersen’s memorial service,
where Christian relives the memories he shared with his first love.
There is nothing salacious about their relationship, nor is it just a case
of a teenager’s crush on his teacher. Their affair changes both
Christian and Stella, allows them to expand their views, and pushes
them out of social and familial constraints. Theirs is a tender love
story of a time, and yet speaks to any time; it is actually through
death that their love is transformed.
The sparseness of Siegfried Lenz’s narrative is reminiscent of the
existential stringency of Ernest Hemingway. Only a master stylist of
his standing could compose such a story that is equally modest and
powerful, a work that leaves a lasting authentic impression, and that
strives to comply with W.H. Auden’s famous request, “Tell me the truth about love.”
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|Title of eBook: Stella|
|Release Date: 08-03-2010|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Other Press|
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was playing I kept gazing at the photograph. It was as if we had made a date for
this hour of remembrance in the hall, meaning to say something we didn’t yet
know about each other. I had heard our orchestra rehearsing twice, the orchestra
and the choir, and now, in front of your picture, the Bach cantata unexpectedly
took a strong hold on me—that sense of abandonment, that desperate search,
the hope for an answer, for salvation, an appeal to the victorious power of the
Father and the Son. God’s time is the very best time, in the words of the cantata.
How your face suddenly shone, Stella, the face I’d kissed all over, on your
forehead,on your cheeks, on your mouth. Praise and glory unto the Lord, I call
upon Thy names, I am resigned, glory unto Thee. And then that Amen, taken up
like an echo by our orchestra, an echo dying away, growing quieter and quieter,
losing itself most wonderfully in a universe of consolation, the Actus Tragicus
overcome. I stared at your face, I had never before felt a loss so powerfully, which
was strange enough, because I had never before known what it was to have
possessed what was lost.
Excerpted from Stella by Siegfried Lenz Copyright © 2010 by Siegfried Lenz. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher....