n Acta Germanica : German Studies in Africa - Anticipating Heidi? Redemptive suffering in Johanna Spyri’s Ein Blatt auf Vrony’s Grab

Volume 46 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1273


For the most part, Johanna Spyri’s output prior to her immensely popular Heidi novels of the early 1880s has remained virtually terra incognita in German literary history. It is argued in the present article that her novella of 1871, Ein Blatt auf Vrony’s Grab, is a key work for understanding Spyri’s subsequent development as a novelist. However, it is not merely a proto-Heidi. In addition to incorporating significant themes which come to fuller and much more widely known fruition in Heidi, this early work emphasises redemptive suffering as a key to happiness and spiritual well-being regardless of one’s physical condition. Both this novella’s similarities to and differences from Heidi are explored.

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