Messenger with a sealed letter

WordPress Free Photo Library

The Ghost-Seer.
Der Geisterseher: Aus den Papieren des Grafen von O** und andere Erzählungen
by Friedrich Schiller.
Translation, introduction and notes by Andrew Brown. (2003)
Alma Classics 2018 (1789)

“I am like a messenger who is carrying a sealed letter to the place of its destination. What it contains might well be matter of indifference to the messenger — he is simply out to earn payment for delivery.”

Book Two

Venice, La Serenissima, is the setting for this curious novel by the poet Schiller, but in this work its serene surface conceals a cauldron seething with plots and intrigues, secrets and lies, subterfuge and mysteries. The protagonist is a German prinz who has no prospect of advancing to secular power and so is enjoying a sojourn on the Adriatic, away from his Baltic homeland with its chill climate and cold Protestant theology.

He is accompanied by a Count, the Graf von O***,  who narrates the first half of the story, and then Baron von F***, who a year later writes letters to the now absent Count to appraise him of how matters stand with the Prince. The pair attempt to advise and support the lord as the sojourn proves to be anything but convivial and relaxed.

Beginning during the Venetian carnival the trajectory followed by the initially incognito Prince over a year or so proceeds in unexpected ways, only to be resolved abruptly when, as commenters suggest, the author grew bored with this particular narrative. It’s those unexpected twists and turns that ultimately sustain our interest in Schiller’s novel until the final denouement leaves us with quite a few unanswered questions.

Continue reading “Messenger with a sealed letter”