Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: December 14, 2021
The Strudlhof StepsThe Depth of the Years
by Heimito von Doderer, translated from the German by Vincent Kling, introduction by Daniel Kehlmann
An NYRB Classics Original
The Strudlhof Steps is an unsurpassed portrait of Vienna in the twentieth century, a novel crowded with characters who range from an elegant, alcoholic Prussian aristocrat, to an innocent ingénue, to “respectable” shopkeepers and tireless sexual adventurers, bohemians, grifters, and honest working-class folk. The greatest character in the book, however, is the city of Vienna, its streets and surrounding hills and woods depicted by Heimito von Doderer with all the vividness of Joyce’s Dublin or Döblin’s Berlin. The novel interweaves two time periods, 1908 to 1911 and 1923 to 1925, and finds its central focus and governing metaphor in the monumental outdoor double staircase that gives the book its title. Here people of the city, with their complicated pasts and ever-changing present concerns, continually intersect and then proceed on their separate ways.
The Strudlhof Steps is a masterpiece of modern Austrian literature that is at once an absorbing (and highly popular) soap opera, full of suspense and surprise, and an experimental tour de force. Vincent Kling’s translation is the first into English.
[The Strudlhof Steps is an] evocative novel of manners set in the 1920s Vienna of the shattered Habsburg Empire, originally published in 1951 and now translated into English for the first time....von Doderer ably captures a lost world in a book that belongs alongside the works of Stefan Zweig and Karl Kraus....A swirl of complicated characters and plot turns makes this a rewarding if sometimes demanding read.
It is no exaggeration to say that Vincent Kling’s translation of . . . The Strudlhof Steps—the first in English—is a monumental achievement. . . [Enter] this world of Viennese melancholy in all its abundance and complexity. . . What the reader stands to gain is a finely wrought sense of a social milieu that has lost the imperial basis of its way of life, but which persists as if that foundation were still there. . . . Vincent Kling’s vivid, graceful recreation of that melancholy aura, and the narrative voice that sustains it, finally makes this modern classic available to us, and makes it worth our time and attention.
—Geoffrey C. Howes, Hopscotch Translation