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The Strudlhof Steps

The Strudlhof Steps

The Depth of the Years

by Heimito von Doderer, translated from the German by Vincent Kling, afterword by Daniel Kehlmann

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The Strudlhof Steps is an unsurpassed portrait of Vienna in the early twentieth century, a vast novel crowded with characters ranging from an elegant, alcoholic Prussian aristocrat to an innocent ingenue to “respectable” shopkeepers and tireless sexual adventurers, bohemians, grifters, and honest working-class folk. The greatest character in the book, however, is Vienna, which Heimito von Doderer renders as distinctly as James Joyce does Dublin or Alfred Döblin does Berlin. Interweaving two time periods, 1908 to 1911 and 1923 to 1925, the novel takes the monumental eponymous outdoor double staircase as a governing metaphor for its characters’ intersecting and diverging fates. The Strudlhof Steps is an experimental tour de force with the suspense and surprise of a soap opera. Here Doderer illuminates the darkness of passing years with the dazzling extravagance that is uniquely his.

On January 20, 2022, Vincent Kling, Daniel Kehlmann, and Tess Lewis took part in a discussion of The Strudlhof Steps. This virtual event is part of New York Review Books’ ongoing series with Brooklyn’s Community Bookstore.


vincent kling daniel kehlmann

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681375274
Pages: 864
Publication Date:


With a contemplative realist prose that registers both the abrasions of nature. . .and its beauties. . ., The Strudlhof Steps moves beyond all-too-human anthropomorphism to paint a cosmic canvas, even as the author holds out the human as the home of what’s worst and best in this world. . . . von Doderer invites us into an endlessly joyous celebration of being itself, drawing out the irradiance of all that simply is.
—Joshua Hren, Los Angeles Review of Books

Doderer is so much better than most other twentieth-century authors—and not only the German-speaking ones—that from the heights of his prose the reader regards many of them with amused bewilderment. He is as zany as Thomas Pynchon, he is an artist of the German language on a par with Thomas Mann, he is a psychologist like Arthur Schnitzler, his gift for metaphor rivals Nabokov’s, and he is, in his own incomparable way, mad.
—Daniel Kehlmann, from the afterword

[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

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