With her name one could first associate a perfume bottle or the pseudonym of a drinkable heart pain novel writer: Adelheid Duvanel. Of course, neither is true. Although the great Swiss author, as one has to say without exaggeration, was granted a certain amount of recognition during her lifetime, she remained largely unknown even to the curiously reading Swiss Confederation.
It is thanks to the small Zurich-based Limmat Verlag that this is now changing. He publishes with the editor Elsbeth Dangel-Pelloquin under the apt title Far from here all available stories of Duvanel in a seldom beautiful book in biblical format, 750 pages, ribbon, linen cover with a beguiling author’s photo on the front. This turns out to be a comforting drug, in the best case scenario, not only for those who doubt the happiness of the world.
The author is a master of the opening sentences. As in Grace period (1991): “Norma is as beautiful as a vase that is carried by a white hand and that wishes to be dropped.” The very first words open a narrative space in whose tension her protagonists, figures on the precarious fringes of society , are posed, flow along, oppose it, conquer or threaten to perish in their limited scope of action: “On Christa’s table there are payment orders; she doesn’t open them. They lie there and she holds her breath. ”From there the short story meanders, hardly one is longer than two or three pages, in apt portrayals of life:“ Christa lives alone and does not work ”and eloquent snapshots:“ Christa says: ‘ I’m always suicidal on Saturday. ‘ She pronounces the word as briskly as if she had oil in her mouth “to a mostly open ending:” Every month a gentleman gives her a medium-sized sum of money through a window; she pocketed it without feeling guilty. The Lord loves her, she does not ”.
The reader is tempted to read Duvanel’s round of outsiders as disguised microbiographies of the author, as she shares with them the life of the middle class on the brink. As early as the seventeen year old came into contact with psychiatry. Born in 1936 as Adelheid Feigenwinter, she will be with you for life. It ended in 1996 on a cold July night in a forest near Basel that she loved. They found two farm boys lifeless, hypothermic, alcohol and sleeping pills in their luggage. This is reminiscent of Robert Walser’s death. Also their loyalty to the nest. She only left her Basel home once, a year of island life with her husband, a painter who forbade her to paint after completing her art studies. Instead of painting, she wrote reviews, reports and stories for them Basel News, various anthologies and magazines. In 1980, after three small publications, Luchterhand published the first collection of the stories. Five more were to follow. The posthumous anthologies, the criticism placed alongside Ingeborg Bachmann and Friederike Mayröcker, made Duvanel little better known. The master of the small form could not be lifted into the parnass of German-language literature, especially since the author tenaciously not only cared about her authorship, but also about the only daughter and her child. The daughter died after a heroin career and AIDS in 2005. The granddaughter Blanca Adele, born in 1985, is missing to this day.
After the wonderful volume of stories, it would be great to make your reviews, letters, and drafts accessible. The rights, however, lie with the missing granddaughter. So we can count ourselves lucky to have this consolation booklet for the time being.
Far from here. All the stories Adelheid Duvanel Elsbeth Dangel-Pelloquin (Ed.), Limmat Verlag 2021, 792 pp., 39 €