Lichtenberg and the Little Flower Girl
Translated from the German by the late author’s son, this fictional biography depicts an episode in the life of 18th century scholar Georg Lichtenberg. His eccentricities, his conversations with fellow intellectuals and philosophers, and most especially in his passionate affair with a young flower seller, are drawn with warmth, humor, and realism.
A professor of philosophy at Gottingen University, Lichtenberg’s mental capabilities are as unlimited and soaring as his physical person is limited. The stunted hunchback, a man of great appetites, is fascinated by females, but due to his deformities his confidence doesn’t match his curiosity. In his mid-thirties, his lonely, scholarly existence is transformed by a girl not yet thirteen. Lovely Maria Stechar, “The Stechardess,” lives with him, cares for him, and after a tentative, awkward courtship, shares her body with him, to the astonishment of his jealous peers. At times, dread of losing her overrides his reason.
Innovative and absorbing, Hoffman’s last novel is well worth seeking out.