Life in Austria seems to be competing with literature. Since late April, we have been learning with horror and fascination how Josef Fritzl lured his daughter Elisabeth into a carefully designed, soundproofed cellar (for which he had secured planning permission), kept her there for twenty-four years, and sired seven children on her; of these, one died, three lived in the cellar, and three, still more incredibly, appear to have been deposited on the family’s doorstep in Amstetten and adopted by Fritzl and his wife as foundlings. This immediately recalls the case of Natascha Kampusch, who escaped two years ago from her eight-year captivity in Vienna. But to anyone familiar with Austrian literature it also calls up a host of literary reminiscences.
“Tourmaline is dark, and this story is very dark”, begins the story “Turmalin” (1852, revised 1853) by the great prose writer Adalbert Stifter. The porter in a semi-ruinous city mansion dies by falling off a ladder; the neighbours enter the cellar where he has lived, and find it inhabited by a tame jackdaw and a teenage girl with a swollen head and a barely intelligible manner of speaking.
more from the TLS here.