weight

The latest addition to my website is Marianne Fritz‘s Die Schwerkraft der Verhältnisse (The Weight of Things), the first novel by the Austrian writer Marianne Fritz to be translated into English, thirty-seven years after it was first published. The novel tells the story of Berta Schrei nee Faust. During World War II, she loses her three brothers and Rudolf, the father of her unborn child. Wilhelm Schrei, friend of Rudolf, brings her and her friend Wilhelmine the sad news. We soon learn that Wilhelm will marry Wilhelmine in 1960 but only later do we learn that he has first married Berta. Wilhelm was the chauffeur to a rich man and was often absent, leaving Berta with the two children, Rudolf, son of Rudolf and Berta, daughter of Wilhelm and Berta. Berta finds life and her children difficult to cope with. Rudolf has all sorts of problems and soon drags down Little Berta with him. By the end of the book, the two children no longer go to school but stay at home with their mother. We later learn that Berta is in a home, unable to speak. Wilhelmine and Wilhelm will visit her on their third wedding anniversary, which is also Berta’s birthday. This is a well-written tale of a woman who cannot cope with life and who is doubtless affected by her wartime sufferings and gradually simply gives up. We must be grateful to the Dorothy project for finally giving us a Fritz novel in English.