Marlen Haushofer: Die Mansarde (The Loft)


The latest addition to my website is Marlen Haushofer‘s Die Mansarde (The Loft). This is Haushofer’s last published novel and a first-class one it is. The unnamed narrator lives in Vienna with her husband, Hubert, and their fifteen-year old daughter, whom they hardly ever see. They have a son who lives on his own. She starts receiving by mail excerpts from diaries she wrote and thought she had destroyed some twenty plus years ago. During this period she went completely deaf for no obvious physiological reason and spent the time in a hunting lodge (like the one in Die Wand (The Wall)), away from her husband and young son. She has her suspicions as to who is sending these excerpts now but is not sure. Apart from the issues with her psychosomatic deafness, overall, while on the face of it, a very normal and conventional housewife and mother, she is a woman who cannot come to terms with the world and its ways, her only solace, hiding out in her loft drawing and painting birds and other animals. Like other Haushofer female protagonists, she is somewhat afraid of the world and can only cope by hiding from it. Haushofer’s novel is an excellent portrait of a not uncommon twentieth century malaise.

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