ABSTRACT

The epic is based on a real tale – the monks and their dogs were news even in the twenties of the last century. Old Benoit, in his youth a skilled mountaineer and huntsman, sets out in early spring to bring his small orphan grandson, Henri, over the St Bernard pass to the care of his daughter Rose, the wife of the farmer Etienne La Borte. Annette von Droste’s second epic poem, Des Arztes Vermachtnis, was published in 1834. There was, however, an earlier version called ‘Theodora’. The manuscript came into the hands of a Monsieur Pierre Masclaux, who told Bertha Badt, one of the editors of Droste-Hulshoff’s works, that it dealt with the story of Annette’s love for an adventurer who deceived her. Annette had acquainted herself with every detail of seventeenth-century weapons and equipment, and the names come pouring out, but so naturally woven into the texture of the verse that there is no hint of pedantry.