Little orphan Heidi goes to live high in the Alps with her gruff grandfather and brings happiness to all who know her on the mountain. When Heidi goes to Frankfurt to work in a wealthy household, she dreams of returning to the mountains and meadows, her friend Peter, and her beloved grandfather.
Johanna Spyri was a Swiss author of children's stories, best known for Heidi. Born Johanna Louise Heusser in the rural area of Hirzel, Switzerland, as a child she spent several summers in the area around Chur in Graubünden, the setting she later would use in her novels.
"I would a thousand times rather be with grandfather on the mountain than anywhere else in the world.”
I love this book. I love it more and more every time I re-read it, for, there is very little else I found relaxing and make me feel great, than reliving the life of Heidi among the beautiful mountains, and in the cozy little house of grand pa.
How simply and innocently she sees the world, enjoying all the great things the Nature has to offer, while surrounded by a few caring, humble and interesting set of characters in her grandfather's home. Spyri does an incredible job with her simple, yet enchanting style of writing which captivated me from the very first page.
After each time I read this book, I have found it to give a so amazing and relaxing feeling, something that I cannot properly express in words. And I don't know many other books capable of engaging me that way, a book I believe could be enjoyed by readers of any age. There's a separate shelf for this book, for I read it more than once each year.
“I am going to let her grow up and be happy among the goats and birds; with them she is safe, and will learn nothing evil.”
I can't believe I've only just read this! This is such a charming children's book with utterly beautiful descriptions of the mountains which fill you with gratitude and wonder and wish you were in the countryside.
Heidi, a Swiss book originally published in German in 1881, was one of those books I grew up with: my mother had a simplified, abridged version of it that I read many times and loved as a child. When I realized the GR group "Catching up on the Classics" was doing it as a group read, I jumped in, excited for the chance to revisit Heidi and her simple, joyous life in the Swiss alps with her grandfather.
Heidi, a 5 year old orphan, has been raised by her mother's sister Dete, who resents the imposition. When Dete gets a good job offer, she marches Heidi up to the Swiss village where she was raised, the (fictional) village of Dörfli ("little village") and then even further up the mountain, to dump little Heidi on her unsuspecting grandfather, an embittered recluse. Despite being taken aback, the grandfather quickly takes to Heidi, admiring her intelligence and enthusiasm. She thrives in the lovely Swiss alps and country life, immediately shedding her more citified clothing and ways, and helping the local goatherd Peter.
The Falknis mountain, with its two "towers," near where Heidi and Peter tend the goats
Everyone around Heidi grows to love her: her grandfather, Peter, Peter's grandmother. The only problem is that "Alm-Uncle," her grandfather, has such a deep distrust of people and town life that he refuses to even send her to the village school. Heidi is growing up happy and uncivilized when her aunt Dete suddenly reappears after three years, determined to take Heidi to Frankfurt to be the companion of Clara, a rich but sickly and invalid girl. Our bouncy, enthusiastic girl starts to feel desperately unhappy, cooped up in the big city. But Heidi has lessons to learn, and God has a plan.
I loved the detailed descriptions of the lovely Alps and life there in olden times. I suppose Heidi is a bit of a Mary Sue character, but her exuberant nature, jumping around all the time like a young goat, was charming. And - continuing the animal metaphors - I really felt for her when she felt like a trapped bird in Frankfurt, though the wasting away thing was a bit over the top.
The Alm-Uncle's character, bitter toward mankind generally but loving toward his bright granddaughter, seemed entirely believable to me, and honestly I got a bit teary as he began, like the prodigal son in Christ's parable, to find his way back to harmony with God and with his fellow men. Clara's devout grandmamma is a paragon of saintliness but has a little humor to leaven her spiritual lessons to Heidi; Peter's ailing, blind grandmother is equally devout but would fit in well with other Victorian-era sickly but wise characters.
The preachiness got a little too heavy-handed toward the end, although I did appreciate the message of continuing to trust God even when your prayers aren't answered immediately, and at the same time needing to take action to improve your own circumstances, as much as you can. I also can't help but be charmed with the notion that country living, with lots of fresh goat milk and toasted goat cheese on bread, brisk mountain air and the beauty of nature, heals pretty much everything.
Mmmmm! ... okay, actually I don't like goat cheese, toasted or otherwise, but I have to say Heidi tempts me to give it another shot.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Heidi and her friends again, after many years apart. I recommend Heidi to readers who like old-fashioned children's classics, like Anne of Green Gables, and don't mind a healthy dose of religious content in their reading.
A note on English translations: Since this book is over 100 years old, it's out of copyright and there are several free English versions available. I read parts of Heidi in German and did some comparisons between the three English versions I found on Project Gutenberg. None of them completely satisfied me, but I thought this one was the best, closest to the original German text without being unbearably awkward: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1448. I'm sure there are better translations out there, but I was working with what I could find free online. Whatever version you pick up, make sure you get both halves of the story, which was originally published in two parts (the second half has Clara visiting Switzerland).
One of my all time favourite books. As a child I longed to live in the Swiss Alps after reading Heidi, daydreaming about wandering among the spring flowers, to the magical accompaniment of cow bells. Still a wonderfully uplifting read all these years later.
The most feel-good story of all time? Possibly. Heidi’s infectious pleasantness carries easily over the Swiss alps and into my life, nearly 140 years later. Despite a plot of idealized happiness, the cast of characters are not without flaw. The moments of conflict, though never described in severe terms, are the kind of dilemmas that transcend time and place. And the mountain, the healing mountain, is the perfect setting to mend.
Purely from a style perspective, I was equally impressed with Spyri’s writing chops. Heidi has one of the most dynamite, blockbuster opening chapters I’ve ever read. Journeying up a mountainside, destined to live with a strange, fearful uncle. It’s got it all. You can’t NOT finish a book that starts this good.
Heidi: Her Years of Wandering and Learning = Heidi, Johanna Spyri
Heidi is a work of children's fiction published in 1881 by Swiss author Johanna Spyri. It is a novel about the events in the life of a young girl in her paternal grandfather's care in the Swiss Alps. It was written as a book "for children and those who love children" (as quoted from its subtitle).
تاریخ نخستین خوانش ترجمه فارسی روز بیست و دوم ماه سپتامبر سال1967میلادی
عنوان: هایدی؛ نویسنده: یوهانا اشپیری؛ از سری کتابهای طلایی یازده؛ تهران، انتشارات امیرکبیر، سازمان کتابهای طلائی، چاپ دوم، سال1345؛ در35ص؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان سوئیس - سده19م
عنوان اصلی کتاب: «سالهای خانه به دوشی و یادگیری هایدی» است، که معمولاً به اختصار «هایدی» نامیده میشود؛ این رمان به زندگی دختر نوجوانی میپردازد که در «آلپ سوئیس»، از پدربزرگ خود نگاهبانی میکند؛ این داستان نخستین بار در سال1880میلادی، در قالب کتابی با عنوان «برای بچه ها و آنهایی که بچه ها را دوست دارند» نوشته شد؛ دو کتاب دنباله ی این داستان، با عنوانهای «هایدی بزرگ میشود»، و «بچه های هایدی»؛ توسط «چارلز تریتن»، مترجم انگلیسی اثر اصلی، نوشته شدند؛ کتابهای «هایدی» از معروفترین آثار ادبیات «سوئیس» در جهان، به شمار میروند؛ این اثر افزون بر شهرت جهانی، در ایران نیز بسیار مشهور است؛ «هایدی» تاکنون در حدود بیست بار به زبان فارسی ترجمه، و منتشر شده است؛ تاکنون فیلمها، مجموعه های تلویزیونی، انیمیشینها (مانند: هایدی، دختر آلپ) و بازیهای ویدیویی بسیاری بر پایه داستان «هایدی» ساخته شده اند؛ همچنین یک منطقه توریستی در «سوئیس»، به نام «هایدی لند» نامگذاری شده است
تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 15/04/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 18/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
I normally read children's books during Christmastime. Not only to catch up with my Reading Challenge (I am behind by 10 books as of this writing), but also, most of children's books have life lessons that can be good reminders for the coming year. New Year always means new beginning, new hope. Do you remember when you were still in school and after reading a story in class, the teacher asked you what was the lessons you learned from it? So, in this year's series of children's books, I will try to list the ten lessons I was reminded while reading a certain book.
1) Prayer is powerful. Sometimes we feel helpless and all we have left is to pray. Sometimes God does not give what we ask for because it may not be good for us yet or there is something else, a better one, that He will give us.
2) Nature was once a sight to behold. Never been to Swiss Alps, the setting of this novel but one of my favorite movies is "The Sound of Music" and that opening scene where Maria is singing on top of the mountain is gloriously beautiful. With the global warming and the continuous degradation of forests worldwide, I wonder how that mountain looks like now.
3) Your conscience can haunt you. The goat shepherd boy, Peter, did something unforgivable and "the little man" inside him haunts him that he could not eat, sleep and he becomes suspicious of all men who go up to the mountain as he thinks his uncle will give him in to the police. Until he decides to tell the truth. In this world of chaos, full of deceits and treachery, it is nice to be reminded that no alibis or justifications can cover up misdeeds and injustices. We should all come clean and the sooner the better.
4) Nothing compares to doing good deeds. These all sound like motherhood statements and pies in the sky. Cliches. However, Heidi has nothing in her heart but to love her grandfather, grandmother, Peter, Clara and all the characters in the book. In the end, she becomes happy. If only life is as simple as this. However, we all know that we reap what we sow, so why resist? It is better to be in the bright, happy side.
5) Fresh air, fresh food, clean water, happiness galore. Most sickness are psychological. Most diseases are caused by the environment. Pollution. Too much stress. Processed food. Fast food. Clara, the invalid, gets well when she stays with her positive friend Heidi atop the mountain. This part reminded me of the boy in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. But this book, Heidi was first published in 1880 and The Secret Garden in 1910 so this must be the original.
6) Children can be wiser than grownups. This is a much-used plot in children's books but still holds true. We grownups, we parents, have many things to learn from our children. If you are a parent, you know this. No debates.
7) Goats can be endearing. My mother and father love dogs, cats, fowls, birds, monkeys, etc. So, when I was growing up in the province, our backyard was like a zoo. However, I did not know that goats can be nice to take care too. Goat meat is one of the favorites of some men here in Manila to go with their booze.
8) Don't resist change. Rather, embrace it. Heidi did not go back to the mountain to resist studying. Rather, she brings her writing materials and books to the mountain and study there with her friend Clara. She even teaches Peter to read.
9) Words can be powerful especially if the one who is sending it has the credibility. Heidi has not done a nasty thing in her life so when she speaks even the stubborn Peter pays attention. The grandmother's frail body and gloomy world suddenly bright up when Heidi is around.
10) Grumpy old men need young girls. No, I don't mean the dirty way. The grumpy hermit-like grandfather living alone on top of the mountain because he hates the world is convinced by Heidi to go back to the town. She has that very positive influence to everyone around her including his now-cynic grandfather.
Very positive novel. Said to be the one of the most-read most-loved ever book in Switzerland. This has been translated to 60 languages and read by all people around the world.
You are not well-read if you have not read this. (This sound like coming from my grumpy side, don't you think?)
Mostly during primary school my chosen prospective career was saint.
Ah, but then there was the period where I discovered Heidi and as I read and reread it a bunch of times, I most fervently wanted to become a goatherd, with all that this entailed. The bell. The sleeping snuggled into warm hay in the attic. The eating of too much cheese.
So taken was I with the idea of Switzerland that when we were asked, about grade 6, where we were going for the term holiday, I – who had never been on a holiday because we were way too poor – said Switzerland. I just might have gotten away with this but for the fact that my mother taught in the senior school. Since I had further elaborated when pressed, that we were going by boat – another fixation I had throughout childhood, seafaring – and the term holiday was a mere fortnight, news soon spread through the school that my mother was leaving her teaching job. In case you don’t get the plot so far, I was weaving this fantasy in Australia where I was born and raised.
Never mind the trouble I got into for this, it didn’t in the least affect my taste for anything Swittish.
Since then, as an adult I’ve been able to visit Switzerland five times, mostly Geneva. By no means goatherd territory, but still. You can see Geneva as a straightforwardly beautiful city. You can see it through Australian eyes as having that aesthetic qualities of age that our cities so lack, not to mention the mountain backdrop the like of which we would never see at home. Or you can see it, I discover, as a young child would whose dreams were always of other places. I confess as I’ve wandered about the city, staring at those snow-capped mountains, to feeling that I have come home in some way that I’m sure derives from the profound effect this utterly magical book had on me when I read it so long ago.
I don’t know if other people wonder if they have let down the small bundles of hopes and dreams they once were, but I do. It breaks my heart, the idea that I might have disappointed that little hopeful dreaming thing I was once, and I have found it a very emotional experience being in this dream I once went to sleep with every night. I really can’t remember, but I hope she – I – did always believe dreams come true. Yeah, well. Sometimes they do.
This book was utterly charming and adorable! It's truly one of the sweetest and most wholesome stories I have ever read.
I've been a huge fan of "Heidi" since I was a young child, since my mother first introduced me to the fantastic Anime adaption from 1974. The show was one of my absolute favorites and its been dear to my heart ever since. Having watched the episodes over and over again throughout the years, I've become very familiar with the storyline, so nothing in this book was new or a surprise to me. But that's not a bad thing at all! It was still exciting to experience this tale in its original written form for the first time.
For a children's book, these characters are incredible well developed and versatile. All of them are amazing in their own way, and all of them contribute to the story. But Heidi, without a doubt, is one of the best and cutest characters I have ever encountered. She's just so nice and friendly, joyful and open-minded. The plot is relatively simple, but it's executed in a way that makes it exciting and suspenseful for young and older readers alike.
I wish I would have read this sooner, while I was still a child, because I just know I would have adored it so much and it would have made a big impression on me. I think I could have learnt some valuable life lessons from it (for example, that good things take time or to find joy in little things). Of course the Anime also includes and teaches these values, but the book still goes a bit deeper and further with it.
Oh well, thankfully you're never too old to learn something! And now I'm at an age where I can say that I'm looking forward to reading this book to my future children some day, because I know 100% this Heidi will be in their collection.
Why I chose to read this book: I've been aware of this story since my childhood but have never gotten around to reading it until now, during my self-appointed "Classics Month"!
Positives: 1. the characters, especially Heidi, really make this story! I adored Heidi's all-round goodness! Without a mean bone in her body, her compassionate and generous nature warmed my heart. I couldn't help but be endeared to her immense joy and appreciation for the simple things in life, and I had to smile at all the times she would skip and jump for joy. Her homesickness in Frankfurt was so palatable as she struggled in silence, so I was moved to tears at her touching reunion with Grandfather. Speaking of which, Grandfather/Alm-Uncle is portrayed as a gruff, old hermit, but he didn't fool me for one bit as his love for Heidi immediately shone through (although he did confuse me when he didn't want to send Heidi to school, yet he himself, was a proficient reader.) Even though Fraulein Rottenmeier (perfect name!) never did warm to Heidi, Peter's jealousy of those vying for the girl's attention was understandable but still likeable throughout; 2. the alpine setting of Heidi's home versus the dull streets of Frankfurt also played a huge part in this story. The descriptions of the fir trees, the green valley, the rosy sunsets, the cozy hayloft, the playful goats and the multicolored mountain flowers would all bring a sense of peace and calm over me; 3. many readers may appreciate the strong Christian values that author Johanna Spyri portrays in this story. Some parts reminded me of Garth Brooks's song "Unanswered Prayers"; and, 4. the black and white illustrations and colorful plates by Ted Rand added to the overall warmth of the story.
Whenever I see a child nowadays display polite manners and empathy towards strangers, it makes my jaw drop. Although some readers might think that Heidi's "saccharine-sweetness" might give them a cavity, I appreciated this sweet, little story with its overall message of love and kindness, something I think we all need a little more of these days.
Thanks to all the bowdlerized, Disneyfied stupidifications it's been through, poor old Heidi's story gets a bum rap. In fact, Heidi is no sap, and more to the point, her friend Clara with the wheelchair is no timid Victorian dying violet. Somebody plonked this great big book in my lap when I was seven years old, a good reader, and in need of something heavy to hold me down on a long car trip. It worked; it took me off from my flat prairie summer to a land of purple mountain peaks and jumping goats and snow that piled up above the windows in the winter.
Heidi comes to live with her grandfather when she is five years old, up high on the mountain where he shuns and is shunned by the village below. For the next three years, she sees almost no one else but the goatherd, Peter, and his mother, grandmother, and the goats. She is never lonely; she is like a nature spirit, communing with the wind, sun, trees, eagles and flowers. It is only when her aunt comes to take her away to Frankfort, to be a companion to ill, housebound Clara, that homesickness and loneliness set in. Heidi's rescue concludes the first half of the book, the half most people know; how Heidi heals the people in her life is the second and more interesting half.
I have returned to this book so often that my 1921 edition is all worn out and crumbly, with the plates falling out. Spyri creates a world I would like to live in. I don't know if it ever existed. There are elements of melodrama in the story that are sometimes too sweet for the modern palate, but the scenery is vivid and honest and the pathos is, for the most part, truly felt.
Heidi. She's such an amazing child who's kind, carefree but caring, generous, genuine and charming.
The story focuses on caring and sharing, the importance of domestic lives and nature, education and learning certain skills to survive, it's all about faith and celebration of life.
And don't believe in rumours about anyone, it tells.
I love Heidi's grandpa, the insecure Peter and his ailing grandmother.
I love Sebastian, Clara and her father, grandmother and the doctor. And I really, really, really do not like her mother at all. The only character who was really unlikeable.
The other side characters are fun. The story becomes more lively with each chapter. This middle grade classic is so much fun to read!
I feel the story will be more fun if you actually read along with the kids. The humour and the adventures! It's fun I say!
That ghost chapter!!!
I love this book so much more other than considering all these things is because of the way how most of the adult characters have faith in her and accept her as she is. This is enough. Letting the child become who she is at her very best. Her concerns, her thoughts, her dreams being respected is all that mattered. And not neglecting her when she looked troubled.
The story is so wholesome. I liked how most characters have been presented with so much maturity and understanding. I wasn't expecting this.
I just wish Clara was given more lines and parts. Being an only child and someone who needed assistance and company, it would have been interesting to know her thoughts as well, given her age and her time spent most with Heidi.
And yes, learning for kids should be this playful and meaningful. Kudos to Heidi teaching Peter. One of my most favourite parts.
The last chapter is just gold. I feel really blessed after all this time!
A perfect read for me in 2021. I needed this warmth and calmness.
This was so precious! A little preachy and had some very traditional views in regards to disabilities and such, but the setting and atmosphere of the book reminded me a lot of Anne of Green Gables and made me so happy <3
I cried a lot out of happiness reading this book....................
The tears flowed out of my eyes without me noticing them...........
The story begins well and is lively and after certain chapters (after the first half, to be precise), the novel contains only pure and innocent happiness. Each chapter in the second half gets better and the happiness begins and flows through the chapters making the reader very sentimental and longing for such lovely landscapes, friendships, relationships, and happiness.
I do not want to say anything about the plot. I just only want to make some observations.
This is a lovely book for the kids and as well as for the adults.
It will teach them first and foremost that Love is the foundation for happiness of man. It will teach them to establish lovely relationships. It will teach them to love all. It will teach them to love the landscapes, the environments and the animals. It will teach them to pray. It will give them much to cheer about.
It will speak to them of forgiveness. It will speak to them of the vanity of riches, or rather it will teach them the right usage of riches. It will teach them to appreciate the richness of relationships and the expansive nature. It will take them to their innocent childhood memories. It will give them much to cheer about.
It is a fact that nothing much is known about the author of HEIDI, Johanna Spyri. In her lifetime when she was asked to write her autobiography, she replied thus:
"The external path of my life is very simple, and there is nothing special to be mentioned. My inner life was full of storms, but who can describe it?"
And even if a star is very far and its details are hard to get by, still its shining splendor is more than enough for our limited vision. J. Spyri will always be remembered as the author of HEIDI and that is the greatest recognition. Thank you Johanna Spyri for giving us HEIDI.
When Ebba asked me to join her in a reread of this childhood classic, I eagerly agreed. This was my favorite book as a child. I received it as a Christmas gift when I was 8 or 9, and read it many times over. I looked forward to being in the Swiss Alps again with Heidi and the grandfather and the goats.
Reading as an adult, were there inconsistencies, miraculous things that were never explained? Of course. Were the good , kind people a little too kind? Of course. Was the ending just a little too perfect? Of course. But none of that mattered. The magic of Heidi is that the cynical old woman reading this was replaced by that 8 year old who believed that miracles do exist, that goodness is repaid by goodness, and that happy endings do exist. What a relief to be in that world for a few days.
Thank you Ebba. It was a pleasure reading with you.
All the evils of the world might be cured by mountain air, kindness, and goat's milk.
Vividly descriptive. Just whisk me to the Swiss Alps, bright with myriad blossoms, fragrant with fir and pine, alive with birdsong. The blessings of nature surround, the sun shines down all around, and never an unkind sound.
Heidi is five — pale and small — when she first moves to Grandfather's simple alpine home, where the heavens twinkle right into her sleeping loft. Soon she's running barefoot, limber as the goats, burnished in the sun, glowing with health. Happy.
Then the dark days, abducted by nasty Aunt Dete, hustled away to dreary Frankfurt and Fraulien Rotten-weiller. Heidi, wasting away, miserably homesick, day after day.
Young Klara, wheelchair-bound and brave. Klara's kind grandmama. A foolish houseman, afraid of ghosts. The wise doctor.
The reunion. Even now, I choke up when Grandfather and Heidi are reunited. If he can cry on the sly, then so can I. Tenderhearted but gruff is Grandfather, an outcast with a shameful past. The Prodigal Son, neatly simplified and personified for children.
Young Peter, a boy on the verge. His kind, blind grandmother. Bread and hymns.
A timeless classic for children, a non-romantic romance, for on Grandfather's mountain, everything ends well. Somewhat sappy, slightly preachy, probably idealized, yet I fall for it every time. Spyri surprised a few chuckles out of me, too.
Johanna Spyri, publicó en 1880, uno de los libros más leídos de la literatura suiza en el mundo entero llamado “Heidi”. Este personaje tan famoso y carismático representa el estereotipo de la aldeana suiza de finales del siglo XIX, realmente es una encarnación alegórica de la sociedad de este país, pues representa la naturaleza intacta de los Alpes, de sus praderas, montañas y paisajes encomiables. Este año estoy disfrutando con enorme placer grandes clásicos de la literatura infantil y este os avanzo que es una preciosidad.
Heidi es una niña huérfana, que queda al cuidado de su tía durante sus primeros cinco años de vida. Esta, tras encontrar un trabajo que le imposibilita seguir cuidando de su sobrina, la llevará con su único familiar vivo que es su abuelo, a vivir en los Alpes suizos, cerca de la frontera con Austria. Allí Heidi, caerá cautivada por la vida en constante contacto con la naturaleza, se enamorará de sus aldeanos, de los animales que corren libres y de la cotidianidad tan armoniosa que hay en el pueblo. Todo cambiará cuando su tía, pasados largos años, vuelve a por ella con el fin de que sirva de damita de compañía para una niña invalida en Alemania.
Este clásico infantil está plagado de inocencia, de amor infinito hacia la naturaleza y nos muestra algunos valores humanos muy importantes. Son varios los pasajes donde la felicidad de Heidi se ve sustituida por la desesperación y la melancolía, por el anhelo y la necesidad de volver a su hogar, en esos será donde veremos más la reivindicación que lleva esta obra.
Los personajes me han resultado en su mayoría sumamente entrañables, sobre todo el abuelo de Heidi y esta misma, con una inocencia marcada que no se ve alterada. En contraposición hallaremos a la señorita Rotenmeier, una mujer severa y fría que amargará los días de nuestra protagonista tan divertida y vivaz.
Para finalizar, el mensaje de esta breve pero profunda y exquisita novela, es sencillo y claro: busca hacer partícipe al lector de preservar el amor y la importancia hacia la naturaleza. De que a pesar de que a veces te ofrezcan una vida con lujos hay gente que prefiere conducir su existencia de una manera más desahogada, con libertad y respirando aire puro.
About halfway around the book, I remembered reading it, in Turkish, years ago. Turkish translation of it was a bit different, if my memory serves me. For once, while there were mentions of God and how good He is etc, religious preaching was not as prominent.
I stumbled upon similar deviations at White Fang, which is one of my favourite books. Reading it in English was like hearing a memory from someone else's perspective. Familiar at core ,but WTF is he talking about at the same time. In Turkish version, the spotlight belonged to the wolf cub and his struggles. In English version, the author's shadow was all over it, fighting his own inner battle about God and his place in life. I love both versions but I don't believe they are the same book. Language and the culture behind it, have a lot of to do with the differences, but in my opinion, most of the time, translators become the second author. The end result is rarely the same book, even if it is telling the same story. Especially with books who has a lot of ideas hiding behind the tale.
So, this was a familiar but new book for me. It started as I hoped, giving me the warm feelings, being with a person who is inherently kind, gives you. All those cute moments with goats and playing... Despite of the stilting, formal language, everything was joyful.
Then it started preaching heavily. I am a religious person. Even though I'm not Christian, some of the main teachings are similar and I agreed with most concepts, the book was trying to teach. But these were not artfully infused into the story. I was beaten on the head with kindness and repetition. And everything in the story was to point us what we should do. After a while, I just couldn't find the same warmth in it. *and tbh, Heidi became so annoying with her perfect angelic-ness. my nephew is a demanding little shit, but I'd take him over Heidi anyday because let's face it; Heidi is bloody boring with her wheeee attitude towards every-fucking-thing. there is a line between being a bubbly-happy person who brings joy to others and being a bubbly-happy person who annoys the life out of others
I think I'll go watch the anime of Heidi, to see if it is as good as I remember. I need to shake this disappointment off of me.
Having seen bits of the film some time ago, I thought it was definitely time to read the book. I knew the outline of the story before I started, so I kind of knew what to expect.
This reminded me of The Secret Garden in some ways, which I struggled to enjoy, and this book lead me along the same path. The story was vague in parts, and certainly didn't spark enough interest in me to lose sleep over it.
The characters were skeletal in description, and Spyri never elaborated on any of them enough for me to really feel fully invested, except for Heidi, perhaps.
Heidi is portrayed as some sort of miracle worker, and she can apparently solve everyone's problems, with the click of her fingers. That's great, it really is, but she's only five.
Religion was very heavy throughout this, and it actually felt more ridiculous as the story went on, and this unfortunately, kind of ruined it for me.
This book isn't one I'd recommend to my children, as I personally think that Anne of Green Gables is better, but I can see many just buying it for the beautiful cover.
Orphaned Heidi is on her third home. Her parents are dead, her aunt has a better job in the city and so little Heidi is sent to live with her grandfather in the Swiss mountains and the surrounding village is reeling.
Heidi's grandfather has a bit of a reputation as an old curmudgeonly man, someone who most definitely isn't a people-person much less someone who would have the patience for a child.
And despite being taken aback, the grandfather quickly steps up to the plate and takes care of Heidi - and soon he cannot imagine life without her.
And Heidi feels the same - the happy nights, exploring with the goat herd and making friends with her neighbors...it is truly all that Heidi ever wanted.
But then Heidi's aunt comes back, and rips poor Heidi from her friends and family for a life in the city.
Will Heidi ever get back? Will Heidi even want to?
Every so often I get on this kick where ALL I want to read is 100+ year old children's stories and I'm SO glad I decided to pick this one up.
I loved, loved, loved reading this one and honestly, if I had to sum it up - this book is charming. Simply charming.
Heidi's perspective felt fresh and fun to watch. I adored her fascination with nature and her love for all things furry and feathered.
I also really admired her commitment to being the best person she could be - for a five-year-old, gosh-dang she was a brave little kid.
This book was a bit heavy on the religious themes but it was also rather interesting to read - to see how people felt and saw the world back in the day.
Overall - I would definitely recommend this lovely little book!
Johanna Spyri's Heidi is a novel that is not only an enduring classic (first published in 1881, still going strong, a perennial favourite, and still remarkably enjoyable), but it is also one of those books that can be read and perhaps even should be read on a multitude of different and equally rewarding levels. And like with many children's classics I consider personal favourites, my review will consist of primarily musings and detailed analyses of certain parts and aspects of the narrative. I will also provide information on English language translations of Heidi and possible considerations for choosing certain editions over others. Now this here particular edition of Heidi is a German language Kindle version I recently downloaded on my iPad (both parts, complete, unabridged, and written in the new orthography, the "neue Rechtschreibung"). And indeed with Heidi in particular, one really does have to be careful avoiding abridged printings, unless one is actually desiring a shortened offering (for both in German and in English, and likely with many other languages as well, abridgements seem to exist en masse and sometimes, it is not even made clear that a particular edition has been significantly shortened, so potential readers beware, is my suggestion). Case in point, TWO of my hardback copies of Heidi (German language), which I thought were unabridged when I purchased them, turned out to have significant parts of entire chapters removed (something that definitely was NOT mentioned on the book cover).
HOW TO READ HEIDI
Now Heidi can of course be read simply and enjoyably as a sweet tale of an adorable and personable young orphan whose soul and inner beauty shine, and who with her personality, with her love, her sweetness and tenderheartedness, and aided by many of her friends/family, especially her grandfather once he himself has been won over, brings not only joy but also health and wisdom to those around her (except of course her aunt Dete and perhaps the Frankfurt governess, who are just plain stubborn and never affected in a positive way by Heidi's charms and mannerisms). And well, these above-mentioned words are a very basic and for me as an older adult (and generally rather academic) reader, in no way sufficient analysis of Heidi's life and struggles, but it is a good place to start, and yes a decent way to whet a potential reader's appetite (especially a first time reader). However, reading Heidi on purely a basic level, while more than appropriate and adequate for children and casual readers, really (in my opinion) only scratches the proverbial surface so to speak, and in a very much superficial manner at that. For Heidi is deceptively simple, and underneath the descriptive joys of Swiss alpine glory and beauty, of what one can call a wholesome childhood, much darker and problematic material is indeed often hiding (and no pun is intended here). And yes, even the original German titles of the two parts parts of Heidi, Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre and Heidi kann brauchen, was es gelernt hat allude to the fact that Johanna Spyri is actually also harkening back to two of the most famous "Bildungsromane" (novels of development) in the German language, namely Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Wilhelm Meister novels (the first volume being being titled Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre and the sequel Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre).
However, while in most traditional novels of development, it is generally the main protagonist who develops, who changes, who matures, Heidi herself really never all that much changes, never really develops and certainly never matures all that much. Her sojourn to Frankfurt, while it might have had the positive result of her learning to read (which she then later uses to bring joy to the grandmother and reading as a skill to the stubbornly illiterate Peter) and giving her more of an understanding of religion and patience, also proves once once for all that Heidi is for all intents and purposes not resilient, is not mentally and psychologically robust (that she will thrive only in a very limited and limiting environment, in the Alps, the Swiss mountains, and not just anywhere in Switzerland either, but specifically only on her grandfather's alpine meadows).
And yes, many have both noticed and stated that Heidi's friend Clara is seemingly miraculously healed while on her alpine visit to Heidi (whether by God or due to the robust natural environment of the Alps is of course quite another question). But if one actually takes the time to consider a detailed characterisation of Clara, she is in fact and indeed (and right from the beginning of Heidi at that) considerably more psychologically robust and resilient and thus also much more "healthy" than Heidi (at least on a spiritual and emotional level). Now when Clara is able to actually stand and walk, she is of course totally delighted that her physical strength has been restored (as are her father and grandmother), but in my opinion, Clara has truly always been considerably stronger than Heidi spiritually and psychically (and Clara is thus able to leave the Alps after her visit, after her "cure" but Heidi must forever remain in this specific place, as any other place will elicit not only homesickness, but the kind of homesickness that eats the soul, and will ultimately destroy the sufferer).
Furthermore, while Heidi as a novel does (as mentioned above) allude to Goethe's Wilhelm Meister novels, the main character (Heidi) is actually more based on, more similar to the character of Mignon than Wilhelm Meister himself (except that unlike the doomed Mignon, Heidi is granted release and reprieve in so far that she is allowed to remain in and on the Alps, the one place that is suitable for and to her, unmoving, unchanging, but alive and to a point thriving, while Mignon is ultimately destroyed by her homesickness, by her yearning for Italy). And thus, from a purely developmental point of view and philosophy, Johanna Spyri's Heidi as a character is thus really and truly much less nuanced, much less rounded and much more unyielding and stagnant than her grandfather, than Clara (and yes, even than the stubborn and often annoyingly obstinate Peter).
For yes, throughout the course of Heidi, many of the encountered characters do seem to mature, to become healthier and heartier, increasingly educated and aware, but with Heidi, this really only occurs on a very sporadic and partial, superficial level at best (and mostly with regard to her ability to read, her trust in God and that she now sees and realises which household tasks require doing). Her mental and emotional stagnation, her lack of psychological fortitude (which she likely has inherited from her deceased mother), her inability to endure change of any kind and a variety of circumstances never really do all that much fluctuate (and with this in mind, Heidi is actually to be considered as being very much like those same alpine flowers encountered at the beginning of the novel, wildflowers that while bright, glowing and healthy while rooted in the alpine ground, very quickly lose their bloom, very quickly wilt and droop as soon as they are picked and transported away from the meadows they call home).
HEIDI ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS
For those reading Heidi in English or more to the point, desiring to read this book in English, there are indeed many, many different and vastly variable translations available (from 1882-1959 alone, something like fifteen different English language translations of Heidi were published). Now I have not read all of these, but I have read at least three separate English language editions, and each offers unique reading experiences. With regard to readability, flow, and if one is primarily reading for simple enjoyment (or to and with children), the 1956 translation by Eileen Hall is excellent and highly recommended (although many of the character names have been anglicised, and even some of the specific geographic references omitted). Earlier translations by Louise Brooks and Helen B. Dole, while they do retain a more slavish adherence to the original German text, are also translated in a much more literal manner and thus readability and narrative flow at times do rather suffer, feeling awkward and halting (in other words, one is often painfully aware of the fact that these are, in fact, translations). It is a matter of personal choice, but for me, for academic comparisons, I would tend to recommend the older translations of Heidi, while for pleasure reading, Eileen Hall's translation is truly superb.
My two favorite aunts gave me Heidi when I was eight years old. I don't know if it was Christmas or birthday; all I know is I have them to thank not only for this but for Anne of Green Gables (and my very favorite stuffed bear Snowball), bless their names forever. As with Anne, I read Heidi over and over (and over), and followed up with some of the sequels from the library, and loved it dearly; unlike with Anne, though, I haven't read Heidi in many years. The Goodreads Kindred Spirits group chose it as their "Akin to Anne" group read for last June, and I fully intended to join in then, but in the end it took being faced on December 30 with a Challenge shortcoming of two books for me to pick up what surely had to be a quick read so as to meet my goal. (It worked.)
I was a little worried. Childhood memories are fragile. It doesn't take much to stain a current opinion, leaching backward to taint what was so beloved. But, I'm happy to say, Heidi came through it just about unscathed.
Peter didn't, but I'll come to that.
The story: Heidi is an orphan at six, and lives with her aunt until said aunt gets a job and decides that the girl's grandfather is just going to have to serve his time looking after the child, no matter how alarming his reputation is. Just about everyone Aunt Dete meets exclaims in horror at the idea of leaving the poor child with the old man, the Alm-Uncle; he hates everyone, and makes no secret of it. She's doomed. Dete is not an admirable character, but I will say for her that she is tough: she ploughs on despite the exclamations of horror and barely even gives the Alm-Uncle a chance to say no before she vanishes, leaving grandfather and granddaughter together.
And it's fine. It's better than fine. Heidi flourishes, with her grandfather providing quiet but loving support and the goats and Peter providing entertainment, and her own active nature keeping her constantly occupied. And Grandfather flourishes a bit himself, softening and expanding a bit. And when that aunt of hers pops up again a couple of years later and sweeps Heidi away with her again to dump her on a wealthy household that needs a companion for wheelchair-bound Klara, Heidi's small following on the mountain suffers her loss.
It was startling how much I remembered. I, who have trouble remembering details from a book I read last month, remembered the white rolls, and the kittens, and what happened to the wheelchair; I remembered the hayloft beds (maybe because I wanted one so badly when I was little) and the wonderful goats' milk and the other bed behind the stove. And it was all still very, very sweet.
Except for Peter. I was taken aback by what a nasty piece of work he had the potential to be. I remember loving Peter. Perhaps that was because of the other books, but here – here he is selfish and lazy and greedy, and a little stupid. He shakes his fists at the interloper on Heidi's time, and then there's the wheelchair incident; he did damage. He was a little scary. If he hadn't had the fear of capture put into him, and hadn't had the Alm-Uncle's influence curbing his behavior, it seems like he might have ended up a serious problem.
Heidi is a type of little heroine which I tend to doubt is written much anymore. Everything impacts her personally, from the grandmother's blindness to the tribulations of the goats. She's a simple, entirely selfless child with no desire to be anything else. She's not clever, per se; she can learn and learn quickly when she wants to, but she'd rather be out romping with the goats than reading. Which, now that I think of it, very likely has a good deal to do with her decline in Frankfort with Klara: she went from having hours of exercise in the fresh air, along with a simple diet (very simple – I was a little shocked at the amount of bread and butter and cheese and milk, and the paucity of meat and green vegetables) to almost no exercise and three meals a day of rich food (with more processed flour, at that). No wonder the child felt poorly. It wasn't just homesickness and worry over the elderly folk on the mountain.
The rest of the cast of characters were very satisfying. Peter's mother and grandmother were drawn as simple, grateful folk; I've been trying to remember what it was that I read in which the poor characters continually refused gifts, even of things they needed desperately, because they could not accept "charity"; Peter's family had no such compunctions, and the gifts they received did what they were supposed to do: they gave joy to the recipients and the givers. I loved the doctor and Klara's grandmother – they were beautifully drawn. I wanted to smack Klara's father a bit, or at least to find out what was so very important in his business life that he had to abandon his daughter to the servants and the aptly-named Frau Rottenmeier for months on end. The French maid was surprisingly bitchy (though I can't help but wonder if some of her comments weren't effectively translated; they were delivered as cutting remarks, but read like cryptic non sequiturs). The butler, Sebastian, was a love. And, last but not least, I enjoyed watching the grandfather show a bit more depth and three-dimensionality by the end of the book.
The affection I have for the book remains intact. I love it when that happens.
We stopped reading after the first 100 pages. We have listened to an audio book that I think must have been an unabridged reading of the book, as we feel that we know the story completely and reading the book isn't bringing anything new for us. As we have many books on our to read shelf at the moment we are going to put this on hold and perhaps return later.
This book is as precious as Anne of Green Gables. I loved it and it made me genuinely happy. If you are feeling upset and down, this book will for sure make you feel much better. It does have a little of a moralizing tone but I didn't mind it. I also think it could be a perfect reading slump cure. <3
There are some stories that whenever you read them, they leave you warm all over your body and soul, fill your mind with hopeful thoughts. This is one of them. As an adult grown with cartoons of Heidi, I feel peaceful when I pick up such classics that make you feel nostalgic and return to the good old days. This was a favorite of mine when I was child and it still helps me feel optimistic and positive. Heidi, recently orphaned and abandoned by her aunt to the sullen grandfather residing on the Alps learns a new way of life while reminding a harsh man that he had a heart and feelings, shining like a bright star in a community that seems to be grayed out by dark clouds. Her energy burst out of the pages, creates a ray of light, changing lives of many people and we readers feel this unique experience, as well. The pastoral themes, cozy atmosphere, warm relationships, coming-of-age of the little girl create a safe comfort zone with walls made up of nostalgia. Loving this so much!