The Brummstein
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The Brummstein

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  96 ratings  ·  18 reviews
This astonishing novel begins in 1907, when Josef Siedler, a science-fiction devotee, ventures deep into a series of caves in search of an entrance to the underworld. Disappointed in his quest, he nonetheless returns with a peculiar souvenir: a small rock sample that emits a strange humming sound. Upon Siedler's death, the rock is bequeathed to his nephew, a significant st...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Amazon Publishing (first published 2003)
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Mark Rice
This little novella took me quite by surprise. Peter Adolphsen has created characters who are archetypal, original and utterly believable. I enjoyed the gorgeously geographic description of how subterranean caves are formed. I loved the cyclical nature of the story, which goes full circle over the course of a century.

In 1907, Josef Siedler descends into the Hölloch Caves in Switzerland, searching for an opening to the subterranean world which he believes is home to a race far more advanced than...more
Maya Panika
Hardly even a novella, The Brummstein is very short, just 78 pages. I loved it, the writing had a softness, a gentle touch which was very beguiling, the story - of a strange geological specimen that passes from hand to hand - was utterly compelling and I wished with all my heart there had been more of it, MUCH more; this is not a story that can be told at this length, this is a story that needs a good, solid 130,000 words or more to truly meet its promise.

The characters were wonderful, but they...more
At the heart of Brummstein are the connections that bind complete strangers together. The story begins with a somewhat dry explanation of the Swiss Alps used to set up a metaphor of geologic time compressed into a single calendar year; just remind us how short and insignificant human history is when considering the cosmic stage. A rather dramatic way to start a story about a curious humming stone - the Brummstein - as it passes through the life of one person to the next. Each life the stone touc...more
First from this writer, begins:

The constant orogeny of the Alps is caused by the breakup of the microcontinent Adria from Africa in the Jurassic, its subsequent rotation over the then existing Tethys Sea, and its collision with Eurasia; if we apply the famous metaphor which depicts the Earth's age as a calendar year, when dinosaurs become extinct on Boxing Day, hominids emerge on New Year's Eve, and when, at the time of writing, ten seconds have passed since the Roman Empire's five seconds expir...more
Peter Adolphsen's Brummstein is a peculiar little novella; the story of a weird, vibrating stone that's chipped off an ancient rock at the bottom of a Swiss cave in 1908, and its travels from hand to hand throughout the 20th century in Germany. It should be a drily humorous tall tale in the classic Scandinavian tradition (lately represented by Paasilinna, Jonasson etc), but it's ultra-condensed to 64 pages, with passages in allegedly untranslated German (Adolphsen is Danish), with long asides on...more
Review published at Three Percent:


By examining the minute connections, unlikely coincidences, and painstaking natural processes that give shape to the daily world, the work of Danish author Peter Adolphsen encapsulates—both in form and content—Blake’s image of “a world in a grain of sand.” This has never been more literally true than in his most recently translated work, The Brummstein. Beginning in 1907, and ending over eighty years later, the novella...more
This odd little work by a Danish writer appears to be an exploration of time and humanity, and the preeminence of the former over the latter. I say "appears" because it's an oblique work that makes several references to the span of geologic time in relation to that of recorded human history, but its ultimate meaning is very much open to interpretation. Either way, it certainly doesn't drag the reader in: the book opens with six pages of geological history before getting into the story. That stor...more
Josef finds a "humming" stone deep in a cave in the Swiss Alps at the end of the 19th century. He thinks the stone is a doorway to another world. Takes a small rock out of it in order to analyze it. Dies later without having the slightest clue of what its origin was. The stone will then pass from hand to hand throughout the 20th century to this day, as a "witness" of the evolution of (mainly) the german society. The narrative style varies from pages that look like wikipedia pages on geology to p...more
Dick Edwards
This is the story of a “rock that hums,” a peculiar geological artifact that was discovered in 1907 and makes its way from owner to owner through the 20th century. The humming rock is merely a prop that allows the author to tell the stories of each of the owners. The trouble is that the book is so short that the reader learns precious little about each owner, and is left at the end with the feeling that he has not learned much about the owners or about 20th century history. I give this book abou...more
Paul Korkhin
A nice little novella which tells the story of a piece of rock through the different owners it had through out the 20th century. As follows it also shows the history of Europe in the 20th century from a somewhat unusual viewpoint. I especially liked the seemingly random connections between people, objects and places that the story makes, random and yet showing a clear trail of cause and effect.
A short fast read, intriguing, enticing. I was left wanting more and more: more back story for every character, more about the rock, more ... more everything. I will be looking up author Adolphsen in the future to see if he can sustain this kind of fever pitch emotional blending for an entire novel's length.
This book has got off to a slow start, with a long and detailed explanation of the formation of the Alps. Now I have got through the geological part, I am quite enjoying the story and looking forward to seeing how it develops. More later!
This slim little novel is the story of a small rock from it's creation and how it was passed on from person to person after it was chipped off a larger rock. A strange little novel, but appealing because of the spare but descriptive writing.
Helen Maltby
I strange short novel. It was a very interesting idea - the progression of a stone from one person to another over the course of 100 years.

It started off like a geology text book but once I got past that it was worth reading.
It had its ups and downs, mostly it was a slog. There were some great parts to it, but for the most part the novella was bogged down by the overly scientific language in its beginning. The whole thing was just so European.
Robin Edman
The only thing that could make this work better would be for there to be more of it. It is, believe it or not, the fictional provenance of a fictional rock, and yet the writing is utterly absorbing and charming.
Following the stone through history was really interesting. i loved how its possession keot flowing from owner to owner. I just wished the end had more of a story to it.
Asha Zarr
A practical and yet fey and enchanting read. An ending that makes the book worth rereading.
Christian Hede
Rigtig fin lille bog, god fortælling, men det anbefales at tyskkundskaberne stadig er skarpe.
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