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The Brummstein

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  208 ratings  ·  27 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, 86 pages
Published July 12th 2011 by Amazon Crossing (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  208 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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[4.5] This tiny novella was one of the first books I discovered entirely through Goodreads, nearly three years ago. Now the overall average rating is 3.23; average friends rating 4.5. I've been reading the right people, then.

It's a story which follows the successive owners of an object - an idea I've loved since childhood, but which is saved unexpectedly from cliche by being used only rarely in adult fiction. (The only other time I've encountered it since joining GR was in part of The Secret Kn
Niki Vervaeke
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fictie, maatschappij, own
Het is even nadenken bij het lezen van dit dunne boekje, nadenken en herlezen om te snappen wat gezegd wordt
Geologie voor dummies, gelinkt aan een bijzondere steen en meerdere levensgeschiedenissen, gelinkt aan de Europese geschiedenis.
Een klein pareltje waarbij je je niet mag laten afschrikken door de zwaarte van de zinnen maar gewoon kan en mag proberen volgen.
Mark Rice
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Maya Panika
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it
A slim novella concerned with a historical take on an ahistorical subject: the strange vibrations of a particular outcropping of rock in a Central European cavern. Geological continuity stresses the humans whose lives the rock crosses through suffering and through joy - more of the former than the latter, I must say. It is not inaccurate.

At the end of the sitting, you might be left a little empty, slightly confused. There are many apertures onto human life in this short narrative. They do not ha
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
Apr 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: adolphsen
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
Jun 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-reading
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
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: denmark
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
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-extra
I think 'brummstein' translates as grumbling or murmuring stone. The stone in this unusual story has a stored memory of geological history. The book starts with a geology lecture on the Alpine orogeny and the formation of cave systems in limestone. (I studied geology at A-level when plate tectonics was newly accepted so I knew all this, but I think the author explains it well.) This is needed to show how some ancient rock might be revealed deep in a cave system in the Alps.
One of the early visit
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I finished my 78 page book The Brummstein which is probably a novella. Based very much on geology and not science fiction but science fact. Intelligent, well thought out with some interesting observations about humanity versus rocks. The human spirit versus geological continuity and durability. It is a book in translation and the English is impeccable. It is a very cleverly constructed piece which touches on the meaning of human existence, life, the universe and everything. It was a quick read b ...more
Dick Edwards
May 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Alaíde Medina
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Como si tomáramos "El atlas de las nubes", "El abuelo que saltó por la ventana y se largó" y una pizca de Bioy, los echáramos a la licuadora y luego los condensáramos con algún método de cocina molecular. El resultado, este libro, es una burbujita brillante y riquísima, inolvidable, que te deja con ganas de más.
Paul Korkhin
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
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!
May 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Asha Zarr
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A practical and yet fey and enchanting read. An ending that makes the book worth rereading.
Brenda Boro
Nov 01, 2015 added it
Shelves: ebook
I couldn't get into this book.
Ruth Kyle-devendorf
Aug 02, 2014 rated it liked it
It was a fascinating little book and only geta three stars because I wanted to know what happened but instead the ending is a cliff hanger and the mystery is never solved.
Kath Fell
Jan 15, 2015 rated it liked it
A different storyline but enjoyable.
Gwen Cook
rated it it was ok
Mar 12, 2015
Patricia K.
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Aug 23, 2015
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Aug 07, 2014
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Peter Adolphsen (født 1. september 1972 i Aarhus) er en dansk forfatter. Han er uddannet fra Forfatterskolen (1993-95), hvor han også var ansat som lærer 2008-2010. Debuterede i 1996 med Små Historier. Siden er udkommet Små historier 2 (2000), kortromanerne Brummstein (2003) og Machine (2006), form-eksperimenterne En million historier (2007) og Katalognien. En versroman (2009, skrevet sammen med E ...more
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“Protect art. It is the antidote to the innate barbarism of the human race.” 4 likes
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