The Most Beautiful Story in the World

Social Science 122

The philosopher Ernst Bloch called the brief story Unverhofftes Wiedersehen (Unexpected Reunion) the "most beautiful story in the world." In fact, since its publication in 1811, this "calendar story" by the Alemmanic writer Johann Peter Hebel, who is hardly known outside the German-speaking world, has come to occupy a crucial place in the lives of generations of readers. Walter Benjamin made it the centerpiece of his essay "The Storyteller" and Martin Heidegger discovered in it the essence of poetry. There is perhaps no better place to explore the depth and the power of narrative than with this five-page tale. (Participants who sign up in advance may request copies of the story.)