Waldrausch (novel)

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Waldrausch is a novel by the German writer Ludwig Ganghofer . This novel was published for the first time in 1908 and therefore belongs to the writer's late work.

Book cover of a licensed edition of Droemersche Verlagsanstalt, Munich (1970s)


The plot of the novel takes place in the age of the beginning industrialization (late 19th / early 20th century). In a small, undefined - but untouched for centuries - mountain valley of the Bavarian Alps , the 'new' era of upheaval is coming. The construction of a dam and the regulation called the below lying creek, in the novel, Wildach 'which is below lying should corridors , as well as the village and its inhabitants from flooding in the future flood protection.

The conservative valley dwellers are suddenly torn from their 'deep slumber' and confronted with almost insoluble problems.

Main characters of the novel

Ambros Lutz

The focus of the novel is the water construction engineer Ambros Lutz, son of the village doctor who used to work in the village, who recognizes the need to regulate the Wildach. He also succeeds in obtaining the approval of the authorities for the construction of a dam in the valley. When the construction work was entrusted to Ambros Lutz, he was confronted with further problems. Since only one hundred local workers can be found in the entire valley for the construction, Ambros feels compelled to procure another four hundred guest workers from Italy , which causes further unrest and excitement in the village. Again and again there are quarrels and confrontations between the local population and the Italians. Ambros succeeds in enforcing peace between the locals and the Italians through skillful and balancing tactics.

In addition to Ambros Lutz, there are four other main protagonists who determine the plot of the novel.

Toni Sagenbacher

Toni Sagenbecher, the younger son of the widowed “Lahneggerin” from Lahneggerhof, plays an important role; he is a childhood friend of Ambros and is still on friendly terms with him later. Toni is regularly bullied and disadvantaged by his older brother Krispin Sagenbacher, who became a young farmer at the Lahneggerhof.


Beda is the illegitimate child of a painter and the daughter of the 'Wildacherin' who dies when Beda is born. Beda grows up as an orphan with her ' ahnl ', the old Wildacherin, who educates Beda in 'discipline and order'.


An important role is played by the 'Duchess' in the novel, who spends the summer in the town's grand palace. Ganghofers describes her as a member of the German aristocracy, but without further disclosing the true identity of the 'Duchess'. On no page of the novel is the identity of this character revealed. Neither the first name nor the last name of the 'Duchess' are mentioned in the novel. The Duchess is portrayed as a fabulously beautiful but sickly woman. Due to an imposed marriage without love, she is deadly unhappy and, as a gifted violinist, seeks solace in music.

Forest rascal

A strange, somewhat “eccentric” but likeable character in the novel is the Waldrauscher. Nobody knows how old he is. Some estimate it at 70, 80, some at 100 years. His real name also remains unknown, he is only known in the village under the name "Waldrauscher". He lived by collecting the forest rush and the berries that he sells to pharmacists in the area. He seems to be very familiar with nature and the "rustling of the forest" and knows the effects of this noise on people.

There is a secret relationship between the Waldrauscher and the rulers in 'Schlössel', which probably has existed for years, which is not revealed in the novel. The reader can only assume that it was probably a long-lost love affair between the forest rascal at a young age and an ancestor of the current Duchess, who looks very similar to the young 'Frau Duchess'.


The novel begins in a spring when the blooming of the 'crazy' forest makes the inhabitants of the village “intoxicated” when Ambros Lutz comes back to his home village after years to build a dam here. He finds an adversary in the rich young farmer Krispin Sagenbacher, who tries to influence the farmers in the area against the construction of the dam.

Two love stories develop in parallel between the main characters mentioned in the novel. Toni and Beda fall in love - despite the resentment of Toni's older brother Krispin - the heir to the Lahneggerhof. Krispin, however, endeavors to stretch out the Bede to his righteous brother Toni in order to win them over. Through intrigues he tries to pair Toni with a widowed farmer in the 'Unterland'. However, this attempt fails thoroughly and it is Krispin who has to marry the farmer's wife because he had previously impregnated her.

Ambros Lutz is not only a hydraulic engineer, but also a talented pianist; he is accidentally overheard playing the piano by the Duchess and invited to the ducal palace to make music. The love for music and playing together is what unintentionally brings the two closer together. Ambros introduced the Duchess to the works of Beethoven and Mozart . Through this music-making, the young woman feels more and more drawn to Ambros Lutz, and Ambros feels the same way. A familiarity develops between the two, which ultimately culminates in intense affection and love.

Ambro's mother does not hide the restlessness of her son. The old lady therefore seeks out the Duchess, who confesses her love for Ambros to her, and Frau Lutz is shocked to see what a “pure soul” lives in the Duchess.

In the midst of the “crazy blooming” of the forest, which only allows work on the dam at night, a storm is approaching, which threatens to destroy the nascent building through a burst dam with flooding water. Since the local construction workers and the village community are not prepared to help save the threatened building, the Duchess writes a letter to the mayor and the local priest, in which she says “that she will never come to the valley during her lifetime and abandon all foundations that does it every summer for the church and for the parish bag. ” Thanks to this warning, the locals, together with the Italian construction workers, manage to protect the dam so that it can withstand the huge masses of water. In the end - after almost insurmountable obstacles - Ambros Lutz succeeds in bringing the bold building to a good end.

After a violent argument with her husband, who is in the valley at the beginning of the hunting season, the Duchess, a terminally ill woman suffering from tuberculosis , leaves the valley to never come back. Her love for Ambros Lutz remains unfulfilled. Her lady-in-waiting, Baroness Johanna von Zieblingen, wrote to Ambros a harrowing farewell letter, where she reported, among other things: "Yesterday, your Highness, accompanied by a medical train, set out on the journey to the south in order to end the winter in Egypt's health to the extreme Renewed bleeding of the tender respiratory tract, as it had already appeared life-threatening in earlier years, has extinguished any hope of preservation of this precious life. [...] You too can find comfort and consolation in the knowledge that you are only pure happiness and brought holy worth to joyless life. "

Deeply shaken by the news, Ambros leaves the valley with his mother on the day of the inauguration of his great work. He no longer waits for the inauguration ceremony.


The novel Waldrauch belongs to the writer's late work. At the time this book was written, Ganghofer had already written most of his books and published them with great success. Ganghofer had an above-average literary success with Waldrausch, which is also reflected in countless new editions of this work. Perhaps also because, contrary to the clichés expected at Ganghofer, the love affair between the main protagonists, the Duchess and Ambros Lutz, does not end with a happy ending .

Like all of Ganghofer's works, the novel has no longer been protected under German copyright law since the 70th anniversary of his death in 1990. Therefore, several inexpensive print editions and electronic versions are offered.

The description of the planning and construction of the dam, which is said to have only been carried out by a single hydraulic engineer who is only 27 years old and with little professional experience, may seem very naive and amateurish to people who are familiar with this matter. But let us see this deficiency in the writer; It seems to be important that Ganghofer wanted to show a person in Ambros Lutz who, in addition to his unwavering sense of duty, tries to free his fellow men from the rigors of the devastating floods in the valley. And the Duchess exclaims in the last chapter of the book about Ambros Lutz: "He has created something completely good!"

Ganghofer's narrative language is standard German . The statements of the local population as well as the strange Gstanzln of the Waldrauschers are written in the Austrian-Bavarian dialect , but also for German readers who do not speak this dialect, can be read without problems of understanding.

Film adaptations

Based on this very successful novel, three German literary films were made:

All three films were modified and partly modernized. They differ significantly from the literary model and the original text of the novel.

Web links


  • Ludwig Ganghofer: Forest rush . Roman (in one volume). Droemersche Verlagsanstalt, Munich 1953

Individual evidence

  1. This is the ' evergreen bearberry ' ( lat. 'Arctostaphylos uva-ursi') a plant with white, bowl-shaped flowers. We mainly used for pharmaceutical purposes and in naturopathy .
  2. Ganghofer: Waldrausch, p. 327 (see literature)
  3. a b Ganghoher: Waldrausch, p. 372 ff (see literature)