Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) is widely recognized as Germany's greatest poet and writer. His early works are rooted in the German Sturm und Drang movement, which was also the early phase of German Romanticism.
Entitled simply Story, this short novella belongs firmly in this early period and is characteristic of Goethe's early work. His hallmark fascination with nature and the point where it fuses with man-made art to create something more beautiful still is magnificently displayed here in his description of the wonderful overgrown ruined castle. His sense of the dramatic, vividly conjured up in lyrical prose is reflected in the market fire and the escape of the showman's tiger and lion. Story is the narrative of a princess, whose husband has gone out hunting. She is inspired by her uncle showing her paintings of a nearby ruined castle which has become overgrown with trees to ask him to take her there on their afternoon ride. On the way, they pass through the busy market and see that there is a showman exhibiting a range of wild beasts. When they reach the base of the castle, they have a fine view back towards their own castle and the town beneath it, but they quickly spot that something is wrong. A fire has broken out in the marketplace. The uncle sets off with all haste to see if he can help out. Meanwhile, the princess returns more slowly...but suddenly finds herself face to face with a tiger which has escaped from the menagerie in the confusion of the fire. From this follows an extraordinary and astounding set of events.