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Germelshausen is an 1860 story by Friedrich Gerstäcker concerning a cursed village that sank into the earth long ago and is permitted to appear for only one day every century. The protagonist is a young artist (Arnold) who happens to traverse the locale at the time for the town's appearance. He encounters, and becomes smitten with, a young woman (Gertrud) from Germelshausen. The romantic tale ends with his leaving the vicinity just in time to avoid being entombed with the village and its denizens, but thereby being sundered from his love forever.

The basic concept is an old German motif that appears in works of Mueller, Heine, Uhland and others. The curse may affect a town, a castle or even a single house, but the narrative content remains largely unchanged.

Germelshausen is widely credited as having inspired the musical Brigadoon.[1] However, Lerner denied that he had based the book on an older story, and, in an explanation published in The New York Times, stated that he didn't learn of the existence of the Germelshausen story until after he had completed the first draft of Brigadoon.[2][3] Lerner said that in his subsequent research, he found many other legends of disappearing towns in various countries' folklore, and he pronounced their similarities "unconscious coincidence".[2]


  1. ^ Lees, Gene (2005). "Brigadoon". The musical worlds of Lerner and Loewe. U. of Nebraska Press. p. 49. ISBN 0-8032-8040-8.
  2. ^ a b Lerner, Alan (1978). The Street Where I Live. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. p. 26.
  3. ^ Lerner, Alan Jay (March 30, 1947). "Drama Mailbag". The New York Times. p. X3.

External links[edit]

  • Gerstäcker, Friedrich (1893). "Introduction". Germelshausen. Introduction and English notes by Carl Osthaus, M.A. Boston: Carl Schoenhof. Retrieved 26 August 2008.
  • "Zoetrope". Retrieved 26 August 2008.