The Dragonfly, or Happiness Four Ways
Vierfleck oder Das Glück

geiser vierfleck oder das glück
February 2015 / 264pp

This book is outside of the five-year window for guaranteed assistance with English language translation. We suggest getting in touch with the relevant funding body for an informal conversation about the possibility of support. Please refer to to our  recommendations page for books that are currently covered by our funding guarantee.


In Katharina Geiser’s latest book she applies her celebrated light, poetic touch to the interconnected lives of a fascinating group of characters. With echoes of Goethe’s Wahlverwandtschaften(Elective Affinities), the novel’s vivid glimpses of unconventional, bohemian lives also recall Christopher Isherwood. 

The protagonists in The Dragonfly are the good-natured Eugen Esslinger, a once-wealthy heir to his family’s corset business; his younger, vivacious wife Mila; Heinrich Zimmer, a charismatic professor of Indian studies whom they meet while living in the same house; and Christiane, the daughter of the eminent writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal, whom Heinrich eventually marries. Eugen is secretly gay but suppresses his feelings, hoping that his marriage to Mila will provide a respectable family life. Mila soon falls in love with Heinrich, however, and has three children with him. In a highly unusual arrangement, Mila continues to live with Eugen, and Heinrich himself has another three children with Christiane, who is also well aware of the situation. 

These intimately connected lives are revealed through snapshots and letters covering four decades, from 1900 to 1944, through war, poverty, and exile. With its universal themes and unique style, The Dragonfly is guaranteed to be a striking addition to the English-language market.

press quotes

‘A poetic, poignant and at times very funny book that is absolutely worth reading.’ – Bittner Bookstore, Cologne

about the author

Katharina Geiser was born in 1956. She studied German and English Philology as well as pedagogy. She lives by Lake Zurich and between Eider and Treene in Schleswig-Holstein.

Previous works include:
Diese Gezeiten (2011)

translation assistance

Pro Helvetia covers up to 100% of the effective translation costs for literary works by Swiss authors.

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All recommendations from Spring 2015