Steven Millhauser (born August 3, ) is an American novelist and short story writer. He won Possibly the most well-known of his short stories is “Eisenheim the Illusionist” (published in “The Barnum Museum”), based on a pseudo- mythical. Neil Burger’s adaptation of ‘Eisenheim The Illusionist’, a short story by Steven Millhauser, is exemplary of the pitfalls of literalising the. Title: Eisenheim the Illusionist Title Record # Author: Steven Millhauser Note: First published in Esquire, December as “The Illusionist”.

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Story Playlist Eisenheim the Illusionist — New Haven Review

Instead, show him acting in a greedy way, and allow the audience to understand this characteristic. But rules are meant to be broken, and a whole subsection of stories are written in the oral, story-telling tradition. Other authors employ a manner that is meant to be read as an historical account. In contemporary times, we have grown accustomed, perhaps, to stories that aim for the immediacy of film: Millhauser adopts a more antiquated style to mimic the time—late nineteenth-century Vienna, mostly—where the story takes place.


The best contemporary stories carry their audience away to another world, with the reader forgetting the teller as they eisenhemi the action.

Older stories tended to be more narrated, creating an implied author that stands for the veracity of the tale. Millhauser exploits this device to recreate as much as possible the outlook of the times eisenhsim characters live in. Eisenheim is ostensibly the greatest stage magician of his time. His tricks are so amazing and inexplicable that he is thought to have real magical powers.

The narrator tells us that he has pieced together as much as he could of the life and strange end of Eisenheim, based on newspaper reports, interviews with witnesses, and whatever tidbits he could find. There is no dialogue, direct or indirect, and no effort to inhabit the minds of the characters.

Millhauser made a choice. Instead he uses the report format, which takes some of the dramatic kick out of what he tells.

This sucks the magic right out of the magic tricks. It is more clinical, and less wizardly, to be told that Eisenheim did this, that, and the other thing, and that the crowd was amazed.


I guess I liked the story, the character of Eisenheim, and the striking way he engineered his end, foiling Walter Uhl, the intriguing policeman and amateur millhaused who tries to arrest him when his mix of reality and illusion is deemed too eosenheim, better than the way the story was told.

I actually found myself wishing that the Pulitzer-prize-winning Millhauser had written a novel about Eisenheim, to fully inhabit the world he only suggests here, especially with regard to the possibly fascinating figure of Uhl, about whom we learn too little. Neil Berger must have felt the same way.

Book vs. Movie: “Eisenheim the Illusionist”

I liked it very much, but, like a creative writing teacher, I wanted more showing, less telling. Newer Post Mystery Train. Older Post Story Playlist