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Popular Revenants

Popular Revenants: The German Gothic and Its International Reception, 1800-2000

Andrew Cusack
Barry Murnane
Volume: 116
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Popular Revenants
    Book Description:

    The literary mode of the Gothic is well established in English Studies, and there is growing interest in its internationality. Gothic fiction is seen as transgressive, especially in the way it crosses borders, often illicitly - for instance, in the form of plagiarized texts or pseudo-translations of nonexistent sources. In the 1790s, when the English Gothic novel was emerging, the real or ostensible source of many of these uncanny texts was Germany. This first book in English dedicated to the German Gothic in over thirty years is aimed at students and researchers in German Studies and English Studies, and redresses deficiencies in existing sources, which are outdated, piecemeal, or not sufficiently grounded in German Studies. The book examines the international reception of German Gothic since the 1790s heyday of the Gothic novel in Britain and Germany; traces a line of Gothic writing in German to the present day; and inquires into the extraliterary impact of German Gothic. Thus the essays do full justice to the Gothic as a site of conflict and exchange - both between cultures and between discourses. Contributors: Peter Arnds, Silke Arnold-de Simine, Jürgen Barkhoff, Matthias Bickenbach, Andrew Cusack, Mario Grizelj, Jörg Kreienbrock, Barry Murnane, Victor Sage, Monika Schmitz-Emans, Catherine Smale, Andrew Webber. Andrew Cusack is Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Institut für Kulturwissenschaft of the Humboldt-Universität Berlin. Barry Murnane is Assistant Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-827-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)
    Andrew Cusack

    Popular Revenants is the first book in English dedicated solely to the German gothic to be published in over thirty years. It is intended to introduce new research for students and researchers in German studies and English studies alike. Many readers will have encountered the term Schauerroman (shudder novel) or article-length discussions of German influences on gothic writers, but it is our view that they have not been well served by existing writing on the subject, much of which is outdated, piecemeal, or not well grounded in German studies. Readers looking for information in English on the Schauerroman or German...

  5. 1 Haunting (Literary) History: An Introduction to German Gothic
    (pp. 10-43)
    Barry Murnane

    As a literature fixated on uncanny disruptions to a seemingly stable order, it is more than ironic that the German Schauerroman has itself been widely ignored, perhaps even suppressed, by literary historians over the years. From the outset German literature occupied something of a privileged, albeit vilified position within the transnational framework of the gothic on the emerging literary market around 1800. For earliest critics in Britain such as Jane Austen or the Anti-Jacobin, gothic fiction was synonymous with an image of Germany as the depraved site of necromancy, secret societies, and wanton violence. When Austen completed Northanger Abbey in...

  6. 2: “The echo of the question, as if it had merely resounded in a tomb”: The Dark Anthropology of the Schauerroman in Schiller’s Der Geisterseher
    (pp. 44-59)
    Jürgen Barkhoff

    Schiller’s Geisterseher (The Ghost-seer) has long been regarded as a prototype of the Schauerroman. Such was the view taken of the work by Adalbert von Hanstein in a positivistic study written in 1903, and Jürgen Viering concurs exactly a century later in his entry in the Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft.¹ At the same time researchers never fail to emphasize that Schiller’s text was not merely a sensational success at the time of its appearance between 1787 and 1789, and indeed his greatest literary triumph measured in terms of sheer popularity and number of editions, but that in the complexity of...

  7. 3: Blaming the Other: English Translations of Benedikte Naubert’s Hermann von Unna (1788/1794)
    (pp. 60-75)
    Silke Arnold-de Simine

    Benedikte Naubert’s important role in the development of the historical novel and the fairy tale as literary genres has been highlighted in recent years; her importance for the formation of gothic fiction, however, has for the most part been either ignored or denied.¹ One reason for this reticence seems to be a fear among scholars of an almost automatic association of the gothic with what Germans pejoratively term “trivial” literature and the concomitant debasement of Naubert as a leading female writer of the eighteenth century that such an association incurs. In contrast, the proximity of her texts to the so-called...

  8. 4: Scott, Hoffmann, and the Persistence of the Gothic
    (pp. 76-86)
    Victor Sage

    The notion of persistence is interesting; for something to persist, there must be factors or forces against its continuation, or reasons why it should not continue, in spite of which, or perhaps because of which, it persists. One of the obvious forces against which the old gothic romance (1764–1820) needed to persist was the benignly censorious embrace of Sir Walter Scott, who took an ominously close interest in it — though he preferred the term “supernatural fiction.” In his reviews of Horace Walpole, Clara Reeve, Ann Radcliffe, Mary Shelley, Charles Maturin, and finally, in 1827, E. T. A. Hoffmann, he...

  9. 5: Cultural Transfer in the Dublin University Magazine: James Clarence Mangan and the German Gothic
    (pp. 87-104)
    Andrew Cusack

    Together with its peers, the Edinburgh-based Blackwood’s Magazine and Fraser’s Magazine in London, the Dublin University Magazine(DUM) was the principal conduit for German literature into the British Isles in the Victorian Age. In the following I will consider the part played by the DUM in propagating German gothic in Ireland and Britain between 1833 and 1850. One indication that the founders of the DUM had a taste for the gothic is the choice of the name “Anthony Poplar” for the editorial voice — a name recalling the “Anthony Evergreen” of the earlier New York magazine Salmagundi, which possessed its own exponent...

  10. 6: In the Maelstrom of Interpretation: Reshaping Terror and Horror between 1798 and 1838 — Gleich, Hoffmann, Poe
    (pp. 105-122)
    Mario Grizelj

    This is an attempt not to retrace a historical development, but to make visible significant stages in the realization of forms of terror and horror and the ways in which these forms were “reshaped” between 1798 and 1838. And in the following study of three texts — Joseph Alois Gleich’s Wallrab von Schreckenhorn (Wallrab of Schreckenhorn, 1798), E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Die Elixiere des Teufels (The Devil’s Elixirs, 1815), and Edgar Allan Poe’s Arthur Gordon Pym (1838) — it should become clear that what marks the gothic novel as a genre is not a repertoire of motifs or a particular setting (ruined...

  11. 7: Popular Ghosts: Heinrich Heine on German Geistesgeschichte as Gothic Novel
    (pp. 123-143)
    Jörg Kreienbrock

    On the road to the harz mountains, Heinrich Heine stops in the medieval town of Goslar. Although he is not superstitious, his reading of the story “Das warnende Gespenst” (The Warning Ghost) by Karl Varnhagen von Ense had already prepared him for an uncanny encounter that night: “Endlich öffnete sich meine Tür, und langsam trat herein der verstorbene Doktor Saul Ascher. Ein kaltes Fieber rieselte mir durch Mark und Bein, ich zitterte wie Espenlaub, und kaum wagte ich das Gespenst anzusehen” (At last my door was opened, and the deceased Dr. Saul Ascher entered slowly. A chill fever percolated through...

  12. 8: The Spirit World of Art and Robert Schumann’s Gothic Novel Project: The Impact of Gothic Literature on Schumann’s Writings
    (pp. 144-160)
    Monika Schmitz-Emans

    Little is known about the literary ambitions harbored by the young Robert Schumann (1810–56) prior to his becoming an influential music critic and the pioneer of a distinctly romantic direction in European music. Although most of his early literary works have not survived, Schumann bequeathed a multifaceted, mostly fragmentary oeuvre.¹ For a long time he strove to emulate his literary idol, Jean Paul, before abandoning these hopes of writing a novel in favor of musical composition — although, as we shall see, his musical criticism was distinctly literary, shaped by his youthful encounter with romantic writings. As a critic Schumann...

  13. 9: About Face: E. T. A. Hoffmann, Weimar Film, and the Technological Afterlife of Gothic Physiognomy
    (pp. 161-180)
    Andrew Webber

    This essay considers the return of the gothic through two historical periods in which it might appear to be out of place in cultural ideological terms. The first is the Biedermeierzeit, an epoch that overlapped with the culture of late romanticism but was fundamentally resistant to its more fantastic and darkly sensational aspects.¹ The second is the Weimar Republic, a period under the sway of technological modernity and not, at face value, fertile ground for gothic haunting. In fact, the restoration culture of the Biedermeierzeit played host to some extraordinarily potent and subversive gothic fantasies, and a century later, in...

  14. 10: Of Rats, Wolves, and Men: The Pied Piper as Gothic Revenant and Provenant in Wilhelm Raabe’s Die Hämelschen Kinder
    (pp. 181-199)
    Peter Arnds

    The legend of the pied piper of hamelin has inspired literary works around the globe, including Robert Browning’s famous poem (1842), Wilhelm Raabe’s Die Hämelschen Kinder (The Children of Hamelin, 1868), Günter Grass’s Die Rättin (The Rat, 1986), and the poetry of Walter Helmut Fritz from the 1980s, to name but a few. While Browning’s poem is a children’s story Raabe’s historical novella places the legend in the context of the altercations between the North German towns of Hamelin and Minden, Grass discusses the Pied Piper in connection with Nazi Germany, and Fritz’s poetry uses the Pied Piper figure as...

  15. 11: The Lady in White or The Laws of the Ghost in Theodor Fontane’s Vor dem Sturm
    (pp. 200-221)
    Matthias Bickenbach

    To begin with a caveat, Theodor Fontane is not a gothic novelist. References to the gothic and the uncanny are central to many of his works, however; indeed perhaps the most famous revenant of all, the ghost, appears over and over again. Actually, it is the ghost of a ghost that materializes in Fontane’s texts. In terms of a functional analysis of German gothic writing, this re-apparition marks an historical modification of the topos of the ghost.² The following essay will trace this functional modification by focusing on the theme of the woman in white in Fontane’s first novel. It...

  16. 12: On Golems and Ghosts: Prague as a Site of Gothic Modernism
    (pp. 222-241)
    Barry Murnane

    Prague occupies an unusual position on the map of literary modernism insofar as it came to be considered more than most other locations as an uncanny site of ghosts, golems, and mysticism in spite of comprehensive programs of urban modernization in the latter half of the nineteenth century.¹ Whether through novels dealing thematically with Prague as an uncanny site (such as Francis Crawford’s The Witch of Prague and Gustav Meyrink’s Der Golem) or in literary and theosophical works by writers connected with Prague (such as Franz Kafka or Rudolf Steiner), the city’s standing as a ghostly space was well-established. This...

  17. 13: “Ein Gespenst geht um”: Irina Liebmann, Christa Wolf, and the Post-Wall Gothic
    (pp. 242-258)
    Catherine Smale

    Toward the middle of Irina Liebmann’s novel In Berlin the protagonist, a writer, experiences an unsettling vision: in the darkness the hand of her dead father appears on the typewriter while the sheet of paper in the machine is lit by a curious ghostly light.¹ The inexplicable nature of the apparition, emphasized by the unknown source of this light, seems to be out of keeping with the prosaic material of the rest of the novel.² It introduces an unexpected irrational element that runs counter to the text’s overt concern with the inner conflict of the protagonist and her position in...

  18. Works Cited
    (pp. 259-288)
  19. Contributors
    (pp. 289-294)
  20. Index
    (pp. 295-309)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 310-310)