Everything is E[x]ternally Related: Brentano's Wehmüller

by Gordon Birrell
Everything is E[x]ternally Related: Brentano's Wehmüller
Gordon Birrell
The German Quarterly
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Southern M ethodiet University

Everything is E[x]ternally Related: Brentano's Wehm;uller


In Book 'Iwo of Godwi, the author/narrator Maria describes how an evening of drinkingwinecanproduce in hima peculiar duality of mood:

... der Wein bringt in jede Stimmung, in der er mich antrifft, noch eine mutwillige phantastische Stimmung ... In solchen Momenten verliere ich mich in meiner Rede, die mit sich selbst zu witzeln anfangt; eine Grundempfindung, Sehnsucht, unerkannte Liebe oder Druck in der Kindheit bleiben herrschend, alles andere wird zum frechen Witze, in dem eben diese Hauptempfindungen, die ich allein in einem bangen Druck in der Brust fiihle, mutwillig hin und her schwanken.1

Brentano's own ''impertinent wit" often reflecteda similarcombinationofself-mocking levity and pathos. Even a work of such undeniable good humor as Die mehreren Wehmuller und ungarisehen Nationalgesichter has a profoundly serious side to it. The mirthfulness of its surface rests on-is even in some sense animated by-an "oppressive weight in the heart" like the pain that Maria detects beneath his restless wit. The novella remained Brentano's personal favorite, read aloud to delighted gatherings of family and friends well into the poet's old age;2 at the same time, Brentano could regard the story in a much darker sense as a symbol of his difficult, troubled life.3 Whatever private associations Brentano mayhaveappliedto theWeltmuller, a careful analysis altogether supports the poet's complicated emotional response to the text. For

The German Quarterly 66.1 (Winter 1993)

all its ''burlesque'' features4 and its gleeful inventiveness, the narrative is at its heart an exceptionally astute account of human beings in crisis. As such, it fully deserves the kindofrespectful attentionthatinterpreters have given Die Geschichte vom braven Kasperl und dem schonenAnnerl, published in thesameyearas Die mehrerenWeltmuller.

Brentano's tale of an itinerant portraitist is itself a piece of portraiture; as David

B. Dickens has noted, Franzerl Wehmiiller and his wife Tonerl are modeled in part on Franz Brentano and his wife Toni.5 It was not the first time that Brentano had translated his stepbrother into fiction. Some fifteen years earlier, Franz, identified only as ceder Deutliche," had appeared in Godwi as a member of the Butler household, amidst other stylized figures derived from family and acquaintances of the Brentano household in Frankfurt.v The "Clear One," as Godwi's friend ROmer describes him, is ''understood, loved, and respected by all" as a model of solid middle-class virtues. He is first and foremost a businessman, but a businessman with the neglected soul of an artist: "Es ist ein Kunstler an ihm verdorben" (194). Wehmiiller, by way ofvariation, is an artist with the enterprising soul of a businessman. As a veritable one-man compendium of capitalist operations, Wehmullersubjects his artto a commodification process that involves not only production butdistribution and marketingofthe"merchandise." During the winter, he prepares his canvases by completing the backgrounds, figures, and generalized faces of his prospective sitters. During the ''pleas


ant season," he then takes his paintings on the road and completes them on the spot, supplying the details that will give a personal touch to each portrait. In effect, this is factory art, with precisely the kind of streamlined production tactics that one associates with industrial technology. In preparation for the upcoming trip to StuhlweiBenburg, Wehmiiller hurriedly checks to see whether the 39 Hungarian "national faces" that he has painted and hung out on a line are dry enough to be rolled up and transported (653): one can only marvel at the speed with which these portraits must have been executed if all 39 are drying simultaneously. Moreover, Wehmiiller has hastened the drying process by adding turpentine to the glaze: "Ihre Trockenheit iibertraf alle seine Erwartung, denn er malte mit Terpentinfirnis, welcher trocken wird, ehe man sich umsieht" (653). The addition of a solvent like turpentine also facilitates rapid brush strokes, but at the expenseofthe stabilityofthe glaze. Certain pigments will deteriorate more quickly than others, and the surface may develop the crazed, alligatored texture known as craquelure within a decade or two.7 If the traditionalfunctionofportraiture is, among other things, to supply an enduring image that resists the corruption of time, Wehmiiller's cost-effective production techniques deliver an image that can be expected to age nearly as rapidly as his subjects


Similarly, Wehmiiller's marketing procedures are designed to encourage impulse buying rather than careful attention to qualitative factors such as durability or precision of detail. His wife Tonerl, acting as a kind of field representative, is sent ahead to scout out a likely location such as the garrison at StuhlweiBenburg, where an upcoming troop transfer creates an overnight market for portraiture: the departing officers need the "Master's hand" (653) to supply portraits that can be left behind as mementos for their sweethearts and friends. It is, in other words, a market that canbe countedonto producehastyandrelatively undiscriminating purchases. Moreover, Wehmiiller opens his sales campaign with a series of verbal "portraits" that encourage his customers in advance to substitute festive and hyperbolic imagery for accuracyofrepresentation: drums andbells announce the arrival of the ''famous artist" with his ''rich and varied assortment" of national faces for the delectation of his ''hochedles Publikum" (654).

The details of Wehmiiller's sales procedures reveal the extent to which self-image itselfhas become commodified. Using sales techniquesthat are stilluniversallyapplied in automobile showrooms, Wehmiiller divideshisproductintostandardandoptional features: individual details such as dueling scars or moustaches are provided free of charge, while uniforms involve a rolling scale of additional charges based on the opulence of the uniform (654). In this internal stratification of the product, indicators of personal uniqueness or eccentricity are reduced to the status of a free bonus; in effect, they act as an incentive package to stimulate sales. If Wehmiiller's pricing strategies suggest that he-and above all hiscustomers-place a higher premiumon societal rank thanon individuality, the procedures ofWehmiiller's competitor Froschhauer suggest just the opposite: "Froschhauer war von der entgegengesetzten Schule; erhatte namlich immer alle Uniformen voraus fertig und lieB sich fiir die Gesichterextrabezahlen"(654).Thecoexistence ofthese two opposingprice structures (and the value determinations they embody) tends to relativize in both directions. Neithersocial rank nor individuality is consistently privileged; the two determinants are not only interchangeable but, in some sense, equally provisional. Af5 we shall see, Wehmiiller's customers take a decidedly off-hand attitude toward the terms of selfdefinition.

In the meantime, it is possible to make rather too much of Wehmiiller's ingenuity--orBrentano'sprescience-withregard

to the cost-effective production techniques that Wehmiiller utilizes. While one is reminded here of such 20th-century developments as the assembly line,8 Wehmuller's procedure was, in fact, widely followed among portrait artists of the 18th century. Even the most highly regarded portraitists routinely focused their expensive talents on the face ofthe subject; clothing, draperies,andbackgrounddetailswere attendedto laterandseparately, sometimes by a team of specialists in these areas. The sitter was thus spared the aggravation of posing for hours, and all aspects of the paintingexcept the face tended to be highly stylized in any event.f Even Wehmuller's technique of preparing his portraits in advance was by no means unknown. In colonial America, for instance, itinerant portraitists called "limners" traveled through the countryside with an inventory of pre-painted canvases: ''Frequently these limners prepared in advance stock portrait canvases, fully painted except for the face, which accounts for the recurrence of odd proportions, particularly in child portraits."10 In this case, one may say, the expediences devised by folk craftsmenlinkup directly with the needs of the machine age. The truly innovative aspect of'Wehmtiller's art, on the other hand, lies in his pre-painting of the faces to reflect national characteristics. In Wehmiiller's able hands, the process of abstraction is powerful enough toreduce anentirepopulationto 39types,11 andwith such precisionthathisprospective clients can easily select their likenesses from the available inventory:

By the first decade of the 19th century, nationalist thinking, intensified by Napoleon's high-handed restructuring of the map of Europe, had achieved universal acceptance in German-speaking regions, and the existence of national types was practically beyond dispute. In Die mehreren Well-muller itself, the legitimacyof national stereotyping-and, by extension, the legitimacy of'Wehmuller's art-seemsto be confirmed by the large number of figures who

exemplify regional characteristics. The Croatiannobleman, for instance, hails from outermost Croatia, a "swampy wood" only a half hour from the Turkish border. Any suggestions of superior breeding or sensitivitythatmayelsewhere attachto theword Edelmann are nullified by the coarseness ofCroatiancountrylife:the noblemanhurls bedpans at nightingales (''Bestien,'' "Ungeziefer" [665]), keeps a manure pitchfork nexttohisbed(669),fights backwolves that attempt to gnaw through his front door (666), and generally fulfills every stereotype of the backwardness and benightedness of life in the Upper Balkans. By the same token, his tomcat Mores betrays his true identity as a Turkish thief through such tell-tale traits as his love of strongcoffee and his enthusiasm for bathing himself-the latter, no doubt, an allusion to Turkish baths (667). The Gypsies Mitidika and Michaly are "typically" proud, passionate,capricious, footloose, andmusically talented. The Frenchman Devillier embodies the principles of the French Enlightenment ("... er konne nicht begreifen, wie eine so auserwahlte Gesellschaft ... jemals aus Furcht und Aberglauben die Rechte der Menschheit so sehr verletzen werde" [662]) and is given to displays of

French frivolity and verbal jest.

In the discussion following the Croatian nobleman's story, the poet Lindpeindler raisesthequestionofa "higherpoetictruth" as opposed to the banal truth of factual accuracy: whatever elements of superstition and fantasy the Croatian's story may contain, it is "true" in that it exactly delineates ''the character of solitude, wilderness, and Turkishsavagery" oftheCroatianoutlands: "[Die Geschichte] sei durchaus fur den Ort, aufwelchem sie spiele, scharfbezeichnend und mythisch und darum dort wahrer als irgendeine Lafontainesche Familiengeschichte" (671-72). In other words, the poetic or ''mythic'' truth of the story resides precisely in its delineation ofregional character. Comingfrom Lindpeindler,to be sure, thisviewpointis associatedwitha noisyand uncriticalformofRomanticism.12 Nonetheless, Lindpeindler's testimony provides a certaintheoreticaljustificationfor thekind of abstraction that Wehmiiller undertakes: any painting that generalizes in the direction of national character is virtually guaranteed some measure of authenticity.

One does not have to look far in the text to find evidence that challenges this aesthetic precept. The national-face painter himself, for instance, lacks a national face. WhenWehmiillerfirst attempts to cross the quarantine, the Hungarian patrolman shouts at him alternately in German and Latin, ''weil er nicht wuBte, ob er ein Deutscher oder ein Ungar sei" (659). So nondescript are his features, in fact, that three other people, including his own wife, have no difficulty in impersonating him. In general, ifthe idea of national faces implies a reliable correspondence of surface features and underlying character, Die mehreren Wehmiiller goes to some lengths to demonstratehowunstable and problematic this correspondence can be. The motif of costumes and disguises is by no means limited to the impostor Wehmiillers. MitidikatravelstoCroatiain theguiseofaHungarian snake-oil salesman (701), while Frau Tschermack, the innkeeper, improbably wears the uniform of the Wurmser Hussars (661). In both cases, the relationship of external and internal actualities is curiously opalescent: the costume both revealsandobscures. Mitidikais notliterally a Hungarian snake-oil salesman, but she has chosen a disguise that rivals her own identity as a Gypsy in terms of disrepute, and, as a Gypsy, she also has considerable expertise in pharmaceuticals. Frau Tschermack's costume, on the other hand, has a commemorativefunction, presentinga past and now private selfto a world that can no longer supply the context in which the costume made sense. The most elaborate conflation ofmaskandinteriorselfoccurs, however, in the case of Devillier, whose highly profiled French humanitarianism and skepticism represent only the outer layerof

a whole successionofother roles that partly contradict and partly corroborate each other. The urbaneFrenchmanis"inreality" the terrible Spectral Hunter of folk legend, but even before this connection is established, the Spectral Hunter himself is demasked as a ''handsome slender fellow in a fancy hunting outfit" (692), a sentimental lover in the Faust-Gretchen mold who, as Devillier subsequently explains, is so enchanted with Mitidika's complex personality (so wonderful and virtuous, so childlike and imperious-693) that he cannot even entertain the thought of violating her innocence. If this complicated blend ofdandyism, nostalgia, condescension, and manly restraint conforms only partially to the Smile-of-Reasonpersonaand the PhantomRider persona, it is even less in accord with Devillier's other roles: using the legend of the Spectral Hunter as a cover, he operates in the northern Italian forests and mountains as a kind of capitalist gangster ("I directed the entire black market" [693]) with important political contacts "on this side and on the other side of the border"


Devillier's flamboyantly diversified existence merely confirms what one may observe in the other characters as well: human personality is very much like Wehmiiller's walking stick, an amazing contraption with seven different "selves" ("er enthielt erstens: sich selbst, namlich einen Reisestock; zweitens: nochmals sich selbst, einen Malerstock; drittens: nochmals sich selbst, einen MeBstock; viertens: nochmals sich selbst, ein Richtscheit; fiinftens: nochmals sich selbst, ein Blaserohr; sechstens: nochmals sich selbst, ein Tabakspfeifenrohr; siebentens: nochmals sich selbst, einen Angelstock"[655]) that serves in addition as a containerfor at least nine different items, from a folding chair to a "certified wooden file for shaving foot corns"(655). The extraordinary wealth of latent, partial, and actualized selves that is revealed in Devillier and suggestedin other figures makes Wehmiiller's clever surface

abstractions seem, at best, beside the point. While the novella makes a strong case for the existence of national characteristics, it makes an even stronger case for the irrelevance of national characteristics. The figureswho mostclearlyexemplifynational types (the Croatian nobleman and Wastl, the Tirolean carpet salesman) appear comically limited; the more serious characters, including Wehmiiller himself, either lack national markings altogether or, like Devillier and Mitidika, construct complex ironic masks on the basis of such stereotypes. Again, one is reminded of the extent to which Brentano himself resists definition. HissupportofGennannationalculturewas genuine and unequivocal,13 and Die GriindungPrags, written approximately at the same time as the Wehmuller, celebrates the mythical and historical roots of Slavic nationalism. In Godwi, on the other hand, national designation is curiously detached from behavior, attitude, or destiny. Molly Hodefield may be, as her name indicates, a British citizen, but her language is pure German and her thoughts pure Friedrich Schlegel. By the same token, Kordelia's ostensible Scottish background (II: 100) does not interfere with her subsequent identification as Annonciata Wellner, who grew up, we learn, in "a merchant city on the Baltic" (II: 309, 445). More than a decade and a half separate Godwi from the publication of the Wellmuller, of course, and in these years Brentano continually sought objective structures that could restrain and discipline his subjectivity.H From this standpoint, the appeal of nationalism is clear: nationalist thought serves as a superpersonal framework that accredits the individual and provides him/her with a certain prearranged self-definition. At the same time, it encourages a strong but wellfocused emotional response. Whatever private satisfaction Brentano may have derived from nationalist sentiments, however, he evidentlywithheldhisfull approval of nationalism as a descriptive device. Wehmiiller's 39 subcategories of Hungarian

types place the individual in a national context and at the same time allow some preliminary diversification. Yet the overall effect is to transform character into caricature. Nationalism as a form of abstraction appears here in much the same ambiguous light as the allegorical figures on the ducal monument at the conclusion of Die Geschichte vom braven Kasperl und dem schonen Annerl. In both texts, the generalizing process simultaneously supplies meaning and undermines it.


Early in the novella, when Wehmiiller first hears the alarming news of a second Wehmiiller, Graf Giulowitsch teasingly suggests thatWehmiiller's sudden duplication is a form of divine retribution: "der falsche Wehmiiller sei wohl nur eine Strafe Gottes fiir den echten Wehmiiller, weil dieseraIle UngarniibereinenLeistenmale; so gabe es jetzt auch mehrere Wehmiiller iiber einen Leisten" (657). Wehmiiller's cookie-cutter technique-to use a more familiar metaphor than the cobbler's lastis based on the perception that human beings are, within certain limits, interchangeable. But an artist cannot be exempted from hisownvision. The perceptual simplification that permits Wehmiiller to create a generalized image of Hungarians must also permit his own image to become generalized.U' Significantly, however, Wehmiiller fails to react at all to Graf Giulowitsch's pointed suggestion: "alles sei ibm einerlei, aber seine Frau, seine Frau, wenn die sich nur nicht irre" (657). The idea that he could be so easily duplicated fails to arouse inWehmiiller the kind ofexistential vertigo, the sudden and radical decentering, that one might expect under the circumstances. What alarms him first and foremost is the practical consequences of such a duplication-for his business and, above all, for his marriage.

And indeed: Why should Wehmiiller

view his art as a form of transgression? His patrons, after all, who are the most qualified-or, inanyevent,themostinterestedjudges of their own self-images, accept his portraits without reservation. The artist and his clientele are in perfect agreement with regard to the legitimacy of his art. There is little concern on either side for the ennobling or, possibly, destabilizing effects of art, the complex play of recognition, discovery, and alienation that might be involved in the contemplation of a selfportrait. Clearly, the role of art here is not to sharpen and sophisticate perception. On the contrary, Wehmiiller's art appeals to and encourages a cheapened form of perception. For the artist and his clientele alike, casual identifications are good enough. Thus, the Wehmiiller impostors succeed, at least temporarily, because nobody bothers to look closely, or to take into account the perceptual distortions caused by smoke, darkness, or distance (600,698).

This cheerful agreement between the artist and his undiscriminating public anticipates the development of a certain kind of commercial art in the 19th century. Like the daguerreotypes and chromolithograph reproductions ofold masters that were soon to make portraiture and imitation fine art easily available to middle-class consumers, Wehmiiller's art stands at the beginning of a line of image production that promotes surface at the expense of substance. The finished product simulates individual artistry and individual subject matter but is in fact a slick piece of manufacture, unique neither with regard to its means ofproduction nor with regard to its stylized or infinitely reproduceable subject.16 In many ways, Wehmiiller's portraits represent a monologic sign system. Like the standardized poetic language that Mikhail Bakhtinsawas emergingfromthepressure of cultural centralization and the development of European nationalism.l? Wehmiiller's portraiture has a normalizing effect. All of the inflections and accentuations that reveal the human subject as constructed within a nexus of political, economic, educational, and familial determinantsaresuppressedinfavorofa unitary sign system that reduces self-image to a narrow range of social-and socially useful-meanings. At the same time, the illusion of individuality is maintained through a few highlyformulaic touches (the moustaches, the dueling scars). In this respect, Wehmiiller's technique anticipates the process, promoted by the 19th-century capitalism, of making bodies, objects, and relationships interchangeable in order to facilitate the "re-territorialization" of these forms into new hierarchies and institutions.1S

This process of elision is metaphorically elaborated throughout the narrative. To begin with, there is the question of geographical setting. While commentators have generally understood the Slavic locale as an outgrowth of Brentano's visits to Prague and to his brother's country estate in Bohemia (1811-14),19 the positioning of the story in Croatia, of all places, is unexpected enough that one may justifiably wonder what special significance lurks behind Brentano'schoiceoflocale. Geographically, Croatia is situated at the head of the Balkan peninsula. Unlike the other two peninsular extensions of Southern Europe, the Balkan lacks any distinct natural barriers that set it offfrom the mainland: while the Iberian and Italian peninsulas are barricaded from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees and the Alps, overland access to the Balkans is practically unimpeded. The mountain states of Andorra and Switzerland represent political entities of extraordinary stability, whose cultural continuity extends back at least as far as the Middle Ages and, in the case of some of the Pyrenean and Alpine languages (Basque, Catalan, Rhaeto-Romanic), as far back as Latin antiquity and prehistory. The history of Croatia, in contrast, presents a dismal chronicleof invasions, withdrawals, and incessantly redefined boundaries. Seven cen

turies of subjugation to a long and varied succession of foreign powers (Hungary, the Hapsburg Empire, Austria, the Ottoman Empire) culminated, in 1812, in Napoleon's amputation of the entire southern half of Croatia, which he included in his newly created''IllyrianProvinces,"a stringofEast Adriatic territories summarily redesignated as a part of France. A scant three years later-and still within the composition dates of the Wehmuller-the Congress of Vienna restored the name and much of the territory of Croatia but incorporated portionsof'northern Croatia into the newlyformed Germanic Confederation.s''

There was never any question that Croatiaexisted; norwasitsgenerallocation ever in doubt. Nevertheless, the country suffered the indignity of having its borders continually reinterpreted. Like the lines of Wehmiiller's portraiture, the boundaries of Croatia defined the land in a way that was at once decisive, arbitrary, and inexactbut good enough for the purposes of the foreign rulers. The real Croatia consisted, like Devillier's personality, of diverse and only partially congruent sub-definitions along geographical, political, ethnic, and linguistic lines. The Croatia of the maps represented a more or less recognizable likeness, a useful approximation that neither mutilatedthe country's identity nor in any way steadied it.

In other words, the setting in Croatia underscoresandextendsthe issuesofdesignation that are raised in Wehmiiller's art. Moreover, Brentanoheightens-potenziert, in Romantic terminology-the theme of arbitrary and ambiguous borders by creating, as it were, a Croatia within Croatia, in the form of the quarantine. Like the country as a whole, the zone of sickness undeniably exists, but in a complex, elusive way. And like the country as a whole, the quarantine area is provided with a complete little border bureaucracy of its own (Kordonisten, the border guards, a Kordonhommandant and other officers of various ranks, a surgeon), whose business it is to define and defend the line between ostensible health and ostensible non-health. The degree of uncertainty and willfulness in this ongoing definition is evident in the commandant's admission that Tonerl, Mitidika, and Froschhauer have spent two weeks in unnecessary confinement: "nur durch ein Milsverstandnis sei das Dorf, in dem sie vierzehn Tage blockiert waren, in den Kordon eingeschlossen worden ... der Kordon habe sich schon nach einer andern Richtung bewegt" (700).

Throughout the novella, borders are drawn and distinctions are made, but these borders and distinctions are seldom more reliable and enduringthan the Pesthordon. Is the village healthy or not? Is she a witch or not?21Is heWehmiilleror isn'the? Inthe world of Die mehreren Wellmuller in general, as in Wehmiiller'spaintings in particular,thecentralissueisone ofdefinition. There is no longer a reliable "fit" between designation and actuality. Sometimes, names approximately match up with character, sometimes not. The name Lindpeindler, for instance, accurately reflects what we see ofthe character's performance as the professional swooner, the Romantic aesthete, the man of "delicate afflictions." Baciochi's name, too, givessomeindications ofthe visual pleasures that he creates in his fireworks (Italian bacio + ocehi: "kisseyes"). Froschauer (= Frohschauer) seems a suitable name for a painter, but Brentano impudently-in any event, I think, intentionally-vacillates between the spellings Froschauer and Froschhauer.22 Devillier's name, with its connotations of Gallic urbanity,23 may fit his present role of widower, country gentleman, ladies' man, and sometime language teacher, but it stands in no serviceable relationship to his previous (and still latent) roles as swashbuckler, blackmarketeer, and terror of the nocturnal forests. Finally, the title figure himself, whose name calls to mind all the doomed Berglingers, Kreuzgangs, and Kreislers of Romantic fiction, is anything but a woe-grinder. Both the man and his art are as affable and uncomplicated as one could wish. Other names (Lury, Frau Tschermack, Michaly, Wastl, Nanny) are relatively unencumbered by figurative meanings,24anda largegroupofcharacters (the Savoyard boy, the Croatian nobleman, the Vizegespan, etc.) are not identified by proper names at all.

This broad assortment of names-appropriate, inappropriate, definite, indefinite--ehallenges the idea that there is any necessary or trustworthy connection between identificationand identity. Indeed, the whole world of the novella represents a barely legible ''text,'' much like Tonerl's letter to Wehmiiller: "DieserBriefbrachteden Herrn Wehmiiller in groBe Unruhe, denn er war viermal so lange unterwegs geblieben als gewohnlich und dermaBen durch die Quarantane zerstochen und durchrauchert worden, daB er die ohne dies nicht allzuleserliche HandseinergutenFrau, die mit oft gewasserter Dinte geschrieben hatte, nur mit Miihe lesen konnte" (653). The reference to the letter at the very openingofthe novella-some fourteen lines into thefirstparagraph-givesit anemblematic function with regard to the ensuing and extremelyproblematic role ofsigns in the narrative as a whole. And, in fact, almost every aspect of text production has been compromised in this letter: the means of articulation (Tonerl's defective handwriting), themedium(dilutedink), themodeoftransmission (via the quarantine with itsvarious heavy-handed disinfecting devices and delays), all of which render the substance of the text (the need for Wehmiiller to press on immediately to StuhlweiBenburg) almost unintelligible and possibly irrelevant.

If objects cannot be accurately designated, then human beings are also at risk, and not only with regard to their names. After the surgeon has examined Wehmiiller's teeth, he agrees to testify to Wehmiiller's identity, but only to the extent of statingthat this Wehmiiller is not theother Wehmiiller: ''Der Chirurg . . . gab WehmiillernnocheinAttestat, daB seine Person eine ganz andere sei als die des ersten Wehmiillers" (660). In an amusing anticipationofthe Saussurianconceptofminimal pairs, the surgeon is able to distinguish one Wehmiiller from the other; but differential identity is not the same as absolute identity. Similarly, Froschhauer's fiancee and prospective father-in-law evaluate him not in hisown right, accordingto whateverunique talents or virtues he might have, but only in reference to Wehmiiller: "der alte Fleischhauer und seine Tochter [erklarten] mir endlich: sie wiirden den Siebmacher vorziehen, wenn ich [Wehmiiller] in Ungarn den Rang nicht abliefe" (701).

Comparative or approximate identification is no doubt inevitable in a world as unsteady as the one that Wehmiiller and the others inhabit. Once again, Brentano provides a summary image, in the description of the roof of Mitidika's ''hostelry'': "... die niedre Hiittendecke [ware] ... weder hoch noch hart gefallen, wenn sie einstiirzte; aber, sich noch zu besinnen, schien sie unentschlossen hin und her zu schwanken" (682). The hut, which in other ways proves to be one of the central spatial areas of the novella, epitomizes a state of indecisiveness: the roof of this thoroughly provisional structure cannot make up its mind whether togive wayor not, but hovers uncertainly between stability and collapse. Human relationships in the novella prove to be similarly irresolute. One notes, for instance, that virtually all of the characters are single or alone, and thus enjoy relative freedomofmovement.Yet, atthe sametime, all are in some way restrained: by the pull of memory, by a sense of loss, by ancient or present obligations. Mitidika has never married, but cares for her aging grandmother and maintains her fidelity to Devillier. Baciochi, widowed and invalid, has the important but relatively unfocused position of factotum to a local landowner. Devillier, temporarily "fettered" (661) by a wealthy Hungarian dowager, is now free to pursue "all kinds of love affairs," but remains haunted by the memory of Mitidika. Even

Wehmiiller, the only character who is actually married,25 remains single and separate, though continually mindful of his wife, for long periods of time. Free but confined; single but somehow attached; settled but unsettled; delimited but not delimited: altogether the characters of Die mehreren Wehmiiller live ina peculiarstateofindeterminacy. Iffigures like the grandmother, the narrator, and the titlecharactersofKasperl und Annerl are too focused for their own good,26Wehmiiller andhiscompanionssuffer from the opposite condition: existence by halves, lives that are distinguished neither by presence nor by absence.

Wehmiiller's art of approximate generalization and approximate specificity also creates a situation in which his subjects are neitherfully present nor fully absent. Moreover, by making his portraits partiallylargely-interchangeable, he loosens the contours of individuality so that the boundaries between one person and another shift and slide like the borders of Croatia. The vulnerabilityofboundaries, both literal and figurative, proves in fact to be one of the most persistent themes of the novella. All the repeated instances of trespassing, poaching, impersonation, and invasion testify to a general state of siege that affects every level of the narrative. The Croatian noblemanis chargedbytheTurkswith''borderviolation"(Grenzverletzung [671]) while he himself must contend with wolves that eat through his front door and a Turkish poacher who invades his very bedroom disguised as a tomcat. The bedroom of Wehmiiller's wife is likewise vulnerable to invasion, likewise by a cheeky, resourceful impostor. Froschhauer, who violates the Pestkordon, as well as threatening to violate Wehmiiller's marital territory, is guilty above all of trespassing on Wehmiiller's professional terrain. Michaly's ballad of the valiant Gypsies of Fort Nagy-Jda (673-74) records another instance of occupational trespassing: the imperial soldiers are prepared to accept defeat at the hands of other ''regulation troops," but the discovery that they have been routed by a ''frecher Zigeunerschwarm" constitutes such an insult to their professional self-image that theyreturnwith renewedfury andmowthe impostors down. Physical boundaries are also continually trespassed: thieving cats stage a nightly raid on the Major's oyster beds (674-76), Mitidika leads a gang of peasants who storm the Pestkordon (697), Devillier's smuggling operation involves numerous illicit border crossings, and the misfiring of Baciochi's fireworks display causes the panicked mob to rip down all the protective barricades ("aIle Einzaunungen wurden niedergerissen" [678]).

Borders function to separate and distinguish: in an important sense, they demarcate meaning. In Die mehreren Wehmiiller, these lines of signification have become exceptionally unstable, though never to the point of outright collapse. In the ongoing game of trespass and pursuit, borders are both taken seriously and defied; they are as well-defended as they are arbitrary and leaky.27 The characters of the novella likewise exist in an inconclusive, irresolute state between border defense and border breakdown. Noneofthemcanbe saidto lack definition, but there is always something partial or provisional about this definition, somethingincompleteandopento invasion. Nevertheless, in the course of the novella, an adjustment of focus occurs. Boundaries are redefined, relationships stabilize. In some respects, this happy development results from nothing more than good fortune. At the same time, the movement toward stability and containment would be inconceivable without the beneficial influence ofyet another form of art: the art of storytelling.


Die mehreren Wehmiiller is, among other things, a story of manufacture. Throughout the text, things are continually beingproducedor recast.Trousersandbag

pipes are manufactured out of billy goats, suitcases out of wild pigs, fur caps out of cats, coats out of wolves, and bedsteads tBetttroge, "bedtroughs"[682]) outofhollow logs.

Stories are made as well. And precisely asthemanufacturingprocess involvescreation of a new object from existingmaterials, the stories in Die mehreren Wehmuller involve not fiction, not creation out of thin air, but, quite explicitly, a recasting of personal experience into narrative form. The peasant tells of his encounter with the false Wehmiiller (656); the Croatian nobleman tells of his experiences with Mores (66571); Devillier, of his two-phase demasking of the witches of Oyster Rock (674-76);28 Baciochi, ofhis adventuresatMitidika'shut (677-92); Devillier again, of his subsequent separation from and search for Mitidika (693-95); Mitidika, of her journey with Tonerl to Croatia (701); Froschhauer, of his problematic betrothal and the wager to outstrip Wehmiiller (701-702). The story as a whole is then recounted twice: first, to the nobleman and his wife (703); finally, to Graf Giulowitsch and Lury (703). Devillier promises an additional story "die er selbst erlebt" (703).

In this insistent narratizing of personal experience, the question of narrative voice becomes critical: the story is an extension of the teller. Thus, the titles of the three large imbedded tales pointedly include the names of the three storytellers: "Das Picknick des Katers Mores: Erzahlung des kroatischen Edelmannes"; "Devilliers Erzahlung von den Hexen aufdem Austerfelsen"; "Baciochis Erzahlung vom wilden Jager." (Through the optical device of titles outside the fictive plane of the narrative, the novella additionally calls attention to itsow n statusas narrative.)Whilethe three stories share certain topics or motifs such as witches and cats, superstitious behavior, mistaken identity, and the clearing upof an enigma,29 these lines of continuity only throw into sharper reliefthe important differences in tone, narrative intent, and lis

tener response. As commentators have noted, Devillier's compact, lighthearted storypits the spiritofthe French Enlightenment against the backwoods mentality of credulity and garrulousness demonstrated in the nobleman's tale.30 Moreover, the first two narratives, taken as a unit, contrast significantly with Baciochi's story. Despite theirfirst-person format, both the Croatian nobleman's and Devillier's stories have a distinctly impersonal quality. For all their witty detail and inventiveness, they are more or less generic stories (the Sage and the anecdote, respectively) in which the character and individuality of the narrator are secondary to formal requirements of plot development and resolution. Baciochi's story, whose title likewise suggests a standard-issue ghost story, nonetheless establishes from the outset an immediacy of human concern that is altogether absent in the two preceding tales. In the opening account of the spectacular misfiring of Baciochi's fireworks display in Venice and his subsequent flight into the mountains with his wife Marinina and his friend Martino, Baciochi plunges his listeners into a narrative world that is incomparably richer than the Croatia of the nobleman's tale or the oyster bedsofDevillier's tale: a resonant world in which such fundamental matters as human companionship, safety, and shelter are at stake. Baciochi further collapses any sense of distance between narrated and actual reality by recreating in situ the sights and sounds of the fireworks display in Venice. He pitches the room into darkness, ignites miniature fire balls tSpruhhegel) and slams his fist against the table tosimulatethesoundofcannonfire: "Meine Feuerwerke fangen immer mit einem KanonenschuB an ... Stellen Sie sich VOl", Sie waren bei meinem groBen Feuerwerke in Venedig" (677). So great is the immediacy of this narrated reality, in fact, that Baciochi's audience itself, and more than once, spontaneously reenacts the events of the story. Michaly seizes his violin and performs Mitidika's song along with Baciochi

(684--85); and Devillier, forced to the point of self-betrayal by the vividness of Baciochi's description, leaps to his feet at the precise moment that the Spectral Hunter leaps up"like a wetcat" in the story (692).31

There is a further, but complementary, sense in which Baciochi's story differs from its two predecessors. Both the Croatian's and Devillier's stories have a strongfeeling of closure. While the Croatian's tale, like any good Sage, leaves its spooky possibilities unresolved (in this case, the identityof Mores with the Turkish poacher), the narrative itselfconcludes on a resoundingly matter-of-factnote, chroniclingtheremoval ofMladka'sremainsto a museumofnatural history, the protractedand rancorous litigation between the Croatian nobleman and various Turkish officials, and the establishment of the Mores tavern-the latter a veritable theme park with concessions, dancing, Mores exhibits, and nightly reenactments of the fatal concert in the oak tree (671). In this triple blast of 19th-century science, law, and commerce, any lingering reverberations of supernatural horror are diminished if not eliminated altogether. Devillier's tale concludes with a similar sense of finality: in revealing the prosaic reasons for the amazingimmobility of the ''bewitched'' cats, Devillier not only neatly ties up his own story but invites his listeners to tie up the Croatian's tale in a more rational light as well: ", . . und ich glaube, bei strenger Untersuchung und weniger PhantasiewiirdeunserFreundbei seinem Katzenabenteuer ebensogut lauter Fischdiebe, wie wir Austerdiebe, entdeckt haben" (676). By wayof contrast, Baciochi's story, if one separates it from the subsequent narrative loops provided in succession by Devillier, Michaly, and the others, is headed for an "ending"in which the most crucial questions are left unanswered: Who wastheSpectralHunter?Whydid Mitidika disguise herself as a princess? What was her relationship with the Hunter, and what has become of the two of them?

In this pronounced lack of closure,

Baciochi's storytelling resembles his fireworks. As a pyrotechnist, Baciochi is, as much as Wehmiiller, a visual artist, and the parallelwithWehmiiller's paintingextends even to portraiture: "... ich hatte [den wilden Jager] lange gern einmal gesehen, urn seinen Jagdzug recht natiirlich in einem Feuerwerk darstellen zu kdnnen" (679). But if Wehmiiller's art consists of immortalizing an approximation, Baciochi's art has precisely the opposite effect. His fireworks combine utmost vividness and distinctness-skillfullychoreographedpatterns of fire against the night sky-with utmost transitoriness, One could maintain, in fact, that the art of fireworks raises impermanence to the level of something essential. Our experience of the beauty of fireworks is inseparable from our experience of their fleetingness; the "ooooh!" that greets an exploding and fading cascade of sparks always has an elegiac note to it. Dealing with explosives as an art form not only makes Baciochi's existence peculiarly volatile and unstable ("Unsereins kennt sein Handwerk, man ist auf dergleichen [Katastrophen] gefaBt, mein personlicher Riickzug war gedeckt" [678]). The transitoriness expressed in the firework displays becomes emblematic of his life as a whole: as with Wehmiiller, and in conformity with Romantic assumptions in general, the artist and his artwork are indivisible. Before the story begins, Baciochi and his wife have lost their daughter;32 as a result of the explosion in Venice, he loses hisjob, his reputation, and halfhis thumb (678); following the night at Mitidika's hut he loses his best friend and eventually his wife. Like one of his firework displays, Baciochi's story, with all its vivid detail and energy, would surely end in darkness, dispersion, and loss-were it not for the continuous expansion of the narrative that begins with Devillier's sudden assumption of the role of narrator.33

The mechanics of this expansion are worth noting in some detail. Baciochi's narrative breaks off at the point at which the Spectral Hunter has been ambushed, knocked unconscious, and revived with cold water. The audience at the inn presses Devillier to continue the story, and so Baciochi's erstwhile opponent takes up his narrative, clarifies the mysteries of Mitidika's jewelry and his own disguise as the Hunter, and concludes with a poignant accountof his search throughout Hungaryfor Mitidika. At this point, Michaly-darkskinnedto Devillier's lightskin,andfurther opposed to the Frenchman in his defense of Mitidika's ostensible interests-eontributes his own piece of the narrative, filling in the crucial information concerning Mitidika's wanderings and current whereabouts. On the following day, Mitidika herself-Michaly's sister and female counterpart-supplies the section of narrative that accounts for her own dramatic reappearance as well as Tonerl Wehmuller'sjourney from StuhlweiBenburg disguised as her husband. Finally, Froschhauer-Wehmuller's principal competitor and dreaded nemesis-provides the parallel track of narrative that clears up the initial mystery of the multiple Wehmiillers and so brings the novella as a whole to full closure.34

In this process of dialogic expansion, each successive narrator represents an opposing point of view that picks up the story and extends it while redefining it. What begins as a narrative linked in a reductive way to one topic and one narrator ("Baciochi'sStoryofthe SpectralHunter") becomes a model text generated through a process of conjunction and extension. It is a collaborative, an interactive work; as such, it resolves most of the issues raised earlier in the novella. As we have seen, Wehmiiller's world in general, and his art in particular, reveals a peculiar crisis of definition: boundaries are firmly but inaccurately drawn, designations lack precision or permanence, and human beings find themselves in relationships of neither presence nor absence, but an unfruitful and unresolved medial state. By way of contrast, Baciochi's story-viewed purely as a work of art-has such a high degree of vividness, definition, and presence that his listeners cannot restrain themselves from intruding on the story. Unlike earlier instances of "trespassing" (Froschhauers assumption ofWehmiiller's identity, the violation of the quarantine, and so on), these intrusions do not result from fragile, haphazard boundaries but represent a positive form of trespassing, an appropriation of the narrative by multiple voices who work from opposing directions to strengthen and define the dimensionsofthestory,andtobringit closer and closer to full integration into the present. Moreover, each successive narrative phase begins with a moment of unequivocal self-definition:

ich war der wilde Jager (692) sie ist meine Schwester (693) Ich bin Mitidika. (697) Ich bin der Maler Froschauer von Klagen furt (702)

As a narrative act, Baciochi's story becomes then a paradigm for a process of reciprocity, extension, and completion, a process in which the contributingvoices are at once assured of their own clear identity and integrated into a larger whole. 35

This exemplary process also describes reasonably well a successful love relationship. And so, in the general triumph of connectedness and definition that marks the closing pages of the novella, not only Devillier and Mitidika are reunited, but Wehmuller and Tonerl as well. The climactic moment of recognition between Wehmuller and his wife is by no means a result of the storytelling process that precedes it, but it nonetheless represents an affirmation of that process as defined above. '"Tonerl, bist du es, bist du hier, Tonerl?"Franzerl, lieber Franzerl'schrie der andere, und sie sanken sich als Mann und Frau in die Arme" (69899). The designating name ("Tonerl . . . Tonerl"), reiterated and, for once, devoid of all ambiguity or imprecision, frames the two essential questions of identity and presence ("bist du es?" "bist du hier?");

Tonerl in response retainstheframe ("Franzerl ... Franzerl") but collapses the questions to the single, and sufficient, defining word "lieber,"While Wehmiiller's art, as we haveseen,appealstoa debasedformofperception for which close enough is good enough, love's discrimination is instantaneous and sure. Here, too, however, as so frequently in the novella, visual reality is so equivocal ("bei dem erloschenen Feuer war es unmoglich, jemand bestimmter zu erkennen" [698]) that even love's discrimination must be based on aural evidence. Both Wehmiiller and Tonerl recognize each other solely by their voices. To the eyes of those around them, the embrace of the two identically clothed figures must look like the narcissistic union of a pair of doubles; in truth, it represents the higher union (''Mann und Frau" =husband and wife) of two distinct and complementary persons ("Mann und Frau" =

man and woman).

Despite these personal triumphs, these crucial adjustments of focus and intention, theworldat largeremains asobtuse asever. The market for Wehmiiller's art is undiminished. Andso, Wehmiillerconfidently expands his business by taking on Froschhauer as a partner. The establishment of WehmiillerInc. notonlyperpetuatestheart ofapproximate perception but, in effect, institutionalizes it. In a passage particularly rich in ironies, Wehmiiller produces a ''handwritten affidavit" for Froschhauer's fiancee, attesting that he considers Froschhauer to be identical to him in every respect ("daB er ihn in allem sich gleich achte" [703]). But this "eigenhandiges Attestat" is in effect a self-canceling text. The whole legal validity of the term "eigenhandig" restson a premiseofindividualidentityand distinctness that is explicitly denied in the affidavit itself.

As Wehmiiller, Tonerl, Froschhauer, Mitidika, andDevillierreturnto thevillage, they form a visual ensemble that-very much like the ducal monument at the conclusion of Kasperl und Annerl-presents

the issues ofthe storyas resolved and at the same time unresolved: "Devillier und Mitidika hatten ihre Neigung bald zartlich erneuertundgingenAnninArm; dannaber folgten die drei Wehmiiller, Tonerl in der Mitte, und die andern gingen hinterdrein iiber das Stoppelfeld" (700-01). In the figures of Devillier and Mitidika, distinctions are both upheld and harmoniously conjoined: male and female, light and dark, Western and Eastern Europe, urbanityand the open road. The three Wehmiillers, on theotherhand, internallyprotected though they may be by love's discriminating eye, proclaim the continued acceptability-not to say, profitability-ofblurreddistinctions. Whatever anguish Wehmiiller may have experienced in his single day of confusion and apprehension, he is more than willing to re-endorse the ideaofinterchangeability, not only as an aesthetic precept but as an integral part of his corporate structure. Without the counterbalancing presence of Devillier and Mitidika-and the depth of emotion that is reflected, say, in the closing image of Devillier weeping before Mitidika in her Tirolean rug-the novella would end on a markedly sardonic note. As it is, Brentano allows both his heroes to triumph: the flamboyantly Romantic border dancer and the cheerfully shallow image pedlar. In the end, unity-in-diversity and unity-throughinterchangeability simply coexist, and the central concernofthe novella-theslipperiness or arbitrariness of designations-has not beenremovedbut atbest relocated: ceder Kordon [hat] sich schon nach einer andern

Richtung bewegt'' (700).


lClemens Brentano, Werke, ed. Wolfgang Friihwald and FriedheIm Kemp, vol. II, 3rd ed. (Munich: Hanser, 1980) 284. Further citations from this edition and volume will be identified in parentheses following the individual quotations. All translations are mine.

2David B. Dickens, "Brentanos ErzahlungDie mehreren Wehmiiller und ungarischen National.. gesichter: Ein Deutungsversuch," Germanic

Review 58 (1983): 12-21; here p. 15 and n. 14.

3ClemensBrentano, Werke in zwei Biuulen, ed. Friedhelm Kemp and Wolfgang Friihwald (Munich: Hanser, 1972)I:555.Theeditorialphrase "Sinnbild seines schweren Lebens" refers to a passage from Brentano's letter to Emilie Linder of 5 November 1841: ''Der gute Willmer hatte aus der Erzahlung Die drei Wehmiiller ein ganzes ZigeunerBallet formirt, das die Veitischen'Ibchter spielten, sangen und tanzten, Steinles Schwagerin hatte einen ungeheuren Kater Mores aus Pelz dazu formirt und spielte die Frau Tschermack vortreflich, ich setzte mich still in den Winkel zu Kater Mores und dachte unter Thranen an mein armes Lind. Vergib mir und hiIf mir ein bischen, Gott helfe Dir viel, es wird dunkel um mich jetzt und iiberhaupt!" (Clemens Brentano, Briefe an Emilie Linder mit zuiei Brieferi an Apollonia Diepenbrock und Marianne von Willelner, ed. Wolfgang Friihwald [Bad Homburg: Gehlen, 1969] 164). Friihwald remarks, rather cryptically, that the stuffed figure of Kater Mores served Brentano as a "Sinnbild der Gefahrdung durch die Poesie" tBriefe an Emitie Linder 313). A 1841 pencil sketch by Edward von Steinle, depicting Brentano reading from Die mehreren. Weluniiller, is reproduced in Hartwig Schultz, Del' unbehannte Brentano (Frankfurt: Freies deutsches Hochstift/ Frankfurter Goethe-Museum, 1977) 37.

4The word "burlesque" occurs repeatedly in critical discussions of the Weluniiller: see Werner Hoffmann, Clemens Brentano: Leben und Werll (Berne: Francke, 1966) 291; Gerhard Kluge, "Clemens Brentanos Erzahlungen aus den Jahren 1810-1818: Beobachtungen zu ihrer Struktur und Thematik," Clemens Brentano: Beitriige des Kolloquiums im freien Hochstift 1978, ed. Detlev Liiders (Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 1980) 102. In light of Brentano's evident affection for the story, it is remarkable that the Wehmiiller have received very little critical attention. In addition to Dickens's thoughtful and knowledgeable article, the most important studies to date are Detlev Liiders's "Nachwort"to the Reelameditionofthe Weluniiller (Universal-Bibliothek Nr. 8732: Stuttgart, 1966) 71-79, and Konrad Feilchenfeldt, "Erzahlen im journalistischen Kontext: Clemens Brentanos Die mehreren Weluniiller und ungarischen Nationalgesichter," Texte, Motive und Gestalten del' Goethezeit: Festschrift[iir Hans Reiss, ed. John L. Hibberd and H.B. Nisbet (Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 1989) 207-23. Gerhard Schaub, in the lengthy "Nachwort" to his edition of Clemens Brentano, Siuntliche Erziililungeri (Munich: Goldmann, 1984), argues persuasively for a critical reassessment of the Wehmiiller and establishes a generic classification of the story both as a capriccio and as an example of Bakhtinian carnival literature (34354). For a summary of Weluniiller scholarship, including some very obscure citations, see Dickens

18. 5Ibid. 16. 6For detailed notes on the various family

members and friends represented in the descriptions of the Butler household as "die Briinette," "die Blonde," ceder Allzudeutliche," etc., see Werner Bellmann's informative commentary to Godwi in the historical-critical edition, Clemens Brentano, Siuniliche Werhe und Briefe, ed. Jiirgen Behrens, Wolfgang Friihwald, and Detlev Liiders, vol. XVI (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1978) 696-704.

7By the end of the 18th century, for instance, Watteau's paintings, which had been executed withpreciselythe sortofshortcutsthatWehmiiller uses, had deteriorated to such an extent that their condition became something of a cause celebre in art circles throughout Europe. See Marianne Roland Michel, Watteau: An Artist of the Eighteenth Century (Secaucus, N.J.: Chartwell Books, 1984) 207.

8Dickens 13.

91 am indebted to my colleagues Elizabeth Ellis and Suzanne Kelley-Clark for detailed information on 18th-century portraiture practice and the limner tradition.

lO"Limner," Encyclopedia Britannica (1988 ed.), Micropaedia VII: 363. The limner tradition was imported from England, Holland, and, to a lesser extent, Germany: see Oliver W Larkin, Art and Life in America; rev. ed. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960) 18-19; Samuel M. Green, "English Origins of Seventeenth-Century Painting in New England," Americari Painting to 1776: A Reappraisal, ed. Ian M. G. Quimby (Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 1971) 15-69. Elizabeth Forbes's engaging novel of a 19th-century American limner, Rainbow on the Road (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1954) 2-3, describes the artist as follows: "Cool as a cucumber, he was unstrapping his pack and setting up on chairs, table and sink about five or six pictures. They were portraits ofpeople, nice-done and terrible pretty, but not the one of them had a face yet. It was like that he worked. For winter he'd hole up somewhere--or anywhere. He'd paint up the bodies and the backgrounds. Come summertime he'd go out and peddle them. From nature he'd put in a likeness. Whole thing cost $3.00."

IIFor an explanation of the number 39, see Wolfgang Friihwald, "Achim von Arnim und Clemens Brentano," Handbuch del' deutechen Erziihlung, ed. Karl Konrad Polheim (Dusseldorf: Bagel, 1981) 155.

I2Kluge, in Brentano, Siimtliche werke und Briefe XIX: 683-84, notes that Lindpeindler's comments echo the conclusion of the much shorter version of the Mores story published as note 83 to Die Griindung Prags: "Dieses Mahrchen hat einen eigenthiimlichen lokalen, einsamen, schauerlichen Charakter." Conspicuously missing here are the high-flown references to myth and higher poetic truth which serve to relate the idea of national character to the larger problems of designation that are raised in the Wehmuller.

I3See, for instance, Friihwald, "Achim von Arnim und Clemens Brentano" 155.

I4Susanne Mittag, Clemens Brentano: "Eine Autobiographie in del' Form" (Heidelberg: Winter, 1978)offers a nuancedaccountofthevariousforms (chronicle, illustration, narrative frame, diary entry, etc.) with which Brentano experimented in his quest for objectivity.

I51n Saussurian terms: By foregrounding the arbitrariness of the signifier, Wehmiiller inadvertently forces awareness of the corresponding arbitrariness of the signified. Jonathan Culler, Ferdinand de Saussure, rev. ed. (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1986) 28-45, provides a particularly lucidexplanation of this key point regarding the nature of the sign.

I60ntheloss ofthe"aura"ofuniquenessin art, see Walter Benjamin, ''The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," Illuminations (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968) 219-53. For an insightful discussion of the triumph of surface over substance in 19th-century art, photography, and architecture, see Stuart Ewen, All Consuming Images: The Politics of Style in Contemporary Culture (New York: Basic Books, 1988) 26-40.

I7Mikhail M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imaginetion: Four Essays, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: U of Texas P, 1981) 270-71.

I8See Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, AntiOedipus: Capitalism. and Schizophrenia (New York:\Tlicing, 1978)200-61.

I9Liiders, "Nachwort" 77; Dickens 12; Kluge, in Brentano, Siimtliche Werke und Briefe XIX: 658.

2°Robert William Seton-Watson, "Croatia-Slavonia,"EncyclopediaBritannica (1951 ed.) VI: 730. Ludmil Hauptmann, Die Kroaten im Wandel del' Jahrhunderte (Berlin: Wiking Verlag, n.d.) provides a useful overview of the chronic tribulations of Croatia.

2IThe question of whether or not a person (or animal) is to be defined as a witch connects all three ofthe embedded narratives: in the Croatian's story, cats are reinterpreted as witches; in Devillier's story, witches are reinterpreted as cats. In Baciochi's story, Mitidika goes to some lengths to encourage Baciochi, Martino, and Marinina to interpret her as a witch: "In dem Haus aber rumpelte es wie in einem Raspelhause ... Da krahte eine Stimme heraus" (680). But the would-be witch is out-Grimmed, as it were, by the specter ofMartino in his Neptune costume.

22Froschhauer (654); Froschauer (700, 701). Consider also ''Frosch-auer'' = frog + [resident of] meadowlland) or pasture. Dickens 16 notes the alternate spelling but draws no conclusions from the inconsistency.


24ln this connection, however, one might mention the Croatian Graf Giulowitsch, whose composite name [Graf(German) + Giulio-(Italian) + -owitsch (Slavicl] recalls the multiplicity of definitions and sub-determinants inherent in the term "Croatia."

25The nobleman and his wife represent a second couple; significantly, however, these two figures do not appear until the conclusion of the novella, in the general celebration of unity that marks the fmal pages.

26See Kluge's incisive commentary to Kasperl und Annerl in Clemens Brentano, Geschichte uom. braoen Kasperl und dem schonen. Annerl: Text, Materialien, Kommentar, ed. Gerhard Kluge (Munich: Hanser, 1979), esp. p. 132. The general question of definition, of setting just and appropriate boundaries, is raised throughout Brentano's works (most memorably, perhaps, in the soap-bubble analogy in the discussion ofaesthetics in Godwi, Part II [II: 259]) and is a central preoccupation of European Romanticism; see Frederick Garber, Self, Text, and Romantic Irony: The Example ofByron (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1988) 139-70.

27The entire text of the Welunuller proves to be similarly leaky with regard to its narrative borders. As Konrad Feilchenfeldt has demonstrated ("Erziihlen im journalistischen Kontext"), the original serial publication of the novella in Del' Gesellschafter oder Blatter [iir Geist und Herz involved numerous instances of intertextual high jinks in the form of puns, thematic allusions, and printing ploys that continually played off the narrative against the other texts (poems, articles,

stories) printed in the journal. Raymond Immerwahr, ''The Practice ofIrony in Early German Romanticism," Romantic Irony, ed. Frederick Garber (Budapest: Akademiai Kiad6, 1988) 82-96, discusses similar narratological turns in Godwi and relates them to ironic devices in other major works of Romantic fiction.

28First, as enchanted cats; then, as ordinary cats with their paws caught in oyster shells.

29Luders, "Nachwort" 72-74 identifies "die Aufklarungratselhafter Ereignisse"as theGrundfigur that connects all three stories and links them with the frame. Similarly, Dickens 13.

30Luders, "Nachwort" 73; Dickens 13-14; Friihwald, "Achim von Arnim und Clemens Brentano" 155-56. Fruhwald sees national inflections in Baciochi's tale as well: ''Brentano ... [portratiert] durch die Gestalt des jeweiligen Erzahlers den Nationalcharakter des von ihm reprasentierten Volkes: ... In Baciochis Erzahlung uotri wilden Jager schliefilich den 'eigentumlichen theatralischen Charakter Italiens'." In fact, however, the text reads "einen eigentumlichen theatralischen Charakter" with no specific reference to Italy: Baciochi's tale, which departs in so many important ways from the two precedingnarratives, also lacks their (and Wehmuller's) nationalistic stylization.

31A third interruption of the narrative occurs when Michaly and Wastl exchange some barbed comments on the usefulness of Tirolean carpets in smoking witches (686). Nanny's and Lindpeindler's concern that Baciochi should get the grandmother to bed before the snipes are overdone (686) is further testimony, however facetious, to the immediacy of the narrated reality.

32This important loss is mentioned only in passing: "Mein gutes Weib hatte ein Stuck von einer Wachsfackel, die bei der Leiche unsers seligenTochterleins gebrannt hatte, inderTasche" (678).

33The old-fashioned approach to novella interpretation-the search for falcons, frames, and turning points-may seem relatively mechanical these days, but it is a useful and perhaps essential operation nonetheless. The moment at which Devillier leaps up to interrupt Baciochi's story is clearly the principal turning point of the novella. Brentano, ever mindful of the musical potential of language, underscores this pivotal moment with a veritable fanfaronade of clicking, hissing consonants and repeated a-sounds: "Das Wasser, dae kalte Wasser war das Allerfatalste!" (692).

34David Dickens, ''Brentano's Godwi: Polyperspectivism and the Mystery Novel," West Virginia University Philological Papers 34 (1988) 11-22, discusses reciprocal perspectives as a central narrative technique in Godioi and notes in passing (12-13) Brentano's continueduse of this technique in later stories, includingKasperl und Annerl and the Welunilller. Other scholars have also noted Brentano's use of reciprocal perspectives as a narrative device in Godwi, Kasperl und Annerl, Die Schachtel mit del' Friedenspuppe, and the Wehmuller; see, for instance, Schaub, "Nachwort" 280; Kluge, "Clemens Brentanos Erzahlungen" 105


35While the multi-voiced construction of the Baciochi / Devillier / Michaly / Mitidika narrative moves in the direction of heteroglossia with its emphasis on complexity and inclusiveness of viewpoint, Brentano maintains the conventional stratification that assigns lower-class, or idiomatic, language only to subordinate and comical characters while privileging the serious figures with a unitary high-cultural discourse. By subsuming all the narrative voices under a single literary language, Brentano maintains the universalizing impulse of Romanticism which would beprofoundly subverted by genuine heteroglossia. In keeping with the problematic conclusion of the story, which both confirms and challenges the notion of interchangeability, Brentano mocks the degraded monologic signs of Wehmiiller but reconfirms monologic expression at the higher level of the text's own enunciation.

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