Male Fantasies, Female Readers: Fictions of the Nation in the Early Restoration

by Todd Kontje
Male Fantasies, Female Readers: Fictions of the Nation in the Early Restoration
Todd Kontje
The German Quarterly
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University of California at Sun Diego

Male Fantasies, Female Readers: Fictions of the Nation in the Early Restoration

Before nations can be put on the map, they have to be created in the mind. It is possible, of course, to chronicle the events that lead to the founding of a nation-state; in the case of Germany, we can follow the path to unity from the "Wars of Liberation" against Napoleon's armies through the failed Revolution of 1848 to the proclama- tion of the German Empire at Versailles in 1871. Yet these milestones are signs of a less palpable process of collective imagina- tion by which a group of people, most of whom will never meet, come to believe they share a common culture and a common heritage. Benedict Anderson has written of the nation thus defined as an imagined community. He attributes the birth of mod- ern nationalism in the late eighteenth cen- tury to a number of factors, including the discovery of non-European cultures, there- placement of Latin with the vernacular, and above all, the volatile mixture of capi- talism and print technology. It was through the wide distribution of books in their na- tive language that individual readers be- gan to conceive of themselves as part of a larger group: "These fellow-readers, to whom they were connected through print, formed, in their secular, particular, visible invisibility, the embryo of the nationally imagined community" (Anderson 44).

In Germany this community had begun to take shape by about 1770, when efforts to establish an authentically German cul- ture by throwing off French neoclassical influence coincided with a period of explo- sive growth in the publishing industry1 During the Napoleonic occupation the

Prussian minister of state, Baron vom und zum Stein, actively encouraged poets to disseminate the idea of a unified German nation. After 1815 a noticeable shift in sen- timent occurred, when some of the most vociferous advocates of national unity found themselves branded as demagogues, and the nationalism that had inspired hopes for a more democratic form of gov- ernment became associated with subver- sive agitation in Metternich's reactionary regime (cf. Johnston 174-75). The idea of a German nation nevertheless retained a strong popular appeal and continued to de- velop in a literature uncoupled from direct linkage to the existing state. During the 1820s nationalist sentiment inspired ap- peals from such writers as Wilhelm Hauff for the Germans to recognize the achieve- ments of Weimar Classicism and Early Ro- manticism, thus starting the process of canon formation that was to continue in nineteenth-century literary histories (cf. Hohendahl). The building of a German na- tional literature was part of a larger move- ment that included the cultivation of na- tional heroes, the cult of the Rhine, and the reconstruction of the castle of the Teutonic Order in Marienburg (Schulz 13-24). Since most Germans were excluded from any sort of political activity, literature gained par- ticular importance as a surrogate public sphere. In addition, the publishing indus- try was one of the first to establish an effi- cient distribution network throughout the German states. In both practical and ideo- logical terms, German unity was first achieved in the realm of literature, with

The Gern~ar~ 131

Quarterly 68.2 (Spring 1995)

more widespread economic and political unity following decades later (Sengle 2: 28; Schulz 118-19).

Two internal contradictions lay at the center of this concerted effort to establish a German national literature. First, the economic infrastructure that enabled the rapid distribution of the literary product underscored literature's status as a com- modity, a fact that jarred with one of the central tenets of idealistic literary theory. Growing professionalism among authors and the expansion of increasingly ephem- eral literary magazines made writers pain- fully aware of the commercial basis of an art that was said to inspire disinterested pleasure. The business of literature was in fact booming: in the years after the Napo- leonic Wars German literature resumed the explosive growth that had characterized the last decades of the eighteenth century. Readership, although still restricted to a minority of the population, grew from an estimated 25% in 1800 to around 40% by 1830 (Schenda 444). Writ- ers reached out to the public with new gen- res and publications, filling almanacs and journals with prose calculated to win the approval of the widest possible groups (cf. Sengle 1: 21; Schulz 2994302). In the proc- ess, the gap between popular fiction and more demanding literature that was al- ready evident at the turn of the century grew wider.

A second problem concerns the gender of the reading public. Already in the eight- eenth century women had been the most important audience for an emerging mid- dle-class literature (cf. Engelsing; Schon), and many of the new Taschenbiicl~er were aimed at the next generation of female readers (Sengle 2: 45). Friedrich Kittler has gone so far as to argue that the Auf schreibesystem around 1800 divided society into two groups: male writers and bureau- crats who produced culture, and the moth- ers who first taught their boys to read and then became the admiring audienceof their sons' prose. Of course, such a tidy schema obscures the fact that at least some men continued to read and that many women published during both the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; a recent survey esti- mates that 20% of novels published be- tween 1815-1820 were written by women (Vollmer 91). My focus in this essay is not on the women writers of the Restoration, but on the tension between male fantasies of the nation and the female readership. Popular fiction by both Wilhelm Hauff and

H. Clauren (Carl Heun) envisions a realm of martial valor, where men bond together in the service of the Fatherland. At the same time, however, both writers target a predominantly female audience situated in the domestic sphere. The following discus- sion of Clauren's "Mimili" and Hauffs "Die letzten Ritter von Marienburg" will concentrate on these discrepancies: the tension between the aesthetics of genius and the commodification of literature, and between the fictions of the masculine na- tion and the feminine reading public.

Let me begin with several disclaimers: I am not out to prove that Clauren was really a great writer, or that his "Mimili" is a forgotten classic. Nor do I intend to exaggerate Hauffs abilities or to heap more ashes on the grave of an admittedly minor talent. It was Hauff who initiated this sort of literary competition in his Kon- trovers-Predigt uber H. Clauren, and critics have since followed his lead in a Bieder- meier version of Aristophanes's Frogs, weighing Clauren's salacious commercial- ism against Hauff s self-righteous hypoc- risy. My interest is not in cataloguing those elements that make either Clauren's or Hauff s fiction "bad7'--conservatism, com- mercialism, stylistic clichhs, calculated eroticism for the prurient-but in examin- ing the work the stories perform as "agents of cultural formation" (Tompkins xv). In doing so I move away from an understanding of popular fiction as a conserva- tive medium that reconfirms existing prejudices2 to stress its role in disseminat- ing new ideas and shaping national con-


sciousness. Here, again, a cautionary note is in order. The current enthusiasm for a Foucault-inspired understanding of litera- ture as an instrument of social discipline should not obscure the fact that the major- ity of Germans were illiterate peasants un- affected by any sort ofliterary development (cf. Schenda). Nor should we assume that readers of so-called Trivialliteraturwereas docile and homogenous as theorists of popular culture tend to make them seem. Today's reader of Clauren and Hauff can find moments of irony, implicit social criti- cism, and humor in their works, and I doubt their fiction would have been so popular in its own time if readers had been blind to the same characteristics. Finally, I am neither out to reconstruct the actual readership of Restoration prose on the ba- sis of empirical evidence nor to speculate on how a hypothetical female reader might have responded to the works of Clauren and Hauff. Instead, I focus on male con- structions of female readers in popular fic-

tion of the early Restoration.

Using the pseudonym H. Clauren, Carl Heun first published the short story "Mimili" in 1815. The work catapulted Clauren into fame and became the most successful book of the early Restoration pe- riod. By 1819, 9,000 legitimate copies had been printed as well as pirate editions; by 1824, "Mimili" was in its fourth edition and had been translated into Danish, English, Polish, and Hungarian (Fritzen-Wolf 105). Clauren tells of Wilhelm, a Prussian soldier active in the struggle against Napoleon, who seeks rest and relaxation in Switzer- land after the "splendid campaign" that has led to victory in Paris. The story unfolds in a national-political landscape where countries have clear symbolic value. France is the home of the despot Napoleon and Paris the city of urban decadence, while Prussia is the land of manly virtue and moral rectitude. Between them lies Switzerland, a realm of uncorrupted natu- ral beauty. French children had tempted Wilhelm with prostitutes, but the young Swiss are eager to show him the sights of their scenic homeland.

Chief among these attractions is Mimili, a sixteen-year-old Alpine maiden who is as chaste as the mountain that serves as her totem: '"Aber lal3t mich blei- ben, wie die Jungfrau, die immer hell und klar ist, und rein und ewig ~nbefleckt."'~ The Prussian officer is consumed with pas- sion from the moment he sees Mimili and looks forward to an erotic adventure that will melt "das Eis der Jungfrau ... in briihende Lavaiiber" (16). Wilhelm's first- person description of Mimili evokes the mood of an officers' club, where the soldier recounts his erotic escapades to his com- rades in a tale punctuated by broad winks and elbows to the rib cage. His elaborate description of Mimili's outfit provides local color but also titillates, as the eye lingers lustfully on the shapely calf beneath her colorfully decorated garters (16). Wilhelm spends extended periods of time alone with Mimili, often under the influence of alco- hol. Despite repeated assertions of her in- nocence, moreover, Mimili acts in ways that seem calculated to arouse the vacationing soldier. She is alternately chaste and volup- tuous, innocent and seductive, prudish and teasing. She feeds Wilhelm like achild, first from her hand (24), and then has him pluck strawberries out of her dress with his lips (52). She agrees to ride with him on his mule, and his passions are inflamed as they bounce body against body through the Alpine scenery. Under Wilhelm's gaze Mimili plays with the little chains beneath her breasts (41)-thoughtfully pictured in the frontispiece to the 1815 edition-and later necks passionately with him for fifteen minutes before retiring to her unlocked, adjoining room.

Wilhelm manages to resist this last temptation, and the story takes a sudden turn toward the respectable when Wilhelm asks Mimili's father for her hand in mar- riage the next morning. Without receiving a definite yes, he is encouraged to return in a year, and if Mimili still prefers Wilhelm to any local suitor, her father agrees that they may then marry. The first-person nar- rative ends as Wilhelm departs from Swit- zerland. His friend supplies a coda to the original 1815 publication, in which we learn that preparations for the wedding have been interrupted because Wilhelm has been called up for active duty as Napo- leon has escaped from Elba. Three years later Clauren finished the story to his readers' satisfaction: presumed dead, the wounded Wilhelm arrives just in time to save Mimili from dyingof grief; they marry, have children, and live happily ever after in Switzerland.

Hauff will ignore the ending of Clau- ren's "Mimili," but I think it is here that the story performs the bulk of its cultural labor. Taken at face value, "Mimili" is a moralizing tale of innocence pursued but preserved; it portrays a young soldier whose Prussian sense of honor prevails over his baser instincts. As Joachim Schoberl puts it, Wilhelm goes through a "ProzeB der inneren Lauterung" (151);besides, he doesn't dare act like a Frenchman (15647).Mimili's father turns out to be an ardent supporter of Prussia, and Wilhelm entertains him at length with tales of their military prowess: "Wir schwatzten vom Kriege, und ich muBte erziihlen von un- serm treuen Volke, wie es iiberall mutig und kriiftig aufgestanden war, das fremde Joch vom deutschen Nacken zu schutteln" (30).As Mimili exclaims, Wilhelm is just the sort of Prussian she had imagined, "'so lebendig und heiter, und wenn's gilt, fest und ernst"' (3 1). When Mimili's father sees the Iron Cross on Wilhelm's uniform he knows that he need not fear for his daugh- ter's virtue: "'Dem Manne, Herr Ritter, dessen Brust Euer Konig mit dern Kreuze geziert hat, dem kann ein ehrlicher Vater seine ehrliche Tochter wohl anvertrauen, bei Tag und bei Nacht"' (32).God is a Prus- sian, in Clauren's slightly biased view of the world, and the Iron Cross takes on re- ligious significance, symbolizing both mili- tary might and moral virtue. Thus, when Wilhelm lets his hands roam a little too freely while caressing Mimili she gently ad- monishes him, then embraces him with her left hand and raises his Iron Cross to her lips with her right, "wie eine Glaubige, im Drange der Gefahr, ihr Arnulett" (34).

The charm works, transforming the las- civious soldier into a docile husband. Klaus Berghahn offers a cynical perspective on the story, which he views as a tale of the repression of sexual desire for the sake of bourgeois morality (63).As Wilhelm him- self puts it, the night behind Mimili's un- latched door teaches him the violence of virtue, "die unendliche Gewalt der Tu- gend" (49). The descriptions of Wilhelm pacing the floor of his room in an agony of sexual desire are probably supposed to be funny, but at the same time they reveal the price of his renunciation. One might even argue that the wound Wilhelm suffers upon returning to battle functions as a par- tial castration. In a letter cited by Wil- helm's friend, Mimili writes: "...die Narbe wird ihm recht schmuck lassen ... er ist zahm und fromm geworden, und das soll mir in der Ehe zupasse kommen, denn er war sonst zuweilen auch gar zu wild und unbiindig" (71). From this perspective Clauren encourages a hypocritical response from his (male) readers, who can salivate over the juicy parts of the story and yet raise their eyes to heaven and the Prus- sian eagle in the end.

More puzzling than the marriage that brings "Mimili" to a happy conclusion is the couple's decision to remain in Switzer- land. There is never any doubt that Mimili and Wilhelm are in love, but it is not clear where they are going to live. Mimili's father assumes that Wilhelm will bring his bride back to Prussia: "'... das Weib soll dem Mannefolgen, undich kann Euch nicht bit- ten, hier zu bleiben, da Ihr Eurem Lande gehort und Eurem Konig"' (53).The pros- pect troubles Mimili, who feels she would be out of place in Wilhelm's home: "'.. . was wollt Ihr mit dem dummen Alpen-Maidli in Eurer blanken Residenz?"' (46). More- over, patriotic duty compels him to marry one of the "daughters of his people" for whom he sheds blood in battle and not some foreign Swiss Miss. The alternative, that Wilhelm should separate himself from his king and his people to live as an outsider in a boring vacation land, is dismissed as equally impossible (47). Nevertheless, Wil- helm's friend reports that at least as of Christmas 1818, Wilhelm is still in the mountains with Mimili, and that they have no intention of returning to Prussia. How can we explain a plot that seems to go against both Prussian patriotism and the Biblical adage that the woman must leave her home and follow the man in marriage?

Themost obvious answer is that Mimili, like Johanna Spyri's Heidi, is an Alpine blossom who could not survive at lower al- titudes. She laughingly relates her attempt to force her way into a fashionable outfit that Wilhelm ordered from Frankfurt, but concludes that her Swiss Traclztis the only costume that will do (73). This detail com- plicates the clear moral opposition between brave and noble Prussians and the deca- dent French, for we learn that the Prussian women look to Paris in matters of fashion: "Wird Mimili ihr Briistli, ihr Miederchen und ihr faltiges Rockchen nicht mit den, uns von der Mode aufgedrungenen, fran- zosischen Kleidern vertauschen miissen?" (43). If we recall that the Swiss have all the moral virtue and patriotism of the Prus- sians, but avoid the temptations of unnatu- ral French fashion, then it is possible to view Switzerland as a literally and figura- tively uplifted Prussia. There is no need to return to Prussia because they are already living in an improved version of the state.

In this context we might consider an aspect of Mimili's character that goes be- yond her role as the object of Wilhelm's desire. She offers astriking combination of rural innocence and urban sophistication.

"Im ganzen Wesen der himmlischen Er- scheinung die frische Kriiftigkeit der unverdorbensten Alpenbewohnerin, und doch der Anstand, die Haltung der gebilde- ten Stadterin!" (16). On the one hand, Wil- helm deliberately infantalizes her. Although Mimili is actually sixteen years old, he describes her as looking "at most" thir- teen (28); when Mimili sits on Wilhelm's lap, it seems to him as if she were an innocent three year old (45). At the same time, this child of nature is astonishingly well educated. She identifies flowers by their Latin names, reels off names and eleva- tions of major mountain systems around the globe, plays the music of the latest Swiss composers, cites the works of Swiss writers, and decorates her hut with the original works of major Swiss painters. As this list indicates, Mimili's intellect has been very selectively cultivated. What she knows relates exclusively to Switzerland; her father carefully filters knowledge of the outside world: '". . . was draurjen vorgeht, in der weiten Ebene hinter den Bergen, da- von erziil~lt mir der ~tti nur, was ich brauche, aber was hier in unsern TQern und auf unsern Alpen passiert, das mu13 man ja auf den Grund wissen"' (21). I would suggest that Mimili's limited erudi- tion makes her and the Switzerland she embodies into a feminine ideal of cultivated innocence. In the language of Schiller's aesthetic theory, Mimili and Switzerland stand as representatives of an idyllic world of innocence regained without loss of intel- lect. Yet the link between the aesthetic category and cultural stereotypes of the feminine render the retreat to Switzerland ambivalent for the Prussian soldier. Mimili's effortless grace contrasts with Wilhelm's dignity in battle; the Swiss beauty tames the Prussian sublime into a

Biedermeier idyll. For while Switzerland may stand as a sartorially superior version of Prussia, it offers the wounded veteran the less-than-heroic occupation of enter- taining visitors who have come to admire Mimili.

Mimili's status as a tourist attraction (Schoberl 141) raises a further issue: the relation of Clauren's fiction to reality. Wil- helm's unnamed friend tells Mimili that her story was published in the journal Der Freimuthige, that it went into two editions of three thousand copies, and that a third, equally large edition was necessary (73). Mimili does somerapid calculations and de- termines that if there are ten readers per copy, then there must be 100,000 people who know her story. For this reason alone she refuses to visit Prussia: "...ich komme nicht. Wiirden sie nicht alle stehen bleiben und auf mich mit Fingern weisen und sagen: 'Das ist die Mimili vom Berner Oberland?'" (73). This exchange punctures any notion of aesthetic autonomy. Mimili does not reside in the eternal realm of beauty; she lives in Switzerland, and Clauren does everything in his power to convince the reader of this fact. The story is liberally footnoted, giving high German translations of snippets of Bernese dialect. Another footnote informs readers that they can get a good idea of what Mimili's house looks like by consulting La maison depaysan suisse, and he details the size and the price of the book (27). He also points out that the portrait of Mimili that prefaces the novella is a very accurate representation of the real girl. The series of con- tinuations of the story indicate that it was read as what in today's parlance could be called interactive fiction, as the readers' de- sires determine the outcome of the plot. This type of fiction predates the autonomy aesthetics of around 1800 and recalls the interaction between Richardson and his fe- male readers (cf. Eagleton 10-17). In the place of the oracular genius we have a so- ciable writer engaged in dialogue with his audience. The change in narrative perspec- tive from the first-person account of the soldier to the fictive dialogue between Mimili and Wilhelm's friend also signals a change in the gender of the implied reader from masculine to feminine. Just as the hero of "Mimi1i"moves from the battlefield

to the bedroom, from martial valor to do- mestic bliss, so do its implied readers shift from the barracks to the living room, from male comrades in arms to the female con- sumers of popular fiction.

After "Mimili" had established his reputation, Carl Heun continued to pub- lish novels and dramas under the name H. Clauren to solidify his position as one of Germany's most prolific and profitable authors. By 1825 the twenty-three year old Wilhelm Hauff decided to pillory the style that among intellectualshad come to epito- mize bad taste in literature. In the fall of that year he published a novel under the name of H. Clauren entitled Der Mann im Mond oder Der Zug des Herzens ist des Schichsals Stimme. Despite Hauffs sub- sequent claim that he intended to parody Clauren's style, the novel proved a resounding popular success. Carl Heun was not amused, however, and took Hauffs publisher Frankh to court, where he won punitive damages on the charge that Frankh had deliberately deceived the pub- lic by appropriating his nom deplume. As so often happens, the literary scandal fueled public interest in Hauffs novel, which sold even more briskly in the wake of the affair. Meanwhile Hauff responded to Heun's legal maneuvers with a scathing indictment of Clauren's style, the Kontrovers-Predigt iiber H. Clauren (1827; cf. Hinz 41-52).

Hauff s attack dealt a crippling blow to Heun's reputation and helped to establish himself as one of the rising stars of the lit- erary scene, but he played a somewhat du- bious role in the whole affair that left a lasting stain on his own reputation as well. Not only did he claim that Der Mann im Mond was a parody only after his publisher was sued for "borrowing" Clauren's name; but the ostensible "parody" is not clearly recognizable as such. Critics have not hesi- tated to charge Hauff with trying to cash in on Clauren's fame and then hypocriti- cally stake out themoral high ground when he was caught (cf. Martini 45657; Sengle

2: 874; Storz 67). Perhaps even more damn- ing for Hauff s reputation is the fact that his other prose fiction does not differ dras- tically from the pulp fiction he lambastes in the Kontrovers-Predigt (Bachmaier 334). Attempting neither to exonerate Hauff from these charges nor to cast fur- ther opprobrium on him, I would like to look at the contradictions between his lit- erary practice and theory as exemplifying the tensions faced by the professional writer during the 1820s, beginning with a brief look at the issues raised in the Kon- trovers-Predigt, and then moving to an analysis of the novella "Die letzten Ritter von Marienburg."

Hauff attacks the Clauren style on both ethical and aesthetic grounds. He finds the prose detrimental to the morals of contem- porary readers and of abysmal quality and charges that it seduces Germans away from the sort of prose they ought to be read- ing. It is interesting to note that Hauff dif- ferentiates carefully between the deleteri- ous effects of Clauren's prose on male and female readers. For men, Clauren offers a twofold sensual appeal: the descriptions of female beauty appeal to the eye, and the lavish banquets to the tongue. Hauff goes into greater detail about Clauren's female readers. While men respond to Mimili's half-revealed physical charms, women fan- tasize about Clauren's tall, dark, and hand- some heroes. The magnificent balls and richly-appointed interiors are said to pro- vide imaginary compensation for women who do not live among the rich and famous. For the samereason women of lesser means can keep abreast of current fashion trends by reading Clauren. At this point Hauff di- gresses to say that while it was proper for Homer to describe the shields of his heroes, female fashion hardly deserves the same poetic dignity.

Here and elsewhere there is more than a touch of misogyny in Hauff s arguments. While he alludes briefly to male readers of Clauren in the Kontrouers-Predigt, he im- plies elsewhere that Clauren's works ap- peal primarily to women.5 In deriding Clauren's prose by reference to its female readers Hauff participates in a long tradi- tion that stretches at least from Goethe's and Schiller's characterization of female dilettantes to twentieth-century efforts to brand mass culture as a woman. 6 In addi- tion, Hauff throws in an element of anti- semitism to one of his repeated attacks on Clauren in his first novel, Mittheilungen aus den Mernoiren des Satan (1825126).~ Rebecca Simon features as the embodi- ment of the bad reader in a segment enti- tled "Das gebildete Judenfraulein." Hauff sketches a portrait of a pretentious Jewish girl who reads pulp and speaks in a broad Yiddish accent. Does she read Goethe, Schiller, Tieck? "'Ne, das tu ich nich. Diese Herren machen schlechte Jeschiifte in Frankfort. Es will sie keen Mensch, sie sind zu studiert, was Langweiliges .. . mein Lieb- ling.. .das is der Clauren"' (MS 2: 638). By making his caricatured reader Jewish,

Hauff suggests that bad fiction, filthy lucre, and Jews occupy the same social space.

The mention of Goethe, Schiller, and Tieck as positive counterparts to Clauren brings us to the second aspect of the Kon- trovers-Predigt, the attack on the aesthetic quality of the Clauren style. Hauffs de- fense against the charge that he made ille- gitimate use of the name Clauren rests on what he feels to be an essential difference between literary hack-work and creations of genius. "Clauren" has the status of a trademark of a manufactured product. Because the style is fabricated, Hauffreasons, Heun has no grounds for complaint, any more than the manufacturers of Coca-Cola@ in Newark today could be jealous of their co-workers in San Jos6. "Die Mimili- Manier wurde zur Mimili-Manie, wurde zur Mode. Was war natiirlicher, als dal3 Clauren eine Fabrik dieses kostlichen Zeuges anlegte" (KP 1: 560-61). Hauff dis- misses the name "Clauren" as an arbitrary sequence of eight letters that could be re- arranged to spell "Hurenlac" or "Harnceul" (Huren =whores, Harn =urine) with- out changing the Mimili style.

The presumed special status of literary language depends on whether or not we can find the spirit of the creative genius behind the skeleton of words. In Hauff s view, this spirit is conspicuously absent in Clauren's writing; his landscapes, for instance, are mere stage decorations: "Der warme Odem Gottes, der Geist, der in der Natur lebt, ist weggeblieben, weil man nur das Kostum der Natur kopierte" (KP 1: 558). The search for spirit in the letter of philosophy and literature is central to the discipline of hermeneutics, which arose together with the concept of original genius around 1800.~In the major aesthetic theories of the period we find repeated assertions that the quality of the work of art depends on the integrity of the artist. "Nur die heitere, ruhige Seele gebiert das Vollkommene" writes Schiller in his review of Burger's poetry in 1790, echoing sentiments voiced by both Karl Philipp Moritz and ~oethe.' The hack writes for money; the genius cre- ates for eternity.

Hauff claims that he can split himself into Clauren's imitator and the authentic voice behind his own literary creations. The distinction is dubious for at least two reasons: as previously mentioned, his other prose does not differ substantially from the alleged parody; moreover, Hauff always published with profit in mind. But so did Goethe, Schiller, and Tieck; Hauff s work and career thus exemplify a contradiction that developed in the last decades of the eighteenth century when the concept of in- tellectual possession emerged together with the aesthetics of genius (cf. Berman; Bosse). As writers gradually freed them- selves from church or state patronage, they became dependent on the market value of their works. In other words, the price of emancipation for the professional artist was the commodification of the artwork. It

Spring 1995

was just this link that the aesthetics of ge- nius sought to obscure. Moritz, Schiller, and the early Romantics insisted on the autonomous status of the work of art, its disconnection from the economic world. As Martha Woodmansee has argued, however, the very disclaimer served as an indirect legitimization of Weimar Classicism and Early Romanticism at atime when popular fiction threatened to capture the new mar- ket (1133). While readers began to con- sume vast quantities of secular fiction, the more serious writers argued that their texts deserved to be studied with the con- centration formerly reserved for the Bible. The argument rests on an open contradic- tion, as insistence on the absolute distinc- tion between literature and money be- comes an indirect way of assuring (high) literature's lasting market value. The lit- erary theories around 1800 mark the first stage in the process of canon formation, as writers attempt to grant cultural status to a new body of literature as the secular scripture of national culture.

Several key differences should be noted between the cultural politics of German lit- erature around 1800 and Wilhelm Hauff s situation in the 1820s. Hauff acknowledges the achievements of the previous genera- tion. What was largely a plan in 1790 had become a reality by 1826: the Germans now had their own national literature. "Oder solltet ihr vergessen haben, daa uns ein Goethe, ein Jean Paul, ein Tieck, ein Hoff- mann ErzZhlungen gaben, die sich mit jeder Dichtung des Auslandes messen k6n- nen?" (KP 1:580). At the same time, the gap between the German public and its own classical literature has grown wider. Echoing Schiller's review of Burger's po- etry, Hauff criticizes those false friends of the public who stoop to its level: "Es hat in unserer Literatur nie an sogenannten Volksmiinnern gefehlt, die fur ein groaes Publikum schrieben, das, je allgemeiner es war, desto weniger auf wahre Bildung Anspruch machen konnte und wollte" (KP 1: 555).1° Yet Schiller could still envision a unified public under the tutelage of writers like himself and Goethe, while Hauff con- cedes defeat. As he points out, respectable journals have long since condemned Clauren's trivial prose, but they have no hope of reaching the intended audience: ". . . sie sind leider nur fiir wenige geschrie- ben! Wer liest sie?" (KP 1:572). Certainly not the women who are reading Clauren.

In the essay "Die Bucher und die Le- sewelt" Hauff goes beyond his moral con- demnation of the public in an attempt to explain the widening gap between popular taste and the new German classics. The real competition comes from abroad, as Walter Scott's historical fiction threatens to drive German writers out of business. The absence of international copyright law and the mass production of cheap transla- tions by afactory-style division of labor per- mits German publishers to sell foreign his- torical fiction for far less than what they had to charge for the works of indigenous authors. It is not a matter of quality; even if a Goethe or a Schiller were to appear today, explains a bookseller in this sketch, he could not realistically hope to sell more than 750 copies of his book. Sizing up the market factors affecting current literary production, Hauff proposes a new literary factory for the mass production of German historical fiction. A group of anonymous authors will produce one hundred novels, dividing the labor according to their par- ticular talents. One might develop charac- ters, another landscapes, while a third could provide dialogue. Specialized produc- tion takes precedence over the genial crea- tion of organic works. This efficient divi- sion of labor will lower the price of German fiction to the point where it can compete with foreign imports.

Taken at face value, "Die Biicher und die Lesewelt" stands as the satirical coun- terpart to the Kontrouers-Predigt: there a sober, self-righteous denunciation of Clauren and his public, here a tongue-incheek recommendation that German writ- ers should capitulate to market forces. Yet there is more than a grain of truth to Hauff smodest proposal. In his own career, Hauff was a shrewd player on the literary scene who knew how to drive a hard bar- gain for his prose, adeptly cultivated friends in the right places, and established himself as the editor of the prestigiousMor- genblatt fur gebildete Stande at the re- markably young age of twenty-four. His own historical novel Lichtenstein (1826) was also the product of a carefully calcu- lated market strategy (cf. Hinz 55). Yet Hauff makes no mention of his own situ- ation in this novel, which evokes a world of dashing knights, rogueish peasants, and sweet-faced maidens of the sort one might find in paintings by Moritz von Schwind or Hollywood movies with Errol Flynn. Only one work unites the main strands of Hauff s literary production, including his- torical fiction, literary sociology, and the aesthetics of genius: "Die letzen Ritter von Marienburg."

The novella gets its title from ahistorical novel by Palvi, a young writer living in modern Germany. Palvi is in love with Elise Wicklow, but she has rejected him on the mistaken assumption that he had been flirting with her maid. Instead, she agrees to marry Palvi's new friend, the earnest stable master von Rempen. The same basic plot recurs in Palvi's novel, Die letzten Rit- ter von Marienburg, published under the name Huon and set in 1455 during the last days of the Teutonic Order in East Prussia. The young knight Cuno von Elrichshausen loves Wanda, the daughter of aman who is plotting to destroy the Order. Cuno visits Wanda secretly together with his comrade in arms, who also falls in love with her. Mortally wounded in an attempt to expose the plot, this young man confesses his love for Wanda, and Cuno renounces his former claims on her. Wanda dies of grief after tell- ing Cuno that she loves him. He then joins with a handful of loyal friends as they, the last knights of Marienburg, defend their honor and their Order to the death. On the thematic level, then, the historical fiction serves as an ennobling mirror to the pri- mary plot, transforming a rather ordinary tale of mistaken identity and petty jealousy into an epic saga of tragic grandeur.

Hauff also uses this narrative to com- ment on his contemporary institution of literature, including authorship, publish- ing, and readers. The story begins when Rempen meets the poet Zundler. Zundler's miserable literary efforts have suddenly taken amysterious turn for the better, and he sets out to negotiate a contract with the publisher Kaper for his next historical novel. Kaper smells a profit, since he real- izes that historical fiction is currently in demand. As far as he is concerned, themost successful author is the one who leaves the smallest number of remaindered books. A group of three caricatured critics completes the overview of the local literary scene. They are outraged that Die letzten Ritter von Marienburg has received a glowing anonymous review despite the fact that they had blasted it publicly themselves.

Hauff s satirical portrait of these vain, money-grubbing writers, publishers, and critics serves as a foil for the two genuine artists in the work, young Palvi and his older friend Bunker. Palvi describes Bun- ker as a modern Diogenes who lives in pov- erty in his attic garret, but secretly writes some of the most profound texts of his day. As it turns out, the sudden improvement in Zundler's fiction is due to the fact that he has secretly hired Bunker as his ghost- writer. Zundler's own fiction is like Clauren's: all surface and no depth. Hence he buys relics from poets in the hope of finding the inspiration he lacks. When writing he wears Wieland's bathrobe, uses Hoffmann's inkwell, Schiller's quills, and sits on a chair covered in leather once warmed by Goethe's bottom: ".. . und so will er seine Phantasie gleichsam a posteriori erwiirmen" (LR 2: 306). In contrast, Bunker eschews fame, disdains the public, and lives in poverty while producing works of genius. His younger friend Palvi also publishes anonymously, remains an out- sider to fashionable society, and departs for a lonely exile in France.

Hauff clearly draws on the familiar ro- mantic topos of the artist versus the Phil- istine, but by the late 1820s this theme has become something of a clich6. Consider the description of Bunker's garret: "Es war ein Zimmer voll Verwirrung und Unordnung, in das sie traten. Papiere und Biicher lagen am Boden zerstreut, und die Triimmer einer Gitarre mischten sich mit ausgeleer- ten Flaschen und alten Schuhen" (LR 2: 322). Here we are closer to Spitzweg than Novalis, as Hauff evokes a Bohemian stereotype that is already slightly shop- worn. The relationship between Bunker and Zundler also suggests that the distinc- tion between the two writers is perhaps not as absolute as it appears at first glance. Neither could live without the other: Zundler's works without Bunker's help are of abysmal quality, but Bunker needs Zundler to bring his secret genius some public recognition. I would suggest that we view these characters not as portraits of the good versus the bad artist, but as two aspects of the literary profession which all writers had to combine. It is as if Hauff seeks to assuage the guilt of his contempo- rary professional writers by importingaromantic ideal of the artist into the Biedermeierzeit.

He then uses these figures to mount a defense of the historical novel. Kaper has already pointed out that the currently fash- ionable genre sells the most books, but the two artists offer more idealistic reasons for its relevance in the 1820s. Palvi observes that as modes of transportation improve, the world seems smaller, which in turn makes people more curious about other cultures and opinions, including those of past history. The contemporary historical novelist supplies a more democratic ver- sion of political history. What had once been a chronicle of kings now becomes fleshed out with the human interest of smaller fig- ures. Bunker also enlists earlier writers in support of his cause, claiming that even Cervantes and Goethe already wrote what could be considered historical fiction. The reference to Goethe provides a typical ex- ample of German novel theory in the 1820s, as critics sought to legitimize a still-suspect genre with reference to Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. As Hartmut Steinecke has shown, Goethe's Meister loomed so large in the history of the German novel that later writers had only two options: they could either formulate their demands for a different sort of fiction-whether it be the historical or the social novel-in deliberate opposition to his work, or reinter- pret Goethe's Meister to show that it really anticipated their own position. In neither case could Goethe be ignored. Palvi con- cludes by insisting that great events are not essential for historical fiction. German his- tory is good enough, a point that Hauff un-

derlines in the preface to Lichtenstein.

By insisting that the historical novel is democratic, Goethean, and German, Hauff implies that great writers of the present link arms across the centuries with the heroes of bygone times. The writers per- form avital cultural task by reminding the Germans of their common heritage, which in turn can prepare the way for the building of a modern nation state (cf. Johnston 12, 89). Initially it might seem odd that the Swabian Hauff should draw on the Prus- sian symbol of Marienburg in his fiction. After all, he draws on his local history for such well-known works as '3ud Sufi" and Lichtenstein, and portrays himself as an outsider in distant northern Germany in the "Phantasien im Bremer Rathskeller."ll Yet Hauff s local patriotism did not preclude a sense of belonging to a larger German-speaking community. Shortly be- fore his death he gathered material for a historical novel about Andreas Hofer and the Tyrolian uprising against the Napole- onic armies and their Rheinish confeder- ates. In "Die letztenFRitter von Marien- burg" he actually combines loyalty to Swabia with reference to a larger symbol of German unity. While Palvi choses aPrussian symbol of former glory as the topic of his historical novel, Bunker is a Swabian educated in the same Tubinger Stift at- tended by Kepler, Schelling, and Hegel (LR

2: 297).

But Bunker and Palvi would stand alone if they had no audience; thus Hauff adds reception to the portrait of his con- temporary literary institution that already includes reflections on production and dis- tribution. Three different types of readers appear in the novella. The first are profes- sionals. Good critics like Bunker recognize works of genius-we can assume that he wrote the glowingreview of Palvi's novel- while the bad critics are blinded by current fashion and fractional infighting. Rempen is a reader of a different sort. He writes neither poetry nor criticism and spends lit- tle time keeping up with the current liter- ary scene: "Er hatte sich mit der schonen Literatur von jeher gerade nur so vie1 be- fat, als ihm notig schien, um nicht fur ungebildet zu gelten, und auch hier war er mehr seiner Neigung, als dem herrschen- den Geschmacke gefolgt" (LR 2: 279). Rempen conforms to Palvi's concept of the ideal reader, who listens to his feelings first and only then submits them to rational dis- section.

Between the private man of feeling and the public critic stands Elise Wicklow. All of the writers and critics in the story are men, while Elise is something of a female super-reader. Her impeccable judgment enables her to recognize Palvi's talent, but she is also at the center of the artists and aesthetes who gather at the biweekly sa- lons hosted by Rempen's uncle. She lives in both worlds: able to hear the voice of genius without living as a social outcast, able to move at ease within high society without being infected by its poor taste. Not surprisingly, Kaper uses her as a ba- rometer of public opinion, giving her an advance copy of Die letzten Ritter and rely- ing on her to pass on gossip about other figures on the literary scene. By assuming this role, Elise Wicklow represents a posi- tive alternative to the tradition that would identify Trivialliteratur with the feminine by occupying what Christa Biirger has termed the "middle sphere" (19). Already in the 1790s Goethe and Schiller had envi- sioned a role for women as mediators be- tween popular taste and their own works of genius, and Elise Wicklow performs the same function in Biedermeier society. The woman still does not play an active role in the production of national culture, but her approval is essential if it is to reach a wider public.

By assuming such a pivotal role within the story, however, Elise Wicklow exposes herself to the charge that she goes beyond what is considered proper for a woman, at least in the eyes of young Rempen. For his taste she ist "beinahe zu gelehrt," "wohl gar iiberbildet," deformed by "eine gewisse Koketterie des Geistes" (LR 2: 280). While others applaud her discerning ear, he criti- cizes her all-too-public role in his uncle's salon. Rempen would probably prefer Josephe, the heroine of Hauff s novella "Die Bettlerin vom Pont des Arts." She, too, enjoys attending literary salons, but for the modest purpose of exposing herself to the learned discussions of men. Elise is neither as docile as Josephe nor as stupid as Rebecca Simon, but Rempen finds her attractive enough to propose to, and Elise is surprised enough to accept. On her wed- ding day she discovers too late that Palvi had not betrayed her. The novella ends when Rempen and Elise have to be torn away from Palvi's novel to begin the wed- ding ceremony. Seen in a positive light, Hauff leaves us with the two best readers in the story united by mutual enthusiasm for allegedly great literature, but at the same time Die letzten Ritter von Marien- burg serves as a reminder of the man who stands between them even in his absence. The future does not look bright. Palvi's hero Cuno von Elrichshausen goes out in a blaze of glory with the words of his dying lover still ringingin his ears, while Rempen marries a woman still pining over lost love; she marries the one man who disapproves of her discerning intellect. The fact that Hauff published the novella in the Frauentaschenbuch fir 1828 suggests that Elise Wicklow might serve as a warning to women who lack faith in their men and who assert too much intellectual independence. Hauff s novella leaves behind its heroic knights and poetic geniuses to conclude with the uncertain image of a mutually re- strictingmarriage that has implications for his own readership.

Marienburg remained an important symbol of German nationalist aspirations throughout the Restoration. The Prussian government set out to reconstruct the ru- ined castle in the years following 1815, and in 1842 charged one of its civil servants, Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff, to write a history of the castle and the Teutonic Or- der. Eichendorff links the restoration of the castle explicitly to the rise of German na- tionalism in the wake of the Napoleonic wars: "Und so erhob sich denn rasch und unerwartet die alte Marienburg . . .als ein wahrhaftes Nationalwerk, wojeder PreuBe selbst mithelfend und mitbauend sich als ein Glied einer groBen Genossenschaft erkannte" (Wiederherstellung 5: 762-63). Despite the nationalist sentiments of Eichendorff s essay, his earlier drama, Der letzte Held von Marienburg (1830), seems ill-suited to inspire Prussian patriotism. It portrays Heinrich von Plauen as a moody zealot, out of touch with his people and his time. Although Plauen dies certain that fu- ture Prussians will remember the great deeds of the Teutonic Order, Eichendorff leaves us with an image of puny individuals caught in the grasp ofhistorical events they can neither understand nor control: Was ist die Meinung

Des Einzelnen im Stunn der


Die iiber uns ein hoh'rer Meister dichtet,

Uns unverstlindlich und nach andern


(Der letzte Held 4: 496)

To an even greater extent than in Clauren7s "Mimili" and Hauffs "Die letzten Ritter von Marienburg," Eichendorff s tragedy ends on a discordant note that belies earlier images of militaryprowess.

In conclusion I would like to speculate on possible reasons for the pervasive ten- tativeness in these works by returning to the role of gender in nationalist fiction. In a recent article, Kirsten Belgum argues that the stress on domestic virtues for women in the popular nineteenth-century magazine Die Gartenlaube was an integral component of an effort to construct a na- tional identity. While Germany was in the throes of conflicts that would lead to politi- cal unification, Die Gartenlaube published fiction by such writers as Eugenie Marlitt that disseminated a domestic ideal which was to serve as the foundation for the Ger- man nation. The effort to base communal identity on a new understanding of gender and the family has its roots in conflicts of the previous century. Nancy Armstrong contends that in England it was "the new domestic woman rather than her counter- part, the new economic man, who first en- croached upon aristocratic culture and seized authority from it" (59), while in France the revolutionary fraternity took control of the public sphere on the strength of the belief that women belonged in the home (cf. Landes; Hunt). In other words, the triumph of the bourgeois class was predicated on the subjugation of the female gender. The Germans also adopted the new belief in "natural" gender distinctions- "Der Mann mu8 hinaus ins feindliche Le- ben" etc.-but the defeat of Napoleon led to the restoration of an anachronistic feu- dal order, not the creation of a republican national state founded on the ideology of a rising middle class.

I would suggest that it is this peculiarly German situation that provokes a certain nervousness on the part of the writers ex- amined here regarding both the status of their art and their attitude toward women. The Germans' inability to play a meaningful part in the political realm placed a correspondingly greater stress on the role of male genius in creating fictions of national identity Yet the very print-capitalism that enabled the distribution of the literary product placed female readers in aposition of power that drew them out of an exclu- sively private sphere and reminded the male author of the commercial basis of his art. The ambivalence with which Hauff treats Elise Wicklow reflects the discom- fort of an author who can neither live hap- pily with female readers nor without them. The concern that women might encroach on the masculine world of letters provokes a corresponding anxiety on the part of the men which expresses itself in two ways: in the case of an artist such as Hauff s Bunker, in the fear that his genius might be prosti- tuted through contact with the feminine reading public, and in the case of a soldier such as Clauren's Wilhelm, in the fear that he might be drawn off the battlefield and into the domestic sphere. In both casesma- cho rhetoric yields to what might be called castration anxiety, as the politically disen- franchised writers are excluded from par- ticipation in the nation they envision.

Although it is always dangerous to posit acontinuous development in German ideo- logical history that leads from nationalism to fascism, it is difficult to overlook affini- ties between the resentment and fear of the female reader among male writers of the Restoration and the open misogyny that Klaus Theweleit has shown to be an essen- tial component of fascist ideology. The male fantasies that unite the officers of the Freikorps, together with the use of moth- ers in the fatherland for the reproduction of abiologically pure state (cf. Koonz), seem

like a demonic parody of nineteenth-cen- tury nationalism and its domestic ideal. We catch a glimpse of the perverse mutation of the nationalist tradition in a 1943 re- print of Ernst Wichert's three-volume novel Heinrich vonPlauen (1881). Written by Waldemar Oehlke "in der deutschesten aller deutschen Zeiten" (81, the introduc- tion resuscitates the old myth of Marien- burg and puts it to work for the Third Reich: "Denn die Marienburg ist fur uns Deutsche die eigentliche Gralsburg gewor- den . . . das Symbol deutschen Geistes, deut- schen Heils. Hindenburgs zweites Tannen- berg knupft ebenso wie Adolf Hitlers glanzvolle Wiedergewinnung, Erweiterung und Sicherung des deutschen Ostens an Plauens Namen an" (7). In the light of such rhetoric for Hitler's Germany, Hauff s pasteboard knights and Clauren's paper- back heroes seem mercifully benign, yet they helped create a reservoir of fictions that would not only inspire national unifi- cation, but also play into the hands of a fascist regime.


'Seeba surveys the role of literature in the construction of German national identity from the eighteenth century to the present. My essay focuses on an important chapter within this broader scheme.

2This understanding of popular fiction in- forms both Berghahn's and Fritzen-Wolfs study of Hauff and Clauren. It has its roots both in the Frankfurt School's analysis of mass culture and the Russian Formalist stress on artistic innova- tion.

SJohnston discusses the active role assigned poets in Prussia during the Napoleonic wars. For studies of British and American literature as an agent of social change, see Eagleton and Arrnstrong in addition to Tompkina

4Clauren,"Mirnili" 44; hereafter cited paren- thetically in the text. I am grateful to Peter Uwe Hohendahl for first calling my attention to this work.

5"Die Biicher und die Lesewelt" 2: 732. Sub-

sequent references to Hauff's works will be cited in the text with the following abbreviations: BL ="Die Biicher und die Lesewelt" (2:727-43);MS = Mitteilur~ger~aus der~Men~oirerz des S&L (2: 413-674); KP = Kontrouers-Predigt iiber H. Chren (1: 554-82); LR = "Die letzten Ritter von Marienburg" (2: 270327).

GSchulte-Sasse notes that already in 1773 Sulzer charges that popular literature makes its readers "weichlich, schwach, untatig, unmannlich" (54). On the marginalization of women by Goethe and Schiller see Biirger 1931; on modern "Mass Culture as Woman" see Huyssen 44-62.

7HaufT's antisemitism has been noted fre- quently. See Bachrnaier 322; Martini 452; Storz

66. On Hauff's novella '3ud Siil3" in the context of its fascist reworkings see Hollstein.

the birth of hermeneutics see Kittler's reading of Goethe's Fcuut in the opening chapter of his Az~fichreibesyshn~e;also Woodmannsee


"Killer 5: 258. "Hieraus erklart sich nun zugleich beilaufig der Begriff vom edlen Stil in Kunstwerken jeder Art, welcher kein andrer ist als derjenige, der zugleich mit eine innre Seelen- wiirde des hervorbringenden Genies bezeichnet" (Moritz, ''lher die bildende Nachahrnung des Schonen" 1: 249). In his Winckelmann essay Goethe claims that only the beautiful individual elevates his own life by transforming it into art

(12: 10243).

'OSee also Haes short sketch "Der astheti- sche Klub," which concludes with the following exchange: '"Glauben Sie jetzt, daB auch in Deutschland ein Schriftsteller allgemein werden konne?' . .. 'Ja,' erwiderte ich und driickte ihrn die Hand, 'er kann es, wenn er es versteht, ge- mein zu sein"' (2: 771-72).

11(2: 675-723). Bachrnaier argues that Had draws on Swabian history in an attempt to over- come its provinciality by making it worthy of rep resentation in serious literature (320-21).

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