"Wer wagt es, eitlen Blutes Drang zu messen?": Reading Blood in Annette von Droste-Hülshoff's Die Judenbuche

by Martha B. Helfer
"Wer wagt es, eitlen Blutes Drang zu messen?": Reading Blood in Annette von Droste-Hülshoff's Die Judenbuche
Martha B. Helfer
The German Quarterly
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University of Utah

"Wer wagt es, eitlen Blutes Drang zu messen?":

Reading Blood in Annette von Droste-Hiilshoff's

Die Judenbuche

Die Judenbuche is one of the most popu- lar and critically acclaimed German novel- las of the nineteenth century, yet there has been little agreement about how to inter- pret this enigmatic text. Set in rural West- phalia at the end of the eighteenth century, the narrative revolves around a central fig- ure, Friedrich Mergel, and his presumed complicity with a band of wood pilferers. In the course of the novella four characters die under questionable circumstances in the vicinity of a beech tree, into which a cryptic Hebrew inscription is carved fol- lowing the death of the third victim, the Jew Aaron. Although it is suggested Mergel may have murdered Aaron, no conclusive evidence substantiates this claim. Indeed, when the final victim is found hanged in the Jews' beech tree, presumably in retri- bution for Aaron's death, the corpse is iden- tified as Mergel and buried in the knacker's yard like carrion, yet there is reason to be- lieve this identification may be incorrect. Mergel apparently has been masquerading as his doppelganger Johannes, a bastard presumably fathered by Friedrich's uncle Simon, who so resembles Friedrich that even his own mother cannot tell the two apart. Moreover, it is unclear whether the death of FriedrichjJohannes is a murder or a suicide. This information would seem es- sential to understanding why the narrative action ends with the unceremonious inter- ment of the corpse in the knacker's yard, a singular detail that has received little at- tention in the secondary literature.

I believe that FriedrichjJohannes is de- nied a Christian burial because he is a Jew, traveling incognito, as it were, as a Chris- tian in Christian society, and that Die Judenbuche is a profoundly anti-Semitic text.l In addition to its blatantly anti-Se- mitic depiction of those people identified as Jews in the narrative, the novella displays a covert anti-Semitism in its treatment of the protagonist Friedrich Mergel, whose name belies his putative Christian iden- tity: Mergel, or marl, a mixture of clay and calcium carbonate used as fertilizer, points to the "mixed blood" coursing through the Mergel family's veins, imbuing it with a pariah status derived from the anti-Semitic association of Jews with dung. The name Mergel is one of many clues interwoven into the novella linking the family to the overtly anti-Semitic register that runs throughout the text. This interplay be- tween overt and latent anti-Semitism is re- lated thematically to the indeterminacy structuring the narrative. The text's pro- grammatic refusal to confirm conclusively the identity of key characters reflects its author's fear of the Jews' legal emancipa- tion and subsequent assimilation into mainstream Christian society in the course of the nineteenth century: this is a text about Christian society's inability to recog- nize the '3ew" in its midsL2

My interpretation departs significantly from previous scholarship on Die Juden- b~che.~

Most analyses to date have concen- trated on problems of genre (is the text a novella or a detective story?), illuminated various aspects of the novella by providing

The German Quarterly 71.3 (Summer 1998) 228

socio-historical background material and tracing the text's genealogy, or attempted to resolve the ambiguities inherent in the plot (who killed the Jew and who is hanged in the beech tree?). Several astute critics have realized the text offers no resolution to these questions, and have focused in- stead on the indeterminacy structuring the narrative.4However, no one has attempted to link this narrative indeterminacy to the text's treatment of anti-Semitism. Indeed, the issue of anti-Semitism remains unmen- tioned in most analyses. Many of those commentators who do remarkon the text's treatment of Jews have not regarded this as a major theme, and have excused Droste's documented anti-Semitism as un- derstandable in its historicalcontext. Afew critics even have argued the novella is philo-Semitic simply because its author chose to write about JewsS5 Remarkably, there has been only one study providing any substantive evaluation of anti-Semi- tism in the narrative, yet this ground- breaking article is somewhat limited in scope. In an excellent and informative analysis Karin Doerr underscores what she calls the "specter" of anti-Semitism in and around the text, arguing that commenta- tors routinely have glossed over the no- vella's blatantly anti-Semitic descriptions of the Jews as rogues, liars, cheaters, dogs, and pigs, and that the history of the no- vella's critical reception is itself anti-se- mitic.6 Doerr, however, does not recognize the latent anti-Semitism embedded in the narrative, and hence does not consider how crucial this anti-Semitic register is to an understanding of the novella as a whole.

The very fact that Droste constructs her Jewish characters from an extensive and deeply-ingrained tradition of stock anti-Se- mitic stereotypes-and makes no attempt to present a balanced or realistic picture of Jewish cultural and religious identity- hints at the presence of a narrative subtext in the novella, a subtext that demands to be contextualized and interpreted socio- historically. As Sander Gilman has pro- posed, stereotypes "carry entire realms of associations with them, associations that form a subtext within the realm of fiction. In the case of works claiming to create a world out of whole cloth, such a subtext provides basic insight into the presupposi- tions ofthe culturein which the workarises and for which it is ~reated."~

Droste, I will argue, was acutely aware of these stereo- typical associations, and crafted them into a subtextual narrative about the danger of unexposed Jewish identity in 19th-century Germany.

In the following analysis I will focus on the narrative function of anti-Semitism in the text, demonstrating Die Judenbuche is both a detective story and a novella accord- ing to Goethe's famous definition of the genre.8 The "sich ereignete unerhijrte Be- gebenheit" around which the novella re- volves documents the influx of %Jewish" blood into the Mergel family, an event en- coded on the lexical level of the narrative. Theodor Fontane, representative of a se- ries of distinguished critics who have viewed Die Judenbuche as a flawed mas- terpiece, errs in his assessment that the novella tells two stories--Simon's and the Jews'-and that Droste should have picked one or the other in developing her plot.9 These two storylines are in fact one and the same, and the novella displays a remark- able narrative cohesion once its anti-Se- mitic subtext is elucidated. The first part of my analysis situates the text historically as a document in the debate about the Jews' legal emancipation and assimilation into mainstream Christian society in 19th- century Germany.lo The second section discusses the methodology I use in my tex- tual analysis. The following three sections identify and interpret the extensive anti- Semitic discourse that informs the novella. After tracing the Jewish genealogy of Frie- drich Mergel and his family, I examine a series of narrative circumstances linking this unsavory clan to those people identi- fied as Jews in the novella. Finally, I turn to the conclusion of the text, where Mergel is condemned because of his Jewishness, and then briefly consider the implications of this reading in light of the emergence of modern anti-Semitism at the end of the nineteenth century.

There were four main phases in the de- velopment of Jewish emancipation in 19th- century Germany (Rurup 9). The first, which extended from 1781 to 1815, began with a public debate in various print media fueled in large part by the French Revolu- tion and the Napoleonic era. As a direct result of the Revolution, Jews in France were granted full civic equality in 1791- 1792, a right extended to Jews in the French-occupied territories of Germany under Napoleon's reign. Among these re- gions was Droste's native Westphalia, which forms the setting for Die Juden- buche. In this area Jews received full legal rights in 1808, earlier than in most other parts of Germany, and Westphalia hence might be seen as a harbinger of the eman- cipation process in Germany at large. To be sure, this era of emancipation did not last long. In Westphalia some restrictions were imposed on Jews' rights in 1813;11 two years later at the Congress of Vienna the civil rights of most Jews in Germany were rescinded. The second phase of the emancipation process, the period from 1815 to 1847, was characterized by an in- tense public debate about the "Jewish ques- tion." Some 2,500 books, pamphlets and essays devoted to this topic were published between 1815 and 1850 (Rurup 21); Die Judenbuche, in my estimation, counts among these documents. The third phase of emancipation was marked by the 1848 revolutions, during which the '3ewish question" was hotly contested; the fourth extended from 1850 to 186911871, when Jews finally were granted full civic equality.

The issue of assimilation went hand in hand with the emancipation debate. As a prerequisite for emancipation Jews were expected to abandon all characteristics that made them recognizable as Jews out- side the religious sphere. In clothing, speech, and comportment Jews henceforth would be indistinguishable from Chris- tians (Riirup 6-8). This call for social inte- gration inspired both ire and angst among those who openly opposed the Jews' legal emancipation and those who harbored anti-Semitic sentiments. If Jews were no longer marked as such, how would Chris- tians be able to recognize them in the gen- eral population? Precisely this question forms the crux of Die Judenbuche.

There can be no doubt that Droste was anti-Semitic. A significant number of gra- tuitous negative comments addressing top- ics like Jewish physiognomy, Jews and money, and the identification of Jews in mainstream Christian society are strewn throughout her personal correspondence (Tusken 37-38). Moreover, the Yewish question" was of great concern to her as a Catholic Biedermeier author. Overtly hos- tile toward the increasing influence of Jews on the German cultural scene, she vehe- mently condemned "Junges Deutschland" as a '3ewish" movement that threatened Christian bourgeois society, saying deri- sively of the Young German leader Hein- rich Laube:12

ist der Laube nicht ein Jude? Er hat we-

nigstens Alles was die Schriftsteller die-

ses Volkes bezeichnet,- Geist, Witz,

Grimm gegen alle bestehende Formen,

sonderlich die christlichen und biirgerli-

chen, -Haschen nach Effect, -Aufgebla-

senheit und eine Stentorische Manier das

Wort in der litterarischen Welt an sich zu

reiBen, -Einseitigkeit, die aber nicht aus

dem Verstande, sondern aus reinem Dun-

kel hervorgeht, -kurz- ist er kein Jude,

so verdiente er Einer zu seyn [...I. (HKA

9.1: 28)

(Ironically, Laube, who was not Jewish, later attacked the "foreign Jewish ele- ment" that had "penetrated everywhere" into the midst of German society and lit- erature, at the same time claiming he did not oppose the Jews' emancipation [Katz 1831.) It is no accident, I would propose, that the genealogy of Die Judenbuche coincides with the second phase of Jewish emancipation in Germany (1815-1847). Droste possibly began taking notes for the story as early as 1818, then completed most of the work on the text in two stages: the first in the 1820s; the second between 1837 and 1840. Some twenty years after its inception the novella was published in 1842, in the wake of the Young German movement (HKA 5.2: 199-214).

The contextualization of the novella within the Jewish emancipation debate provides a plausible explanation for Droste's enduring interest in her subject matter, though biographical circumstance certainly contributed to her initial choice of topic. Die Judenbuche is loosely based on a somewhat fictionalized report of a West- phalian Jew's murder in 1782 published in 1818 by Droste's uncle, August von Haxt- hausen, and then further fictionalized by Droste in her novella. In Haxthausen's Geschichte eines Alg~erer-Sklaven Hermann Winkelhannes murders the Jew Pin- nes in 1782, runs away and becomes a slave for 25 years, and in 1807 returns to the crime site and hangs himself out of re- morse.13 Die Judenbuche departs signifi- cantly from its literary-historical proto- type, which, as Droste put it, "durchaus nicht zu MEINEM Mergel passen will" (HKA

5.2: 200). One striking difference between the two stories is the highly stylized Chris- tian rhetoricofDroste's version, largely ab- sent in Haxthausen's. The introduction of this emphatically religious dimension may have been a calculated move to situate the text within the Jewish emancipation de- bate,14 a hypothesis substantiated in part by two other major modifications Droste made to the narrative. In addition to chang- ing the name of the protagonist to the se- mantically charged "Mergel," Droste al- tered the time of the novella's setting so the action concludes on the eve of the French Revolution, the event that ulti- mately led to the Jews' legal emancipa- tion.15

The novella's title was coined by Droste's publisher Hermann Hauff but ap- proved by Droste, who noted with no small irony that Hauff had "baptized" her story "Die Judenbuche" (HKA 9.1: 293). The choice of title likely was not fortuitous. A popular 'gudenbuche" tale circulating widely at the time related the account of Maria Buchen, a beech tree in Franconia into which a statue of the Virgin Mary had been placed. Over time the tree trunk had grown over the hollow where the statue stood, obscuring the image. According to legend no Jew was able to pass by the tree without drawing his knife and unknow- ingly stabbing the icon, a transgression for which he was then put to death.16 The sig- nificance of this tale to Droste's novella is profound: in both accounts "die Juden- buche" serves as a means for identifying and condemning Jews.

Droste's text was published in the Morgenblatt fur gebildete Leser in the spring of 1842. In the same issue the journal ran a lengthy expos6 on "Die Judenstadt in Prag," an article that ostensibly argues for the Jews' emancipation but whose rhetoric is demonstrably anti-Semitic.17 Droste, who interpreted the piece as being about "the position of the Jews everywhere," at first felt threatened by the essay because she feared it might detract from her read- ership, but later concluded it might actu- ally increase interest in her novella (HKA 5.2:209). Read in this context, it is entirely plausible Die Judenbuche instantiates a political agenda. Composed as a warning against the influx of Jews into German so- ciety, this "Sittengemalde aus dem Gebir- gigten Westphalen" (HKA 5.1: 1)is, in its author's words, "rein NATIONAL, und sehr merkwiirdig" (HKA 5.2: 200).

Throughout the novella Droste uses subtle and subconscious rhetorical persua- sion to advance this political agenda, wit- tingly obscuring a narrative subtext be- neath the surface storyline. In this she shared the proclivity of many Biedermeier authors for encoding messages in their writings. In a succinct statement that might be taken as a programmatic descrip- tion of the narrative principle structuring the novella Droste announced: "Brevis esse volo, obscuro fio."18 Concealed in the language of the narrative itself, the anti- Semitic subtext of this carefully crafted tale is developed with lyrical precision, a linguistic feat hardly surprising for an author whose primary output was poetry.

In the following analysis I will focus on the semantic network of etymologies, ellip- ses, and allusions coalescing around the fig- ure of Friedrich Mergel, arguing that Mer- gel is a Jew according to a racial or "blood" definition, and that the text depicts the fate of the ''Jew" masquerading as a Christian in Christian society. Much of my analysis hinges on lexical and etymological evi- dence. This methodology is justified-in- deed sanctioned-by the text itself. Droste challenges her reader to read accordingly in the novella's prologue, an opaque poem that forms the programmatic core of the narrative:

Wo ist die Hand so zart, dal3 ohne Irren

Sie sondern mag beschrankten Hirnes


So fest, dal3 ohne Zittern sie den Stein

Mag schleudern auf ein arm verkiimmert


Wer wagt es, eitlen Blutes Drang

zu messen,

Zu wagen jedes Wort, das unvergessen

In junge Brust die zhhen Wurzeln trieb,

Des Vorurtheils geheimen Seelendieb?

Du Gliicklicher, geboren und gehegt

Im lichten Raum,von frommer Hand

gepflegt,Leg hin die Wagschal', nimmer dir erlaubt! Lal3 ruhn den Stein-er trifft dein eignes Haupt!-(3)"

The themes of error, confusion, decidabil- ity, blood, prejudice, and retribution are underscored in the verse in an overt her- meneutic challenge. The poem consists of three complex sentences, each four lines long. The first and second sentences take the form of queries, while the third is an exhortation, presumably an answer of sorts to the questions posed in the previous lines. The first sentence asks: Where is the hand so delicate it can sort out the confu- sion of a narrow mind, so steady it can unerringly stone a poor or atrophied being without itself quaking? The second sen- tence repeats the question, this time as a challenge: Who dares measure the force of boastful blood, to weigh each word that, unforgotten, drives its tenacious roots into a young breast, to weigh each word that is the secret soul-thief of prejudice? This text dares us to read blood, dares us to read on the lexical level, to weigh each word and its roots, to remember each unforgotten word in its various contexts, to consider the word the secret soul-thief of preju- dice.20 The final sentence elucidates this puzzling image with a caveat for the lucky one born and protected, raised by a pious hand, in the world of light: Put away the balance, don't try to measure yourself us- ing this scale, don't throw the stone or it will strike your own head. It is entirely possible to interpret this as a simple ex- hortation against prejudice ("judge not lest ye be judged"), but I would suggest quite the opposite is the case here. Read in view of Friedrich Mergel's fate in the ensuing narrative, the final line of the poem warns: you, too, may have "Jewish" blood coursing through your veins, and you, too, shall be judged accordingly.

I want to be very clear about the nature of the claims I make here and throughout my textual analysis. I am not arguing my reading is the only possible one. Such an assertion would be foolhardy in light of the fact that the text derives its narrative force from indeterminacy, from the program- matic avoidance of proof.21 Many of the passages I discuss can be interpreted using explanations other than the ones I offer. The crucial point is not that my reading is correct, but that it can be correct, given the textual evidence. Precisely this interpreta- tive ambiguity is at stake in the novella. In a central passage Droste thematizes this irresolvable tension between verity and verisimilitude, proof and plausibility, by of- fering a Kleistian rendition of Boileau: "le vrai n'est pas toujours vraisemblable" (34), and then steadfastly refusing to verify the "truth" ofany of thematter at hand.22 This refusal to confirm basic information like character identity is significant in a narra- tive where the polarization between Chris- tian and Jew is stark. Contextualized his- torically, Droste's narrative voices an anxi- ety, the fear Christian society will be unable to recognize the assimilated Jew. Droste re- sponds to this fear by arguing that in the face of uncertainty 'Uewish" blood will manifest itself. Many readers will find my analysis disturbing, and may take issue with the lexical evidence I offer in support of my thesis. To these critics I respond: Droste explicitly invites this type of inter- pretation, and my reading is every bit as valid as any other explication of the given evidence. My analysis has the additional advantage of interpreting many significant textual details glossed over or inadequately understood in the scholarship to date. Moreover, it explains the narrative func- tion of anti-Semitism in the text, rather than merely commenting on its presence.

Before turning to the text a few prefa- tory comments about Droste's narrative technique are in order. First, the narrator distorts facts and dissembles in her pres- entation. Twice she purports to render an objective account of an historical event: "Es wiirde in einer erdichteten Geschichte unrecht sein, die Neugier des Lesers so zu tauschen. Aber diel3 Alles hat sich wirklich zugetragen; ich kann nichts davon oder dazu thun" (25); "DieR hat sich nach allen Hauptumstanden wirklich so begeben im September des Jahrs 1789" (42). The nar- rator's comments could be taken at face value, yet Droste did change a number of crucial details in the historical account, including the years of action. This is "erdichtete Geschichte," and a disjunction ex- ists between the historical record and nar- rative "fact." Even if we were to accept the

narrative "facts" as true (asomewhat prob-

lematic step, since Droste wrote for an

audience who may well have been familiar

with both the historical record and Haxt-

hausen's fictionalized version of the event),

the narrator's assertion her account is ac-

curate "nach allen Hauptumst2inden" im-

plies her report may be inaccurate with re-

gard to minor details. In short, we are deal-

ing with a manipulative narrator whose

voice cannot be trusted. Second, despite the

narrator's claim she cannot add to or de-

tract from the truth, a number of embel-

lishments and ellipses are evident in the

novella. Finally, as we will see, the text con-

stantly quotes and rewrites itself, creating

a narrative palimpsest that must be read

on many levels.

The following analysis traces the nar- rative sequence of the novella, highlighting those aspects of the text that detail Frie- drich's Jewish provenance. Roughly speak- ing, the first part of the narrative (pp. 3-26) documents Friedrich's genealogy as a 'Uew," while the second (pp. 2742) exposes his true identity and condemns him be- cause of his Jewishness.

In the opening paragraph we are told Friedrich Merge1 was born in 1738 into an historically noteworthy milieu that is iso- lated and protected from modernization, where a foreign face still attracts attention. The population of the region is distin- guished by all the vices and virtues, origi- nality and narrow-mindedness that flour- ish under such conditions. The inhabi- tants' notions of right and wrong have become somewhat confused. Or rather, in addition to the official legal code a second form of law was in force: the law of public opinion (3). The text does not clarify the contents of the legal code in question, and the ensuing narrative introduces two ma-

jor legal issues current at the time of the novella's writing. The first is the matter of timber rights on public grounds (see Moritz 21-29), a topic hinted at in the next sen- tence and developed in the following para- graph's description of the area's thriving wood pilfering industry. The second is the debate about the Yewish question," aques- tion the text never overtly raises but per- haps obliquely alludes to in the narrator's remark that a foreign face still attracts at- tention in the region. The narrator then broaches the issues of interpretation and evaluation, suggesting these themes have political ramifications of central impor- tance to the novella: "Es ist schwer, jene Zeit unparteiisch in's Auge zu fassen; sie ist seit ihrem Verschwinden entweder hochmuthig getadelt oder albern gelobt worden [...I" (3, emphasis mine). Having framed her "Sittengemalde" as a politically charged, historically specific hermeneutic exercise, the narrator concludes the para- graph by subtly introducing a religious di- mension into her discussion of the prob- lematic legal code: "Denn wer nach seiner Ueberzeugung handelt, und sey sie noch so mangelhaft, kann nie ganz zu Grunde ge- hen, wogegen nichts seelentodtender wirkt, als gegen das innere Rechtsgefuhl das auflere Recht inhspruch nehmen" (4, em- phasis mine).

The Mergel family history is then set into this socio-historical context. Dorf B. just has been presented as a peasant town whose inhabitants are distinguished by narrow-mindedness, questionable moral- ity, and a penchant for wood pilfering. But there is something different and decidedly worse about the Mergel family. Signifi- cantly, the rhetoric the narrator uses to de- scribe this alterity recalls the foreignness of the "fremdes Gesicht" that still attracts attention in the area (3). The Mergels have moved into a homestead and destroyed its modest prosperity through "vie1 Unord- nung und bose Wirthschaft": the house is dilapidated and the fields overrun with "fremdes Vieh [...I, fremdes Korn, [...] mehr Unkraut als Kraut" (5). From the beginning, then, the Mergel family is de- picted as a destructive force that threatens the local economy and introduces the "for- eign" into the old order.23

We then are presented with Friedrich's

father, Hermann Mergel, who drinks, bat- ters his first wife, and consorts with "fremde Magde" (5). In light of this illus- trious behavior it is unclear why the former town beauty Margreth Semmler, known for her wit and economic expertise, chooses to marry the town drunk: "so muflte es Jedem unbegreiflich seyn, was sie zu diesem Schrittegetrieben. Wirglauben den Grund eben in dieser ihrer selbstbewuflten Voll- kommenheit zu finden" (5, emphasis mine). But the tentative nature of the nar- rator's assertion and the compulsion ex- pressed in the verb "getrieben" suggest there may well be another explanation. In- deed, as we will see, Margreth's professed probity proves to be a sham,24 and her brother Simon later intimates the 40-year- old Margreth marries because of her sexual drives (9-10). Soon after the marriage Mar- greth is seen running from the house with her clothes disheveled and her hair hang- ing wildly around her head, hastily digging herbs from the garden and disappearing into the barn. The narrator provides one possible reason for this bizarre behavior: it was rumored Hermann beat Margreth for the first time, though she herself never re- ports this (6). Margreth's silence again calls the narrator's explanation into ques- tion. Another possible interpretation of her puzzling behavior is related to her sexual drive: some herbs are known abortants, a suggestion I will return to shortly. At this point I would merely draw attention to the fact there is a one-year gap in the narrative. The next event we are told of, which by virtue of its narrative position would seem to elucidate Margreth's mysterious behav- ior in the garden, is the birth of Friedrich Mergel in the second year of the marriage. (In an early draft of the manuscript Frie- drich is born in the first year of the mar- riage [HKA 5.2: 2651, indicating this one- year gap is significant.) Margreth is said to have cried bitterly when handed the child. Her grief is perhaps due to her unhappy relationship with her husband, but the text later suggests another possible explana-

tion: Hermann may not be the father of the child.

Margreth's rectitude is drawn into question in the elliptical description of her husband's death, an event that occurs when Friedrich is nine years old. The reader never receives a precise account of the circumstances surrounding the death. We are told only that Hermann, who had gone to a wedding one stormy winter eve- ning, was found dead in the woods (8). Simon later intimates Hermann fell down drunk and froze to death (12), but a surfeit in narrative information renders this ex- planation somewhat suspect. Although the narrator reports Hermann had left home early because of the storm, the distance be- tween the site of the wedding and the Mer- gel house is only three-quarters of a mile. Perhaps this is a considerable stretch for a drunken man to navigate in a storm, but the narrator also recounts that Hermann, who apparently has reformed his untoward behavior and become a devoted father, had promised Friedrich he would return home that night (6).The death itself is glossed over in a remarkable narrative ellipsis, and the text delicately suggests Margreth may have played a significant role in Hermann's demise. Friedrich anxiously awaits his fa- ther's return, but Margreth sends the boy to bed, ignoring his assertion someone is knocking on the door. It is only the wind, she claims, adding the Devil, who is stand- ing outside the door, will hold Hermann tight (thereby intimating someone is in fact at the door). After several hours Friedrich wakes up and hears his mother praying. She tells Friedrich to join in, remarlung he already knows half the Lord's Prayer. (That a nine-year-old boy knows only half the Lord's Prayer indicates the seemingly devout Margreth has been seriously remiss in her son's education [cf. Rolleke 4211.) Friedrich again hears knocking; again Margreth dismisses his claim. This time the boy insists he hears voices. The wind abates, and Margreth, hearing the hubbub outside, replies: "Da bringen sie mir das

Schwein wieder" (7). There is no clear way to interpret this statement. Perhaps the scenario of the drunken Hermann being brought home has been repeated many times before; perhaps this is the second time Hermann returns home that night. When Margreth does get up, she unpiously flings her rosary onto a stool and goes to the hearth before stomping obstinately through the house to open the door. She does not return, and the narrator reports: "Zweimal kam ein fremder Mann in die Kammer und schien angstlich etwas zu suchen" (7). Margreth's trip to the fire- place before opening the door suggests she may have burned the sought-after object, and her willfully ignoring the knocking Friedrich hears hints she may have had a hand in Hermann's death.

Margreth's behavior after the corpse is brought home is even more damning, and again raises the question of her motivation for marrying Hermann in the first place. The narrator insinuates the seemingly dis- traught Margreth engages in an incestuous affair with her brother Franz on the very night of her husband's death:

Der Bruder blieb bei ihr und Friedrich, dem bei strenger Strafe im Bett zu bleiben geboten war, hijrte die ganze Nacht hin- durch das Feuer in der Kiiche knistern und ein Gerausch wie von Hin- und Her- rutschen und Biirsten. Gesprochen ward wenig und leise, aber zuweilen drangen Seufzer heriiber, die dem Knaben, so jung er war, durch Mark und Bein gingen. (8)

While this might be interpreted as a de- scription of Margreth and her brother readying Hermann's corpse for burial, it is by no means clear what actually happens here, and textual evidence points strongly to sexual activity. Friedrich is ordered to stay in bed, suggesting he should not see the adults' activities; he hears rhythmic rustling noises and the fire crackling (fire is a common metaphor for sexual "burn- ing" or desire, and Droste uses this image elsewhere in the text [9-101); and the penetrating sighs the young boy does not understand cut him to the quick. More- over, Franz's suggestion to Margreth that they both have three masses read and make a pilgrimage to Werl (8)is ambigu- ous: perhaps these actions are to be taken in memory of the unshriven Hermann, yet the siblings' contrition also indicates they may be guilty of some sin.

The first characterization of Jews in the text follows this incestuous interlude, a narrative link that will prove significant later in the novella. Hermann's corpse is carried off; curiously, there is no mention it is buried. Margreth, faced with the pros- pect of raising her son alone, asks Friedrich whether he plans to be pious or to lie, drink, and steal. Friedrich hedges the question and replies Hulsmeyer steals: he recently thrashed Aaron and took six groschen from him. Margreth retorts: "Hat er dem Aaron Geld genommen, so hat ihn der verfluchte Jude gewil3 zuvor darum betrogen. Huls- meyer ist ein ordentlicher, angesessener Mann, und die Juden sind alle Schelme" (8). In one short utterance Margreth char- acterizes the Jews as damned, money- grubbing, deceiving, and, in implicit oppo- sition to the "angesessener" Hulsmeyer, foreign.

Margreth's concluding remark that the Jews are all "Schelme" is profoundly im- portant to the ensuingnarrative. Commen- tators routinely have interpreted this de- rogatory term in its watered-down mean- ing of "rogue" or "rascal." In this context this attribution is certainly justified, but in keeping with the prologue's challenge to read the roots ofwords, I would suggest the text also brings into play the literal mean- ing of the term. "Schelm" in its original meaning refers to a "geschundenes Vieh" or "gefallenes Tier," a usage still current in nineteenth-century dialect, and the term also can be applied to human corpses. From this its other meanings are derived: "Schelm" in its secondary sense refers to "eine ansteckende Krankheit" or "Seuche;" its tertiary meaning is "venvorfener Mensch, Betruger, Dieb, Verfiihrer, Ver- rater" (Grimm and Grimm 8: 2506- 2510). Strikingly, the dead Hermann becomes a

"Schelm" in at least the first and third senses of the word, tacitly linking him to the anti-Semitic register Margreth sum- marily invoked. Local lore has it that his blue corpse becomes the phantom rogue of the forest who engages in antics like fright- ening a slumbering timber thief by show- ing off his swollen blue face through the leaves (9), a caper that anticipates the scene at the end of the novella when young Brandis lies down for a nap and peers through the leaves to find the dead-and no doubt blue-Friedrich/Johannes hanging in the beech tree (42).Hermann7s post- mortem metamorphosis into a "Schelm" is the first hint there might be something

"Jewish" about the Merge1 family. Signifi- cantly, this identification will be mirrored at the novella's conclusion in the paral- lel-and even more damning-transformation of FriedricWJohannes, whose scarred corpse is hastily buried in the knacker's yard, thereby becoming a "Schelm" in the original sense of the word (L1ge~~hundene~


Hermann's transformation into a "Schelm" has a profound effect on Frie- drich's development. Friedrich was so dis- turbed by the sight of his father's blue corpse that he refuses to speak about it, and when the other boys tease him about his phantom father, he howls, hits, and stabs out "mit seinem Messerchen" (9),arguably a threatening phallic gesture that will take on significance in light of the cir- cumcision motif soon to be introduced in the text (a hypothesis I will return t0).~5 Friedrich's strong reaction to the chil- dren's taunting is perhaps brought on by the subconscious realization that Hermann is a "phantom" father in another sense of the word: he may not be Friedrich's true father. As if to substantiate this con- clusion, Friedrich often is seen at his shep- herd's post pulling thyme from the earth (91, pathological behavior recalling the strange occurrence in the year before his own birth when Margreth pulls herbs from the garden and disappears into the barn (6). My suggestion that Margreth's foray into the herb garden was connected to an unwanted pregnancy now gains credence: the herbal link between mother and son serves to introduce Friedrich's genealogy, detailed in the next scene of the text.

The mysterious circumstances surrounding Margreth's marriage and Frie- drich's birth are amplified when Margreth's brother Simon comes to visit fol- lowing the demise of Hermann Mergel. Simon's visit is noteworthy because he has not come to his sister's house since her "foolish marriage" to Hermann twelve years before (9). Since Simon himself is hardly an upright character, we are left to speculate about the reasons for his strange reaction to his sister's marriage. (I would suggest at this point the reason is sexual.) The motivation for his current visit appar- ently is professional: the text implies he has come to enlist Friedrich as a lookout for his wood pilfering band. He therefore arranges a "Handel" with Margreth, "eine Art Adop- tion" of the "Schwestersohn" (11, 10, 16). This terminology is significant, since the narrative focus of the scene is on familial resemblances, and not on Simon's wood pilfering activities. Though very little fac- tual information is conveyed here, a series of ellipses in the narrative points to a sub- text detailing Friedrich's genealogy.

The scene begins with a characterization of Simon, a portrayal all the more remarkable in that he is the only figure to be described in any detail in the narrative:

Simon Semmler war ein kleiner, unruhi- ger, magerer Mann mit vor dem Kopf lie- genden Fischaugen und uberhaupt einem Gesicht wie ein Hecht, ein unheimlicher Geselle, bei dem dickthuende Verschlos- senheit oft mit ebenso gesuchter Treuher- zigkeit wechselte, der gern einen aufge- kliirten Kopf vorgestellt hatte und statt dessen fur einen fatalen, Hiindel suchen- den Kerl galt, dem Jeder um so lieber aus dem Wege ging [... I. (9)

I would submit that this is a stereotypical anti-Semitic description of a Jew, and that Simon, the conniving, deal-seeking "fiery man" with the bulging eyes and the Se- mitic name whose red coattails trail after him like fiery flames (11)'is in fact a Jew.26 In anti-Semitic literature Jews frequently appear as the Devil (Trachtenberg 11-54), and Simon's "pike face," which glosses the folktale in which the Devil appears in the form of a pike (Rolleke 405), underscores this demonic association. To be sure, not all demons are Jews, but Simon's biblical name provides the key to the significance of this particular Devil figure to Droste's narrative. Of the many Simons in the Old and New Testaments, the most famous is Simon Magus. Acts 8:9-24 relates the ac- count of Peter contending with the magi- cian Simon and eventually converting him to Christianity. No later document men- tions Simon's conversion, and in popular anti-Semitic literature he often is cited as the prototype of the Jewish sorcerer (Trachtenberg 57-155 and 23111. 19). (Droste, who asserted in an early draft of the manuscript that "die Juden zaubern" [HKA 5.2: 2571, tacitly invokes this stereo- type by linking Simon to the timber thieves who mysteriously spirit away wood.) Perhaps due in part to linguistic circumstance, the historical Simon be- came a foe of the early Church. Simon's claim to be "somebody great" resonates with the title "Great Power," a phrase ap- plied to God or God's representatives, and later accounts detail Simon parading as Christ. Hence, for centuries heresiologists have cited Simon as an example of how demonic forces can mimic Christianity, ar- guing Simon is a false Christ or an Anti- christ (The Anchor Bible Dictionary 6: 27-31). In view of the anti-Semitic stereo- type of the Jew as Antichrist (Trachten- berg3243), this ecclesiastical history sug- gests the relevance of the eponym to Droste's narrative: the demonic Simon,

masquerading as a Christian, is a Jew.

Moreover, Simon, the "Schlusselfigur" of the novella (Rolleke 404), represents the anti-Semitic stereotype of the licentious Jew incarnate, and this identification pro- vides the key to Friedrich's genealogy. The text raises the distinct possibility an inces- tuous relationship existed twelve years be- fore between Simon and his sister (a possi- bility rendered even more probable by the strong suggestion of sexual activity be- tween Margreth and her brother Franz on the occasion of Hermann's death). Mar- greth quakes violently when she sees Si- mon, who "seit der thorichten Heirath sei- ner Schwester ihre Schwelle nicht betreten hatte" (9, emphasis mine). Perhaps this mundane turn of phrase metonymically masks a sexual transgression, since Mar- greth then asks:27 "Willst du sehen, wie es mir geht und meinem schmutzigen Jun- gen?"(9). This query raises the obvious question: what makes Friedrich "dirty"? Her brother answers with a slew of homi- lies ending with an innuendo about the 40year-old Margreth's sexual drives: "'Aber wenn ein altes Haus brennt, dann hilft kein Loschen.'-Uber Margreths vergrhtes Gesicht flog eine Flarnme so roth wie Blut" (9-10). Margreth's flame-red blush reiter- ates the image of inextinguishable sexual desire, and the description of Simon not stepping over Margreth's "Schwelle" reso- nates synecdochically with the burning house metaphor. Moreover, the ensuing ex- change suggests on both lexical and narra- tive levels that Friedrich may be the prod- uct of an incestuous relationship between Margreth and Simon. Like the conniving Simon, who is characterized by "Verschlossenheit" (9), Friedrich is "tuckisch und verschlossen," "schlau und gewichst" (10). Margreth then broaches the issue of Friedrich's paternity, remarking: "Er hat viel von dir, Simon, viel" (10). Simon replies Friedrich is truly his "father's son," and his response indicates it is unclear who Friedrich's father really is:

"Ei, da kommt der Gesell! Vaterssohn! er

schlenkert gerade so mit den Armen wie

dein seliger Mann. Und schau ma1 an!

wahrhaftig, der Junge hat meine blonden


In der Mutter Ziige kam ein heimliches,

stolzes Lacheln; ihres Friedrichs blonde

Locken und Simons rothliche Biirsten!


Margreth's "secret proud smile" suggests there is not merely a familial resemblance between Friedrich and Simon, but a filial relationship.28 (This suggestion is under- scored on the lexical level: Simon's "roth- liche Bursten" recalls, in close textual proximity, the sexually charged "Hin- und Herrutschen und Bursten" [81punctuating the night Margreth and her brother Franz spent together in front of the fire.)

The likelihood that Simon may be Frie- drich's father is further strengthened by Margreth's extremely troubled reaction to the appearance of Johannes Niemand, a bastard child apparently sired by Simon whose maternal lineage remains unexplained. Johannes so resembles Friedrich that Margreth at first cannot tell the two boys apart. Moreover, her face turns pale as a sheet when she sees Johannes ([15], a detail that will prove significant to my analysis), and the narrator's description of her reaction to the boy hints at a narrative ellipsis that might explain his true parent- age: "nein, das war ihr Kind nicht! und den- noch-'Friedrich, Friedrich!' rief sie" (13). One logical explanation for Margreth's emotional and linguistic reactions to this strong fraternal resemblance is that the two boys are in fact brothers and Margreth and Simon are the boys' parents.29 Recall the unexplained circumstances surround- ing Margreth's marriage to the town drunk Hermann, her mysterious foray into the herb garden soon after the marriage, and the one-year gap in the narrative preceding Friedrich's birth. These ellipses suggest that Margreth may have been pregnant when she married Hermann, that she per- haps had used the herbs to try to induce an abortion, and that the ungainly Johannes, who perhaps bears the scars of a failed abor- tion attempt, may have been born during the first year of the marriage. Moreover, the coupling of Margreth and Simon is en- ciphered onomastically in the unexplained "old story" about Gretchen Siemers (21), whose first name is a diminutive form of Margreth, and whose last name elliptically combines the names Simon and Semm- ier.30

Perhaps this is merely idle speculation. After all, the narrator reports Margreth is extremely upset that Simon has been so "ungodly" as to sire a child out of wedlock (151, suggesting he is the only culprit here. Remember, though, that the narrator cannot be trusted, and Margreth's behavior on the occasion of her husband's death clearly indicated she is not as pious as she pretends to be. Indeed, when Margreth tries to ex- plain away the strange similarity between Friedrich and Johannes, the text indicates her own family history may be tainted by "foreign" (read %Jewishn) blood: "Aehn- lichkeiten wollen nichts beweisen. Hatte sie doch selbst vor vierzig Jahren ein Schwesterchen verloren, das genau dem fremden Hechelkramer glich. Was glaubt man nicht gern, wenn man so wenig hat und durch Unglauben dielj wenige ver- lieren soll!" (15-16).~~ The narrator's wry comment indicates Margreth may well be holding onto false beliefs in dismissing these physiognomic similarities. While there is no direct evidence the foreign ped- dler or "Hechelkramer" either fathered the child or was a Jew, lexical evidence points strongly to this conclusion. A "Hechel" is a comb for dressing flax or hemp. This etymology is significant, since the textile trade-especially the linen industry-was a major source of employment for Jews in 18th-century Germany (Moritz 39).32 Moreover, tales in which business and sex- ual transactions are intermixed are com- mon in anecdotes concerning Jews (Felsen- stein 75). Perhaps most indicative of the

genealogical connection between the ped- dler and the Semmler family are the lexical links Friedrich shares with both the "He- chelkramer" and Simon: "FuBhoch uber die Andern tauchte sein blonder Kopf auf und nieder, wie ein Hecht, der sich im Wasser uberschlagt; an allen Enden schrien Madchen auf, denen er [...I sein langes Flachshaar in's Gesicht schleuderte" (27). The flaxen-haired Friedrich, who jumps up and down like a pike, is at once connected to Simon the pike-faced Yew" (9) and to the foreign "flax comb" peddler who may have fathered at least one illegitimate child in the Semmler family.33 It seems there may in fact be Jewish blood on the mater- nal side of Friedrich's family, and Friedrich and Simon may in fact be Jews according to aliberal interpretation of thematrilineal definition of Jewish law.34

To be sure, Simon and Friedrich likely do not know they are Jews. Their Yewish- ness" derives from the '3ewishn blood coursing through their veins, condemning them to egregious behavior. The transgres- sions they are accused of on the narrative level are wood pilfering and murder, yet the text offers no conclusive evidence they are guilty of either wrongdoing. Moreover, all the members of their society-from the vil- lagers to the aristocracy-are of the same moral ilk as Friedrich and Simon, but only Friedrich and Simon are punished for their corrupt behavior. This suggests that what is of interest here it is not so much whether Friedrich and Simon committed a particu- lar crime, but the etiology of their alterity. A series of strategically-placed clues links them both to the overtly anti-Semitic de- scriptions of those people identified as Jews in the novella, and an examination of this interplay between overt and latent anti- Semitism reveals the significance of Frie- drich's and Simon's Jewishness to the nar- rative at large. Their real crime lies neither in a particular action nor even in the un- witting concealment of their true identity, but in the very fact they are Jews.

Friedrich and Simon are marked as un-

christian cohorts from the start of their re- lationship. Moreover, their unchristian- ness is explicitly connected to the beech tree motif soon to be identified with the Jews in the narrative. After the meeting with Margreth in which he arranges to adopt Friedrich, Simon brings the boy home. The fiery Devil figure walks through the woods and the sunburned Friedrich fol- lows his "Fuhrer," to whom he bears a strong family resemblance (11). As they walk, Simon questions Friedrich's moral character. After asking whether Friedrich drinks (a question the boy does not an- swer), Simon alludes to Hermann's death in the part of the Brederholz they are now approaching, and then asks whether his mother prays as much as she used to:

"a, jeden Abend zwei Rosenkran-ze."--"So? und du betest mit?"--Der Knabe lachte halb verlegen mit einem durchtriebenen Seitenb1ick.-"Die Mutter betet in der Dammerung vor dem Es- sen den einen Rosenkranz, dann bin ich meist noch nicht wieder da mit den Kii- hen, und den andern im Bette, dann schlaf ich gewohnlich ein."-"So, so, Ge- selle!"

Diese letzten Worte wurden unter dem Schirme einer weiten Buche gesprochen, die den Eingang der Schlucht iiberwolbte. (11-12)

With a crafty side-glance Friedrich follows his uncle, both literally and figuratively, into the realm of the beech tree, a "sehr dunkel," "duster," "ganz finster" (11, 11, 121, "Jewish" abyss marked by foreign- ness, mystery, and m~rder.3~

Under Simon's tutelage Friedrich grows into his definition as '3e~."~6

From the very beginning of his association with his uncle, Friedrich becomes preoccupied with money and outward appearances (14, 16). This is significant, since the Jews are the only (other) characters in the novella repeatedly associated with money, a com- mon anti-Semitic attribute.37 Moreover, Friedrich leads a double life, a detail in-

creasingly important to the narrative at large. Not only does he have a true double, the bastard Johannes, he appears alter- nately as "Dorfelegant" and "zerlumpte[r] Hirtenbube" (16). This malleability of character presumably allows Friedrich to join Simon in his clandestine activities, but the text suggests much more is at stake than the simple tale of two timber thieves. His double life is a manifestation of the fact he is a Jew masquerading as a Christian, a charade in which Simon also participates. After sending Brandis to his death by mis- directing him down the path passing by a beech tree (an arboreal signifier again sug- gestive of Friedrich's '3ewishness"), Frie- drich decides to go to confession, and is con- fronted by the wild-haired, pale, horribly strange-looking Simon, the presumed mur- derer of Brandis. Perverting the biblical Commandment against bearing false wit- ness, Simon warns Friedrich not to bear any witness whatsoever against him, add- ing: "Geh' in Gottes Namen, aber beichte wie ein guter Christ" (25, emphasis mine), a locution that subtly draws attention to what Friedrich is not. Grammatical flux notwithstanding, Friedrich apparently is unable to pray either as a good Christian or like a good Christian, since the narrator laconically reports: "Friedrich ging an die- sem Morgen nicht zur Beichte" (26). This incident, which makes little impression on Friedrich (261, serves as a catalyst to com- plete his transformation into a two-faced, untrustworthy man (read '3ew"):

Er war aul3erlich ordentlich, niichtern, anscheinend treuherzig, aber listig, prah- lerisch und oft roh, ein Mensch, an dem Niemand Freude haben konnte, am we- nigsten seine Mutter, und der dennoch durch seine gefiirchtete Kiihnheit und noch mehr gefiirchtete Tiicke ein gewis- ses Uebergewicht im Dorfe erlangt hatte, das um so mehr anerkannt wurde, je mehr man sich bewuljt war, ihn nicht zu kennen und nicht berechnen zu konnen, wessen er am Ende fahig sey. (26)

The duplicitous Friedrich has become so boastful, crafty and treacherous that his fellow villagers fear and no longer know him. In short, Friedrich has become adan- gerous foreigner in their midst.

The first part of the narrative docu- menting the genesis of Friedrich's threat- ening alterity ends at this juncture. While this alterity is linked only vaguely to Jews in the first part of the novella, every scene in the second part underscores Friedrich's connection to the Jews. This point bears emphasizing: from a narrative structural vantage, Friedrich's subsequent develop- ment and demise are inextricably inter- twined with a "Jewish" storyline.

Indeed, the first narrative sequence of the second part, the death of the Jew Aaron, strongly suggests Friedrich is a Jew. The villagers celebrate a wedding, and Friedrich asserts his rights as "Dorfele- gant," dancing wildly and commanding at- tention. The previously analyzed sentence intimating Friedrich's Jewish genealogy occurs at this narrative nexus: "FuBhoch uber die Andern tauchte sein blonder Kopf auf und nieder, wie ein Hecht, der sich im Wasser uberschlagt; an allen Enden schrien Madchen auf, denen er [...I sein langes Flachshaar in's Gesicht schleuderte" (27). Recall this sentence links the flaxen-haired, pike-like Friedrich lexically to Simon the pike-faced Yew" and to the foreign "flax comb" peddler who may have fathered at least one illegitimate child in the Semmler family. This interpretation is further substantiated when the sentence is considered in its narrative context. At the wedding Friedrich basks in his role as town dandy until his double Johannes makes a fool of himself by stealing butter. This be- havior reflects badly on Friedrich, who an- grily calls his sidekick a "Lumpenhund" (28). (This apparently innocuous invective, which obliquely recalls the textile industry of the "Hechelkramer" who may be a Jew, is repeated in the descriptions of Friedrich as "zerlumpt" [Ill and a "zerlumpte[r] Hirtenbube" [161, the Mergel family as a

"Lumpenpack" [191, and in the name of the Jew "Lumpenmoises" [34], who confesses to killing a coreligionist named Aar0n.)3~ The semantic network linking the ragged Mergel family to shabby Jews resonates in this narrative context. Friedrich is pro- foundly embarrassed by the villagers' laughter: "das allgemeine Gelachter schnitt ihm durch die Seele" (281, a phrase implying he has suffered a religious injury. He attempts to regain his composure by boastfully showing off a fancy watch, but the Jew Aaron shows up at this inoppor- tune moment to demand payment for the timepiece and mocks the delinquent Frie- drich for his poverty. The resultant exchange documents the most blatantly anti- Semitic sequence in the entire text:

Die Tenne hobte von Gelachter; manche hatten sich auf den Hof nachgedrangt. -"Packt den Juden! wiegt ihn gegen ein Schwein!" riefen Einige; andere waren ernst geworden. -"Der Friedrich sah so blalj aus wie ein Tuch",-sagte eine alte Frau [...I. (29)

Doerr (451) has proposed this passage in- vokes the stereotypical association of Jews with pigs in its most virulent form, that of the Judensau, a motif that refers to the obscene or lascivious behavior of Jewish males.39 Indeed, this association is signifi- cant, since the narrative again hints at a subtext detailing Friedrich's Jewish ge- nealogy. Lexical evidence suggests Frie- drich's reaction to the taunt equating Jew and pig is due to much more than wounded pride. The old woman's observation that Friedrich is "pale as a sheet" reiterates al- most verbatim Margreth's reaction to see- ing Friedrich's double Johannes for the first time: "Ihr Gesicht war bleich wie ein Tuch" (15). The textile reference again re- calls the trade of the "Hechelkramer" who may have fathered at least one child in the Semmler family; and the identification of the Jew Aaron as a "gelegentlicher Althhdler" (29) points to the possible Jewishness of the "Hechelkramer," the

only other peddler mentioned in the text. On the lexical level Margreth's and Frie- drich's identical sheet-white faces bear witness to the Jewish blood in the Semm- ler family. Margreth's ashen expression al- ludes to the incestuous relationship with Simon that apparently resulted in two children. Friedrich, whose "soul" has just been cut open, pales not only because he has been humiliated in front of his neigh- bors, but also in direct response to the taunt itself. On a subconscious level Frie- drich knows he is the Jew who should be weighed against a pig.40

As if to substantiate this conclusion, the image of the balance on which Jew and pig serve as counterweights recalls the pro- logue's challenge to the reader to dare to measure the force of boastful blood and the scale conveniently provided for this pur- pose. Friedrich, described as "prahlerisch" and having "ein gewisses Uebergewicht" (26), is one addressee of the final lines of the verse, which admonish the lucky one born and protected in the Christian world of light: "Leg hin die Wagschal', nimmer dir erlaubt!/L& ruhn den Stein--er trifft dein eignes Haupt!-" (3).41 Read in view of the ensuing narrative, the prologue warns Friedrich to put aside the scale be- cause it will measure him for what he is: a Jew. Friedrich apparently does not heed this warning, since the text suggests he does indeed throw the stone that strikes his own head. Aaron is killed by a single blow to the head, and Friedrich is impli- cated as the murderer. He and Johannes leave town, only to return as FriedrichIJo- hannes, who apparently dies in retribution for Aaron's death.

The narrative circumstances following Aaron's death merit close consideration, since these passages provide most of the overt descriptions of Jews in the text. After Aaron's corpse is found, his nameless wife goes to the squire to beg for justice for his murder. Doerr has discussed the contrast- ing Old and New Testament images de- picted in the scene (452-53). On a stormy, frightening night Aaron's wild-haired wife bursts into the safe Christian haven of the squire's home to demand Old Testament revenge for Aaron's murder: "'Aug um Auge, Zahn und Zahn!' dies waren die einzigen Worte die sie zuweilen hervor- sties" (31). In direct opposition to this witch-like, rain-dripping Old Testament image emerging from the stormy night, the squire's pious wife leads a prayer to ask for protection from the elements. Significantly, she recites the bepning of the Gos- pel of St. John: "Im Anfang war das Wort und das Wort war bei Gott und Gott war das Wort" (30). In a certain sense, thisverse forms the crux of the entire novella. Not only does it reiterate the power of the word underscored in the novella's prologue, it also demands to be read literally in its nar- rative context. The contrasting images of the witch-like vengeful Jew and the pious, virtuous Christian suggest God-the Christian God-is indeed the word here.

But the text is much more subtle than to simply juxtapose Jewish and Christian realms in this passage. The description of Aaron's wife bursting into the pious Chris- tian scene is an intratextual citation of two earlier narrative sequences detailing Frie- drich's genealogy and subsequent develop- ment into a %Jew," Margreth's mysterious trip to the herb garden and Simon's inter- ference with Friedrich's plans to go to con- fession following the death of Brandis the forester:

Die Thure ward aufgerissen und herein sturzte die Frau des Juden Aaron, bleich wie der Tod, das Haar wild um den Kopf, von Regen triefend. (30)

An einem solchen Tagekeinem Sonn- tage mehr-sah man sie [Margreth] Abends aus dem Hause sturzen, ohne Haube und Halstuch, das Haar wild um den Kopf hangend, sich im Garten neben ein Krautbeet niederwerfen und die Erde mit den Handen aufwiihlen [...].(6)

[...I in der Kammerthur stand Simon,

fast unbekleidet, seine diirre Gestalt, sein ungekammtes, wirres Haar und die vom Mondschein verursachte Blasse des Ge- sichts gaben ihm ein schauerlich veran- dertes Ansehen. (25)

These passages tacitly document on the lexical level the genealogical links between Aaron's witch-like wife, "die alte Hexe9' Margreth (19), and Simon (in name the Jewish sorcerer), suggesting they are all necromantic Jews intruding into the pious Christian realm.

The reaction of the Jewish community to Aaron's murder also documents the in- trusion of Jews into the Christian realm, but this intrusion is much more blatant than is the case with Margreth, Simon, and Friedrich, since Aaron's coreligionists are overtly identified as Jews. Here, as in all other passages in the novella in which they are depicted, the Jews are characterized by numerous anti-Semitic stereotypes (Doerr 448-60). Aaron's wife's demand for Old Testamentjusticeis carried out by the Jews in the community, who come together in large numbers that seem to threaten the Christian populace, since the narrator re- marks: "Seit Menschengedenken waren nicht so vie1 Juden beisammen in L. gesehen worden" (33). True to the anti-Semitic association of Jews with deal-mahng and money, they go to the squire "um [...I einen Handel anzutragen" ([331; this image is re- peated in the description of Aaron, "[der] einen Handel [...I im Auge hatte" [311, in the characterization of Simon as a "Handel suchende[rl Kerl" [9], and in the "Handel" [Ill Margreth agrees to when Simon adopts Friedri~h).~~

The Jews then pur- chase the beech tree marking the site of Aaron's death for a large sum of money. In a secret ritual instantiating the anti-Semi- tic stereotype of the Jew as sorcerer, they hack an enigmatic Hebrew sentence into the tree that apparently condemns the murderer to the same fate he inflicted on Aaron. (Droste heightens the sense of mys- tery surrounding the curse by withholding the translation of the inscription until the final sentence of the novella.) As Doerr has argued, the axe they use to hack the sen- tence into the tree not only recalls the mur- der instrument that split open Brandis's skull, but also functions as the Jews9 writ- ing instrument (456). To expand this, Droste also uses the recurring axe motif to connect Simon, the probable murderer of Brandis, to the Jews. Indeed, the narrative strongly suggests Jews are responsible for all three, if not four, murders in the text: Margreth, who may or may not be a Jew, may have had a hand in Hermann's suspi- cious demise; Simon may have murdered Brandis with Friedrich's help; Aaron was killed either by his "Glaubensgenosse" Lumpenmoises (34) or by another appar- ent coreligionist, Friedrich; and the myste- rious curse the Jews hack into the beech tree apparently kills FriedrichiJohannes. In short, the series of anti-Semitic stereo- types cultivated throughout the text culmi- nates in the image of the Jew as murderer.

From here it is but one small step to the ultimate image at the root of theological anti-Semitism: the Jew as the alleged mur- derer of Jesus. Precisely this image is at stake at the novella's conclusion, which in- stantiates the fate of the racially-defined Jew masquerading as a Christian in Chris- tian society Just as Friedrich lives a double life, he dies a double death. FriedrichJJo- hannes apparently either is hanged or hangs himself in retribution for Aaron's death, a murder he may or may not have committed. Yet at the same time he is iden- tified as a Jew and symbolically crucified for deicide.

Recall the narrative circumstances leading to the text's conclusion. Friedrich has fled in the wake of Aaron's murder, taking his doppelganger Johannes with him. There is some question whether he is guilty of the crime, since the Jew Lumpen- moises confessed to killing a coreligionist named Aaron, but then hanged himself before the details of the murder could be investigated. It is unclear how to interpret this event, since, as a magistrate remarks: "le vrai n'est pas toujours vraisemblable" (34). Certainly the hanged "Hund von einem Juden" Lumpenmoises (34) antici- pates the image of the "Lumpenhund" Jo- hannes (28)/"zerlumpter," "Hunde1och"- destined Friedrich (16, 19) hanged at the novella's conclusion, suggesting we read the redaction of the Boileau quote in light of the narrative's programmatic confusion of characters and religious identities. The resolution of the novella will reveal the im- probable truth of the hanged man's racial identity as Jew.

Twenty-eight years after Aaron's mur- der a crooked man returns to Dorf B. on Christmas eve "bearing the marks of long suffering," and the villagers, "nigh aston- ished he still looked like other people" (361, His statement: "Sie fischten mich auf, aus dem Bosporus" (38) links him to the no- vella's other fish figures, Simon the pike- faced Yew" and the pike-like Friedrich. The Baron's reaction to this statement also situates the returned figure within the se- mantic register of "Fremdheit" associated with the Merge1 family and the Jews throughout the text: "Der Baron sah ihn befremdet an und hob den Finger warnend auf' (38). Finally, the squire's sympathy with the man ("Herr von S. hatte das in- nigste Mitleiden mit dem armen Schelm" [391) recalls Margreth's pronouncement "die Juden sind alle Schelme" (8)and the transformation of the dead Hermann into a "Schelm."

Nine months after his return into Christian society, this re-born Christian

identify this Christ-figure as Johanne~.~~

cripple is revealed for what he is, a Jew, a

He has been a slave in "heathen" Turkey, and has come home seeking return into Christian society and aCatholicburial(39). The text is almost overdetermined in its attempt to establish the Christianness of this wretched character, but several oblique details suggest quite the opposite: he is unable to join in the first stanza of the prayer on Christmas eve celebrating the pure birth of Christ (35-36), a pure birth he does not share; he has a limping gait, an anti-Semitic attribute well-established in 19th-century disc~urse;~~

he eluded cap- ture when pursued for Aaron's murder by hiding behind the large cross in the church- yard until frightened away by lightning bolts flashing directly over the church tower (38), an image that concretizes the narrative subtext of the Jew avoiding de- tection by hiding behind a Christian fa~ade until he is flushed out by supernatural in- tervention; and he has escaped slavery by being fished out of the Bosporus under cir- cumstances he is warned not to divulge ([381; in Droste's source material these cir- cumstances center around a pogrom, a de- tail the author chose to omit from her nar- rati~e.1~~

Moreover, the text documents the man's Jewishness on the lexical level.

genealogy first documented in the demise of his family members. Margreth, origi- nally respected as "sehr klug und wirth- lich" (5),dies the object of derision, "in vol- liger Geistesdumpfheit" (37)and in arrears with "Wucherer" (33) (a signifier identified as Yewish" in the next paragraph of the text: vide the Jew "Wucherjoel" [33]). But her brother's ignominious end indicates the family's indebtedness to Jews is not merely monetary. Simon, who becomes a beggar and expires "in einem fremdem Schuppen auf dem Stroh" (37)-an image that inverts the pure birth of Jesus in the manger-dies as an Antichrist, thereby capping off the series of anti-Semitic asso- ciations linked to this Devil figure. How- ever, his demonic character lives on in his heir One day FriedrichIJohannes does not return from his errands, and the squire visits the cripple's room, looks around but quickly leaves, since "ihm ward ganz beengt in den dumpfen, engen Kiimmerchen" (41)-an intertextual gloss on Faust and Gretchen's uncanny ability to sense the Devil in her chamber. Two weeks later Friedrich/Johannes's body is discov- ered hanging in the Jews' beech tree emit- tingan odor described as "schiindlich" (41),

a term suggestive of moral or religious transgression and perhaps also of the foeter judaicus, the Yewish stench" (Trachten- berg 47-50).47 As Moritz (49) has pointed out, the manner in which the corpse is found mirrors the discovery of the Jew Aaron's body: Aaron's corpse is found in a leaf-covered grave (31) and the squire or- ders the searchers to look for Johannes's body in the "Graben" in the leaf-covered woods (41); in both cases a dog finds the corpse; and in both cases a shoe identifies the dead man. These parallels suggest that in death FriedrichIJohannes will be revealed to be a Jew, a hypothesis supported by the text's conclusion.

One other seemingly innocuous detail of FriedrichiJohannes's new life also points to his non-Christian provenance. The cripple makes his living carving wooden spoons, a craft that brings to mind the two other instances of woodcarving in the text: the Jews' inscription of the beech tree and young Friedrich's preoccupation with carv- ing before Brandis's death. This latter event merits close attention: in effect, it reiterates the Jews' marking of wood as "Hebrew." The boy sits at the edge of the Brederholz, apparently serving as a look- out for Simon and his timber thieves. He passes the time carving wood, committing a "Holzfrevel" (17) of his own: "[er] schnitzelte an einem Weidenstabe, dessen knotigem Ende er die Gestalt eines ungeschlachten Thieres zu geben versuchte" (18). The "ungeschlachtes Thier" he attempts to carve is not merely a form- less animal; on the lexical level the phrase documents the 'gewish" blood flowing through his Christian veins. Most-though not all-of the animal images occurring in the text are applied to Jews, and the adjec- tive "ungeschlacht" is especially important in this context. In addition to its definition of "formless," "ungeschlacht" also means "nicht von derselben Familie, unedel ge- boren, also ubel von Charackter und Sitte."48 Moreover, "ungeschlacht" is ety- mologically related to "schlachten," sug-

gesting a link to the novella's two "Schlachter," Solomon and Aaron, who are both Jews (29, 31). These lexical associa- tions take on even greater significance in light of the fact that Friedrich carves the "ungeschlachtes Thier" from "the knotty end" of the staff: the phallic symbolism is clear. In short, Friedrich attempts to mark himself a Jew by symbolically circumcising himself, a conclusion bolstered both by the threatening phallic gesture he had made with his "Messerchen" when taunted about his father (9) and by the rewriting of the scene later in the text. The last time he is seen before he is found hanging in the beech tree FriedrichIJohannes again sits at the edge of the Brederholz carving a spoon. But this time he completes his symbolic circumcision: "er schnitt ihn aber ganz entzwei" (40). Symbolically marked as a Jew, he enters into the forest whose "Kreuz- und Quenvege" he studiously had avoided (40, emphasis mine), and there he meet his fate.

Just as Simon's death reenacts the birth of Jesus in a negative mode, the death of Friedrich/Johannes reenacts Jesus's death, also in a negative mode. Tellingly, this "Christian" figure is accused of mas- querading as someone innocent and is sym- bolically crucified for his crime: his rotting, wormy corpse is found hanging in the Jews' beech tree. Doerr (457) has identified the threefold symbolism in this image. First, hangings are referred to as crucifixions in folklore. Even more significant is the fact this locution was used in blood libel cases where Jews allegedly hanged or lulled Christians, a detail I will return to shortly. Finally, the Holy Cross is said to have been fashioned from beechwood, and the in- scribed beech tree perforce recalls the in- scription on Jesus's cross. The putrid corpse is cut down and the noose removed, revealing a broad scar that the squire regards "mit grol3er Aufmerksamkeit" (42).49 Not only does the scar on the corpse mirror the beech tree scarred by the He- brew inscription, it refers metonymically

to the one other scar hinted at in the text: the mark of circumcision FriedricWJohan- nes symbolically inscribed on himself. The squire then exposes the dead man's trans- gression, saying: "'Es ist nicht recht, da13 der Unschuldige fiir den Schuldigen leide; sagt es nur allen Leuten: der da'--er deu- tete auf den Toten-'war Friedrich Mer- gel"' (42). One way to interpret the squire's religiously charged words is this: "Who is the innocent one who suffered for the guilty? Not him: he's not Christ (er ist nicht Christ); he's not Christian." Anathema- tized, Mergel's corpse (if the corpse is in fact Mergel) is then unceremoniously dis- posed of: "die Leiche ward auf dem Schind- anger verscharrt" (42), a locus semanti- cally encoded as '3ewish" by the fact that the only butchers mentioned in the narra- tive, Salomon and Aaron (29,311, are both Jews. (The semantic coding of "Schind- anger" as '3ewish" is corroborated by Droste's source material: in Haxthausen's account Hermann calls the Jew Pinnes "du verflogte Schinnerteven von Jauden" ["Schinner" is a Low German form of "Schinder" and "teve" means "dog" (HKA

5.2: 214 and 22411, and the Jew's corpse is found partially flayed [HKA 5.2: 2161). Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, Mergel to Mer- gel. With this astounding literalization of metaphor the crucified Mergel is identified for what he really is: the "&ng of the Jews" is a "Schelm" in the original sense of the word ("ges~hundenesVieh").~~As

ifto sub- stantiate this conclusion, the text ends with the deciphering of the Hebrew inscrip- tion carved in the beech tree, suggesting we, too, decipher the "Hebrew" (read Mer- gel) inscribed in Droste's Judenbuche.

Yet the inscription suggests much more is at stake in this symbolic crucifixion than the simple identification of a Jew. Remem- ber that hangings were referred to as cru- cifixions in blood libel cases in which Jews allegedly had killed Christians. This locu- tion recalls its ultimate derivation, the al- legation the Jews crucified Jesus. If the Jews are responsible for Jesus's death, the ultimate punishment according to the Old Testament "an eye for an eye" mentality underscored in the novella would be to cru- cify the Jews in return. In light of the fact that Mergel's hangmg in the beech tree symbolically reenacts Jesus's crucifurion on the beechwood cross, this is precisely what the Hebrew inscription implies: "Wenn du dich diesem Ort nahest, so wird es dir ergehen, wie du mir gethan hast" (42). Mergel does not die merely in retribu- tion for Aaron's murder, a crime he may not have committed; as a Jew, he is syrn- bolically crucified for deicide.

There is afinal etymological twist to the beech imagery in the text. "Buche" is ety- mologcally akin to the words "Buch" and "Beuche: Lauge zum Entfernen natiirlicher Verunreinigungen aus Textilien" (Wahrig 780-81 and 667), a derivation that evokes the textile metaphors associated with Jews throughout the text. This is pre- cisely what the Jews' beech tree accom- plishes: the removal of the "natural impu- rity" (read Jew) that has stained Christian society. Die Judenbuche as text shares the same goal. This is why Droste ends her no- vella with the erroneous statement: "DieB hat sich nach allen Hauptumstanden wirk- lich so begeben im September des Jahrs 1789" (42). By situating her text histori- cally at the verge of the French Revolution, the event that led to the Jews' emancipa- tion in Westphalia, Droste warns her Ger- man compatriots of the dangers of allowing %Jewishn blood into Christian society. The Mergel family is Catholic by confession, but this is perforce a specious identification ac- cording to the blood definition of the nar- rative. The message this disquieting text promotes is clear: a Jew by any other name is still a Jew, and should be disposed of ac- cordingly.

A final methodological consideration is in order here. Given the text's program- matic indeterminacy we cannot know for certain that Mergel is in fact a Jew accord- ing to a racial or blood definition, but the narrative offers ample and compelling evi- dence that repeatedly suggests he is. Throughout my analysis I have chosen the stronger reading that concludes Mergel ac- tually is a Jew, but we also must consider the alternate reading. Even if Mergel is not Jewish, he surely has all the anti-Semitic attributes of a '3ew," and functions as what Lauckner has called a "surrogate Jew" in the text. Whether Mergel is a Jew is ulti- mately of little consequence to the narra- tive: the mere suggestion that he may be a Jew is what is really at stake here. Singu- larly worse than those people identified as Jews, singularly worse than the narrow- minded Christians, Mergel, true to his name, represents an aberrant mixture-a deviant Yewish" element-that has en- tered into and should be removed from German culture.

To be sure, Droste did not valorize the corrupt Christian society she depicted in her novella, yet she also did not temper the text's systemic anti-Semitism. Instead she crafted a tale of indeterminacy that would resonate subliminally within the context of the debate about the Yewish question" for decades to come. Certainly the text admits many different interpretations and refuses to offer proof positive of a single one, but the prologue's challenge to the reader to measure blood and weigh words against the backdrop of prejudice validates the type of analysis I have laid out here. That the text can be interpreted in this manner is significant; indeed, Germany's unfortunate history lends urgency to this reading. The insidious discourse of anti-Semitism permeating the novella is so subtle and complex that it has eluded critical atten- tion for over one hundred and fifty years. Problematic as this reception history may be, it accentuates one of the central themes of the text: the subconscious effects of the power of the word, how the word turns into "des Vorurtheils geheimen Seelendieb" (3). Disturbingly, the novella first became a popular critical success when it was repub- lished in Heyse and Kurz's Deutscher Novellenschatz in 1876,at the brink of the

era of modern anti-Semitism. The novella immediately attained canonical status and soon became required reading in school c~rricula.~~

Die Judenbuche thus might be seen as a small but significant factor in fu- eling the nationalist fervor that exploded in the Third Reich. This fact alone suggests we must take its anti-Jewish rhetoric very seriously.


Research for this article was supported by a Faculty Fellow Award and a Faculty Research Grant from the University of Utah Research Committee. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the October 1996 German Studies Association meeting in Seattle, the De- cember 1997 Modern Language Association meeting in Toronto, and the Cultural Studies Forum at the University of Utah in January 1998. I am grateful to Dagrnar Lorenz and to the anonymous German Quarterly reviewers, whose many comments and questions helped sharpen my argument.

The quotation in the title of my article is taken from Die Judenbuche: Annette von Droste-Hiilshoff Historisch-Kritische Ausgabe (5.1:31, hereafter cited as HKA.

lThroughout this article I use the term "anti-Semitism" in the sense in which it was first introduced at the end of the 1870s to de- scribe the negative attitude toward Jews held by part of the population at the time (Katz 1).

2Throughout this article I use the term "Jew" (in quotation marks) to refer to stereo- typical or anti-Semitic definitions or charac- terizations of Jews.

3The theme of hidden Jews in literature is, of course, not new. I first became interested in this topic in 1989 in David Wellbery's Lessing seminar at Stanford, when Wellbery proposed during a class session on 411111989 that one of the characters in Lessing's Die Juden, a play about anti-Semitism and Christian society's inability to identify Jews, might perhaps be a hidden Jew. In her 1978 study of Jews in 19th- century German and Austrian drama Charlene Lea examines the "camouflaged Jew" in rela- tion to Jewish emancipation and assimilation. In her reading of Balzac's "Sarrasine" Esther

Rashkin uses her psychoanalytic theory of the phantom to trace hidden Jewish identity by re- constructing discursive elements of Balzac's text and situating her analysis within the his- torical context of Jewish emancipation and as- similation in 19th-century France. Rashkin proposes a paradigm for interpreting other lit- erary texts, stating that a major result of her reading of "Sarrasine" is "to suggest how psy- choanalysis can participate in the exploration and exposure, within certain literary works, of heretofore unseen narratives of religious iden- tity and prejudice" (41). Additional exposition of her methodology can be found in Rashkin's "The Occulted Jew: Symbolism and Anti- Semitism in Villiers de 1'Isle-Adama's Axel," Nineteenth-Century French Studies 26 (1998): 398416. Conversations with Rashkin about her reading of "Sarrasine" and Karoline Krauss's reading of Die Judenbuche contributed to my interest in anti-Semitism in Droste- Hiilshoff's novella.

4The literature on Die Judenbuche is vast, and the following references are not compre- hensive. See von Wiese ("Annette von Droste- Hiilshoff'), Moritz, Huge, and Koopmann for analyses concerned with genre; Cottrell, King, Weber, Oppermann, Wells, Kortlander, Werner, Woesler, and Krus for discussions of the text's socio-historical background and genealogy; Wells, Whitinger, von Wiese ("Portrat"), Brett, and Wittkowski for attempts to resolve the text's ambiguities; and Henel, Rolleke, Bel- chamber, Brown, and Diersen for interpreta- tions focusing on indeterminacy.

5Brown asserts the Jews are not part of the text's mystery; the novella's title has misled us (835). Lietina-Ray proposes prejudice is the main theme of the novella, without taking the text's treatment of Jews into consideration. Franzos argues the novella is a masterpiece in every respect, even in its depiction of the Jews, and that hatred of Jews is a secondary theme of the novella (609, 634). Wells identifies the text as a "tale of anti-Semitism,'' but does not pursue the topic further (488). Low maintains Droste "asks for forbearance toward the peo- ple's fateful hostility toward the Jews" (208). Wittkowski ("Das Ratsel" 188), Immerwahr (144-45), and Heselhaus (131-32) all suggest Droste tries to counter the anti-Semitism ram- pant in her society. Palmieri concludes Droste herself was not anti-Semitic, but the Judenbuche exhibits an anti-Semitic thought-struc- ture. Chase offers a discussion of a number of stereotypes associated with Jews in the narra- tive, yet maintains Droste "opposes segrega- tion and Jewish non-citizenship" (137).

%base's thoughtful article, which appeared after this article was completed, covers much of the same ground as Doerr's. I am indebted to Doerr's analysis for much of the background information that follows.

7Gilman,Difference and Pathology 27.

8Huge (HKA 5.2: 213) and Moritz (89) ar- gue Goethe's definition is not applicable to Die Judenbuche.

gQuoted in Erlauterungen 63-64.

1°In one of the standard reference works on Die Judenbuche Moritz argues against contex- tualizing the storyline historically, claiming such an approach would be useless and mis- leading since these historical developments are not reflected in the novella and Droste did not intend to present a picture of contemporary society (17-18).

llRiirup 15n. 24. For a brief discussion of the history of Jews in Westphalia see Rothert, who quotes a leading government official, Vincke, making an anti-Semitic statement that the Jews have seized control of the Paderborn economy (161).

12For a discussion of the role of Jewish art- ists in Germany beginning in the 1830s see Katz 175-94.

13Haxthausen's Geschichte eines Algierer- Sklaven is reprinted in HKA 5.2: 214-25. See Werner, Woesler, and Krus for analyses of Hax- thausen's account.

141n partial opposition to Woesler, who sur- mises this religious dimension reflects Droste's unconscious recognition of the endangered po- sition of the Catholic nobility in her socio-his- torical context (16), I suggest Droste consciously recognizes this danger, and that the relevant socio-historical context is the debate centered around the "Jewish question."

151n the first edition of the novella the year was printed as 1788; because of time references cited in the narrative most editors assume this to be an error, and have corrected the year to 1789. The editors of HKA retain the original year (HKA 5.2: 246-48); I have chosen to cite the date as 1789. Droste's choice of year is clearly significant: in an earlier draft of the manuscript the narrative action ends in 1795 (HKA 5.2: 433).

16For a discussion of the legend and the popular pilgrimage to Maria Buchen see Briickner. Doerr (458) correctly criticizes Wittkowski's assertion ("Das Ratsel" 188) that Droste attempted to counter this anti-Semitic legend with her novella.

17The article, written by F.G. Kohl, was published in six installments in May 1842. The essay begins with a general discussion of the number of Jews living in Prague and other European cities. The next two installments de- scribe the Jews' city in Prague by focusing on their cemetery. After remarking the graveyard would be the perfect backdrop for painting a picture of "die Auferstehung der Todten" (4671, Kohl tours the spooky graveyard and points out headstones of outstanding members of the Jewish community, commenting Jewish children are playing among the maggots in the cemetery and wondering what kind of effect this will have on them as adults. The fourth installment discusses a young boy Lebel, who was found "verwildert" and taken in by the community, where he slowly is becoming civi- lized. The author, puzzled how this could be possible, remarks: "Alles der Unordnung in der Gemeinde Schuld zu geben und den Lebel als eine Bliithe der moralischen Versumpfung in jenem Judenviertel zu betrachten, wage ich nicht" (475). Kohl then compares the dusty, dirty, dark synagogue to a catacomb, adding the old rabbi who prays there moves around in a manner that would be inappropriate in Prot- estant churches, speaking in a loud voice with- out "Geist" (476). The fifth installment ad- dresses the Reform movement in the Prague Jewish community, which the author hopes will lead to improvements in their schools and hospitals. After this grand tour of the "Juden- stadt" Kohl concludes the Jews always have been oppressed, and hopes perhaps that his century can reverse this oppression (483). The same ambivalent attitude toward Jews is re- flected in the newspaper's mastheads, which frequently include quotes about Jews that seem to promote their emancipation, yet often are anti-Semitic.

18Quoted in Wittkowski ("Das Ratsel" 176). Droste actually made this statement with reference to her poetic production. See Moritz and Wittkowski for discussions of "Verratselung" in Droste's oeuvre.

lgPage references are to HKA 5.1.

20The verse instantiates its own lexical challenge to read semantic registers in the se- ries of "measure" words that runs throughout the poem: wagen, messen, wagen,Wagschal'.

21Three times the text steadfastly refuses to "prove" facts critical to the narrative. The first instance, which I discuss in detail below, occurs when Margreth tries to disprove the similarity between Johannes and Friedrich: "Aehnlichkeiten wollen nichts beweisen" (15). The other instances occur in conjunction with the death of the Jew Aaron: the second serves to identify Merge1 as the probable murderer ("die Anzeigen gegen ihn zwar gravirend, doch ohne personliches Gesthdnia nicht beweis- end" [33]), while the third draws this conclu- sion into doubt by suggesting Lumpenmoises may have been the perpetrator ("Leider fehlen die Beweise, aber die Wahrscheinlichkeit ist groI3" C341).

22The orignal Boileau quote reads "Jamais au Spectateur n'offrez rien d'incroyable. Le Vrai peut quelquefois n'estre pas vraisem- blable" (HKA 5.2: 243). Droste modifies the quote such that it resonates with Kleist's fa- mous "Kant crisis" statement: "Wir konnen nicht entscheiden, ob das, was wir Wahrheit nennen, wahrhaft Wahrheit ist, oder ob es uns nur so scheint" (Kleist 634).

23See Immerwahr for a discussion of "Fremdheit" as a leitmotiv in the novella. Freund also comments on the theme of foreign- ness, arguing the problem of social integration is one of the novella's main themes.

24For a differing interpretation defending Margreth's character see Pickar.

251n light of subsequent narrative details that suggest his real parentage, it may not be too far-fetched to read Friedrich's stabbing gesture as a gloss on the Maria Buchen legend, in which Jews are identified as such when they unwittingly stab Christian images.

26"Handel suchend" can, of course, also mean "quarrel-seeking," but following the pro- logue's call to read the roots of words, I have chosen to translate the phrase as "deal-seek- ing." I believe it fortuitous that Simon shares the last name of the Protestant theologian Jo- hann Salomo Semler (1725-1791): although the area around Paderborn is a Catholic en- clave in a predominantly Protestant region, there is no evidence in the text to suggest a thematic tension between Protestants and Catholics, while the polarization of Christian and Jew is overt.

271 thank Michaela Welk for this observa- tion.

280ne might argue Margreth rejects Si- mon's comparison by proudly contrasting his "red brush" to her son's "blond locks," yet her actions surrounding this exchange suggest this is not the case. Having just remarked that Friedrich "hat viel von dir, Simon, viel," she warns Friedrich to behave well for his uncle, in- dicating she is eager to promote their bonding.

291n a convincing analysis not well-received in the critical literature McGlaherty has ex- plored this incest theme, citing much of the textual evidence I introduce here, and sug- gested Friedrich and Johannes may be broth- ers or half-brothers.

30My thanks to Eva Bates, Ann-Marie Paul, and Christina Schreiber for drawing my atten- tion to this detail of the narrative.

31The extant pre-publication drafts of the manuscript indicate this sentence was added late in the text's genealogy, suggesting it intro- duces a significant detail into the narrative (HKA 5.2: 403).

32Certainly Westphalia is known for its linen industry, yet it is significant that these textile signifiers are repeatedly linked to both the "Hechelkramer" and the Mergel family throughout the text, and not to the general population.

33This association is also underscored on the phonological level: &&, melkramer.

34Stri~tly speaking this definition may not be fully valid, since no textual evidence indi- cates Margreth and Simon's mother was Jew- ish, and it is also unclear whether Margreth herself is Jewish.

35These plot developments are obliquely anticipated in the conclusion of the scene. As the two unchristian travelers walk through the dark forest the weak moon gives the objects it illuminates a "fremdartiges Ansehen" (12), an attribute later transferred to Johannes appear- ing as Friedrich, described as having a "widriges Ansehen" (13).Friedrich trips over "Baumwurzeln" as he proceeds down the slip- pery path, suggesting in light of the prologue's challenge to consider the roots of words that we read the roots of these trees. The two come to a clearing where "die Axt unbarmherzig gewiithet hatte" (121, a graphic foreshadowing of the axe murder of Brandis that will take place in the woods. Simon stops to look at a fallen beech tree with quaking leaves that lies across their path: "Simon blieb einen Augen- blick stehen und betrachtete den gefdlten Stamm mit Aufmerksamkeit. In der Mitte der Lichtung stand eine alte Eiche mehr breit als hoch" (12). In light of the ensuing narrative the arboreal metaphorics are clear: the fallen Jew- ish stem struck down in its prime is juxtaposed to the old Germanic oak, which, hollow as it may be, is still standing.

36R011eke unknowingly comes close to the conclusion that Friedrich is a Jew when he ar- gues that Mergel is stuck in pre-Christian and unchristian realms and that the pre-publica- tion drafts of the manuscript show a system- atic elimination of all of Mergel's connections to the Christian realm (422 and 420-2111.66).

37Doerr (454-55) and Palmieri (37) both note this association. To be sure, members of the corrupt Christian society occasionally en- gage in "Jewish" behavior as well (e.g., the marriage of the old man and the young girl is described as a "Geschiift" 1291 and the villagers join forces to protect the murderer of Brandis the forester), yet only Friedrich is condemned for his actions.

38The lexeme also occurs in the scene where Margreth, stung by Brandis's accusations of her poverty, defensively calls him a "Lump" (22), thereby projecting her own im- poverished status onto the forester.

39See Felsenstein (126-37) for an extensive discussion of the stereotypical association of Jews with pigs.

40The narrative sequence immediately fol- lowing this scene corroborates this reading. The squire, who has witnessed the confronta- tion between Aaron and Friedrich, is on his way home when he notices two figures running in front of his wagon. The squire identifies the two as "Auch ein paar selige Schweine aus un- serm eigenen Stall!" (29). The phrase "selige Schweine" stands in implicit opposition to the presumably unholy Jew maligned as a pig in the previous scene. The men, unwitting wit- nesses to Aaron's death, claim they were spooked by the ghost of Hermann Mergel (obliquely established as a "Schelm" in the text), and ruin a fountain searching for a horse's skull said to ward off evil spirits. The squire, surveying the damaged fountain, re- marks, "was die Schelme nicht stehlen, das verderben die Narren" (30), thereby setting up an opposition between Christian fools and thieving "Schelme," a signifier previously identified as "Jewish" in the text.

*lTo be sure, the Mergel household is not a particularly "light" space, but it is a Christian one, even though the hand that raises Frie- drich (i.e., Margreth) is pious only on the sur- face. The narrative pits this empty Christian piety against the threatening alterity of Juda- ism, which is indirectly described as "sehr dunkel," "diister" and "ganz finster" in the text (11-12). The final lines of the verse might equally apply to the judgmental Christian reader.

42The signifier also occurs in Kapp's re- mark that his servant knew about Mergel's es- cape following Aaron's death: "allerdings hatte meine Anne Marie den Handel um eine Stunde friiher erfahren als ich" (32).

*Droste's source material, Haxthausen's Geschichte eines Algierer-Sklaven, also glosses the returning man as a Christ-figure: he is con- fronted by a female Wandering Jew who de- mands he wear a heavy wreath of thorns and prods him when he stands still, and then dis- appears into the night (HKA 5.2: 223).

44Gilman,The Jew's Body 39.

45According to Haxthausen's account Her- mann Winkelhannes witnessed the "Revolu- tion gegen die Juden," a pogrom in 1805 in which hundreds of Jews were killed, and was then freed several months later after J6rGme Bonaparte forced the Dei Mustapha to release his Christian slaves (HKA 5.2: 221-22). Werner has concluded this account is not accu- rate: Haxthausen's chronology of events lead- ing from the pogrom to the freeing of the slaves does not match the historical record, and ex- tant historical documents do not list Winkel- hannes among the 231 Christian slaves who were freed (23-26). Krus takes issue with Werner's analysis, arguing for the historical validity of Haxthausen's account.

46The narrative leaves one member of the FriedrichiJohannes duo roaming in the world unaccounted for, a cipher, perhaps, of the Wandering Jew.

47Certainly a two-week-old corpse would stink, but the term "schiindlich" suggests much more is at stake here than merely or- ganic decomposition.

48Grimm and Grimm 11.3: 846-49. Krauss

points to this etymology as evidence that the

psychopathological behavior Friedrich exhib-

its in carving the wood results from the open

secret that Johannes is a bastard.

4wells (Yohannes Niemand") reads the scar as a reference to Friedrich as the Ulysses figure mentioned at the beginning of the nar- rative (Ulysses was identified by his scar when he returned from his adventures). HKA 5.2: 246 notes that in the Gospel of St. John the doubting disciple Thomas recognizes the res- urrected Christ by his scars.

50The two other possible reasons for Mer- gel's unceremonious interment lack explana- tory force. If Mergel committed suicide or was a murderer, he may well have been denied a Catholic burial, but it is doubtful his corpse would have been interred in the hacker's yard (cf. Erlauterungen 20): in such cases the re- mains usually were buried in unconsecrated ground next to the Catholic graveyard. More- over, in the case of suicide canon law allows for burial in hallowed ground when the suicide can be attributed to derangement, as is the case with Mergel (HKA 5.1: 39-40). For manifest sins like murder the deceased may be granted Catholic burial if he or she has shown any re- morse, as is arguably the case withMerge1, who explicitly returns home seeking reentry into Christian society (HKA 5.1: 39). New Catholic Encyclopedia 2: 896-97.

51For a discussion of the text's reception see Erlauterungen 55-68. Katz identifies 1879 as the year that marks the beginning of mod- ern anti-Semitism (245).

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