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The Aesthetics of Fear in German Romanticism
 0773558896, 9780773558892

Table of contents :
Contents
Preface
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction
Part One: From the Sublime to the Romantic Aesthetics of Fear
1 Theoretical Discourses
2 Ludwig Tieck
3 Apel and Laun, Gespensterbuch
4 Heinrich von Kleist
Part Two: E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Aesthetics of Fear
5 Definitions and Theories
6 Tales of Music and Musicians
7 Tales of Science and Scientists
Part Three: Conclusion
8 Romanticism Re-evaluated: Joseph von Eichendorff
Coda
Bibliography
Index

Citation preview

THE AESTHETICS OF FEAR IN GERMAN ROMANTICISM

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M c Gill-Queen’s Studies in the History of Ideas Series Editor: Philip J. Cercone   1 Problems of Cartesianism Edited by Thomas M. Lennon, John M. Nicholas, and John W. Davis

10 Consent, Coercion, and Limit: The Medieval Origins of Parliamentary Democracy Arthur P. Monahan

  2 The Development of the Idea of History in Antiquity Gerald A. Press

11 Scottish Common Sense in Germany, 1768–1800: A Contribution to the History of Critical Philosophy Manfred Kuehn

  3 Claude Buffier and Thomas Reid: Two Common-Sense Philosophers Louise Marcil-Lacoste   4 Schiller, Hegel, and Marx: State, Society, and the Aesthetic Ideal of Ancient Greece Philip J. Kain   5 John Case and Aristotelianism in Renaissance England Charles B. Schmitt   6 Beyond Liberty and Property: The Process of SelfRecognition in EighteenthCentury Political Thought J.A.W. Gunn   7 John Toland: His Methods, Manners, and Mind Stephen H. Daniel   8 Coleridge and the Inspired Word Anthony John Harding   9 The Jena System, 1804–5: Logic and Metaphysics G.W.F. Hegel Translation edited by John W. Burbidge and George di Giovanni Introduction and notes by H.S. Harris

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12 Paine and Cobbett: The Transatlantic Connection David A. Wilson 13 Descartes and the Enlightenment Peter A. Schouls 14 Greek Scepticism: Anti-Realist Trends in Ancient Thought Leo Groarke 15 The Irony of Theology and the Nature of Religious Thought Donald Wiebe 16 Form and Transformation: A Study in the Philosophy of Plotinus Frederic M. Schroeder 17 From Personal Duties towards Personal Rights: Late Medieval and Early Modern Political Thought, c. 1300–c. 1650 Arthur P. Monahan 18 The Main Philosophical Writings and the Novel Allwill Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi Translated and edited by George di Giovanni

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19 Kierkegaard as Humanist: Discovering My Self Arnold B. Come 20 Durkheim, Morals, and Modernity W. Watts Miller 21 The Career of Toleration: John Locke, Jonas Proast, and After Richard Vernon 22 Dialectic of Love: Platonism in Schiller’s Aesthetics David Pugh 23 History and Memory in Ancient Greece Gordon Shrimpton 24 Kierkegaard as Theologian: Recovering My Self Arnold B. Come 25 Enlightenment and Conservatism in Victorian Scotland: The Career of Sir Archibald Alison Michael Michie 26 The Road to Egdon Heath: The Aesthetics of the Great in Nature Richard Bevis 27 Jena Romanticism and Its Appropriation of Jakob Böhme: Theosophy – Hagiography – Literature Paola Mayer

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28 Enlightenment and Community: Lessing, Abbt, Herder, and the Quest for a German Public Benjamin W. Redekop 29 Jacob Burckhardt and the Crisis of Modernity John R. Hinde 30 The Distant Relation: Time and Identity in SpanishAmerican Fiction Eoin S. Thomson 31 Mr Simson’s Knotty Case: Divinity, Politics, and Due Process in Early EighteenthCentury Scotland Anne Skoczylas 32 Orthodoxy and Enlightenment: George Campbell in the Eighteenth Century Jeffrey M. Suderman 33 Contemplation and Incarnation: The Theology of MarieDominique Chenu Christophe F. Potworowski 34 Democratic Legitimacy: Plural Values and Political Power F.M. Barnard 35 Herder on Nationality, Humanity, and History F.M. Barnard 36 Labeling People: French Scholars on Society, Race, and Empire, 1815–1849 Martin S. Staum

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37 The Subaltern Appeal to Experience: Self-Identity, Late Modernity, and the Politics of Immediacy Craig Ireland 38 The Invention of Journalism Ethics: The Path to Objectivity and Beyond, Second Edition Stephen J.A. Ward 39 The Recovery of Wonder: The New Freedom and the Asceticism of Power Kenneth L. Schmitz 40 Reason and Self-Enactment in History and Politics: Themes and Voices of Modernity F.M. Barnard 41 The More Moderate Side of Joseph de Maistre: Views on Political Liberty and Political Economy Cara Camcastle 42 Democratic Society and Human Needs Jeff Noonan 43 The Circle of Rights Expands: Modern Political Thought after the Reformation, 1521 (Luther) to 1762 (Rousseau) Arthur P. Monahan

46 When the French Tried to Be British: Party, Opposition, and the Quest for Civil Disagreement, 1814–1848 J.A.W. Gunn 47 Under Conrad’s Eyes: The Novel as Criticism Michael John DiSanto 48 Media, Memory, and the First World War David Williams 49 An Aristotelian Account of Induction: Creating Something from Nothing Louis Groarke 50 Social and Political Bonds: A Mosaic of Contrast and Convergence F.M. Barnard 51 Archives and the Event of God: The Impact of Michel Foucault on Philosophical Theology David Galston 52 Between the Queen and the Cabby: Olympe de Gouges’s Rights of Women John R. Cole

44 The Canadian Founding: John Locke and Parliament Janet Ajzenstat

53 Nature and Nurture in French Social Sciences, 1859–1914 and Beyond Martin S. Staum

45 Finding Freedom: Hegel’s Philosophy and the Emancipation of Women Sara MacDonald

54 Public Passion: Rethinking the Grounds for Political Justice Rebecca Kingston

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55 Rethinking the Political: The Sacred, Aesthetic Politics, and the Collège de Sociologie Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi 56 Materialist Ethics and Life-Value Jeff Noonan 57 Hegel’s Phenomenology: The Dialectical Justification of Philosophy’s First Principles Ardis B. Collins 58 The Social History of Ideas in Quebec, 1760–1896 Yvan Lamonde Translated by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott 59 Ideas, Concepts, and Reality John W. Burbidge 60 The Enigma of Perception D.L.C. Maclachlan 61 Nietzsche’s Justice: Naturalism in Search of an Ethics Peter R. Sedgwick 62 The Idea of Liberty in Canada during the Age of Atlantic Revolutions, 1776–1838 Michel Ducharme Translated by Peter Feldstein 63 From White to Yellow: The Japanese in European Racial Thought, 1300–1735 Rotem Kowner 64 The Crisis of Modernity Augusto Del Noce Edited and translated by Carlo Lancellotti

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65 Imprinting Britain: Newspapers, Sociability, and the Shaping of British North America Michael Eamon 66 The Form of Politics: Aristotle and Plato on Friendship John von Heyking 67 War as Paradox: Clausewitz and Hegel on Fighting Doctrines and Ethics Youri Cormier 68 Network Democracy: Conservative Politics and the Violence of the Liberal Age Jared Giesbrecht 69 A Singular Case: Debating China’s Political Economy in the European Enlightenment Ashley Eva Millar 70 Not Even a God Can Save Us Now: Reading Machiavelli after Heidegger Brian Harding 71 Before Copernicus: The Cultures and Contexts of Scientific Learning in the Fifteenth Century Edited by Rivka Feldhay and F. Jamil Ragep 72 The Culturalist Challenge to Liberal Republicanism Michael Lusztig

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73 God and Government: Martin Luther’s Political Thought Jarrett A. Carty

76 Life Embodied: The Promise of Vital Force in Spanish Modernity Nicolás Fernández-Medina

74 The Age of Secularization Augusto Del Noce Edited and Translated by Carlo Lancellotti

77 The Aesthetics of Fear in German Romanticism Paola Mayer

75 Emancipatory Thinking: Simone de Beauvoir and Contemporary Political Thought Elaine Stavro

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The Aesthetics of Fear in German Romanticism

Paola Mayer

McGill-Queen’s University Press Montreal & Kingston • London • Chicago

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©  McGill-Queen’s University Press 2019 ISBN ISBN ISBN ISBN

978-0-7735-5888-5 (cloth) 978-0-7735-5889-2 (paper) 978-0-2280-0025-9 (ePDF) 978-0-2280-0026-6 (ePUB)

Legal deposit first quarter 2020 Bibliothèque nationale du Québec Printed in Canada on acid-free paper that is 100% ancient forest free (100% post-consumer recycled), processed chlorine free This book has been published with the help of a grant from the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, through the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, using funds provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Title: The aesthetics of fear in German Romanticism / Paola Mayer. Names: Mayer, Paola, author. Series: McGill-Queen’s studies in the history of ideas; 77. Description: Series statement: McGill-Queen’s studies in the history of ideas; 77 | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: Canadiana (print) 20190183551 | Canadiana (ebook) 20190183586 | ISBN 9780773558892 paper) | ISBN 9780773558885 (cloth) | ISBN 9780228000259 (ePDF) | ISBN 9780228000266 (ePUB) Subjects: LCSH: German literature—19th century—History and criticism. | LCSH: Romanticism—Germany. | LCSH: Aesthetics in literature. | LCSH: Fear in literature. Classification: LCC PT363.A4 M39 2019 | DDC 830.9/006—dc23

This book was typeset by Marquis Interscript in 10 /12 New Baskerville.

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Contents

Preface xi Acknowledgments xv Abbreviations xvii Introduction 3 PART one  From the Sublime to the Romantic Aesthetics of Fear 1   Theoretical Discourses  53 2   Ludwig Tieck  123 3   Apel and Laun, Gespensterbuch 189 4   Heinrich von Kleist  212 PART two  E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Aesthetics of Fear 5   Definitions and Theories  243 6   Tales of Music and Musicians  302 7   Tales of Science and Scientists  365 PART three  Conclusion 8   Romanticism Re-evaluated: Joseph von Eichendorff  415 Coda 457 Bibliography 459 Index 477

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Preface

In 1769 Johann Gottfried Herder described the early stages of human civilization as dominated by the all-pervasive fear of an overwhelmingly powerful, incomprehensible, and potentially hostile environment and posited that religion and mythology were invented as attempts to come to grips with this fear.1 Scholars such as Richard Alewyn have argued that this fear did not significantly recede until the advent of such modern scientific inventions as electric light and the lightning rod. Light, both electrical and metaphorical, may since that time have pushed fear below the surface, but that fear certainly has not been dispelled, as evidenced by the mixture of fascination and disquiet that darkness and the seemingly supernatural so often elicit. Viewed from this perspective, the Enlightenment can be described as an attempt to contain this inchoate fear and to domesticate the irrational, incommensurable Other, be it natural or supernatural. The Enlightenment in this sense was a historically specific phenomenon that arose in eighteenth-century Europe but it is also a persistently recurring trend that at times predominates and at other times is challenged by critical efforts to recuperate the irrational Other and to explore the nature and causes of fear. Romanticism in Germany was one such counter-current. Postmodernity arguably is another, as witness the debates that have opened up around the concept of the uncanny in the last thirty years or so, not just in critical theory and literary studies but also in disciplines such as art history and architecture. One might cite as example Anthony Vidler’s The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely (1992), whose subtitle suggests that the concept captures a fundamental characteristic of the modern condition. The affinity of counter-currents to the Enlightenment project goes some way to explain the renewed popularity and relevance of Romanticism as an object of study.

1 J.G. Herder, Über die ersten Urkunden des Menschengeschlechts.

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xii

Preface

Now as in earlier centuries, a lack of consensus, even a degree of confusion, around terminology and purposes pervades debates on the aesthetics of fear. There is, for instance, no consensus on the meaning and relative spheres of such terms as horror and terror, as evidenced in recent scholarship on the gothic genre, and this confusion increases exponentially when linguistic boundaries are crossed. Because of its limited range of terms, the English language cannot fully reveal the richness of such concepts, as German can, while French and Italian lack an equivalent to the German unheimlich or the English uncanny. Quite often too, investigations of fear aim not just to explore it but to combat it by bringing it into the light or under the control of reason. Eighteenth-century discourses on the sublime and Freud’s justly famous essay on the uncanny both fall in this category. The present book aims not to bring order to this chaos but to highlight the difficulties and complexities of the subject by drawing attention to its historical lineage. Rather than attempting to systematize fear by examining it in literature and aesthetic discourses as the symptom of a timeless psychological phenomenon (which admittedly it also is), I draw out its culturally determined, constantly shifting character by proposing a case study viewed in its specific historical context. I will show that German Romanticism played a formative role in the history of the aesthetics of fear, as a crucial transitional phase between the eighteenth-century sublime and the early-twentieth-century uncanny. It differed from both, however, precisely because it attempted to recuperate the irrational Other and to question reason’s domesticating efforts rather than to promote them. I thus aim to add to the richness of the debate by pointing out rather than eliding its contradictions and shifting character, and also to reveal reasons why Romanticism is both popular and deeply relevant today. I will argue that a new aesthetics of fear took shape during the Romantic period, distinct from the preceding discourses of the sublime and indeed partly in opposition to them, and equally distinct from the twentiethcentury theories that have so strongly shaped our understanding of this aspect of Romanticism. I will show that the Romantic aesthetics of fear is characterized by radical transgressive potential, reflected in its deliberate subversion of rationality, empiricism, and teleological optimism of whatever provenance, but characterized as well by its insightful exploration of the nature, functioning, and even constructive effects of fear. Both aspects have the potential to resonate powerfully with our present age. This book traces the development of the Romantic aesthetics of fear from its inception with pre-Romantics such as Jean Paul Richter to what might arguably be called its end, in the shape of Joseph von Eichendorff’s retrospective re-examination and ultimate rejection of it. I will argue that the Romantic aesthetics of fear developed out of discourses of the sublime, as a radicalization and specialization of that concept, and at the same time

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Preface xiii

turned against its progenitor: by conjuring up situations where reason was helpless, it reaffirmed the inaccessibility of the Other and thus revoked the Kantian reclamation of reason’s supremacy. I must make clear at the start that, though I speak for convenience’s sake of an aesthetics of fear, there was no single unified theory of it common to all authors, just as no single generally accepted term for it emerged. This book thus traces not one but a broad spectrum of theories, pointing out common elements and intertextual relationships, which in turn justify my speaking of a Romantic aesthetics of fear. My approach deliberately breaks down the barriers between philosophy – perceived to operate through discursive genres such as essays or treatises – and literary fiction by showing how the theories in question not only informed and determined the nature of the fiction but indeed were developed through and in fiction. By analyzing a multitude of authors and texts, this book reveals the great variety of conceptualizations of fear and the equally great variety of purposes and effects of frightening elements in literary texts. The brightest red thread that runs through the texts studied is subversive criticism of all teleological optimism (that is, all beliefs in purposive development towards a positive end). The critique in question addressed not just the Enlightenment (as to be expected), but also of certain Romantic authors. This tends to blur the boundaries between the two movements, since a common attitude is detected in them. My discoveries thus confirm the presence of a self-critical strain within the Romantic movement itself, already observed by other scholars. At times the attack is less specific in its targets, amounting to a generalized protest against certainties of all kind (especially moral and metaphysical). At the opposite end of the spectrum we encounter an unexpected contribution to the Romantic longing for transcendence, in the form of a constructive, cognitive function assigned to fear. Since my approach is historical rather than systematizing, seeking to elucidate the thinking of the time in its own terms, I must begin by showing that the radical shift in the aesthetics of fear that I have claimed above is not just the product of hindsight but was recognized as such by contemporaries. To this end, the first section of the Introduction explores contemporary reviews, parodies, and adaptations of E.T.A. Hoffmann, with two aims: (1) to show that contemporaries perceived something radically new in his fantastic tales, something that they experienced as disturbing and offensive; and (2) to isolate from these attacks the elements responsible for the contemporary reaction, which can then be used as clues to the details of the new aesthetics. Having thus identified – and justified – my object of study, the rest of the Introduction outlines my methodology and terminology and situates these with respect to relevant scholarship. Part I traces the development of the new aesthetics: its gradual emergence and self-differentiation from the sublime, the crucial

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xiv

Preface

contributions of key precursors such as Jean Paul, and the trying out of various terms and concepts in order to formulate a new and distinctive aesthetics (chapter 1). In this context, considerable space is given to discourses on music as a particularly revealing test case for the transition. This chapter culminates in a discussion of Hoffmann’s review of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and in a first statement of a key argument: that in connection with Beethoven, Hoffmann developed a definition of the Romantic as well as an apologia for fear and horror in artistic production, which he would later adapt to his own literary output and which would constitute the basis of his aesthetics of fear. The remainder of Part I addresses two Romantic authors known for their dark tales, Tieck and Kleist, to show how and for what purposes their fiction (and Tieck’s theorizing) exemplified the paradigm shift claimed above. I also analyze a less well-known and artistically less successful work, Apel and Laun’s Gespensterbuch (Book of Ghosts), because it makes extensive use of the frameand-embedded-tale structure, with the frames employed to discuss the potentially supernatural, the proper attitude towards it, and its relationship to the Enlightenment. Both the content and the technique suggest instructive parallels to Hoffmann and, to a lesser extent, to Tieck, and thus indirectly shed light on their less explicit and more complex works, helping us elucidate the thinking of the time. Part II is devoted entirely to E.T.A. Hoffmann, reflecting his importance for the fantastic genre and for an aesthetics of fear. It is with Hoffmann that the ideas and literary techniques pioneered by Tieck and Kleist come to full, deliberate, and self-conscious flowering, which makes him the most suitable candidate for a case study. His explorations of the causes, psychological workings, effects, and uses of fear are so numerous and multifaceted as to merit an entire chapter. I then choose two frequent themes in his fiction – music and science – as test cases to highlight the subversive potential of fear in Hoffmann’s hands, that is, its power as a tool for critiquing prevailing currents of thought as well as cultural developments. In Hoffmann, this book addresses the high point of Romanticism, chronologically as well as thematically, before winding down and taking leave of the movement in Part III. This shift is admirably carried out by Eichendorff, who both ideologically and chronologically had an ambivalent and conflicted relationship to Romanticism. In chapter 8 I analyze a selection of his works, chosen from different periods of his career, to show his retrospective re-examination of the Romantic aesthetics of fear and his growing rejection of it in favour of a traditional ideology with its unquestioned certainties. In a sense, then, we come full circle, back to the early responses to Hoffmann, confirming once again the radical novelty and transgressive impact of the Romantic contributions to the aesthetics of fear.

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Acknowledgments

This book could not have been completed without the help of a number of people and institutions. I owe special thanks to Dennis Mahoney, Andrea Speltz, and Jean Wilson, who have read and commented on individual chapters and thus helped me clarify and improve the arguments. My thanks also to Hermann Patsch, who helped me track down some citations. I wish to express my warm gratitude to Alice Kuzniar for her encouragement, feedback, and practical advice throughout the process of writing and publishing this book, and also for the opportunities she provided to present my ideas at meetings of her research group, Poetics and Nature circa 1800, and at colloquia organized by that group. And thank you also to the Waterloo Centre for German Studies for funding these activities. I am grateful to Rachel Schmidt for acting as a sounding board for many of my ideas. I owe the greatest debt to my husband, Hartwig Mayer, without whose help and support this book could not have been written. I am very grateful to the anonymous readers who refereed this manuscript for their insightful comments, which led to significant improvements in the book. I wish to thank the Deutsche Literaturarchiv Marbach for access to its collections, particularly its librarians for their help in finding and accessing the materials. My thanks to Sara Marsh and Samuel Schirm, who helped with the final formatting of the manuscript. Special thanks to Richard Ratzlaff, the editor at McGill-Queen’s University Press, for guiding the manuscript through the review and publication process, and to the staff at McGillQueen’s, generally. This book has been published with the help of a grant from the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, through the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, using funds provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Additional funds were provided by the College of Arts at the University of Guelph.

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Abbreviations

For E.T.A. Hoffmann’s works, the following abbreviations were used. These also correspond to volumes in the Winkler edition, with the exception that Fantasiestücke and Nachtstücke, which I cite separately, are printed as a single volume. FS NS SB SM SW

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Fantasiestücke in Callots Manier Nachtstücke Die Serapions-Brüder Schriften zur Musik Späte Werke

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THE AESTHETICS OF FEAR IN GERMAN ROMANTICISM

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Introduction

1. Hoffmann’s Transgression: The Challenge to Contemporaries I have claimed in the Preface that the Romantic era brought about a radical shift in the aesthetics of fear, taking leave from a tradition of thought (the discourses of the sublime) that culminated in the subordination of fear and its object to the supremacy of human reason, and committing instead to a critical scrutiny and an undermining, not just of Enlightened rationalism, but of all forms of teleological optimism, and indeed of all apodictic certainties. So radical a transformation can hardly have gone unnoticed by contemporaries. Before proceeding to outline the new aesthetics, it is therefore necessary to show that this shift is not the outcome of hindsight but rather was noticed and experienced as such at the time. To this end, I choose the contemporary reception of Hoffmann – as already suggested, the movement’s most daring and self-aware innovator – as a test case, and begin my study in what might seem a backwards manner, with the reception of an author who will not be discussed in depth until Part III. My aims here are twofold: (1) to show that contemporaries did indeed perceive something radically new in Hoffmann’s works; and (2) to identify provisionally the nature of Hoffmann’s innovations by isolating the elements that contemporaries experienced as threatening and offensive. Later chapters will then show whether what contemporaries regarded as a challenge to established values and modes of thought corresponded to Hoffmann’s own efforts to reconceptualize fear and its place in literature. This exploration of the reception is thus intended to justify my claim that there was a paradigm shift and to situate the Romantic texts that are the focus of this book in the context of the times’ prevailing modes of thought. With these aims in mind, we turn to reviews of, allusions to, and parodies of Hoffmann’s works, published during his lifetime or in the following decade.

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4

The Aesthetics of Fear in German Romanticism

Critics liked or disliked Hoffmann’s works for a variety of reasons (e.g., for living up to, or for not living up to, the Serapiontic principle). Two appreciative reviews highlight as new and unusual Hoffmann’s characteristic practice of introducing the fantastic into the ordinary everyday world. In his review of Die Serapionsbrüder (The Serapion Brethren), Friedrich Gottlob Wetzel distinguishes realistic works from those that create a marvellous world not governed by the laws of the real one, and notes that Hoffmann’s tale collection fits neither, “indem uns mitten in einer höchst phantasiereichen Welt nicht selten Scenen und Charaktere begegnen, zu denen dem Bildner unläugbar Figuren aus dem Kreise seiner wirklichen Lebenserfahrung gesessen, und die, in das phantastische Treiben mit hineingezogen, um so wunderlicher da stehen”1 (because in the midst of a highly imaginative world we not infrequently encounter scenes and characters for whom undeniably figures from the circle of his real life experience stood as model for the creator, and who, when pulled into the fantastic action stand there all the more strangely).2 A review of Nachtstücke (Night Pieces) contrasts Hoffmann’s approach to creating terror and horror with Fouqué’s conventional use of devils, ghosts, and the like, remarking that Hoffmann only needs a doll, a painting, or a pair of staring eyes, “um seine Geister vor allen Leuten, ja Mittags, wenn das Licht am höchsten gestiegen ist, entstehen zu lassen”3 (in order to let his spirits come into existence before everyone, even at midday, when the light has climbed to its highest), and praises the latter as more poetic because created with the help of the reader’s imagination. While some reviewers like at least some of Hoffmann’s dark tales, there is a tendency to reject the more extreme forms of the horrific, either in human behaviour (crime or perversions) or in the supernatural and inexplicable, as offensive and an improper subject for literature. Specifically – and of crucial significance for defining the subject of the present investigation – those phenomena are condemned that impugn or even simply fail to confirm the supremacy of human reason, the moral dignity and the moral freedom of humanity. The review of the final two volumes of the Serapionsbrüder in the Heidelberger Jahrbücher der Literatur complains of an excess of dark and horrific effects and singles out “Der unheimliche Gast” (“The Uncanny Guest”) and the tale of necrophagia embedded in the frame discussion of vampirism for particular criticism, precisely for its undermining of moral foundations. “Der unheimliche Gast” is first termed “unwahrscheinlich” (improbable) for the very mixing of the real and fantastic that Wetzel had identified as 1 Wetzel, Rev. of Die Serapionsbrüder, 1201. Identified in Kremer, Hoffmann, 267. 2 Unless otherwise indicated, translations are my own. 3 Hallische Allgemeine Literaturzeitung, Rev. of Nachtstücke, column 598.

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Introduction 5

new and characteristic: “hier sehen wir mitten durch das Reich der Wirklichkeit, wie dunkle Macht [sic] – allerdings einen gar unheimlichen Gast – walten, wodurch alle natürliche Einwirkung der Personen aufeinander gestört wird”4 (here we see in the midst of the realm of reality, how dark power [sic] – admittedly a truly uncanny guest – hold sway, by which all natural influence of the characters on each other is disrupted). The uncanniness of this dark power is then located in the fact that “sogar die jungfräuliche Seelenunschuld, die wir doch als das von allem bösen Zauber unverletzliche betrachten, […] gegen die Einwirkung dieser Macht nicht zu wahren vermag und in des Menschen Innerem, unabhängig von seinem Willen, in künstlicher Verblendung, Neigungen geweckt werden, vor denen er sich dann selbst entsetzen muss”5 (even the virginal innocence of the soul, which we indeed regard as the one thing invulnerable to all evil magic, … is incapable of protecting from the influence of this power, so that inclinations are aroused in the inner [sphere] of the human being, against his will, by an artful blinding, by which he must then be horrified). It is for this reason that the reviewer rejects the effect of the tale as injurious and offensive: “Wir fühlen uns recht eigentlich verwundet, wo wir freye Willenskraft, das Fundament, worauf alle moralische Welt beruhet, angetastet sehen”6 (We feel most truly wounded where we see freedom of the will attacked, as the foundation on which all moral worlds rest). Similarly, the tale of vampirism is condemned because in it “aller mo­ ralischen Gefühle und aller göttlichen Huth zum Trotze die Höllengewalt plötzlich den Menschen erfasst”7 (despite all moral feelings and all divine protection, the power of hell suddenly seizes the human being). Consequently, “obgleich wir dem Grauenhaften keines Weges abhold sind, so glauben wir doch, dass dieses da seine Schranken finden muss, wo nicht mehr eine höhere moralische Kraft in dem Menschen dasselbe zu bewältigen vermag, und müssen daher diese ganze Geschichte eine abscheuliche, diabolische Erfindung nennen”8 (although we are in no way hostile to the horrific, we nevertheless believe that it must find its limits there, where a higher moral power in the human being is no longer capable of overcoming it, and therefore we must call this entire story a loathsome, diabolical invention). In one further instance – “Spielerglück”(“Gambler’s Luck”) – the offence of the injury to moral feeling is compounded by the lack of explanation for the events: the one 4 Heidelberger Jahrbücher der Literatur 14, Rev. of Die Serapionsbrüder, 80. 5 Ibid., 100. 6 Ibid. 7 Heidelberger Jahrbücher der Literatur 75, Rev. of Die Serapionsbrüder, 1187. 8 Ibid.

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The Aesthetics of Fear in German Romanticism

morally good character dies in a mysterious way.9 This lack of explanations as a failing emerges here and there as a subtheme, one that will prove significant in the context of our investigation into the differences between Hoffmann’s aesthetics of fear and the aesthetics of the sublime. The review of Hoffmann’s Nachtstücke in the Hallische Allgemeine Literaturzeitung (quoted above), though mainly positive, sounds the same note – that literature should not be allowed to undermine moral axioms – in connection with “Der Sandmann” (“The Sandman”), specifically in connection with the finale on the tower, which is described as “neu und fürchterlich” (new and terrible). In noting the effect on the reader’s feelings, the reviewer asks: [D]arf der Dichter seine Menschen schaffen, um sie zu vernichten? Wo aber ­keine höhere Ansicht über die vernichtete Hoheit des Menschen tröstet, und wie hier, der durch Phantasie Gefallene von der Phantasie dem nüchternen Verstande zum kalten Bedauern überlassen wird, da scheint uns vielmehr eine unreine Vermischung, als ein poetisches Ineinanderspielen der Phantasie und Wirklichkeit vorgegangen zu seyn. (10) Is the poet allowed to create his persons in order to destroy them? Where no higher point of view consoles for the destroyed greatness of the human being, and, as here, the person who has fallen through imagination is abandoned by imagination to the cold commiseration of sober understanding, there, it seems to us, an impure mixing, rather than a poetic interplay of imagination and reality, has taken place. (emphasis in original)

The notion of an attack on morality is developed with increasing clarity and detail in two other reviews, which amount to an almost wholesale rejection of Hoffmann’s works. Ludwig Börne’s discussion of Die Serapionsbrüder is noteworthy for its wealth of images, which reveal more than the analysis contains and which thus highlight the emotional nature of this reaction. Börne first welcomes Hoffmann’s works as “tröstende, liebliche Eilande” (consoling, charming islands) standing out from the shallow and witless sea of the German lending libraries. Having landed on these at first sight fertile and welcoming islands, Börne continues, the reader is then frightened and horrified to such a degree that the deathbringing sea now appears the lesser of two evils: “da kommen von allen Seiten mit gräßlichem Geheule die wilden Bewohner, mit Pfeilen und Wurfspießen bewaffnet, auf uns zu. Überreste verzehrter Menschenopfer

9 Heidelberger Jahrbücher der Literatur 14, Rev. of Die Serapionsbrüder, 101.

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erfüllen uns mit Schauer. Wir fliehen entsetzt an den Strand zurück und vertrauen uns der greulichen Wasserwüste von neuem an”10 (then from all sides the wild inhabitants come towards us with horrible howling, armed with arrows and spears. Remains of eaten human sacrifices fill us with shuddering. We flee in horror back to the beach and confide ourselves again to the horrible water desert). Börne himself stresses that this reaction is an emotional rather than intellectual or aesthetic one: “Mag der richtende Verstand diese gesammelten Erzählungen für preiswürdig er­ klären, die Empfindung schweigt gewiß, wenn sie nicht gar murrt gegen den Ausspruch” (The judging understanding may declare these collected tales as praiseworthy, but feeling is certainly silent, if it doesn’t even grumble against the judgment). He then conscientiously embarks on what he terms the difficult and irritating task of justifying this revulsion of feeling (556). Over several pages, he develops several related accusations. First, Hoffmann’s works insistently present views into a dark abyss, a reminder of the dark side of the universe and of the human soul that is frightening and unwelcome: “es herrscht eine abwärts gekehrte Romantik, eine Sehnsucht nach einem tieferen, nach einem unterirdischen Leben, die den Leser anfröstelt und verdrießlich macht” (556; There predominates a romanticism tending to the depths, a longing for a deeper, subterranean life, which makes the reader shiver and causes him irritation). Second, what makes this insight particularly objectionable is that, because imagination is allowed to operate without the control of the understanding, the reader is not offered any safety net or distancing device: “so findet der Leser an der Besonnenheit des Dichters keine Brustwehr, die ihn vor dem Herabstürzen sichert, wenn ihn beim Anblicken der tollen Welt unter seinen Füßen der Schwindel überfällt” (556; the reader therefore finds no safety rail in the form of the poet’s deliberation, which might protect him from falling down, when he is overcome by dizziness at the sight of the crazy world under his feet). I wish to draw particular attention to this remark, as I will later argue that this removal of the safety of the reader is a key feature distinguishing the Romantic aesthetics of fear from discourses of the sublime. Third, Börne finds objectionable the destruction of human moral dignity, the reduction of humans to insignificant, powerless beings: Hoffmann’s characters are like puppets who in their frenetic dance hurl away their limbs and their heads (“nur daß diese [die Hoffmannschen Gestalten] von allen Gliedern den Kopf zuerst verlieren” [except that these, i.e., Hoffmann’s characters, of all limbs lose their heads first]), or they are like unfortunates confessing under torture; even music

10 Börne, Sämtliche Schriften, 556.

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does not lead to higher regions, but rather to lower ones, and significantly to that intolerable recognition of one’s own insignificance: Selbst die Musik, […] dient nicht dazu, den Himmel, dessen Dolmetscherin sie ist, auf die Erde herabzuziehen und ihr verständlich zu machen, sie wird nur gebraucht, um höhnend den unermeßlichen Abstand zwischen Himmel und Erde zu beweisen, zu zeigen, daß jene Höhe von sehnsuchtsvollen Menschen nie erreicht werden könne, und ihnen “das Mißverhältnis des innern Gemüts mit dem äußern Leben” genau vorzurechnen, damit sie ja nicht der Verzweiflung entgehen. (561; emphasis in original) Even music, does not serve to bring heaven – whose interpreter she is – down to earth and to make it comprehensible, rather she is only used to prove derisively the immeasurable distance between heaven and earth, to show that that height can never be reached by longing-filled humans, and to demonstrate to them “the disproportion of the inner spirit with outer life,” so that they may not escape from despair. (emphasis in original)

The last sentence is revealing: Börne does not argue that the image of the world created by Hoffmann’s works is untrue or ineffectual; rather, he argues that it is intolerable because it leads to despair – an indirect testament to both its truth and its effectiveness. His final sentences indeed recognize and confirm this. The work he has been describing is “die Epopee des Wahnsinns” (the epopee of insanity) that thus illumines a dark side of the human psyche. In its work of analysis and description, it is “ein lobenswertes Unternehmen, wenn es lobenswert ist, den menschlichen Geist, der nachtwandelnd an allen Gefahren unbeschädigt vorübergeht, aufzuwecken, um ihn vor dem Abgrunde zu warnen, der zu seinen Füßen droht” (562; a praiseworthy enterprise, if it is praiseworthy to wake the human spirit, which sleepwalking goes past all dangers unharmed, in order to warn it about the abyss which threatens at its feet). Let us recapitulate the three main points of Börne’s accusation: (1) that Hoffmann’s works show a dark dimension of the world, and of the human, best left in the dark; (2) that they remove the safety of the reader; and (3) that they impugn the moral dignity of humans and present them as insignificant and powerless. It will be argued in this book that these are the very elements that distinguish the Romantic aesthetics of fear from the aesthetics of the sublime and thus warrant regarding the former as a new chapter in the history of the aesthetics of terror. The first of these ideas recurs – as with Börne, combined with reluctant admiration for Hoffmann’s skill – in a letter (March 1821) by J.H. Voss the younger to Christian von Truchseß. Voss finds many of the works

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Introduction 9

effective – indeed all too effective – yet his feelings revolt against them – “die meisten seiner Produkte sind, bei aller Anziehungskraft, zurückstoßend und schaudervoll”11 (most of his products are, despite their attraction, repulsive and cause one to shudder) – mainly because they draw on the sphere of “Fratzenhaftigkeit” (grotesqueness) instead of nature, and because of the very skill with which this grotesque is combined with the ordinary. He concedes that Die Elixiere des Teufels (The Devil’s Elixir) is a great work, because it is firmly rooted in the world of nature and not implausible although it resembles fevered dreams, and ex negativo he subscribes to the requirement that literature may not undermine accepted moral systems by stressing that in the novel morality and religion are never endangered (95). Nevertheless, because of the very success with which the horrific is presented, he stresses that he would not want this picture always before his eyes; indeed, he longs for the moment when it will fade into distant memory. Perhaps most significant and revealing are Voss’s comments on “Der Sandmann.” Again, praise for its novelty and ingenuity is combined with revulsion caused by its subject matter: “eine der geistreichsten Erzählungen unserer Zeit, wenn dieser nicht wiederum in Schauer und Entsetzen sich umtriebe” (96; one of the cleverest tales of our time, if it didn’t once again wallow in shuddering and horror). The ideas he singles out as particularly “sinnreich” (inventive) and fearful are the very ones in which later theorists would locate the source of the uncanny: the notion of the Sandman and its connection with the spyglass, the scene of dancing with an automaton with its combination of life and death. Indeed, this last is termed the non plus ultra of uncanniness: “[in Olimpia] finde ich das Maß des Unheimlichen übervoll gemessen” (97; [in Olimpia] I find the uncanny measured to the fullest and overfull). This appraisal is immediately followed by the same conclusion that Börne came to, and that motivates the adjectives “zurückstoßend und schaudervoll” – that literature should not be allowed to explore what a beneficent providence has concealed in darkness: “Die Poesie sollte uns billig mit Gott und der Natur und unserm Innern versöhnen, nicht mit Wesen befreunden, die Gott noch vor der Schöpfung aus seiner schönen Welt verstoßen hat” (97; Literature should by rights reconcile us with God, nature and our own inner being, not cause us to make friends with beings whom God banished from his beautiful world even before creation). Konrad Schwenk, in his overview of Hoffmann’s oeuvre a year after the author’s death, voices similar objections with even greater clarity.12 By

11 Voss, Mitteilungen über Göthe und Schiller, 93. 12 Schwenk, “Ueber E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Schriften.”

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and large, his appraisal is rather shallow and trivial, driven by the desire that literature confirm an optimistic world view. He dislikes most tales that describe evil or undesirable aspects of the human psyche, or that involve the supernatural or fail to provide a natural, psychological explanation of events; he likes best tales that have a happy or at least a sentimental ending. For instance, he likes the Märchen but dislikes all of the Nachtstücke except “Das steinerne Herz” (“The Stone Heart”), which he finds “rührend,” (moving) and he likes “Meister Martin der Küfner und seine Gesellen” (“Master Martin the Cooper and His Journeymen”) for its truth to nature as well as for its sentimentally happy ending, excepting only his dislike for the notion that one cannot be both a great artist and a happy husband. He tends to motivate his rejection of supernatural and horrific elements by claiming that they are cheap, trite, or ineffective, as only weak persons succumb to the horrors of the imagination. Gradually, however, a different explanation emerges. Schwenk too distinguishes two tendencies in Hoffmann’s oeuvre, namely one that “die aus der poetischen Anlage und der Sehnsucht des Gemüthes sich entwickelnde phantastische Welt des Innern darzustellen strebt” (strives to portray the fantastic inner world that develops out of the poetic tendency and the spirit’s longing) and another that “das Gemüth in eine ungewöhnliche Stimmung zu versetzen sucht durch unerwartete, außer der Regel liegende und dadurch an eine verborgene, dunkle Macht mahnende Erscheinung und ihre Einflüsse auf das Individuum” (83; seeks to put the spirit in an unusual mood through unexpected appearances that lie outside the rule and hence warn of a hidden dark power and its influences on the individual). It is this notion of an influence of a dark power, and its implications for human morality and dignity, that he rejects. He finds it unacceptable, as he states quite openly, because literature should not be allowed to portray subject matter that involves anything horrific, criminal, vulgar, or unedifying. He first makes this argument in rejecting Hoffmann’s self-justification through the authority of Tieck. Schwenk roundly condemns Tieck’s “Liebeszauber” (“The Love Potion”) and dismisses the defence of truth put forward in Phantasus, quoting Aeschylus: “Allein es geziemt, zu verbergen das Böse dem Dichter, / Nicht vorzubringen und aufzuführen” (It is only fitting for the poet to hide evil, not to bring it forth and to stage it). He continues: “Was geht es die Poesie an, daß das Leben allerhand Qualen darbietet und daß Gräuel und Verbrechen geübt werden? Wo keine Würde des moralischen Menschen ist, fängt die Gemeinheit an, und die kann nicht der Vorwurf der schönen Kunst sein” (93–4, emphasis mine; What does it have to do with literature, that life offers all sorts of tortures and that atrocities and crimes are committed? Where there is no dignity of the moral human being, meanness begins, and it cannot be the subject of

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Introduction 11

beautiful art [emphasis mine]). He too singles out the discussion of vampirism and accompanying tale of necrophagia, which arouse a remarkable intensity of moral and emotional outrage in him: “ekelhaft, widerlich, unausstehlich, scheuslich, und es ist durchaus die höchste Verirrung in der Kunst, wenn die Krankheit und ihre ekelhaften Wirkungen Effect machen sollen” (94; revolting, nauseating, intolerable, repulsive, and it is absolutely the highest aberration in art, if sickness and its revolting effects are to make an impression). Again and again, illnesses and actions deriving from physical causes are passionately rejected as repulsive and unworthy of literary treatment. The reason for this passionate revulsion of feeling eventually emerges: nothing may appear in the arts that in any way undermines human dignity and moral freedom: Diese [i.e. Poesie] bezieht sich immer auf den moralischen Theil des Menschen und seine Sehnsucht nach Höherem, und die Seele darf darin nie von der physischen Gewalt absolut abhängig erscheinen, wie es der Fall ist, wenn magnetisch auf die Nerven gewürkt wird; sie muß im Gegentheil mächtiger auf den Körper wirken, als dieser auf sie. Alles Leben ist bedingt durch Nothwendigkeit und Freiheit, und erst wo die letztere überwiegt, geht das Gebiet der Dichtung und der Schönheit an. (102–3) [Literature] always refers to the moral part of the human being and his longing for something higher, and the soul may never appear in it as absolutely dependent on physical force, which is the case if the nerves are affected by magnetic operations; on the contrary, the soul must affect the body more strongly than vice versa. All life is determined by necessity and freedom, and only where the latter predominates does the sphere of literature and beauty begin.

If one admits the possibility of subjection of one will to that of another, the subjected individual becomes a mere tool, is robbed of freedom of the will, and “eine allen freien Willen hemmende Befangenheit, die durch körperliche Afficirung kommt, kann kein Gegenstand der Kunst seyn, die im Stoff immer einen freien Geist darstellen muß” (103; a discomfort that impedes all free will, which comes from a physical influence, cannot be an object of art, which must always portray a free spirit in its subject matter). What is remarkable about this prescription for literature as the expression of wishful thinking, is the degree to which it coincides with Schiller’s conceptualization of the sublime (which will be discussed in part I, chapter 1). We can therefore tentatively advance this theory: what contemporary critics experienced as new in Hoffmann’s works, and what provoked emotional reactions ranging from disquiet to outrage, were precisely those aspects that deviated from or exceeded the aesthetic category under which

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seventeenth- and eighteenth-century readers subsumed dark, ugly, and frightening phenomena – namely, the sublime. It was not just the newness that proved disturbing; it was also that this new aesthetic undercut notions of moral freedom and rational supremacy that the sublime had left intact or even confirmed. Before developing this thesis, I will seek further confirmation for this characterization of the contemporary reception of Hoffmann by examining three authors who engage in an intertextual debate with him via fictional texts with corrective, and in some cases parodistic, intent. These intertexts are composed of a tissue of allusions to and borrowings from Hoffmann and either involve characters from his tales or turn Hoffmann himself into a character. They share a world view determined by the assumptions that purposiveness and harmony underlie the universe and that humans are essentially good, moral entities with an honourable place in the cosmic order. They thus offer further evidence that the dark and disturbing world view in many of Hoffmann’s tales, his use of the supernatural, and especially his intermingling of the fantastic with the real, ordinary world, were experienced as new and blameworthy for the reasons outlined above: that they tend to degrade human moral and ontological dignity and pre-eminence and that they unsettle the reader by undermining generally accepted axioms or belief systems. Common to all these intertexts is that the supernatural is explained or resolved in a way that confirms rather than undercuts existing belief systems, be they discourses of sublimity in the Kantian or Schillerian sense, empirical scientific accounts of a nature that is governed by a system of discoverable laws, or traditional Christian faith and dogma. Willibald Alexis articulated a critique of Hoffmann in an appraisal of his oeuvre, written at Hitzig’s request and appended to the latter’s biography of Hoffmann (1823),13 and in a parodistic novella, “Der Braune” (“The Brown Man”),14 a pastiche of motifs from Hoffmann’s writings, in which their author appears as ghostly Doppelgänger condemned to try to redress the harm he did in life. In “Zur Beurtheilung Hoffmanns als Dichter” (“In Judgement of Hoffmann as a Poet”), Alexis professes to admire Hoffmann’s talent, aims, and some of his achievements, while at the same time unequivocally condemning everything that characterizes him as writer and thinker. Alexis achieves this paradox by differentiating what he perceives as Hoffmann’s intentions (his “Streben”) from the actual works (the execution, “Ausführung”), approving the former and

13 Hitzig, Aus Hoffmann’s Leben und Nachlaß. 14 First published in Urania, 1827, 313–466.

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Introduction 13

attributing Hoffmann’s failure as a poet to the latter.15 Essentially, Alexis measures Hoffmann against Alexis’s own conception of the writer’s task and finds him wanting on those grounds. He identifies two goals in Hoffmann’s work, two objects of “Streben”: the longing for a better and purer world, such as is offered by dedication to the arts (“das enthusiastische Sehnen nach einem bessern Zustand”16 [the enthusiastic longing for a better condition]), and the wish to arouse love and understanding of nature (“die Erweckung zur wahren Naturreligion” [51; the awakening to a true religion of nature]). On the face of it, Hoffmann and Alexis agree on this latter aim, but arguably two different definitions of nature are at work, as Alexis himself indirectly recognizes. He requires appreciation, study, and the objective portrayal of actually existing natural phenomena (the true poet must be a “liebevolle[r] Bewunderer der ganzen Natur” [66; loving admirer of the whole of nature]); what he condemns in Hoffmann is the search for an intellectual or imagined dimension below or beyond the phenomenal world: “der Weg des Studiums der Natur sey dem der Ausbildung einer ungezügelten Fantasie vorzuziehen” (68; the path of study of nature is to be preferred to that of a development of an unfettered imagination). The search for beauty he approvingly notes in Hoffmann’s oeuvre should take the form of uncovering and highlighting the poetic side of extant reality, for which he holds Walter Scott up as a model. This provides the basis for an uncompromising rejection of idealism as a form of arrogant pride that, in its search for a higher realm, promotes indifference to actual living nature: “Die Idealisten, welche sich von der höchsten Poesie ergriffen glauben, sind am allerweitesten abgeirrt von der wahren Poesie, weil sie gleichgültig geworden sind gegen die Offenbarungen in der Natur” (53; The idealists, who believe themselves moved by the highest literature, have strayed furthest away from true literature, because they have become indifferent to the revelations of nature). Hoffmann, Alexis maintains, intended to promote true love of nature, but erred whenever he portrayed things that exist only in the mind rather than in the external world, and whenever he gave his wild imagination free rein instead of taming it and subjugating it to providing aesthetically appealing expression for raw materials derived from careful observation of the real world. 15 “Wie schön dies Streben aber auch des Dichters Sinn für die Poesie bekundet, […], so hat der Erfolg doch nicht seiner Absicht entsprochen und die Schuld liegt, […] in der Ausführung” (Alexis, “Zur Beurtheilung Hoffmanns als Dichter,” 56; However beautifully this striving proves the poet’s sense for literature … [N]evertheless the result has not corresponded to his intention and the fault lies … in the execution). 16 Alexis, “Zur Beurtheilung Hoffmanns als Dichter,” 51.

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We might conclude that Alexis is condemning the fantastic as such, and indeed the tales he praises contain few if any fantastic elements: “Das Fräulein von Scuderi” (“Mademoiselle of Scuderi”), “Das Majorat” (“The Primogeniture”), “Meister Martin der Küfner,” “Meister Johannes Wacht,” and “Der Feind” (“The Enemy”). Nevertheless, this conclusion must be qualified. Alexis does not condemn the writing of Märchen, and indeed he accords several of Hoffmann’s a measure of approval. There, however, he objects that children are not satisfied by Hoffmann’s Märchen because their imagination requires that the magical and fantastic be located in an exotic, faraway world of dragons, fairies and kings, not in the ordinary world of toys and domestic objects.17 The problem, then, lies in the presence of the fantastic in Hoffmann’s tales set in the real world and aimed at an adult readership, and in the presence of the real and ordinary in the fairy tales. That is to say, what Alexis rejects is precisely what is unique about and characteristic of Hoffmann’s oeuvre, the mixing of the two realms, the creation of the famed “Duplicität des Seins” (duplexity of being). This rejection, and the obvious irritation that accompanies it, draws attention to another requirement Alexis makes of literature and brings us to the central point for the purposes of the present investigation. Again and again, Alexis requires that literature re-establish – or, as he puts it, uncover – the order, purposiveness, and harmony that underlies all creation and that it resolve all conflicts in a satisfying manner. Again and again, he praises authors whose works arouse in readers feelings of reassurance, comfort, satisfaction, and contentment, and contends that the effect of Hoffmann’s works is “widrig” (repulsive) because they end in disharmony and madness, disquiet the readers, and fail to make them feel “wohl” or “heimlich” (well or at home). The first indication of the latter requirement, never explicitly articulated yet always present, is the unfavourable comparison drawn between Scott on the one hand and Hoffmann and Byron on the other. Scott is incomparably better, not only because he moves “allein im Gebiete der klaren Wirklichkeit” (only in the sphere of clear reality) whereas Hoffmann errs in “der wildesten Phantastik” (the wildest fantastic), but also because Scott’s fictional world is complete in itself, its author at peace with himself

17 “Den Zauber des Wunderbaren wollen sie aber nicht so ganz in ihrer Nähe finden, sondern ihn in weitere Ferne verlegt wissen” (they don’t want to find the magic of the marvellous so directly in their vicinity, rather they want to know it is transported to greater distance); “so sagte mir ein Kind einst: Märchen sind, wo Zauberei und Könige vorkommen, aber nicht das gewöhnliche Spielzeug” (57; once a child said to me: fairy tales are where magic and kings appear, but not ordinary toys).

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Introduction 15

and with life, whereas Hoffmann and Byron are dissatisfied with the existing world (48). For this reason, “Byron’s Dichtungen hören immer mit einer Dissonanz auf, auch Hoffmann’s Werke schließen selten befriedigend; oft sind es auch überhaupt nur Fragmente, weil der Dichter fühlte, daß die befriedigende Lösung der Zweifel seines Helden ihm noch ein Problem sey” (49; Byron’s poetic works always end with a dissonance, Hoffmann’s works also rarely end in a satisfying way; often they are only fragments, because the poet felt that the satisfying solution of his hero’s doubts was still a problem for him). More than once, Alexis complains that the inner conflict of the musician Johannes Kreisler is never resolved and likely would not have been resolved in Part III of Kater Murr. Hoffmann’s humour, he further argues, is never true (rein) because of its destructive (feindlich) quality. Yet Hoffmann is better than Byron, because his works occasionally afford glimpses of “die reine Welt seliger Zufriedenheit” (50; the pure world of beatific contentment). It is difficult to resist the conclusion that the latter is what Alexis thinks all literature should show. The same criterion emerges in the condemnation of the mingling of the real and the fantastic. While contrast is allowed in order to give spice to literature, Alexis argues, Hoffmann’s contrasts are too shrill. He describes the effect on the reader as “widrig” and gives as reason for this the fact that readers are rendered confused and uncertain as to the nature of the narrated reality: “so wird er uns oft auch deshalb widrig, weil durch seine Art des grellen Herausreissens aus der Wirklichkeit vor unsern Sinnen alles zu schwinden beginnt und kein Verhältniß, kein Leben mehr fest und in sich geschlossen erscheint. Ueberall ist man zweifelhaft, ob man mit der scheinbar wirklichen Person oder ihrem fantastischen Doppelgänger zu thun hat” (59; in this way he often becomes repulsive to us, because through his way of crass ripping out of reality, everything begins to disappear before our senses, and no relationship, no life seems solid and self-contained any more. One is everywhere in doubt whether one has to do with the seemingly real person or with its fantastic double). Alexis, then, like the reviewers discussed above, considers it inappropriate for literature to undermine rather than confirm the readers’ understanding of themselves and the world; he notes that Hoffmann’s works instead sow ontological uncertainty, and he is repulsed by this. This is confirmed by his preference for authors who present a world that is self-contained, unified, and easily fathomable in its meaning and laws: “Aber in beiden [i.e. Scott and Tieck] steht eine feste Welt vor uns, und die uns darin erscheinenden Gestalten können wir, wenn ihr Auftreten auch überraschend ist, doch aus der Sphäre, die wir kennen, uns erklären” (60; But in both [i.e., Scott and Tieck] a solid world stands before us, and we can

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explain the figures who appear to us in it from the sphere that we know, even if their appearance is surprising). He goes on to complain that this duplexity is present in most of Hoffmann’s fairy tales and that the effect on characters and events is generally destructive rather than amusing: “und zwar meist nicht auf heitere, sondern zerstörende Weise” (59; and indeed not in a cheerful but rather a destructive way). Encounters with the higher sphere of spirit are generally crushing for humans: “Immer begegnen sich Gestalten aus der erbärmlichen Wirklichkeit mit körper- und zeitlosen Wesen höherer Regionen. Ihr Conflict endet sich in einer wahnsinnartigen Ertödtung alles Geistes, in den gebrechlichen Leibern der ersteren, weil sie zu schwach sind, um das Licht der letzteren in sich einströmen zu lassen, oder in einer Mystifikation” (60; Always figures from miserable reality encounter incorporeal and atemporal beings from higher regions. Their conflict ends with an insane destruction of all spirit in the fragile bodies of the former, because they are too weak to let the light of the latter flow into them, or in a mystification). Though moral dignity and freedom are not explicitly mentioned, it is no stretch to argue that Alexis is referring to the self-same degradation of human worth identified by the other critics discussed above. The too shrill contrast, Alexis continues, destroys the possibility of the harmony that is essential for the poetic character of a literary work: “Aber die Harmonie entflieht dadurch, und ohne diese in der Natur zu zeigen, wird es auch schwer seyn, ein poetisches Gemüth zu erwecken” (60; But harmony escapes in this way, and without showing harmony in nature it will be difficult to awaken a poetic spirit).18 And this contrast is also the reason why readers cannot “[sich] einbürgern und heimisch machen” (settle in as citizens and make themselves at home) in Hoffmann’s fictional works, and hence can hardly ever derive “einen reinen Genuß” (a pure enjoyment) from their reading (61; emphasis mine). The conclusion is inescapable that Alexis resents being disquieted and made uncomfortable and resents as well the disturbing effects for which he has correctly identified a cause. In short, the causes of Alexis’s displeasure and disquiet are the very same we encountered in the reviews: the intermingling of ontologically incompatible worlds, the presence of unknown and inexplicable elements that prevent a final resolution, the staging of the impotence of reason and knowledge.

18 This is one of several instances where Alexis implies that literature ought to “show” that harmony prevails in nature.

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The self-same ideas find fictional expression in Alexis’s Hoffmannparody, “Der Braune,” in which Hoffmann himself and those who claim to be custodians of his spirit or who try to follow in his footsteps exemplify a false approach to literature, one that leads not to true poetry but into the arms of the devil, who in turn presents himself as the spirit of nature. The satire largely misses its target, because those who are on the false path all lack the talent necessary for poets. No true poet is shown who is first led astray by Hoffmann, then brought back onto the right path. Thus what is being ridiculed – would-be poets without gift or dedication to the art – is something that Hoffmann himself satirized. The outcome is the curing of the protagonist, Liborious, of his twin fixed ideas – poetry, and belief in the supernatural – and his return to marriage and useful mundane activities. This too has precedents in Hoffmann’s own tales – one need only think of the would-be poet Amandus in “Die Königsbraut” (“The King’s Bride”). “Der Braune” is thus a rather banal parody of the type frequently seen in the late eighteenth century, a sort of “Freuden des jungen Anselmus” that relates to “Der goldne Topf” (“The Golden Pot”) as Nicolai’s parody did to Goethe’s Werther: young women who read too many novels go insane and end up in an asylum, while sensible people turn away from the world of the overactive imagination, marry virtuous bourgeois girls, settle into respectable occupations in the civil service, and realize that all spirits (Geister) are nothing, a mere mockery of “die lieben bestehenden Verhältnisse”19 (the dear existing conditions). What is of interest for the present study is the singling out for ridicule of the very same elements condemned in the reviews, those that tend to sow ontological uncertainty. All motifs borrowed from Hoffmann and all overt criticisms circle around one notion: that of the duplexity of being, either in the form of a mixing of the fantastic and the real, or in the search for the secrets of nature below or beyond its phenomenal appearance. The madness of the servant girl who read too many novels takes the form of imagining that she herself and her chosen rescuer (Liborius, the protagonist) are not what they seem. The test of a true sense for poetry, applied by the devil and by the would-be enthusiasts who frequent Hoffmann’s favourite wine bar and who claim to have been his friends, is the ability to see what is not there. Liborius is downcast when the would-be enthusiasts, having drunk themselves into an exalted state, see gnomes in the table legs, monsters in the lamps, and a vampire in the innkeeper, whereas he sees only table legs, a lamp, and an ordinary innkeeper. He is horrified to deduce that he is “ein nüchterner Mensch” (240; a sober human being)

19 Alexis, Gesammelte Novellen, 270.

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rather than a poet. When he looks through the devil’s pea-shooter, he sees, not golden grapes and dancing salamanders, but only grey dawn, whereupon the devil diagnoses “dann geht Ihnen doch der eigentliche Sinn zum Naturdichter ab” (253; then you are missing the actual sense needed for a poet of nature), for which the only cure is selling one’s soul to the devil. The enthusiasts also condemned Liborius’s first literary work on the grounds that it was still too attached to the real world (“bei jeder Wendung sieht man es Ihnen an, daß Sie Ihre neue Welt noch nicht anders zu construiren verstehen, als indem Sie auf die alltäglich bestehende zurückblicken” [236; at every turn one sees in you that you still do not understand how to construct your new world except by looking back to the everyday existing one]).20 The notion of the duplexity of reality is attacked through extensive use of the Doppelgänger motif: the mysterious stranger in a brown coat who dogs Liborius’s steps and prevents him from writing by knocking on the wall may be an ordinary Englishman, the ghost of Hoffmann, or Liborius’s Doppelgänger, and Liborius’s poetic creativity depends on the ability to split his own self into a poetic and a prosaic Liborius, or into Hoffmann and Liborius. At the same time, the Doppelgänger motif is ridiculed and robbed of its impact by being applied to prosaic objects such as boots (189), or coupled with mundane considerations: “Warum grade heut der wunderbare Aufschluß über die Duplicität seines Ichs, da er vier und dreißig und ein halbes Jahr von der Simplicität dieses Ichs überzeugt gewesen? Mußte er nun für beide auseinander gegangene Hälften denken, fühlen, leiden – vielleicht gar bezahlen?” (189; Why just today the marvellous revelation about the duplexity of his ego, after he had been convinced of the simplicity of this ego for thirty-four and a half years? Did he now have to think, feel, suffer – perhaps even pay – for both halves that had gone apart?). All of this tends to the conclusion to which Liborius arrives, that a sensible person believes only in the ordinary face of reality and in the obvious explanation for what he sees. The most telling evidence that Alexis is here promoting the same view of literature as in his appraisal of Hoffmann’s oeuvre – that is, that the poet must study and objectively describe the actual phenomenal world around him – comes with the devil’s comments on past poets. The more an author is not content with the surface appearance of nature and seeks its secrets below and beyond the 20 This attack on Hoffmann also misses its target: the Serapion’s brothers had concluded that Serapion was not a real poet because he no longer recognized the duplexity of being, having lost contact with the external material world, and concluded that the poet’s Jacob’s ladder must be grounded in ordinary everyday reality for the resulting imagined world to have any substance.

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surface, the more he serves the devil’s ends and the higher he rises in the devil’s estimation. The devil did not think much of Ewald von Kleist’s nature poetry; Tieck was better, but did not go far enough: “der liebe, gute Tieck ging schon tiefer in das Wesen der Natur, es flötete und säuselte um ihn, und er zog die Alraunenwurzel heraus. Hätte er aber damals nur weiter auf die Stimmen der unterirdischen Natur gehorcht! Aber er machte Halt, sprang ab und schloß nur zu bald darauf wieder mit der menschlichen Vernunft einen Accord ab” (252; dear good Tieck went deeper into the essence of nature, it warbled and rustled around him, and he pulled out the mandrake root. If only he then had listened further to the voices of subterranean nature! But he stopped, deserted and all too soon made a renewed pact with human reason).21 Hoffmann was much better than either because he – literally – dug deeper, and in so doing acted as recruitment officer for the devil: Doch war er [Hoffmann] jedenfalls ein Mann, der das Seinige that, für mein Reich zu werben, […]. Er war der erste, der über den grünen Erdteppich hinweg in die tiefen Felsenspalten und Schachten der Erde hinabzublicken wagte, und nicht erschrocken zurückfuhr, wenn ‘mal ein fixes Lüftchen aufstieg oder eine Schwefelflamme ihm in’s Gesicht fuhr. Er hörte die Stimme der unterirdischen Natur. (252) But he [Hoffmann] was certainly a man who did his part in recruiting for my kingdom … He was the first who dared to look past the green carpet of the earth and down into the deep clefts of the cliffs and the shafts of the earth and did not jump back in fright if a fixed little breeze came up or a sulphur flame drove into his face. He heard the voice of subterranean nature.

The repetition of “Stimme der unterirdischen Natur” is significant – in the mouth of the devil, unterirdisch is all too likely to mean infernal. Poets who want to work towards the illumination of others and the salvation of their own souls would therefore do better to be content with “the green carpet” on the earth’s surface. It is worth stressing that Hoffmann is singled out as the first to have engaged in this kind of exploration, which tends to confirm the supposition that there was something new and different about his use of horrific effects, and hence supports my choice to make him the focus of this study on the grounds that the new aesthetics of fear only came to full, self-conscious flowering with him.

21 The reference to a mandrake root is an allusion to Tieck’s “Der Runenberg.”

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The novella’s denouement confirms this reading of the devil’s words. All instances of the seemingly supernatural (not that they ever carried any plausibility or conviction) are explained away as products of illness, delusion, or willful self-delusion, with one exception. The omnipresence (including in Liborius’s dreams) and activities of the man in the brown coat are not consistent with an ordinary human being and are thus not satisfactorily explained. When Liborius recounts the vision of Hoffmann’s departing spirit in his dream to his physician, the latter provides him – and the readers – with some food for thought that neatly encapsulates the tale’s message: Wenn es wirklich sein [i.e. Hoffmann’s] Geist gewesen wäre, verdammt wegen des Mißbrauchs, den er mit der Geisterwelt in seinen Schriften getrieben, selbst als Geist umherzuwandeln, vielleicht bestimmt, andere Dichter, die gleich ihm, statt im reinen Morgenthau, in den infernalischen Schwefelpfühlen ihre Phantasie baden, zu warnen, zu schrecken, zur wahren Natur zurückzuführen, was läge darin Unnatürliches? (274) If it had really been his [i.e., Hoffmann’s] spirit, condemned to wander as spirit because of the misuse he made of the spirit world in his works, perhaps chosen to warn, to frighten and to lead back to true nature poets who like him bathe in the infernal sulphur cesspools of their imagination instead of the morning dew, what would be unnatural about that?

On the whole, Alexis’s criticism (in the appraisal and the parody) merely imposes and universalizes his own creed of realism and objectivity, and so says very little about Hoffmann. At the same time, he borrows Hoffmann’s technique of demonizing that which he wishes to question by associating it with evil supernatural forces, and thus reveals what elements of Hoffmann’s work he found disturbing, even abhorrent. Alexis does not merely insist on reproduction of the real world (as opposed to an imaginary one), he also insists that “real” nature is “pure” and “green” and beautiful, and he condemns the exploration of the dark, whether internal or external. We are thus led once again to the same axiom: literature is to confirm, not undermine, prevailing – and essentially optimistic – notions of the world and of human beings; glimpses into dark aspects that may disturb such optimism must be accompanied by light and must not retain the upper hand at the end, and the supernatural must be explained and resolved so that it supports rather than undermines the said prevailing philosophy. If we substitute the notion of deliberate intention for Alexis’s assumption of an error in execution, his criticisms (and those of

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Börne, Schwenk, and the other reviewers taken together) give us a sketch of a new development in the aesthetics of fear. Our second example of an intertextual debate with Hoffmann is the multivolume collection Phantasiestücke und Historien (Phantasy Pieces and Histories) by the Silesian writer Carl Weisflog, which features a plethora of intertextual connections with Hoffmann’s oeuvre. Indeed, the tales are all too often and too obviously modelled on Hoffmann’s, amply justifying accusations of epigonality.22 The collection is introduced by a preface that, like Alexis’s appraisal, advances sharp criticism of Hoffmann disguised as homage. The two authors coincide in their rejection of wild flights of fantasy and of literature that focuses on the dark and inexplicable, causing the reader doubt and discomfort instead of reassurance and happiness. In other words, our twin themes of ontological disquiet and degradation of human dignity reoccur, with the second more obviously foregrounded by Weisflog than by Alexis. Weisflog’s preface is cast in the form of a letter written by the author’s fictional clerk, Jeremias Kätzlein, to Hoffmann now deceased and living in Dschinnistan. Weisflog attempts to profit from his association with Hoffmann by setting himself up as the latter’s heir but at the same time claiming to have improved on and corrected his “mentor.” The preface is at pains to display close kinship to and familiarity with Hoffmann, to present Weisflog as a member of a small and esoteric circle. The world believes Hoffmann to be in his grave, but Kätzlein knows he is in fact living in Dschinnistan, how he got there (with the help of Peter Schlemihl), and what life there is like. The description is composed of a tissue of allusions to Hoffmann’s works. By these means, Weisflog, in the person of his putative clerk, presents himself as one of the privileged few who are in the know. From this basis, he can go on to claim discipleship, then succession from Hoffmann. Kätzlein recalls his “principal’s” meeting with Hoffmann in Warmbrunn in the summer of 1819, claiming that Hoffmann recognized in Weisflog a kindred spirit and included him in the innermost circle of his friends: “Sie hatten die Güte, meinen Herrn Prinzipal auch deswegen in den freundlichen Kreis Ihrer dortigen Serapionsbrüder zu ziehen und neben sich an der fröhlichen Tafel und vor Ihren Burgunder Batterien sitzen zu lassen”23 (You were so kind, to draw my principal into the friendly circle of your Serapion’s brothers there, also for that reason, 22 For an overview of Weisflog’s works, including a discussion of his relationship to Hoffmann and examples from contemporary reviews, see Koning, “Carl Weisflog (1770–1828).” 23 Weisflog, Phantasiestücke und Historien, 1:13.

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and to let him sit beside you at the joyful table before your batteries of burgundy). The reference to Serapion’s brothers does more than establish close friendship. If we remember that several of the actual and all of the fictional members of the circle were writers, it becomes clear that Weisflog is asserting that Hoffmann recognized in him a fellow writer of similar convictions and approach.24 A little later in the preface, Hoffmann is turned into the discoverer and mentor of Weisflog the writer: “Sie waren der Prosper Alpano, der ihn mit dem Zauberstabe berührte und ihm dann das Prognostikon stellte, er werde sich noch wie Sie selber, auf die schlimme Seite, das heißt auf die Phantasie, […] legen”25 (You were the Prosper Alpano who touched him with the magic wand and foretold his future, that he would go to the bad side, namely, to imagination, just like you …). Readers of Hoffmann will recognize that the claim is underscored by the use of Hoffmann’s style and characteristic phrases. From discipleship, the appropriation proceeds to succession: his principal, Kätzlein tells Hoffmann, has followed faithfully in the course predicted by his mentor, and even now “Ihr Werk vollendet” (1:15; completes your work). The choice of vollenden, with its double meaning of completing and perfecting, is the first indication that Weisflog is about to present himself as superior to Hoffmann, despite all modest disclaimers. Indeed, while aiming to profit from the putative friendship with Hoffmann and from the perceived similarities in their works, Weisflog’s preface also seeks to assert difference and critical distance, and its tone is not so friendly nor its irony so benevolent as it pretends to be. An episode during the joint stay at Warmbrunn suggests the existence of a personal grudge as motivation for the covert ill will, and this is turned to good use as evidence of a character flaw with negative repercussions on the works. Hoffmann, Kätzlein relates, drew caricatures of all his fellow guests at Warmbrunn, and showed each all caricatures except the one of themselves, so that each believed himself to have been the only one spared. Only after Hoffmann’s departure did the extent of his joke emerge. By Kätzlein’s admission, this soured the pleasure Weisflog felt in Hoffmann’s attentions (1:13). In other words, both Hoffmann the man and his works had a nasty streak, liked to delude, deceive, and mock his fellow men, and liked to invite and then betray trust: “Ew. Wohlgeboren waren nun einmal so und selbst alle Deroselben Scripta kommen mir vor wie jenes Karikaturenbüchlein und scheinen mir nur Hohn und Spott für den zu 24 The meeting in Warmbrunn really happened, but, as Koning notes, the fact that Hoffmann nowhere mentions Weisflog suggests he likely regarded theirs as a casual acquaintance rather than a friendship. Ibid., 148. 25 Weisflog, Phantasiestücke und Historien, 1:15.

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seyn, der Ihnen treuherzig glaubt” (1:14; Your Honour was like that once and for all and even your writings strike me like that little book of caricatures and seem to me only scorn and mockery for the person who believes you faithfully). This tendency is reflected in two flaws that Kätzlein discovers in Hoffmann’s Phantasiestücke.26 First, the tales are confusing and incomprehensible: “Dero eigentliche Phantasiestücke sind aber […] die, wo der Leser aus der Phantasie, das heißt, aus dem Unklaren, gar nicht herauskommt ins deutliche, sondern vielmehr im träumenden Dusel untergeht und nun zuletzt gar nicht mehr weiß, ob er lebt oder nicht, wer und wo er ist und was er eigentlich gelesen” (1:21; Your actual Fantasy Pieces however are … those, where the reader never comes out of the fantasy, that is, out of the unclear, into what is clear, but on the contrary goes under in the dreamy intoxication and in the end does not know any more if he lives or not, who he is, where he is, and what he has actually read). We are left in no doubt that this characteristic is a flaw that makes Hoffmann’s works tiring and indigestible: “so, daß es mir damit ergehet, wie einem, der sich an einem unglücklichen Bissen Haarwachs müde und kinnbackenlahm kauet” (1:22; so, that my experience with them is that of someone who has chewed at an unhappy piece of hair wax until he is tired and his jaw is lame). Weisflog’s own Phantasiestücke are claimed as superior to Hoffmann’s, in the first instance because they are comprehensible and confirm rather than confuse human reason and common sense – in short, they make sense: “sich selbst vom gemeinen Menschenverstande begreifen lassen” (1:22; can be comprehended even by the ordinary human understanding). Weisflog goes further and turns comprehensibility or the lack of it into a moral issue. Hoffmann wrote only for “die vornehme Welt,” that is, he was an intellectual snob, whereas Weisflog was mindful of the common man: “meines Herrn Prinzipals seine [i.e. Phantasiestücke] [seyn] aber nur welche für uns dummen Teufel […], die wir gern verstehen wollen, was wir lesen” (1:22; the Fantasy Pieces of my esteemed principal are only ones for us stupid devils … who like to understand what we read). From here, it is only a small step to a more far-reaching criticism on moral grounds, the by now familiar one that Hoffmann undermines – even derides – the very grounds of human moral existence. Hoffmann’s tales invite and then betray the readers’ trust, putting them in a state of intellectual confusion (a clear allusion to Hoffmann’s ambivalent endings), then taking malicious pleasure in their discomfiture: Hoffmann likes “den

26 Weisflog uses the term Phantasiestücke loosely, to refer not only to the tales in Hoffmann’s first collection, but to fairy tales and fantastic tales in general.

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innern Menschen mit allen möglichen Künsten der Ueberredung zum Mitgehen zu verlocken, ihn durch sonderbare Blumengehege und Straßen endlich in einen sogennanten Sack zu führen, wo kein Ausweg ist, ihn dann plötzlich zu verlassen und unsichtbar auszulachen” (1:25; to lure the inner human being to go with him, using all possible arts of persuasion, to lead him through strange flower enclosures and streets, then finally into a so called blind alley, where there is no way out, to then leave him there suddenly and laugh invisibly at him).27 Kätzlein sees this as evidence of a disturbing and even morally offensive attitude: Item bedünkt es mich, […] als ob bei Dero anmuthigsten Darstellungen und Späßen immer etwas bitteres, unheimliches und grimmiges aufstieße, was tief verborgenen Hohn, Verachtung des Menschen und Spott seiner heiligsten Interessen verräth und als wenn es Ew. Wohlgebohren nur wohl seyn könnte, in den tausendfachen Nüancen menschlichen Wahnsinnes.28 Further it seems to me, … as if in your most charming descriptions and jokes there always occurred something bitter, uncanny and grim, that betrays deeply hidden scorn, contempt for human beings and mockery of their most sacred interests, and as if Your Honour could only feel at ease in the thousandfold nuances of human insanity (emphasis mine).

The use of the adjective unheimlich is noteworthy as our clearest indication yet that in Hoffmann’s works contemporaries recognized – and objected to – an experience that Freud, one hundred years later, would identify as the essence of the uncanny: the emergence of something that would be best left buried in darkness. We are reminded of Alexis’s “Der Braune,” in which the devil praises Hoffmann’s exploration of the earth’s dark abysses and the enthusiasts demand that the poet abandon the real world to embrace insanity. The accompanying claim for Weisflog’s superiority shares Alexis’s conviction that literature should present the cosmos as essentially harmonious and beautiful, confirm rather than undermine the reader’s world view and cherished ideals, and evoke reassurance and contentment rather than disquiet. Hoffmann deliberately strands and then mocks the reader, whereas Weisflog also seduces him to go along but then “nur mit herzlichem Händedruck und nicht eher verläßet, als 27 In his biography of Hoffmann, Hitzig defends his subject against this accusation by the curious method of admitting the fact but attributing it to idiosyncratic perception, an inability to see things as others do, rather than to malicious intent. Aus Hoffmann’s Leben und Nachlaß, 136ff. 28 Weisflog, Phantasiestücke und Historien, 1:25 (emphasis mine).

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bis er ihn glücklich an Ort und Stelle gebracht” (1:25; leaves him only with a hearty handshake and not before having brought him safely to the right place). All mysteries are resolved at the end, and the resulting world view is as benevolent and trustworthy as the author himself: “Alles möglich heiter, mild und wohlwollend hervortritt” (everything turns out as serene, mild and benevolent as possible). Weisflog shows that he is familiar with the dark side of life but that he wants “allen Menschen so gern die Falte des Unmuthes glätten und Alle eben so glücklich machen […], wie er selbst ist” (1:26–7, to smooth the frown of displeasure away for all human beings and to make all as happy … as he is himself). In this manner, Weisflog argues for the aesthetic and moral superiority of his own works, in that they “correct” a tendency that is intellectually disturbing and morally offensive. A brief examination of some of Weisflog’s own tales will show this “correcting” in action and confirm this reading of his preface. In the tales as in the preface, Weisflog underscores his credentials as a Hoffmannesque writer by having Hoffmann appear as a character, conjoined in friendship with Weisflog himself or a character representing him. So, for instance, in “Licht- und Schattenpunkte meines Lebens” (“Light and Dark Moments of my Life”), a poor student significantly named Carolus decides to sell his violin to pay for new boots but finds a timely patron in the person of Contessa (with whom the real Weisflog was acquainted), who gives him money as well as his violin back. A footnote by E.T.A. Hoffmann from Dschinnistan corrects which of the Contessa brothers was involved. In “Der Denkzettel” (“The Lesson”), the three friends Hoffmann, Contessa, and Weisflog, in the setting of Warmbrunn where they met, act as fairy godfathers in a tale of the Cinderella type, summoning Rübezahl to aid the poor virtuous girl and punish the proud and greedy aunt and cousin. Hoffmann is described in the same terms as in the preface,29 and the trio is termed first a “lustiges Kleeblatt” (6:183; cheerful clover leaf), then the three Magi, and finally the “drei SerapionsBrüder” (6:192), as in the preface. Weisflog borrows liberally from Hoffmann: characters, plot elements and motifs, language, devices to create suspense or even momentary fear. Nevertheless, the tales reflect his intention to amuse rather than frighten or confuse, to reaffirm existing values and provide moral edification. The majority are in a comic key and end happily; in those that do not, the protagonist’s downfall is generally deserved or at least clearly explained by a flaw in his character. A number of tales involve the apparently supernatural, 29 “ein kleine[s] behende[s] braune[s] Männlein mit einem Pilgerstabe, der ein wenig länger als das Männlein selber war” (6:183; a small, quick, brown little man with a pilgrim’s staff, which was a bit taller than the little man himself).

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but this is either unquestioned and acceptable because of genre (for instance, in fairy tales or grotesques in the fabliaux tradition) or explained away at the end. Only very rarely is an unsettling element of mystery left unresolved. So for instance, all tales subtitled “Ein Nachtstück” end unhappily, but there are only three such in the twelve volumes of Weisflog’s Phantasiestücke und Historien, in all three a moral defect or wrongdoing on the protagonist’s part is responsible for the outcome, and only in one is there a possibly supernatural intervention that is not wholly explained away. Potentially frightening effects are used across the spectrum from the lightest comic tales to the darkest of the Nachtstücke, but these are resolved more or less rapidly depending on the overall effect intended. In the Cinderella-type tale “Der Denkzettel,” Rübezahl’s appearance is described as “unheimlich” – his eyes in particular – yet neither the characters nor the reader experience any of the emotions associated with the uncanny: the “Serapions-Brüder” do not fear him, because they know his good intentions from their reading of Musäus and because they themselves have summoned him to aid the heroine; the Cinderella character experiences him only as a willing if slightly gruff helper; the wicked aunt and cousin are blinded by greed. As for the reader, the reference to Musäus and the manner of Rübezahl’s summoning preclude all uncertainty and all possibility of fear or suspense. Similarly, in the fabliaux-like tale “Der Teufel und sein Liebchen” (“The Devil and His Beloved”; based on the model and adopting the language of Hoffmann’s “Nachricht aus dem Leben eines bekannten Mannes” [“News from the Life of a Well-Known Man”]), the narrator claims to feel horror at the sight of the three devilish musicians, but the description of their ludicrous and grotesque appearance establishes a comic atmosphere, not a horrific one. The tale that then unfolds once again approximates the Cinderella type, featuring a poor virtuous girl in danger of being married off to the devil by her profligate father. Through the agency of an astute, benevolent, and pious priest, the devil is outwitted and the girl provided with riches and married to her poor but virtuous lover. In addition to the typical fairy tale moral of virtue rewarded, the tale offers reassurance that the clergy – the social order intended to look after the spiritual safety and well-being of good people – really does fulfill its calling and is to be trusted – a very different attitude towards organized religion than is displayed in Hoffmann’s oeuvre. The Nachtstück “Die Adepten” (“The Adepts”) can serve as an example of a moral tale with an unhappy ending. While it includes references to occult practices in the form of alchemy, nothing potentially supernatural or inexplicable is ever adumbrated. The possibility of making gold is confirmed, but it is explained as, not the ability to transform one substance into another, but simply a superior understanding of the process by which

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nature itself makes gold, resulting in the ability to speed up this natural process. This explanation is given at the very beginning of the tale so that there is no doubt as to the reason for the secrecy with which the Magister Martin von Pisa surrounds his life, nor is there any mystery about the development and outcome of the plot. The tale is a Nachtstück, but not because it disturbs by any elements of unexplained mystery or by any undermining of accepted beliefs along the lines of “Der Sandmann” or “Das öde Haus” (“The Desolate House”); rather, it moves within the wellknown parameters of gothic fiction. It is a family tragedy of illegitimate births, incest, revenge, and the intrigues of an Italian villain. The death of all alchemists is decreed by divine Providence in order to safeguard the social order, which would be overthrown if more than a very few were able to make gold, but the reader is reassured that the souls of the Magister and his pupil, both sympathetic characters, are saved, since they were alchemists malgré soi. The ending may thus be sad, but it is in no sense puzzling or disquieting. On the contrary, it confirms belief in a just moral order administered and secured from above. It conforms to the model of the supernatural explained, and not only subsumes horrific elements to the control of reason and morality, but in fact introduces these for the very purpose of illustrating the workings of these controlling principles. Other tales develop uncanny effects in Hoffmann’s style at greater length and with the intention of arousing fear and suspense. “Das Abenteuer im Paradiese” (“The Adventure in Paradise”) falls into the category of the explained supernatural. It borrows heavily from Hoffmann’s automaton-tales (“Die Automate” [“The Automata”] and “Der Sandmann”) to create an experience that is traumatic enough for the protagonist that it throws him into an illness similar to those of Hoffmann’s Nathanael and Theodor (“Der Sandmann,” “Das öde Haus”). It even begins with a frame: a group of friends discussing whether the supernatural exists and whether, if one encounters it, it is better to flee it or to investigate it.30 Rather than set up such an investigation, however, the frame paves the way for a comic ending that will rob the issue of seriousness. A colonel tells the story of how, in his youth, he spent a night at an inn (called Paradies, the first indication of the comic). Since the rooms were all occupied, he asked to be allowed to sleep in the ballroom, where an Italian artist had set up his collection of wax figures. The Italian tries to dissuade him, warning of the danger incurred by spending the 30 Such frame discussions are a common device for underscoring the conclusions – or lack thereof – to be drawn from the embedded tale. We will encounter them not only in Hoffmann’s tales such as “Das öde Haus” and “Der unheimliche Gast,” but also in several tales from Apel and Laun’s Gespensterbuch.

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night in such “unheimlichen Gesellschaft”31 (uncanny company). In spurning this suggestion, the young officer unwittingly disparages the Italian’s skill and so offends him. When he is alone in the ballroom at night, the officer touches a figure and thinks he feels a pulse in its hand, then sees the eyes of more than one figure move. His bravado causes him to share Don Juan’s experience: he invites the wax figure of an attractive girl to share his bed, and it nods assent. At midnight, several of the figures start to move, and one enters the little cabinet where the officer sleeps. Terrified, he stabs it, then faints and subsequently falls into a long illness. When he recovers, he learns the explanation for his experience: the Italian’s collection contained not only wax figures, but also very sophisticated automata, some of which the offended artist had programmed to move during the night, in order to teach the arrogant young man a lesson. Furthermore, the readers know from the start that the protagonist was already in the first stages of a rheumatic fever when he arrived at the inn – indeed, his feeling unwell was his reason for not wanting to travel farther though the inn was full – and his feverish condition fostered the delusion. The tale thus offers a double natural explanation for its uncanny moment. It not only explains the mystery away but also retroactively dissipates its horror by taking a comic turn. His experience with the automata determined the colonel’s life: he was nursed in his illness by his general’s daughter, married the girl out of gratitude, and found himself condemned to the existence of a henpecked husband ever after. This was the evil consequence of involvement with the uncanny, which he adduced as a deterrent to investigation. Weisflog is perhaps closest to Hoffmann in “Dr. Verber,” the one Nachstück that concludes on an element of doubt and that demonizes contemporary science, as many of Hoffmann’s tales did. From youth on, the narrator and his friend Florestin engaged in experimentation with the latest scientific trends (electricity, then magnetism), and they soon developed a passionate interest in music, including the study of harmony. In a way that fails to become clear, these pursuits are claimed to have prepared the way for Florestin’s eventual descent into despair and mental illness. Like Hoffmann, Weisflog here experiments with a doubling of natural and supernatural explanations: Florestin’s increasingly pessimistic and brooding mental state and his growing existential despair could be due to a head injury sustained in a fall from horseback or to the influence of a mysterious, possibly supernatural figure he met during his stay at a spa. This figure, Dr. Verber, as described in Florestin’s letters, appears to

31 Weisflog, Phantasiestücke und Historien, 12:67.

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be demonic. He presents the devil as necessary in the overall design of the universe and therefore as subject to a tragic fate; in church, his face wears an expression of torment, and he drags Florestin away just at the moment when the latter, transported by guilt and religious fervour, wants to kneel before the altar and repent. It is Dr. Verber who causes Florestin’s despair by advocating phrenology and deriving from it a form of biological determinism. Yet the narrator discovers that the man answering Florestin’s description is a pious Augustinian monk, Breuer, who confirms that he spent much time with Florestin at the spa but who denies the latter’s account of their conversations, commenting that Florestin is a very sick man. Dr. Verber would thus seem the product of the protagonist’s diseased imagination, and the narrator follows this conclusion with lengthy moralistic reflections on how the choice of a leisured lifestyle free of duties, obligations, and commitments, as well as a penchant for speculative science, render a person vulnerable to attacks of doubt, brooding, and existential despair. The surprising shock at the end would seem to undermine this moralistic conclusion: the narrator hears the shot with which Florestin commits suicide, rushes to his friend’s house, and on the stairs encounters a shadow that fits Florestin’s description of Dr. Verber. The servants know of no such visitor. In this tale, Weisflog arguably follows Hoffmann in leaving the end ambiguous and thus in maintaining doubt as to whether a supernatural force was or was not at work.32 Yet this uncertainty does not entirely invalidate the narrator’s moralistic reflections, by which a safe distancing for the readers is preserved. Those who lead useful lives of work and commitment to others, who refrain from daring scientific speculation and experimentation, and above all who have strong religious faith, will be safe from all such assaults, whatever their origins. “Das Credo der Todten” (“The Credo of the Dead”) parallels “Dr. Verber” in that it too ends on a disturbing note that is left unresolved. It is of particular interest here because it introduces a theme that will play a major role in our investigation: a musical experience as theatre for fearful encounters with the supersensible. Like all such tales, it shows the coincidence of the language of the sublime with that of the horrific. For that reason, such tales are particularly suited to show the transformation of the sublime experience into something more disturbing and less affirmative of human superiority. Weisflog to some extent follows in the footsteps of such writers as Hoffmann and Kleist; nevertheless, he ultimately holds true to his poetic principle, announced in the preface, of 32 The possibility of the supernatural is further strengthened by the fact that a prediction of Florestin’s future made during his boyhood by a witch-like fortuneteller comes literally true.

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respecting cherished axioms and leading readers to a haven of comfort and well-being rather than stranding them in darkness as did the malicious Hoffmann. “Das Credo der Todten” owes its contents partly to Hoffmann’s tales of musicians struggling with insanity, partly to Tieck’s prototypical tale of religious conversion through the power of music (“Brief eines jungen deutschen Mahlers in Rom an seinen Freund in Nürnberg” [“Letter of a Young German Painter in Rome to His Friend in Nürnberg”]), partly to Hoffmann’s essay on sacred music with its strictures regarding the operatic nature of modern compositions. The narrator takes some Protestant friends to hear a Catholic High Mass. Most of the mass performed is a modern, operatic one, offensive to religious feeling; only the Credo, reminiscent of Palestrina in its style and simplicity, moves the listeners to tears of profound devotion. The description of the music and its effects is couched in the typical discourse of the sublime, with its dualism of terror and exaltation. The narrator feels “Schauer des Hochheiligen” (shudders of the most sacred) and “Todeskälte” (deathly cold); the “schauerliche[s] Gewitter der Pauken” (schauerlich33 storm of the drums) makes the columns tremble,34 then an andante evokes “beseligenden Trost” (beatific consolation) and dreams of paradise (2:223–4); the ­description proceeds through contrasting moods, alternating between fear and joy. The last segments of the composition, however, introduce elements of disquiet and ambiguity extraneous to the standard sublime experience. The final fugue on “et vitam venturi saeculi, amen” evokes a reaction explicitly termed uncanny: “Aber ein sonderbares, unheimliches Grauen ergriff die Seele bei diesem Schlusse” (2:225; But a strange, uncanny horror seized the soul at this conclusion). At the end, the consoling sounds became softer and softer so that “Es war, als ob sich mit raschem Geisterschritte Alles entferne in die weitesten, dunkelsten Räume des Himmels” (2:225; It was as if everything departed with quick spirit-steps into the widest, darkest spaces of Heaven). The element of mystery and doubt is subsequently explained as the narrator asks about the composer and is given a manuscript to read, in which the composer narrates the vision that inspired the Credo. Weisflog then adopts Hoffmann’s technique of ending on a shock of surprise: only afterwards does the narrator learn that the composer was insane – both when he composed the music and when he wrote the description of the vision. By naming the insane musician Pater Medardus, Weisflog may or may not intend to add a postscript 33 Literally: that which makes one shudder. On the translation of this word, see pages 45–6 below. 34 Weisflog, Phantasiestücke und Historien, 2:222.

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to Hoffmann’s Die Elixiere des Teufels, but he certainly means to raise the association in the reader’s mind. Both the story of the vision and the effect of the music focus on the question of the certainty of resurrection and salvation. The insane Medardus believed himself to be dead and buried, yet still retaining consciousness and tormented by the fear that there would be no resurrection for him or any other dead. At midnight, he saw the skeletons rise out of their graves and enter the church, the skeletons of Allegri and Palestrina among them. He too rose and went into the church. There follows a luridly sentimental description of how the dead sing the Credo, their glowing and pleading eyes fixed on the altar, how they are joined by the Virgin Mary herself, and how the final fugue gives them certain hope of resurrection, after which Medardus runs from his grave straight into heaven, where he resides blessed and pious, and whence he wrote the notes of the Credo he heard (2:231). What does the dimension of ambiguity amount to? On the one hand, the music ends with the receding of the consoling sounds into a dark sky, and the assurance of salvation with which the narrative of the vision ends is undermined by the fact that the visionary was insane and had been so for some time. On the other hand, the happy conclusion of the vision tends towards self-validation and is confirmed in advance by the sublimity of the music, the more so in its contrast to the worldly contemporary mass. More importantly, doubt is kept within narrow confines, since the nature of the numinous power evoked by the music is not in question, but only the certainty of salvation, particularly in the case of the insane composer. The music gives the listeners an experience of immensity, in a specifically religious form, as the immensity of God, and the truth and sanctity of its message is attested by its effect on the unprejudiced listeners: “[die Zuhörer] zitterten und froren im Schauer der unermeßlichen, hochheiligen Kunst und Wahrheit” (2:225; [the listeners] shivered and froze in the shudder of the incommensurable, most sacred art and truth). Arguably then, the ambiguity is more apparent than real. The truth of the music confirms the vision of salvation and to some extent relativizes the diagnosis of insanity. The tale may be said to question the supremacy of reason to some extent, by its introduction of an inexplicable phenomenon, the coupling of the highest artistic achievement with mental illness. Yet it does so within the parameters of an accepted world view, the Christian religious one, which has always incorporated an element of the inexplicable and mysterious. For all its light spicing of the uncanny, it thus reassures readers by confirming the established, prevailing religious faith. The strategies and outcomes of Weisflog’s tales thus confirm their author’s self-differentiation from Hoffmann in terms of the intended effect on the readers. They show that Weisflog, like Alexis, focuses on (and

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condemns) the aim of disquieting the reader, of undermining intellectual and moral convictions and promoting uncertainty as to the nature of the world and the cognitive faculties of the human mind. This aim, and the strategies by which Hoffmann achieved it, once again emerge as the new and disturbing (or repulsive) aspect of Hoffmann’s works in the eyes of contemporaries. Our final example of a fictional text that engages in an intertextual dialogue with Hoffmann also seeks to “correct” him, for similar reasons and in similar ways. Elise von Hohenhausen’s “Die Salamanderin” (1829; “The Salamander”) bears the subtitle35 “Erklärendes Gegenstück zu Hoffmanns Erzählung: der Elementargeist” (“Explanatory Counterpart to Hoffmann’s Tale: The Elemental Spirit”) and presents itself as sequel of sorts. It shows the same characters many years later but tells very little of their subsequent lives. Rather, the bulk of the narrative takes the form of a letter by the main female character to the male protagonist, intended, as the subtitle suggests, to explain the events narrated in Hoffmann’s story and to resolve all its mysteries. Unlike the two previous cases considered in this chapter, we have no text in which von Hohenhausen directly takes a position regarding Hoffmann the writer, but her views can easily be deduced from what she corrects. “Die Salamanderin” has two main aims: to place the female character at the centre of the action and divest her of the aura of the comical with which Hoffmann surrounded her, and to draw Hoffmann’s open-ended tale firmly and completely into the mould of the explained supernatural. Hoffmann’s text derived its spice from two strategies: the grotesque effect produced by the combination of the horrific or ideal with the mundane, and the disquiet resulting from the lack of explanation for any of the seemingly supernatural elements. Examples of the first are the incantation by which Major O’Malley summons the devil (in a dark and horrible setting he reads in a terrifying voice banal sentences from a French grammar textbook), and, once Victor the protagonist believes he recognizes his beloved salamander in the baroness Aurora, the comic and grotesque contrast between her beautiful aetherial appearance as salamander and her present appearance as small, plump housewife with reddish complexion and homespun clothing. As for the second, it never becomes clear what O’Malley’s powers are or from where they are derived, what the horrifying “gestaltlose Gestalt” (formless form) was that appeared upon his incantation and terrified Victor’s cousin into a stroke, whether the beautiful woman he conjures up for Victor was in fact an elemental spirit, the devil (according to the tale’s prototype, Cazotte’s Le diable

35 von Hohenhausen, Novellen.

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amoureux), or an ordinary woman, and finally, whether the identification of the salamander and the baroness was truth or a delusion produced by Victor’s illness. Von Hohenhausen set out to eliminate and correct precisely these elements. Her tale places Aurora in the role of protagonist in a story of error, expiation, and redemption. Her devotion to a housewife’s tasks takes on the nature of sacrifice and dedication to her husband’s interests; by this means she expiates her fault and thus acquires dignity and sheds the aura of the ludicrous. Conversely, her earlier appearance as Victor’s ideal beloved loses much of its aetherial quality when firmly attached to a very human, naive girl of eighteen dressed in a costume of O’Malley’s designing. The grotesque contrast of Hoffmann’s tale is thus dismantled from both ends. In her version of the events, Aurora explains away most of the seemingly supernatural occurrences with the aid of standard tropes from the genre of novels of conspiracy and intrigue.36 O’Malley is thus not in league with the devil and not a magician, but simply a skilled chemist who achieves his effects through potions and who does not aim to involve Victor with dark powers but rather to use him as an instrument for murder in the service of a political conspiracy. The salamander is Aurora, seduced into acting a part by O’Malley’s skilful exploitation of her romantic dreams; her sudden appearances and disappearances are staged with the aid of sleeping potions, and the disembodied voices Victor hears are produced by Aurora from concealment; even the source of the fortune teller’s knowledge, through whose agency Victor is warned and delivered from O’Malley, is explained away as engineered by Aurora herself. Not only are individual mysteries thus resolved and brought within the sphere of the ordinary if romanesque, but von Hohenhausen adds an edifying moral and a psychological motivation for Aurora’s vulnerability to deception. She brings the tale into line with established bourgeois views and provides her readers with reassurance and confirmation where Hoffmann might have unsettled and disturbed. Aurora was the victim of a neglected education: she was given no scientific or scholarly books, nothing that might have engaged her understanding (Verstand), and she was left unsupervised to read sentimental romantic novels in the fashion of Empfindsamkeit,

36 Only two of Hoffmann’s mysteries are not addressed. The summoning of the devil in the ruined building (the scene adapted from Cazotte) occurred before Aurora’s entrance into the plot, so that she naturally does not address it; and, when recounting the incident when Victor, about to kiss another girl in the course of a party game, receives a kiss and an admonition from an invisible presence, Aurora refers to the admonition (easily explained as coming from herself concealed behind a curtain) but not to the kiss, which could not so easily be explained.

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which overstimulated her imagination and emotions and led to an overestimation of the importance of love for a happy existence, where duty and a useful occupation would have been much surer and more fulfilling goals. Her vulnerability to O’Malley’s wiles is thus caused by “glühender Phantasie und schlummernden Verstandeskräften”37 (glowing imagination and dormant powers of understanding) and is rectified and atoned for by a lifetime of devotion to her husband, housewifely duties faithfully carried out, and last but not least, piety. Indeed, the tale is permeated throughout by insistent (and rather trite and sentimental) references to God’s providence and benevolence. To these falls the task of providing the happy ending that the plot itself cannot yield: at the end of her life, Aurora has found peace, and she dies content in the certainty of salvation, both for herself and for Victor. Ironically, von Hohenhausen’s tale thus relocates Hoffmann’s plot into the very genre that is blamed for Aurora’s moral shortcomings, the sentimental novel, albeit with moral edification built in. That to which she objected in Hoffmann is that which she eliminates: the grotesque, the potentially supernatural, and the inexplicable, and above all, the fear, discomfort, and doubt that these generate in the reader. Her response to Hoffmann is thus in line with the others surveyed in this chapter, confirming that this is the aspect of his work that contemporaries found new and disturbing – an aspect that largely coincides with Hoffmann’s own reflections on the aesthetics of fear, as will be shown in a later chapter. 2 . A i m s a n d M e t h o d o f T h i s S t u dy The article “Unheimlich” in the lexicon Ästhetische Grundbegriffe states categorically that the concept did not exist before the twentieth century: “[es handelt] sich bei dem ‘Unheimlichen’ um keinen ästhetischen Grundbegriff mit historischer Tiefe, der im späten 20. Jh. lediglich wiederentdeckt und umgewandelt worden wäre: Vor dieser Zeit gibt es keine einschlägige theoretische oder ästhetische Literatur zu diesem Thema”38 (with the uncanny it is not a case of a basic aesthetic concept with historical depth, that would have been merely rediscovered and transformed in the late 20th century: before this time there is no relevant theoretical or aesthetic literature on this topic). My search for any such texts confirms this to some extent: in the Romantic era, there was no clearly defined concept “unheimlich,” nor were there theoretical texts to describe it. Yet

37 von Hohenhausen, Novellen, 130. 38 Masschelein, “Unheimlich,” 6:241.

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the survey of contemporary reviews and literary responses has shown that Hoffmann’s oeuvre exhibits a form of the frightening in literature that is not adequately accounted for by the relevant pre-existing aesthetic concept of the sublime and that also does not fit within the parameters of the by then clearly codified genre of Schauerliteratur. Furthermore, this new form of the frightening seems to differ from both of the above, mainly in that it is more radically disturbing, because it withholds clarification and resolution and because it is subversive where the other two are affirmative. As J.H. Voss’s comments on “Der Sandmann” in particular suggest, this new form of the frightening overlaps extensively with the uncanny as defined by Freud one hundred years later. The solution to this paradox might be that the uncanny existed as literary practice long before it emerged as a theoretical concept, but this is only partly the case. The Romantic period abounds in reflections on the causes and meaning of experiences variously termed schauerlich, unheimlich, or grauenhaft, found in reviews of literature and music, in essays and programmatic statements about aesthetic questions, and in frame narratives of tales and tale collections. Such reflections are significant enough to justify the contention that a new phase in the aesthetics of fear was developing, though the concept did not yet have a name and remained in a state of flux throughout the period.39 The present study aims to chart this early, somewhat inchoate stage in the transition from the sublime to the modern uncanny, in both aesthetic thought and literary practice. Setting out on such an investigation, one is immediately confronted with the problem of terminology, since to talk about it we must assign a name to something that had neither a name nor precise contours in its time. One might begin by characterizing the basic experience, drawing on major twentieth-century theories for a frame of reference, yet being careful not to superimpose any of these on the material, for that would tend to obscure rather than highlight the early-nineteenth-century attempts at definition. In minimal terms, the experience of characters and readers is what determines the phenomenon of the uncanny or schauerlich. Richard Alewyn identifies it as “die Verbindung von Geheimnis und

39 Nicholas Royle, in The Uncanny, seems to be thinking along similar lines. On the one hand, he traces theoretical thought on the topic only to the mid-nineteenth century, and the earliest philosopher he discusses in this connection is Nietzsche; on the other, he cites some examples of the term “uncanny” in late-eighteenth-century British and Scottish literature, states that the uncanny is bound up with both Enlightenment and Romanticism, and comments: “It is perhaps not surprising, then, that a sense of what we call the ‘uncanny’ should have taken time to establish itself, even though its haunting presence defines the very project of the Enlightenment” (22).

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Gefahr” (the combination of secrecy and danger), an experience of Angst (fear) that has its ground only in the subject, as opposed to Furcht (fright), which has an objective correlative in a clear and present danger.40 Laurie Johnson aptly calls it “an experience of frightening disorientation;”41 Nicholas Royle states: “Uncanniness entails a sense of uncertainty and suspense, however momentary and unstable. As such it is often to be associated with an experience of the threshold, liminality, margins, borders, frontiers.”42 Post-Freudian scholarship generally follows Freud in associating the uncanny with the return of something repressed, and with something at once strange and familiar. However true this may be for the uncanny as post-Freudian phenomenon, I would argue that it does not necessarily or even primarily hold true for the early stage in the formation of the uncanny, which occurs in the Romantic era, and is thus one of the notions we need to test for applicability. At this point, it will be helpful to call to mind the two best-known attempts at theorizing our phenomenon – Freud’s theory of the uncanny, and Todorov’s of the fantastic – to help circumscribe and identify our object of study, but also to consider how far they may not fit the Romantic material. Freud’s definition offers a useful point of reference, being both pithy and apt: “das Unheimliche des Erlebens kommt zustande, wenn verdrängte infantile Komplexe durch einen Eindruck wieder belebt werden, oder wenn überwundene primitive Überzeugungen wieder bestätigt scheinen”43 (An uncanny experience occurs either when repressed infantile complexes have been revived by some impression, or when the primitive beliefs we have surmounted seem once more to be confirmed44). Already at this stage, I would argue, this definition is applicable to Romantic literature only with qualification, as it were, against Freud’s stated opposition. Freud distinguishes between the uncanny of lived experience and that of literature, and he excludes the uncanny derived from apparently confirmed primitive beliefs from the latter, on the grounds that “Realitätsprüfung” (reality-testing) does not apply to literature. The present study will show that this distinction is not applicable, as the provocation of precisely such reality-testing was a major aim of Romantic authors. Of the two parts of the definition, it is thus the second – the reality-testing caused by the apparent reconfirmation of surmounted primitive beliefs, to which both 40 Alewyn, “Die literarische Angst,” 34. 41 Johnson, Aesthetic Anxiety, 9. 42 Royle, The Uncanny, vii. 43 Freud, “Das Unheimliche,” 263. All English translations in this book are from James Strachey’s translation (Standard Edition). 44 Freud, Standard Edition, 17:17.

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Freud and later psychoanalytical studies assign secondary importance – that I wish to retain as a useful point of orientation for my study.45 Nevertheless, I should stress that in what follows I will not be working with Freud’s theory, nor do I wish to add to the vast body of psychoanalytical scholarship on the uncanny. The case of the “Sandmann” illustrates the reasons for my decision. As Masschelein states: “Die ziemlich paradoxe Mischung [in Freud’s interpretation of ‘Der Sandmann’] aus einer verhältnismäßig komplexen und raffinierten Analyse und einer teils schreiend falschen und voreingenommenen Interpretation hat Anlaß zu unzähligen parallelen Lektüren beider Texte gegeben, wie sie seit den 1970er Jahren eine eigene Tradition begründet haben”46 (The rather paradoxical mixture [in Freud’s interpretation of “Der Sandmann”] of a fairly complex and sophisticated analysis and an interpretation that is in part screamingly wrong and prejudiced, has given rise to countless parallel readings of both texts, which have founded their own tradition since the 1970s). Rather than going over the same ground yet again, I wish to explore what fresh insights may be gained by setting aside the Freudian and psychoanalytical lens and restoring “Der Sandmann” to the context of Hoffmann’s oeuvre as a whole, viewing it as just one of a number of dark tales to be analyzed in the light of Hoffmann’s own experiments in theorizing the aesthetics of fear, and asking after its contribution to a history of culture. Like Freud’s, Todorov’s equally groundbreaking definition of our phenomenon – which he called the fantastic, but which is arguably Freud’s uncanny viewed from a different perspective – is useful as a point of reference or apt description of a major device: Le fantastique occupe le temps de cette incertitude [i.e., between an explanation according to the known laws of the natural world, or to unknown laws]; dès qu’on choisit l’une ou l’autre réponse, on quitte le fantastique pour entrer dans un genre voisin, l’étrange ou le merveilleux. Le fantastique, c’est l’hésitation éprouvée par un être qui ne connaît que les lois naturelles, face à un événement en apparence surnaturel.47

45 T.E. Apter, in Fantasy Literature, makes the notion of reality-testing the decisive criterion for defining fantasy literature: “fantasy can explore and test reality in much the same manner as psychoanalysis” (7). He argues that Freud’s definition of the uncanny is too limited because it shuts out the possibility of varied interpretations and because it “ignores the terror within the ambiguity itself” (39). 46 Masschelein, “Unheimlich,” 6:247. 47 Todorov, Introduction à la littérature fantastique, 29.

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The fantastic occupies the duration of this uncertainty. Once we choose one answer or the other, we leave the fantastic for a neighboring genre, the uncanny or the marvelous. The fantastic is that hesitation experienced by a person who knows only the laws of nature, confronting an apparently supernatural event.48

However, this definition too involves imposing a later model and thus tends to obscure rather than uncover the epoch’s own theories. Todorov’s central notion of the hesitation between a supernatural explanation and one that accords with the laws of nature does not fit Romantic categories of thought. As we shall see, many Romantic texts suggest that nature, understood as a numinous creative force, is responsible for manifestations of the so-called supernatural. In Romantic literature, the supernatural is then rather a higher form of the natural, something that conforms to laws of nature that humans are too limited or too willfully blind to recognize. Jutta Osinski makes much the same objection: “Es [i.e., the Romantic fantastic] verbindet Tzvetan Todorovs zwei Welten, die natürliche und die übernatürliche, indem es sie in einem Wirkzusammenhang vorführt, der für objektiv wahr gilt. Deshalb hat das Phantastische in der Romantik einen objektiven Erkenntniswert”49 ([The Romantic fantastic] combines Tzvetan Todorov’s two worlds, the natural and the supernatural, by presenting them in a connection that counts as objectively true. For that reason the fantastic in Romanticism has an objective cognitive value). This last observation is particularly significant for the purposes of the present study because it suggests that the fantastic – or, as I shall argue in Hoffmann’s case, fear – has a cognitive function. While Freud and Todorov are helpful in circumscribing the phenomenon to be studied here, they cannot provide the method or the defining terminology for this study, which aims to deal with, not the uncanny or fantastic as such, but rather the Romantic aesthetics of fear in its historical specificity, as a chapter in the history of thought – or, more specifically, in the history of aesthetics. I will be seeking, not to define and explain the literary frightening as a universal and timeless phenomenon as Freud did, but rather to uncover what frightening meant to writers in Germany between roughly 1790 and 183050 and the place it occupied in their thought and in their literary production. I will seek to answer such questions as these: How did writers of this period label and define the phe48 Todorov, The Fantastic, 25. 49 Osinski, “Poesie und Wahn,” 14. 50 The dates are approximate. The time intended is that generally identified as the Romantic era, which for our purposes spans from the early works of Tieck to the death of Hoffmann, with a brief excursus into the 1830s with the late works of Eichendorff.

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nomenon? What theories did they advance to explain its nature, causes, and effects? What meaning and significance did they attach to it? And regarding the history of the aesthetics of fear: What is the relationship of this new form of the frightening to theories of the sublime? How far and in what way does it differ from the sublime? All of these bear on the “what”-question. A second, equally important aspect of the study will ­address the “why”-question: To what end did Romantic writers deploy uncanny or frightening effects in their fictional works? And what functions did they assign to these? As we shall see, to address this aspect means to engage with the subversive potential of the frightening. I will advance the hypothesis that writers used frightening effects in order to take issue with contemporary ideas or developments that they found objectionable or problematic in some way, in order to take a stance indirectly in philosophical, cultural, or socio-political debates. Viewed from this perspective, the literary frightening becomes a sort of psychograph of an era’s preoccupations and thus a valuable contribution to cultural as well as aesthetic history. To this end, a suitable point of orientation can be found in studies that regard the uncanny, or more generally the frightening in literature, as the product of specific historical circumstances. Several scholars have linked the emergence of the literary uncanny or of the fantastic genre to the Enlightenment, or to its breakdown, or to the socio-political turmoil caused by the French Revolution. They thus help pinpoint the reasons why a new phase in the aesthetics of fear developed at just this time. One might begin by again quoting Masschelein’s useful overview: “die Empfindung des Unheimlichen [steht] in Zusammenhang mit der Wiederkehr des von der Aufklärung unterdrückten Irrationalismus und  [begünstigt] die Verbindung zu historischen Genres wie dem Schauerroman und dem Phantastischen”51 (the sensation of the uncanny is connected with the return of irrationalism which was suppressed by the Enlightenment, and it favours the connection to historical genres such as the horror novel and the fantastic). Winfried Freund identifies the new kind of fear portrayed by Romantic texts as the essence of the fantastic: “Der phantastische Moment, das Innewerden des Schrecklichen, hebt den schönen Schein auf, ruft Angst und den Wunsch zu fliehen hervor”52 (The fantastic moment, the realization of the terrible, dispels the beautiful appearance, evokes fear and the desire to flee). He finds the cause for this in the loss of orientation caused by the breakdown of Enlightenment

51 Masschelein, “Unheimlich,” 6:243. 52 Freund, Literarische Phantastik, 7.

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ideals, which he in turn links to the French Revolution (7); consequently, he argues, the early phase of fantastic literature depended on “die vorausgegangenen relativ stabilen gesellschaftlichen Ordnungen und humanen Leitbilder, die in der Humanitätsidee des 18. Jahrhunderts gipfelten” (8; the prior fairly stable social orders and humane models, which culminated in the eighteenth century’s ideal of humanity). Freund’s approach is also helpful because he recognizes that fear in such “fantastic” texts has a positive function, as a vehicle for criticizing contemporary society: “Phantastik nur als Angstliteratur zu begreifen, heißt den schöpferischen Impuls der Angst zu verkennen. Phantastische Literatur ist gerade auch in der Romantik psychisch verfremdende Kritik, die im Spiegel existentieller Krisen die soziale Urheberschaft anschaubar macht und sich so einemal mehr als Sproß der Revolution zu erkennen gibt” (13; To understand the fantastic only as literature of fear is to overlook the creative impulse of fear. Fantastic literature, especially in Romanticism, is psychologically alienating criticism, which reflects the social origin of existential crises, thus once again revealing itself as offspring of the revolution). Hartmut and Gernot Böhme tie the birth of the uncanny to the rise of Enlightenment philosophy. Enlightenment rationalism brought with it a new attitude towards the irrational as a necessary concomitant of the constitution of a unified self, and of the conquest of nature. Before the Enlightenment, they argue, rationalist and non-rationalist models of explanation could coexist in a relationship of mutual respect, and this allowed a place for faculties such as the imagination; but the new role assigned to reason necessarily brought about the marginalization of its Other: Die Vernunft respektierte ihr Anderes wie der Kaiser den Papst. Erst mit der Aufklärung läßt Vernunft alles, was aus ihr herausfällt, zum Irrationalen werden. In einer Welt aus Tatsachen werden Bedeutungen zum Aberglauben, Träume zu irrelevanten Phantasien, leibliche Regungen zu Grillen. Dieses Andre, das die Vernunft nicht umschließt, verkommt zu einem diffusen, unheimlichen und bedrohlichen Bereich.53 Reason respected its Other like the emperor the pope. Only with Enlightenment does reason turn everything which falls outside of itself into the irrational. In a world of facts meanings become superstition, dreams irrelevant fantasies, bodily impulses whims. This Other, which reason does not include, deteriorates into an uncanny and threatening sphere.

53 Böhme and Böhme, Das Andere der Vernunft, 13–14.

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This new attitude towards the irrational, along with the effort to repress it and keep it repressed, generates a new fear, born of the tension that now exists between reason and subjugated nature (both inner and external) – a fear that is in turn denied by the new rationalist philosophical discourses. This new fear, the Böhmes argue, is of a quite different kind from that of earlier ages: “Die reale Angst, die den vorrationalen Menschen in seinem Verhalten zu Naturmächten, zu überwältigenden eigenleiblichen Regungen und zu potentiell bedrohlichen Gegenübern erfüllt, weicht einer irrationalen inneren Angst vor dem Verdrängten” (18; The real fear that fills pre-rational humans in their behaviour towards natural forces, towards the overwhelming impulses of their own bodies, and towards potentially threatening counterparts, gives way to an irrational inner fear before the repressed). Particularly significant for the present study is that the Böhmes understand the development of Enlightenment rationalism as a dynamic process of conquest, and of drawing borders and demarcations, both of which necessarily involve procedures of subjugation, repression, and exclusion. We can thus understand the development and practices of a new aesthetics of fear as a fighting back on behalf of this Other that is to be excluded, as an attempt to recover earlier attitudes towards nature and the irrational and to adapt them to new conditions. If we understand rationalism as a process of drawing borders, and if Royle is correct in describing the uncanny as an experience of liminality, it becomes clear why rationalism and the uncanny should be so intimately related and inextricably bound to each other, both temporally and ontologically. The Böhmes identify the defining characteristics of the new rationalist, unified view of the world and the self, together with the dimension that they must exclude: “Die Kriterien für Wirklichkeit: Einheit, Gesetzmäßigkeit, Zusammenhang dienten zugleich zur Abwehr des Anderen, das als bloße Einbildung verworfen oder unter der Kategorie des Als-Ob virtualisiert wurde” (14; The criteria for reality – unity, regularity, coherence – at the same time served for the repulsion of the Other, which was rejected as mere illusion or virtualized under the category of the as-if). It will be shown in this study that the very nature of frightening phenomena is determined by the intention to undermine precisely these criteria. The fantastic, as the Böhmes suggest, is ideally suited to undermining the rationalist project because it can draw on the technique of demonizing that which it wants to critique (10). Terry Castle similarly connects the Enlightenment with “the invention of the uncanny” by applying Freud’s theory of the return of the repressed to an age (thus essentially teasing out the implications of his notion of reality-testing). She articulates the assumptions that underlie my study as a series of questions: “Might one argue, extrapolating from Freud, that

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the uncanny itself first ‘comes to light’ – becomes a part of human experience – in that period known as the Enlightenment? That the uncanny itself has a history, originates at a particular historical moment, for particular historical reasons[?]”54 Like her, I will answer these questions in the affirmative, and attempt to trace the how and why of these early phases in the history of the uncanny. Like the Böhmes, Castle sees the emergence of “a new human experience of strangeness, anxiety, bafflement, and intellectual impasse” as the inevitable by-product (“a kind of toxic side effect”) of the rationalizing processes by which the Enlightenment sought to establish human dominance over nature and the self: “The distinctively eighteenth-century impulse to systematize and regulate, to bureaucratize the world of knowledge by identifying what Locke called the ‘horizon … which sets the bounds between the enlightened and dark parts of things,’ was itself responsible, in other words, for the ‘estranging of the real’ – and impinging uncanniness – which is so integral a part of modernity.”55 Certain formulations are particularly worthy of notice: like the Böhmes, Castle points to the aggressive nature of the Enlightenment project, which occasioned the equally aggressive character of the reaction; the quotation from Locke contains the idea of drawing boundaries already highlighted in our discussion of the Böhmes; finally, I would draw attention to the phrase “estranging of the real,” which, as we will see, is one of the chief strategies by which fantastic narratives carry out their undermining of dominant discourses. Castle draws attention to the extent to which the Freudian uncanny depends on rationalization, that is, on the “internalization of rationalist protocols.”56 Arguably, uncanny experiences in the tales of Tieck, Kleist, and (most notably) Hoffmann work to reverse this internalization and to estrange precisely these protocols. A useful corrective is introduced by Rainer Godel in his contribution to a recent volume on the Schauerroman. He argues that the uncanny around 1800 represents not so much a reaction against the Enlightenment as a continuation and radicalization of tendencies already present in late Enlightenment philosophy, namely, a recognition of the importance of contingency, of the difficulties of categorizing reality, and hence of the impossibility of ultimate cognition (“die Unzulänglichkeit der praktischen Erkenntnis”). It does this by identifying the rational incomprehensibility of things with the supposition of a harmful inscrutable power, so that “[d]er Schauerroman […] zum Ausweis der literarischen Inszenierung einer

54 Castle, The Female Thermometer, 7. 55 Ibid., 8–9. 56 Ibid., 10.

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diskursiven Problemwahrnehmung [wird]”57 (the horror novel becomes the proof of the literary staging of a discursive perception of a problem). However, the correction does not radically alter the substance: the “what” that the uncanny undermines remains the same, the point is simply not to ascribe it too simplistically to an undifferentiated notion of Enlightenment. Laurie R. Johnson also ties the uncanny to a specific era of Western history, but she views this more broadly as the emergence of modernity and hence considers the period from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth. She sees the type of uncanny developing in the period in question as evidence of “a kind of psychosomatic illness [that] underlies Western modernity” and thus as hinging on Romanticism’s relationship to modernity. She departs from the other studies discussed here in that she reverses the direction of the relationship. For Romanticism, the uncanny is not what the Enlightenment represses so much as the wish to repress its own debt to the Enlightenment. That is, the uncanny for Romanticism is the confrontation with elements of modernity that undermine its reactionary nostalgia: “the revolutionary possibilities inherent in anxious, frightening, uncanny experiences are clearest when traditionalist, nostalgic impulses meet modernity.”58 Pointing out that the uncanny’s conflicted relationship with the Enlightenment worked in two directions is indeed a useful contribution to the discussion. In either direction, however, the source of the uncanny resides in discomfort with the project of Enlightenment. Furthermore, the Böhmes’ notion of “Ausgrenzung” – that is, deliberate exclusion and marginalization – seems more appropriate than that of repression, both because it substitutes simultaneity for the temporal sequence of repression and return and because of the vociferous, open character of the war that Enlightenment and Romanticism waged on their Other. Johnson also articulates an approach that I will be following here, namely that of not “reading Freud back into Romanticism” but instead examining “literary and philosophical discourses of that time in order to construct a cultural history of the uncanny”59 before Freud. To recapitulate, the subject of the present study is the particular version of the aesthetics of fear that emerged in Germany from the 1790s to the 1830s. This form of literary frightening overlaps with – but does not ­coincide with – the concept of the uncanny as developed by Freud and by psychoanalytic readings of Romantic literature as well as with the ­concept of the fantastic pioneered by Todorov. Consequently, I do not base my approach on either of these traditions, but rather on the theories 57 Godel, “Anthropologiebasierte Kontingenz,” 87–8. 58 Johnson, Aesthetic Anxiety, 9. 59 Ibid., 11.

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articulated by the scholars discussed above, who view the phenomenon as a product of specific historical circumstances and as a response to the processes of Enlightenment in particular. Like Johnson, I wish to trace a phase in cultural history, using its aesthetics of fear as a psychograph. I wish to outline the emergence, nature, function, and practices of this aesthetics. My approach differs from those just discussed chiefly in one respect: rather than adopting a term devised by later theories and measuring the earlier material by it, I explore the actual conceptualizations of the age in question. Thus the subject is not “the uncanny” or “the fantastic” but rather a spectrum of definitions and theorizations of the experience of frightening disorientation, anxiety, and estrangement, ranging from some still quite close to discourses of the sublime to others approximating Freud’s uncanny. I shall explore how these notions translate into literary practice and how they interact with and respond to contemporary developments in philosophy, science, and the arts. One difficulty raised by this approach is that there is no single, established term for the concept at the centre of this aesthetics of fear, and thus I am thrown back on the terminology of the epoch, which is anything but clear and consistent. This problem is compounded further when one writes in English about the aesthetics of fear in German literature. The two languages possess a range of terms that, though overlapping, are not coterminous, and German offers a broader and more flexible array of terms than English. In particular, the term preferred in the period under investigation, “schauerlich” or “das Schauerliche,” has no adequate translation, being broader and more diffuse than any possible English equivalent. Scholarship on the gothic in English knows two terms to describe the emotions associated with the genre: horror and terror. By and large, the former is associated with the topoi of gothic fiction, the latter with the sublime, and the terms were already differentiated along these lines by late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century writers such as Ann Radcliffe. However, there is nothing like general agreement on the meaning of those terms. The Handbook of the Gothic is a case in point. Fred Botting, in the article on horror, associates terror with the sublime and describes it as “a sensation of awe and wonderment,” an initial sense of being overwhelmed followed by “an elevated sense of self and a movement of transcendence” – thus, an ultimately uplifting experience. He defines horror as follows: “Bound up with feelings of revulsion, disgust and loathing, horror induces states of shuddering or paralysis, the loss of one’s faculties, particularly consciousness and speech, or a general physical powerlessness and mental confusion.”60 Terror is associated with an immediate threat, whereas hor-

60 Botting, “Horror,” 185.

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ror often has an indistinct cause, involves disorientation, confounds “inner and outer worlds,” and “dissolves a being’s sense of definite identity.”61 He quotes Radcliffe’s distinction that terror “expands the soul and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life,” whereas horror “contracts, freezes and nearly annihilates them.”62 David Punter, in the article on terror, also associates terror with the sublime, but he reverses the terms when it comes to the reaction to distinct and present danger versus the indistinct and unknowable: “terror has more to do with trembling, the liminal, the sense of waiting so fully adumbrated by Blanchot and by Beckett; horror … is ‘in your face,’ whereas terror consorts with a certain withholding of the occasion of fear.”63 As for the term uncanny, a survey of scholarship shows that it has been appropriated so thoroughly by Freud and psychoanalytical thought that it is difficult to use in a pre- or non-Freudian sense without risk of misunderstanding.64 An author setting out to write in English about German texts runs into this additional problem: German possesses one more semantic field than English. At the more intense end of the spectrum of emotion, the semantic field around Schrecken corresponds fairly well to terror, and that of Grauen or Entsetzen to horror. At the pole of anxiety or disquiet, unheimlich closely matches uncanny. Between these extremes, however, German also possesses the term Schauer, or schauerlich. As we shall see, writers in the period under investigation use this term far more often than unheimlich. Insofar as they use a nominal formulation for the literary phenomenon, it is generally das Schauerliche or some compound involving it (for instance, “das Schauerlich-Erhabene”). This is confirmed by such genre terms as Schauerroman and Schauerliteratur. The subject under investigation in this book would thus be das Schauerliche rather than das Unheimliche in German, as it is broader and more appropriate to the period. In their basic lateeighteenth-century sense, Schauer and schauerlich are determined by a physical sensation: the former is a frisson, a prickling of the skin, and the latter that which causes this sensation, that which gives one goosebumps (or “the shivers”). Adelung’s dictionary defines Schauer as “[e]ine schnell vorüber gehende Erschütterung der Haut, dergleichen man bey einem plötzlichen Anfalle der Kälte, bey einem hohen Grade des Schreckens, 61 Ibid. 62 Ibid. 63 Punter, “Terror,” 245. 64 Again the Handbook of the Gothic provides a striking example, as the term is explained solely by reference to Freud’s essay, showing no sense of the possibility of other readings or meanings. Horner, “Unheimlich,” 250–1. Ellison too, in introducing the notion that the transition from Romanticism to modernity is tantamount to that from the sublime to the uncanny, circumscribes the two terms as “the sublime, in its Kantian definition” and “the uncanny as theorized by Freud via E.T.A. Hoffmann.” Ethics and Aesthetics, ix.

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des Abscheues, der Angst u. s. f. empfindet” (A quickly passing tremor of the skin, such as one feels at a sudden attack of cold, at a high degree of fright, of revulsion, of fear etc.). It is also identified as the reaction to sublime phenomena, though the term itself is not used: “Oft ist der Schauer eine Wirkung des höchsten Grades der Ehrfurcht, der mit einer Art von Furcht und Schrecken verknüpften Empfindung der Größe, der Majestät”65 (Often Schauer is an effect of the highest degree of reverence, of the experience of greatness, of majesty, which is connected with a kind of fear and fright). A recent study on the Schauerroman rightly points to this physical determination: “Gespensterromane, Geheimbundromane und Ritterromane [orientieren sich] offensichtlich am frisson oder Sensation im tradierten Sinne des Schauers als Spannung und Schrecken zugleich”66 (Ghost novels, secret society novels, and chivalric novels obviously orient themselves by the frisson or sensation in the traditional sense of Schauer as tension and fright at the same time). One might translate Schauer as shudder or shuddering, but there again German has a second, stronger equivalent, Schauder. The closest possible English translation for the adjective schauerlich would perhaps be “creepy,” understood in the literal sense, or chilling. Such a choice, however, is made unacceptable by their colloquial register. In the circumstances, it seems best to leave these terms in German, having carefully defined them here. In discussing individual authors and texts, I will also make use of their particular terminology, translated into English where this is possible. Finally, though the matter will be discussed later at greater length, a few words about the relationship of the aesthetics of fear in the works of Tieck, Kleist, and Hoffmann to the genre of gothic or horror fiction (Schauerroman). As its heyday occurred in the 1790s, the gothic may be regarded as a sort of precursor to the Romantic tale of fear. The career of Tieck, from his early exercises in the gothic genre to his mature, Romantic tales at the end of the decade, exemplifies both the ongoing transformation and the continuity. Common to both types of fiction are the intention to evoke what Hall terms “the quintessential gothic emotions – fear and terror,” “the creation of suspense and uncertainty for the

65 Adelung, “3. Der Schauer,” 3:1383–4. The adjective schauerlich is not found in this dictionary. 66 Murnane and Cusack, “Einleitung,” 18. Murnane and Cusack also point out that English has no equivalent to this concept, “gothic” or “romance” being more neutral “als der offensichtlich körperliche wirkungsästhetische Schwerpunkt des deutschen Begriffs ‘Schauer’” (11; than the obviously physical emphasis on effect aesthetics of the German concept “Schauer”).

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reader,”67 and the use of the (apparently) supernatural to achieve these aims. One can, however, identify certain tendencies of the Schauerroman that distinguish it from its successor: the reliance on increasingly predictable stock elements and situations, a setting in a distant past used as a distancing device, and the eventual defusing of anxiety through the affirmation of the moral or philosophical status quo. Gothic literature’s conformity to certain conventions is such that scholars have been able to develop summaries of its topoi. Silke Arnold-de Simine, for instance, lists seven types of situations: a medieval setting; (apparently) supernatural events; unexplainable connections between characters or between events and characters; crimes or destructive actions; a confrontation with physical, psychic, or moral deformity; loss of identity or connection between the self and the external world; and a “diffuse[s] Gefühl des Ausgeliefertsein an etwas, was man nicht erkennen kann und worüber man nicht verfügt”68 (a diffuse feeling of being prey to something that one cannot recognize and over which one has no control). Hall too offers a list, focused more on settings and specific plot elements: “The 1790s saw a plethora of novels of mysteries, horrors, terrors, castles, towers, spectres and other assorted wandering dead, evil monks, bandits, caverns and forests. They are replete with dungeons, corridors, secluded and long-forgotten wings of buildings, trapdoors, magic mirrors, incantations, mysterious disappearances, strange nocturnal occurrences and sounds, and a generous helping of blood.”69 In addition to its adherence to convention, the gothic is characterized by its use of the past as a distancing device, as these lists indicate. Frequently this is reinforced by geographical distancing, as for instance in Radcliffe’s novels set in Italy. The third distinguishing feature, the tendency to reassure and affirm rather than subvert, is perhaps the most important. Michael Hadley, for instance, cites Spieß as providing an example of the typical ghost story of the 1790s – “Spieß’s feared spirits arouse edifying moral dilemmas after the pattern of chivalric romance”70 – and concludes that the subgenre as such is morally and theologically oriented and didactic.71 Some recent scholarship, however, argues for a more differentiated picture, one that 67 Hall, French and German Gothic Fiction, 185. 68 Arnold-de Simine, Leichen im Keller, 228. 69 Hall, French and German Gothic Fiction, 14-15. 70 Hadley, The Undiscovered Genre, 85. 71 Ibid., 96. Freund too sees the confirmation instead of the undermining of rationalism as a feature that distinguishes the gothic genre from what he calls the Romantic fantastic: in the novels of Gleich, Spieß, and Grosse, “Geister und Genien im Zuge einer ‘rationalistischen Dämonie’, wie man es zutreffend genannt hat, [tragen] wesentlich dazu bei, die prästabilierte Ordnung der Vernunft zu befördern” (Literarische Phantastik, 9;

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recognizes elements in the Schauerroman that undermine belief in the power and dominance of reason. Hall, while conceding that “a restoration of order and control and apparent reassurance for the reading public that all is as it should be” predominates,72 and that in German Geisterromane devils and spirits “are largely concerned with the righting of past wrongs and the restitution of ‘the way things should be,’”73 warns against taking this norm as an absolute, arguing that some horror novels of the period raise the possibility that reason cannot always explain everything. He sees this as evidence of a shift from the Shakespearean to the Romantic use of the supernatural74 – thus, it is best to think in terms of a continuum rather than a sharp genre division.75 Murnane and Cusack point to currents of thought in late Enlightenment philosophy that question both the optimism of the early Enlightenment and the possibility of ultimate cognition, and they see the Schauerroman as a literary manifestation of this: “Zum anderen entdeckt die Anthropologie eine dem Vernunftoptimismus der frühen und mittleren Aufklärung noch unbekannte Undurchdringlichkeit sowohl der sozialen Praxis des Menschen wie auch in seiner Fähigkeit zur Selbsterkenntnis. Der Schauerroman um 1800 inszeniert gerade diese Undurchdringlichkeit als Teil von, nicht als Kompensation für diesen Diskurs”76 (Secondly, anthropology discovers an impenetrability both of humans’ social praxis and of their ability for self-knowledge which was unknown to the rationalist optimism of the early and middle Enlightenment. The horror novel around 1800 stages this very impenetrability as part of, not as compensation for this discourse [emphasis in original]). They argue that the Schauerroman, like the Schauerromantik, portrays a subjectivity that has become problematic, so that one should consider the former as a bridge to the latter, the transformation as “Übergang” (transition) rather than “Untergang” (decline), the latter as a further development of the former’s “problematischen Selbstaufklärung der Aufklärung”77 (problematic self-enlightenment of Enlightenment). Such an understanding, in terms of transformation and radicalization rather than opposition, parallels ghosts and spirits contribute substantially to fostering the pre-established rational order, in the vein of a “rationalistic demonism” as it has been aptly called). See also Brenner, “Die Geburt des Detektivromans,” 5ff. 72 Hall, French and German Gothic Fiction, 62. 73 Ibid., 194. 74 Ibid., 186–7. 75 Along the same lines, Hogle refers to “Der Sandmann” as “a German Gothic tale.” “Introduction: The Gothic in Western Culture,” 6. 76 Murnane and Cusack, “Einleitung,” 15 (emphasis in original). 77 Ibid., 16.

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the relationship between the eighteenth-century sublime and the Romantic aesthetics of fear as it will be outlined in the next chapter. Nevertheless, we will do well to keep in mind the common principle underlying the three distinguishing characteristics identified above: Romantic tales of fear work to remove the safety and affirmation that the earlier Schauerromane deliver. As we shall see, this is also the primary distinction between the Romantic aesthetics of fear and the eighteenth-century sublime.

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P ART on e From the Sublime to the Romantic Aesthetics of Fear

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1

Theoretical Discourses

Horror or gothic fiction emerges as a distinct genre about the middle of the eighteenth century.1 Yet aesthetic theories of the time do not contain any account of das Schauerliche, das Unheimliche, or other cognates. 2 Nevertheless, the negative aesthetics of the frightful, horrific, shocking, or terrifying and the peculiar mixed emotions these arouse do play a major role in eighteenth-century aesthetic theories. They are subsumed in the sublime, which, together with the beautiful, constitute what Carsten Zelle calls the “doppelte Ästhetik” (double aesthetics) of the age: “Unter dem Mantel des Erhabenen fand das Nicht-Schöne – das Entsetzliche, Häßliche und Schreckliche – Einlaß in die Kunsttheorie des 18. Jahrhunderts”3 (The horrific, ugly, and frightful found access to the theory of art of the eighteenth century under the cloak of the sublime). Whereas the beautiful is constituted by order, balance, and harmony, by the congruence of phenomena in nature with human aesthetic judgments, the sublime makes it possible to subsume the arational into the system. The sublime comprises phenomena that transcend, violate, or bypass reason (e.g., the overwhelmingly large or powerful, the dark, inexplicable, or indistinct, the violent and destructive) and the negative affects these arouse. The Böhmes describe this sphere with the apt phrase “das Andere der Vernunft” (the Other of reason): “inhaltlich die Natur, der menschliche Leib, die Phantasie, das Begehren, die Gefühle – oder besser: alles

1 Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto (1764) is generally identified as the first instance of the genre in European fiction. 2 For instance, neither Johann Georg Sulzer’s Allgemeine Theorie der schönen Künste (General Theory of the Fine Arts) nor Zedler’s Großes vollständiges Universal-Lexikon (Large Comprehensive Universal Lexicon) contains any form of either term. 3 Zelle, Angenehmes Grauen, 77.

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dieses, insoweit es sich die Vernunft nicht hat aneignen können”4 (in content nature, the human body, the imagination, desire, feelings – or better: all these, insofar as reason cannot take possession of them). The privileged place assigned to the sublime by eighteenth-century aesthetics might seem paradoxical, given that the phenomena it denotes run counter to the Enlightenment project of emancipating human reason and indeed establishing its supremacy. It can be argued, however, that the importance of the sublime rests precisely on the need to reconcile these negative emotions with the aims of Enlightenment – that is, to tame the irrational Other and allow reason to colonize its territory. Paul Barone contends that Schiller’s theory of the sublime is grounded in the project of Enlightenment, because it is built on the latter’s two basic values, emancipation and reason, so that Schiller’s theory “ihre Legitimation im aufklärerischen Programm einer rationalen Selbstbefreiung des Individuums von der Macht und Größe der Natur [findet]”5 (finds its legitimation in the Enlightened program of a rational self-liberation of the individual from the power and greatness of nature). This claim, I contend, can be generalized to denote a trend that begins with Addison and culminates in Kant and Schiller. Indeed, Hans-Thies Lehmann applies this very claim to pre-twentieth-century theories of the sublime in general: Alles kommt darauf an, diese Aufwallung [i.e. of an overwhelming emotion] selbst zu unterscheiden von der gedanklichen Verarbeitung, die sie erfährt. Fast schon in der Geste ihrer Aufdeckung nämlich wurde die an Tod und Unheimlichkeit partizipierende Erfahrung in den Theorien neutralisiert, g ­ ereinigt, in einer erhaben zu nennenden Anstrengung des Denkens “reterritorialisiert.”6 Everything depends on distinguishing this surge [i.e., of an overwhelming emotion] from the intellectual processing it undergoes. Almost already in the gesture of its discovery, its experience, which participates in death and uncanniness, is neutralized, cleansed and ‘reterritorialized’ in the theories by means of an effort of thought.

For Lehmann, the experiences that theories of the sublime sought to explain and bring under the control of reason were the very ones that twentieth-century thought identifies as the uncanny. Lehmann accordingly

4 Böhme and Böhme, Das Andere der Vernunft, 13. 5 Barone, Schiller und die Tradition des Erhabenen, 15-16. 6 Lehmann, “Das Erhabene ist das Unheimliche,” 752.

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equates the two concepts: “Das Erhabene ist das Unheimliche, die Theorien des Erhabenen Figuren seiner Verdrängung”7 (The sublime is the uncanny, the theories of the sublime figures of its repression). Lehmann’s thesis has the merit of bridging the gap between post-Freudian discussions of the uncanny and the terminology of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but if we are to trace the emergence of the concept of the uncanny, it will require some modification and qualification. There is indeed congruence between the modern uncanny and the sublime of eighteenthcentury theories, as a juxtaposition of three passages illustrates: 1. All general privations are great [i.e., sublime] because they are all terrible; Vacuity, Darkness, Solitude and Silence.8 It is our nature, when we do not know what may happen to us, to fear the worst that can happen; and hence it is that uncertainty is so terrible.9 2. [Poets know that fear of the unusual is part of human nature] und unterlassen daher nicht, das Außerordentliche wenigstens als ein Ingrediens des Furchtbaren zu gebrauchen. Eine tiefe Stille, eine große Leere, eine plötzliche Erhellung der Dunkelheit sind an sich sehr gleichgültige Dinge, die sich durch nichts als das Außerordentliche und Ungewöhnliche auszeichnen. Dennoch erregen sie ein Gefühl des Schreckens oder verstärken wenigstens den Eindruck desselben und sind daher tauglich zum Erhabenen.10 [Writers know this quite well] and accordingly do not fail to make use of extraordinary things, at least as an ingredient in what is frightful. A profound quiet, an immense emptiness, a sudden light in the dark are in themselves quite

7 Ibid., 758. The Böhmes also associate “Verdrängung” with the Enlightenment project: “Sie [i.e. die Philosophie, for instance Kant’s] erscheint dann als Geschichte einer grandiosen Selbstermächtigung, in der ein Emanzipationsprogramm zugleich mit einem Programm der Verdrängung ins Werk gesetzt wird” (It [i.e. philosophy, for instance Kant’s] then appears as the history of a grandiose self-empowerment, in which an emancipation program is implemented at the same time as a program of repression). They go so far as to claim that the dissolution of the irrational was the very driving impulse of Enlightenment. Das Andere der Vernunft, 17.  8 Burke, Philosophical Enquiry, Part II, section vi. In the references to Burke, the second number refers to the section rather than the page, as the sections are the same in all editions.   9 Ibid., II, xix. 10 Schiller, “Vom Erhabenen,” Werke, 20:189.

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neutral things, distinguished by nothing but their extraordinariness and unusualness. Nevertheless, they arouse a feeling of fright, or, at least, intensify its impression, and for that reason are suited to be something sublime.11 3. Woher rührt die Unheimlichkeit der Stille, des Alleinseins, der Dunkelheit? Deuten diese Momente nicht auf die Rolle der Gefahr bei der Entstehung des Unheimlichen, wenngleich es dieselben Bedingungen sind, unter denen wir die Kinder am häufigsten Angst äußern sehen? Und können wir wirklich das Moment der intellektuellen Unsicherheit ganz vernachlässigen?12 What is the origin of the uncanny effect of silence, darkness, and solitude? Do not these factors point to the part played by danger in the genesis of what is uncanny, notwithstanding that in children these factors are the most frequent determinants of the expression of fear …? And are we after all justified in entirely ignoring intellectual uncertainty? (Freud 17:246–7) Von der Einsamkeit, Stille und Dunkelheit können wir nichts anderes sagen, als daß dies wirklich die Momente sind, an welche die bei den meisten Menschen nie ganz erlöschende Kinderangst geknüpft ist. (268)13 Concerning the factors of silence, solitude and darkness … we can only say that they are actually elements in the production of the infantile anxiety from which the majority of human beings have never become quite free. (Freud 17:252)

The specific phenomena addressed in these passages – darkness, silence, and isolation as sources of terrors generated by the imagination – are significant because they help us isolate the very element that theories of

11 Schiller, Essays, 38. 12 Freud, “Das Unheimliche,” 261. 13 In the first of these passages, Freud is addressing possible objections to his theory and, we might expect, preparing to answer them. But he does not, in fact, do so. The next sentence contains a concession: “So müssen wir wohl bereit sein anzunehmen, daß für das Auftreten des unheimlichen Gefühls noch andere als die von uns vorangestellten stofflichen Bedingungen maßgebend sind” (“Das Unheimliche,” 261; we must be prepared to admit that there are other elements besides those which we have so far laid down as determining the production of uncanny feelings [Standard Edition, 17:247]). He does not enlarge on the phenomena of darkness, silence, and solitude, but returns to them at the very end (in the second passage quoted), to admit their role in generating childhood fears never quite overcome, and to refer to psychoanalytical studies on the subject. It is revealing that both Schiller and Freud should raise these three causes of fear as something that, they concede, is not adequately subsumed in and explained by their theory.

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the sublime that aimed to tame “das Andere der Vernunft” (the Other of reason) elide and repress. As we shall see, theories of the sublime around 1800 begin to marginalize or even exclude frightening and terrible phenomena, either by degrading them to mere spurs for reason’s recognition of its own superiority over nature, or by reassimilating the sublime into the beautiful and confining it to its dimension of uplift. At this point, new concepts emerge to redefine the place of negative emotions, particularly fear, in the system of aesthetics. I will argue that the concept of the uncanny – though not yet by that name – starts to take shape in this context, as a specialization and radicalization of one dimension of the sublime. It is for this reason that Lehmann’s identification of the sublime and the uncanny needs qualification. Specialization is involved in that discussions of the terrible and frightening increasingly focus on fears of the unknown, of the indistinct and inexplicable, and on the role of the imagination in generating these. One source of terrible sublimity is isolated from others that were still present in eighteenth-century accounts, such as clearly perceived dangers to physical existence (storms and other natural catastrophes). The emerging concept represents a radicalization of the sublime in two respects. First, the safety of the observer – according to all theorists an essential condition for the experience of the sublime – disappears from discussion and is even undermined to some extent. This is barely noticeable in the theoretical texts discussed in this chapter but will come to full flowering in the Romantic tales of fear discussed in later ones. Second, what was originally simply the arational is transformed into the anti-rational. That is to say, as theories of the sublime celebrate the victory of reason over nature, the senses, and the imagination, the frightening potentialities thus repressed are transformed into something that pointedly undermines and excludes reason. Thus emerges a correspondence between these characteristics and the themes we observed in contemporary reactions to Hoffmann (in section 1 of the Introduction): the focus on the unknown and the undermining of reason correspond to ontological insecurity; the undermining of established belief systems and the reversal of reason’s self-emancipation can be correlated with the degradation of human moral dignity. This transformation from the sublime to the uncanny is gradual and involves various transitional concepts and terms. The present chapter attempts to trace its course, from its inception to its Romantic culmination in Hoffmann’s thoughts on music. The first two sections briefly outline the eighteenth-century concept of the sublime, focusing on figures of particular relevance to the theme of this book, notably Burke, Kant, Schiller, and Herder. Schiller will be considered as a transitional figure, not because he himself is moving towards a theory of the uncanny, but

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rather because the development of his thinking on the sublime is particularly revealing of what becomes marginalized for the sake of the emancipation of reason. The third section is devoted to Jean Paul’s concept of the romantic14 as a reincarnation of the dark aspect of the sublime (excluded from Jean Paul’s own definition of the term sublime) and as the chief link to Hoffmann’s thought. The fourth section explores discourses on music as a case study of this development: from the sublime (as applied to music by Michaelis), to the dark and frightening romantic for Wackenroder, to the schauerlich-sublime (a subset developed by Apel), culminating in Hoffmann’s adaptation of Jean Paul’s theory for his exaltation of instrumental music (the fifth and final section of the chapter). 1. The Sublime in Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics The history of eighteenth-century theories of the sublime is well documented in scholarship.15 Debate on the topic starts with Boileau’s 1674 translation of pseudo-Longinus’s treatise On the Sublime, which defines the phenomenon as an irresistible force that overwhelms passive recipients, renders them powerless, and carries them as it were outside of themselves, in a sort of ecstasy. In all eighteenth-century accounts, the sublime is characterized as a mixed experience involving elements of pain, terror, or unpleasure as well as delight, uplift, or pleasure. There is no consensus, however, on pseudo-Longinus’s notion of an irresistible, overwhelming force or on what causes the experience of pleasure. For the present investigation, it will suffice to distinguish two approaches, each exemplified by its most influential representative – Burke for one, Kant for the other. Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757) focuses on the dark side of the sublime. It establishes terror as “the ruling principle of the sublime”16 on the grounds that pain and danger arouse the instinct for self-preservation and thus cause the most powerful passions possible: “Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any 14 Here and throughout this book, I use Romantic to refer to authors, musicians, and artists of the historical period now denoted by that term, and romantic to denote more general usage, including particularly the use that authors of the time, such as Jean Paul, the Schlegels, and Hoffmann, made of the term. 15 Particularly helpful here are Carsten Zelle’s numerous publications on the subject (especially his book Angenehmes Grauen), the introductory section of Paul Barone’s book, Schiller und die Tradition des Erhabenen, and Heininger’s entry “Das Erhabene” in Ästhetische Grundbegriffe (2:275–310). 16 Burke, Philosophical Enquiry, I, ii.

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sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.”17 It should be noted, however, that Burke does add the proviso that the experiencing subject finds himself in safety: “When danger or pain press too nearly, they are incapable of giving any delight, and are simply terrible; but at certain distances, and with certain modifications, they may be, and they are delightful” (I, vii). “Delight” for Burke is quite different from positive pleasure; it is the “sensation which accompanies removal of pain or danger” and so of a negative kind (I, iv). Burke accounts for this delight in psychological and physiological terms: it is occasioned by the realization of one’s own freedom from danger and by a sort of purging of the nerves and finer organs, which fear brings about (IV, vii). Cresap describes this aspect of the theory as “an exercise in speculative therapeutics,” functioning along the same lines as Aristotle’s catharsis, amounting to exercise for the emotions or a sort of “play-terror.”18 Burke follows pseudo-Longinus in characterizing the sublime as an irresistible force that overwhelms the subject and renders him powerless: “The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature … is Astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror.” As a result, the mind cannot reason and the sublime object “hurries us on by an irresistible force.”19 Burke’s theory of the sublime is a precursor to Romantic aesthetics of fear in that it assigns a prominent role to uncertainty and to the workings of the imagination in generating terror. The danger that initiates an experience of sublimity need not be an actually present, clearly perceived one. On the contrary, when the imagination is given little or no data to work upon, it will often conjure up horrors more terrible than any actual threat. It is for this reason that “Vacuity, Darkness, Solitude and Silence” (in the passage quoted earlier) are so suited for generating sublime experiences. If we know the full extent of a danger, Burke argues, we can become accustomed, with the result that much apprehension vanishes, for which reason “To make any thing very terrible, obscurity seems in general to be necessary” (II, iii). The very structure of the human imagination renders

17 Ibid., I, vii. Zelle comments: “Für Burke ist der Schrecken zum alleinigen Prinzip des Erhabenen geworden. Jede Gefahr, die nicht als unmittelbar drohende Vernichtung des Selbst empfunden wird, erregt Frohsein und ist erhaben” (Angenehmes Grauen, 189; For Burke fright has become the sole principle of the sublime. Every danger that is not experienced as immediately threatening destruction of the self excites gladness and is sublime). 18 Cresap, “Sublime Politics,” 118. 19 Burke, Philosophical Enquiry, II, i.

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uncertainty terrible: “it is our nature, that, when we do not know what may happen to us, to fear the worst that can happen to us” (II, xix). For this reason, though very loud sounds can astonish and so be sublime, silence can be more so, and tremulous, intermittent sounds even more so. Darkness is universally terrible because it is productive of uncertainty and helplessness (inability to defend oneself or to avoid obstacles). One of Burke’s examples is particularly significant for the present investigation, as it suggests why the supernatural or apparently supernatural so often features in dark tales: ghosts are terrible, not because of any intrinsic quality or threat, but because we cannot form any clear ideas of them (II, iii), and they are associated with darkness because darkness is terrible, not vice versa (IV, xiv). Uncertainty, with the scope it allows the imagination to create its own horrors, is at the root of terror, and supernatural beings are especially apt to create uncertainty because their very existence is in doubt, they emanate from an unknown realm, and they appear at a time when paucity of sensory data already generates insecurity. Two aspects of Burke’s theory are particularly significant for an exploration of the origins of the concept of the uncanny. First, his is an arational aesthetics of fear, in that the terror occasioned by the sublime suspends the workings of reason and renders the subject powerless. Second, it assigns a crucial role to obscurity and uncertainty as spurs to the imagination, which in turn places that faculty, rather than reason, at the heart of the sublime experience. Consequently, Burke’s theory has a clear anti-­ Enlightenment tendency, as both Barone and Zelle observe.20 Because, as Barone argues, the sublime conceived as an overwhelming force that disempowers the subject conflicts with Enlightenment ideas of rationality and autonomy, another current of thought develops, beginning with Joseph Addison – one that conceives the experience of the sublime as an experience of freedom, that is, “als selbsttätigen Akt imaginativer Selbsterweiterung” (as an independent act of imaginative self-expansion). As a result, “Das Erhabene verliert damit seine freiheitsberaubende Macht und seine zwingende Gewalt und wird zum Symbol der Freiheit”21 (the sublime thus loses its power to deprive of freedom and its coercive force and becomes a symbol of freedom). Hartmut Böhme, taking a different but complementary approach, reads such theories, especially Kant’s, as an attempt to strip nature of its terrors, tame it, and bring it under human control.22 Both Böhme and Barone, that is, regard what we might call the Kantian approach to the sublime as an attempt to tame the arational 20 Barone, Schiller und die Tradition des Erhabenen, 56; Zelle, Angenehmes Grauen, 190. 21 Barone, Schiller und die Tradition des Erhabenen, 44. 22 Böhme, “Das Steinerne,” 123, 126.

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Other (be it internal or external), indeed, to co-opt it for a celebration of the superiority of human reason. Kant’s theory of the sublime, as expounded in the Kritik der Urteilskraft (Critique of Judgement), is too well-known – and too extensively discussed in scholarship – to need more than a brief exposition here. Kant defines the sublime as an “Erschütterung” (agitation) of the spirit (Gemüt),23 a mixed experience, compound of a feeling of pain, unpleasure, and a “negative Lust” (II, §23; a negative pleasure), or a feeling of admiration and respect. It is an experience of the subject’s limitations and limitlessness at once, the object of which both attracts and repels. In a crucial departure from earlier thinkers, Kant stresses that properly speaking only human reason is sublime, though the term is applied by subreption to anything that causes reason to become aware of its own sublimity (indeed, Kant himself applies the term to nature in this way). Kant distinguishes two kinds of sublime: the mathematical and the dynamic. The mathematical sublime refers to that which is absolutely great (“schlechthin groß” [absolutely large] or “über alle Vergleichung groß” [II, §25; large beyond all comparison]). Clearly, this cannot apply to anything in nature, since for any large natural phenomenon another could be found in comparison to which it is small. The subject experiences the mathematical sublime when confronted with a natural phenomenon so vast that the imagination and the understanding are unable to find a standard of measurement that would allow the mind to subsume sense impressions into one unified intuition. In other words, imagination and the understanding cannot expand themselves sufficiently and so are brought to a realization of their own limits and experience a defeat. At that very moment, however, reason becomes aware that it has a concept, the concept of infinity, by means of which the manifold of perception can be unified and grasped as one whole. Unlike the natural phenomenon, reason’s idea of infinity is absolutely great: “Erhaben ist, was auch nur denken zu können ein Vermögen des Gemüts beweiset, das jeden Maßstab der Sinne übertrifft” (II, §25; Sublime is what even to be able to think proves that the mind has a power surpassing any standard of sense). The encounter with the limits of the lower faculties provides the element of unpleasure (the realization of the inadequacy of imagination and understanding to comprehend the magnitude of nature in one intuition); the element of delight or uplift enters in that this very failure is what causes reason to become aware of its own

23 Kant, Kritik der Urteilskraft, II, §27. The Kant citations give book and paragraph number. The English translations are from Werner Pluhar’s translation (Critique of Judgment).

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limitlessness and superiority to nature – that is, it finds everything in nature small compared to its own ideas: Das Gefühl des Erhabenen ist also ein Gefühl der Unlust, aus der Unangemessenheit der Einbildungskraft in der ästhetischen Größenschätzung, zu der Schätzung durch die Vernunft, und eine dabei zugleich erweckte Lust, aus der Übereinstimmung eben dieses Urteils der Unangemessenheit des größten sinnlichen Vermögens mit Vernunftideen, sofern die Bestrebung zu denselben doch für uns Gesetz ist. Es ist nämlich für uns Gesetz (der Vernunft) und gehört zu unserer Bestimmung, alles, was die Natur als Gegenstand der Sinne für uns Großes enhält, in Vergleichung mit Ideen der Vernunft für klein zu schätzen. (II, §27) Hence the feeling of the sublime is a feeling of displeasure that arises from the imagination’s inadequacy, in an aesthetic estimation of magnitude, for an estimation by reason, but is at the same time also a pleasure, aroused by the fact that this very judgment, namely, that even the greatest power of sensibility is inadequate, is [itself] in harmony with rational ideas, insofar as striving toward them is still a law for us. For it is a law (of reason) for us, and part of our vocation, to estimate any sense object in nature that is large for us as being small when compared with ideas of reason.

The dynamic sublime pertains to nature as a force, in comparison to which human ability to resist is insignificant, and which thus causes fear. The same kind of process as with the mathematical sublime occurs here: the subject perceives a possible threat to self-preservation and so experiences fear and realizes his physical limitations – this is the source of pain and unpleasure. At the same time, the subject becomes aware that though physical resistance is futile, moral resistance is possible: so gibt auch die Unwiderstehlichkeit ihrer [i.e. of Nature] Macht uns, als Naturwesen betrachtet, zwar unsere physische Ohnmacht zu erkennen, aber entdeckt zugleich ein Vermögen, uns als von ihr unabhängig zu beurteilen, und eine Überlegenheit über die Natur, worauf sich eine Selbsterhaltung von ganz andrer Art gründet, als diejenige ist, die von der Natur außer uns angefochten und in Gefahr gebracht werden kann, wobei die Menschheit in unserer Person unerniedrigt bleibt, obgleich der Mensch jener Gewalt unterliegen müßte. (II, §28; emphasis in original) In the same way, though the irresistibility [of nature’s] might makes us, considered as natural beings, recognize our physical impotence, it reveals in us at the same time an ability to judge ourselves independent of nature, and reveals in us

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a superiority over nature that is the basis of a self-preservation quite different in kind from the one that can be assailed and endangered by nature outside us. This keeps the humanity in our person from being degraded, even though a ­human being would have to succumb to that dominance [of nature]. (emphasis in original)

Nature only has power over the physical dimension of humans, who retain the ability to consider material goods unimportant and hence to make free, moral decisions: Auf solche Weise wird die Natur in unserm ästhetischen Urteile nicht, sofern sie furchterregend ist, als erhaben beurteilt, sondern weil sie unsere Kraft (die nicht Natur ist) in uns aufruft, um das, wofür wir besorgt sind (Güter, Gesundheit und Leben), als klein, und daher ihre Macht (der wir in Ansehung dieser Stücke allerdings unterworfen sind) für uns und unsere Persönlichkeit demungeachtet doch für keine solche Gewalt ansehen, unter die wir uns zu beugen hätten, wenn es auf unsre höchste Grundsätze und deren Behauptung oder Verlassung ankäme. (II, §28; emphasis in original) Hence if in judging nature aesthetically we call it sublime, we do so not because nature arouses fear, but because it calls forth our strength (which does not belong to nature [within us]), to regard as small the [objects] of our [natural] concerns: property, health, and life, and because of this we regard nature’s might (to which we are indeed subjected in these [natural] concerns) as yet not having such dominance over us, as persons, that we should have to bow to it if our highest principles were at stake and we had to choose between upholding or abandoning them. (emphasis in original)

Once again, nature is to be regarded as small compared to the freedom and superiority of human will and reason. Like Burke, Kant insists on the safety of the experiencing subject as a precondition for the sublime. In the dynamic sublime, nature should be fearful without occasioning actual fear: no one can find pleasure in something that causes real fright (Schrecken), but “ihr Anblick wird nur um desto anziehender, je furchtbarer er ist, wenn wir uns nur in Sicherheit befinden” (II, §28; the sight of them becomes all the more attractive the more fearful it is, provided we are in a safe place). A ship about to be wrecked in a storm at sea is a terrible but not sublime experience for those on board; it is only sublime for someone watching safely from the shore and thus able to reflect on the limits of nature’s power over humans (that is, it has power over humans as physical beings but not as moral ones). Kant goes further: not only must the experiencing subject be in safety,

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but he must have developed certain moral ideas, without which the sight of a stormy ocean is not sublime, but rather “abschreckend” (II, §29; repellent). This again emphasizes how for Kant the sublime represents the triumph of reason, which uses the great or terrible in nature as an occasion for becoming aware of its own moral determination (Bestimmung). Herein lies the justification for the thesis suggested above – that with Kant, reason has not simply conquered its Other but has gone so far as to co-opt it as an essential step in reason’s self-emancipation. Schiller’s theory of the sublime is based on Kant’s, and like Kant’s it participates in the Enlightenment project of taming “das Andere der Vernunft” (the Other of reason) and establishing human freedom from the rule of natural necessity (Naturnotwendigkeit). Yet it also reveals – one might almost say betrays – possibilities for more radical and destructive experiences of fear. In both of Schiller’s essays on the sublime there are moments that conjure up the effects of the arational Other on the human psyche when reason is not able to bring it under control. The two essays differ in the scope they allow to fear. In “Über das Erhabene” (“Concerning the Sublime”), fear and what occasions it (“nature,” both external and internal) are allowed significantly less space than in “Vom Erhabenen” (“On the Sublime”). The Burkean elements in the latter (such as the passage on darkness, silence, and isolation quoted at the beginning of this chapter) do not appear in the former. In “Über das Erhabene,” Schiller approaches the topic from a different angle, focusing his account more sharply on the moral aspects and so shifting attention away from external objects that cause experiences of the sublime, and away from fear to the overcoming of it.24 Yet the terrifying possibility persists that reason may be crushed by nature rather than subjugating it. Schiller’s theory of the sublime coincides with Kant’s in its main points. Indeed, “Vom Erhabenen” is subtitled “Zur weitern Ausführung einiger Kantischen Ideen.” As for Kant, the sublime is for Schiller an experience of limits and limitlessness at one and the same time. The lower faculties of sensibility and imagination experience their own limitations and hence a defeat, whereas reason becomes aware of its superiority over the realm of nature. This superiority derives, first, from the ideas of reason, which,

24 As Barone argues, it seems likely from the internal logic of these developments that “Über das Erhabene” is the later of the two essays, in that it shows greater independence from Kant as well as greater success in the emancipation of humans from fear and compulsion mentioned above. The dating of that essay, however, is still unclear. See, for instance, Schiller, “Über das Erhabene,” Werke, 21:328–29; Barone, Schiller und die Tradition des Erhabenen, 111; Zelle, “Von der Geschmacks- zur Schönheitsästhetik,” 131; Pugh, Dialectic of Love, 307–8, 316. For an opposing view, see Jeffrey Barnouw (510n).

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unlike anything in the physical world, are absolutely great; and second, from the fact that, of everything in the physical world, humans alone possess moral freedom: “Erhaben nennen wir ein Objekt, bei dessen Vorstellung unsre sinnliche Natur ihre Schranken, unsre vernünftige Natur aber ihre Ueberlegenheit, ihre Freyheit von Schranken fühlt; gegen das wir also physisch den Kürzern ziehen, über welches wir uns aber moralisch, d.i. durch Ideen erheben”25 (We call an object sublime if, whenever the object is presented or represented, our sensuous nature feels its limits, but our rational nature feels its superiority, its freedom from limits. Thus, we come up short against a sublime object physically, but we elevate ourselves above it morally, namely, through ideas [22]). Schiller identifies consciousness of reason’s freedom, the experience of feeling superior and raised above (erhaben) the realm of physical necessity (Naturnotwendigkeit), as the very crux of the sublime: “Da nun das ganze Wesen des Erhabenen auf dem Bewußtseyn dieser unser Vernunftfreyheit beruht, und alle Lust am Erhabenen gerade nur auf dieses Bewußtseyn sich gründet […]” (20:175; Since, then, the entire essence of the sublime rests upon the consciousness of this rational freedom of ours, and all pleasure afforded by the sublime is grounded precisely in this consciousness alone [26]). He establishes two preconditions for a sublime experience. First, the human as natural being (Naturwesen) has to lack the capacity to defeat nature, otherwise there would be no need to have recourse to inner moral freedom. The second condition, the by now familiar need for the safety of the perceiving subject, is linked to the first: for the human as rational being to feel superior to nature, his “innere Gemüthsfreyheit” (20:178; the mind’s inner freedom [26]) must be preserved, as actual fear of an immediate and present danger destroys this freedom.26 Schiller’s choice of words is worthy of note, for it seems to raise at least a doubt about the nature and actuality of reason’s victory. More than once, the recourse to inner moral freedom is described as “taking refuge”: “Wo er [der Mensch] aber mit seinen physischen Kräften ausreicht, da ist nichts da, was ihn nöthigen könnte, zu seinem intelligenten Selbst, zu der 25 Schiller, “Vom Erhabenen,” Werke, 20:171. The English translations for both “Über das Erhabene” and “Vom Erhabenen” are from the collection edited by Walter Hinderer and Daniel Dahlstrom (Essays). 26 This requirement is restated later in the essay: “Bleibt hingegen die Sympathie in ihren ästhetischen Gränzen, so vereinigt sie zwey Hauptbedingungen des Erhabenen: sinnlichlebhafte Vorstellung des Leidens mit dem Gefühl eigner Sicherheit verbunden” (Werke, 20:193; if the sympathy remains within its aesthetic boundaries, then it combines two chief conditions of the sublime: a sensuously vital image of the suffering together with the feeling of one’s own security [Essays, 42]).

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innern Selbstständigkeit seiner Vernunftkraft seine Zuflucht zu nehmen” (20:177; Yet where his physical powers are sufficient, there is nothing that could force him to have recourse to his intellectual self, to the inner selfsufficiency of his rational powers [28]).27 The threat to the physical human, however, while not present and immediate, nevertheless has to be serious or else there would be no need for that same refuge: “es muß Ernst seyn, wenigstens in der Empfindung, wenn die Vernunft zur Idee ihrer Freyheit ihre Zuflucht nehmen soll” (20:179; it must be serious, at least in the sensation, if reason is supposed to have recourse to the idea of its freedom [30]). The sway of natural necessity is overcome not by battling and defeating it but by escape or retreat into a sanctuary. This invites speculation as to what would happen to the human as rational being if the retreat to that refuge were somehow impeded. Schiller’s answer, as emerges more clearly in “Über das Erhabene,” would not differ greatly from that of Hoffmann and other Romantics: the person would be destroyed as a rational being, because freedom from compulsion by nature is the very crux and anchor of existence as a human: “Aber diese einzige Ausnahme, wenn sie das wirklich im strengsten Sinne ist, würde den ganzen Begriff des Menschen aufheben. Nimmermehr kann er das Wesen seyn, welches will, wenn es auch nur Einen Fall giebt, wo er schlechter­ dings muß, was er nicht will”28 (Yet if this, in the strictest sense, actually is the sole exception, it would still subvert the entire concept of a human being. He can no longer be the sort of entity that wills, if there is even a single case where he absolutely must do what he does not want to do [71]). As we shall see, this question is by no means extraneous to Schiller’s thought – it is to ward off that very possibility that he advocates moral education by means of exposure to the sublime. Schiller’s subdivision of the sublime in “Vom Erhabenen” follows Kant in essence, though it changes some of the terminology. Schiller calls the sublime pertaining to cognition (Erkenntnis) theoretical: “Theoretischerhaben ist ein Gegenstand, insofern er die Vorstellung der Unendlichkeit mit sich führet, deren Darstellung sich die Einbildungskraft nicht gewachsen fühlt”29 (An object is theoretically-sublime insofar as it brings with it the notion of infinity, something the imagination does not feel itself capable of depicting [24]); the one pertaining to ethos (Gesinnung, where Kant used Begehrungsvermögen) is practical: “Die Natur, vorgestellt als eine Macht, die zwar unsern physischen Zustand bestimmen kann, aber auf 27 The translation, though correct in terms of the overall meaning, misses the added connotations of “Zuflucht,” which literally means refuge or asylum. 28 Schiller, “Über das Erhabene,” Werke, 21:38. 29 Schiller, “Vom Erhabenen,” Werke, 20:173.

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unsern Willen keine Gewalt hat, ist dynamisch oder praktisch erhaben” (20:173; Represented as a force capable of determining our physical condition but having no power over our will, nature is dynamically or practically sublime [24]). The bulk of the essay is devoted to the practical (Kant’s dynamic) sublime, which Schiller regards as more intense and aesthetically effective on the grounds that a threat to the drive for selfpreservation evokes a much stronger emotional reaction than the idea of infinity with its challenge to the imagination. Schiller’s exploration of the practical sublime stresses the contrasting effect of a fearful natural force on the physical and the moral aspect of humans: Der Gegenstand des Praktischerhabenen muß für die Sinnlichkeit furchtbar seyn; unserm physischen Zustand muß ein Uebel drohen, und die Vorstellung der Gefahr muß den Selbsterhaltungstrieb in Bewegung setzen. Unser intelligibles Selbst, dasjenige in uns, was nicht Natur ist, muß sich bey jener Affektion des Erhaltungstriebs von dem sinnlichen Theil unsers Wesens unterscheiden, und seiner Selbständigkeit, seiner Unabhängigkeit von allem, was die physische Natur treffen kann, kurz, seiner Freyheit sich bewußt werden. (20:184) The object of the practically-sublime must be frightening to the sensuous side of human nature; an evil must threaten our physical condition and the representation of the danger must set our self-preservation instinct in motion. As far as the emotion involved in the preservation-instinct is concerned, our intelligible self, namely, that within us that is not of nature, must distinguish itself from the sensuous side of our being and become aware of its self-sufficiency, of its independence from everything that can affect its physical nature. In short, it must become conscious of its freedom. (34)

The second half of this passage essentially restates Kant’s account, whereas the first, with its identification of any fearful object as potential trigger of the sublime, is closely akin to Burke’s. Schiller then subdivides the practical sublime into that of contemplation and that of pathos. The latter occurs where the fearful force is represented in action on a human sufferer, the former where it remains in potentiality and the observing subject supplies the representation of a danger and its possible application to himself. It is in the account of the contemplative sublime that one finds striking parallels to Burke’s sublime and to the Romantic conception of das Schauerliche: the role played by uncertainty and fear of the unknown, the role played by imagination in generating fear, the claim that the human psyche is inherently susceptible to such fears. Schiller distinguishes between civilized humanity, ruled by reason, and the childhood of humanity (the early stage of civilization), which was

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governed by instinctual drives and by the imagination. When the drive for self-preservation, which is more prone to fear than to hope, steers the imagination, existence is “ein Reich des Schreckens und der Furcht,” (a realm of terror and fear) swayed by superstition, which is “schwarz und fürchterlich” (20:188; dark and fearful [38]). In this state, everything unusual or indefinite is an object of fear, which the unchecked imagination fleshes out with all possible horrors. Schiller, like Burke, observes that the imagination is freest to act in this manner when the scarcity or absence of sensory data already tends to generate uncertainty: “Noch weit geschäftiger beweißt sich die Phantasie, aus dem geheimen unbestimmten und undurchdringlichen einen Gegenstand des Schreckens zu machen. Hier ist sie eigentlich in ihrem Element, denn da ihr die Wirklichkeit keine Gränzen setzt, […] so steht ihr das weite Reich der Möglickeiten offen” (20:190; Fantasy proves itself to be far more skilled at making something terrifying out of something mysterious, indeterminate, and impenetrable. Here it is in its genuine element with a wide range of possibilities open to it, given the fact that the actual world sets no boundaries to it [39]). Consequently Schiller, like Burke, regards silence, darkness, isolation, and anything secret or indistinct as effective triggers of the sublime. Solitude arouses horror (Grauen) because of the feeling of helplessness before possible dangers. Silence is used in the rites of religious cults and secret societies, and in the enchanted forests of fairy tales, because it creates “einen furchtbaren, feyerlichen Eindruck” (20:189; a fearful, solemn impression [39]). “Die Finsternis ist schrecklich und eben darum zum Erhabenen tauglich” (20:189; Darkness can be terrifying and precisely for that reason is suited to the sublime [39]), not per se but because it hides possible obstacles and dangers and at the same time makes self-defence difficult or impossible: humans feel helpless and defenceless because the sense of sight, on which they chiefly rely, fails them in the darkness (20:190). Significantly, Schiller, like Burke, gives this effect of darkness as the reason why superstition locates ghosts in the night (20:190). The indefinite and the secret operate in the same way: “Auch das Unbestimmte ist ein Ingrediens des Schrecklichen, und aus keinem andern Grunde, als weil es der Einbildungskraft Freyheit giebt, das Bild nach ihrem eigenen Gutdünken auszumalen” (20:191; Even the indeterminate is an ingredient of the terrible, and for no other reason than because it gives the imagination freedom to paint the picture as it sees fit [40]); “Alles, was verhüllt ist, alles Geheimnißvolle, trägt zum Schrecklichen bey und ist deßwegen der Erhabenheit fähig” (20:191; Everything that is hidden, everything full of mystery, contributes to what is terrifying and is therefore capable of sublimity [40]). As mentioned above, Schiller presents this fear-ruled condition as the state of humanity’s childhood, before the

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development of reason. Yet the imagination and the drive for self-­ preservation are always present in the psyche and always prone to act in this way; hence, the tendency to fear the unknown never quite dissipates: “Diese Furcht vor allem, was außerordentlich ist, verliert sich nun zwar im Zustand der Kultur, aber nicht so ganz, daß in der ästhetischen Betrachtung der Natur, wo sich der Mensch dem Spiel der Phantasie freywillig hingiebt, nicht eine Spur davon übrigbleiben sollte” (20:189; This fear of everything extraordinary disappears, to be sure, with the rise of culture, but not so completely that no trace of it remains in the aesthetic contemplation of nature, where people deliberately give themselves up to the play of fantasy [38]). Given this inherent predisposition, one can conclude that life would continue to be a “Reich des Schreckens und der Furcht” (a realm of terror and fear) for any individual in whom reason did not achieve supremacy over the arational dimension of the psyche. Surprisingly, “Über das Erhabene,” for all its concentration on moral freedom, concedes that this is not only possible but frequent. “Über das Erhabene” arguably reflects Schiller’s intention better than the earlier essay, since it focuses more clearly on the question of moral freedom and on the task of the sublime in making moral freedom possible. The definition of the sublime and its two modes remains essentially the same, and essentially Kantian. The sublime is a mixed emotion, constituted of “Wehseyn” (being in anguish) expressed in “Schauer” and “Frohseyn”30 (being happy [74]) that can reach a state of ecstasy, yet it is different from positive pleasure. Schiller drops the terms theoretical and practical, distinguishing more generally between sublime pertaining to “Fassungskraft” (powers of comprehension; Kant’s mathematical sublime) and to “Lebenskraft” (powers of living [74]; Kant’s dynamical sublime). The account of situations that occasion the sublime is drastically reduced. One effect of this refocusing is that attention is directed more to the delight phase of the sublime, to the triumph of reason over nature, with the dimension of fear correspondingly downplayed. The essay starts with a quotation from Lessing’s Nathan der Weise (Nathan the Wise), “Kein Mensch muß müssen” (21:38; No human being is obliged to be obliged [70]), and asserts that freedom of volition is the one characteristic that distinguishes humans from the rest of nature. All of nature acts rationally, Schiller argues, but only humans act rationally with consciousness and will. From this it follows that any form of compulsion, anything that forces the individual to act contrary to his will, even in a single instance, robs him of his very humanity: “[Es] ist des Menschen

30 Schiller, “Über das Erhabene,” Werke, 21:42.

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nichts so unwürdig, als Gewalt zu erleiden, denn Gewalt hebt ihn auf” (21:38; nothing is so beneath the dignity of a human being as to suffer violence, for it destroys the individual’s humanity [70]). With this, Schiller has set up the contrast between humans as natural beings and humans as moral beings – or, as he now puts it, between “Trieb” (drive) and “Vermögen” (capability) – much more radically than in the earlier essay. Since it is obvious that there are innumerable situations in which humans cannot defend themselves or escape what they do not want, it follows that they can only preserve their moral freedom by altering their will. That is to say, if they cannot remove “Gewalt” physically, they must destroy it “dem Begriff nach,” and “Eine Gewalt dem Begriffe nach vernichten, heißt aber nichts anders, als sich derselben freywillig unterwerfen” (21:39; to destroy a force conceptually means nothing other than to submit to it voluntarily [72]). Herein lies the task of the aesthetic education, namely, to teach humans to admire, then to wish to emulate, freely willed espousal of necessity: “Die Kultur soll den Menschen in Freyheit setzen und ihm dazu behülflich seyn, seinen ganzen Begriff zu erfüllen. Sie soll ihn also fähig machen, seinen Willen zu behaupten” (21:39; Culture is supposed to put humans in a state of freedom and to assist in realizing the concept of a human person as a whole. Thus it is supposed to make him capable of asserting his will [71]). Within this, the sublime plays a more important role than the beautiful, since it alone can teach humans how to overcome the lower faculties of their own psyche: “Wir fühlen uns frey bey der Schönheit, weil die sinnlichen Triebe mit dem Gesetz der Vernunft harmonieren; wir fühlen uns frey beym Erhabenen, weil die sinnlichen Triebe auf die Gesetzgebung der Vernunft keinen Einfluß haben, weil der Geist hier handelt, als ob er unter keinen andern als seinen eigenen Gesetzen stünde” (21:42; When it comes to beauty we feel that we are free because sensuous urges harmonize with the law of reason. In the case of the sublime we feel free because those sensuous urges have no influence on the legislation of reason, since the spirit acts here as if it stood under no laws other than its own [74]). The essay is for the most part devoted to expounding why and how exposure to the sublime, particularly in the arts, is best suited to achieving such a moral education. Yet even here, the possibility of a kingdom of fear and terror is not fully exorcized, though it is now reduced to only a few lines. The essay leads up to the sentence delineating the task of culture (just quoted) by stating that even one single instance of compulsion would dethrone reason and deliver humans to the terrors of unfettered imagination: Nimmermehr kann er das Wesen seyn, welches will, wenn es auch nur Einen Fall giebt, wo er schlechterdings muß, was er nicht will. Dieses einzige Schreckliche,

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was er nur muß und nicht will, wird wie ein Gespenst ihn begleiten, und ihn, wie  auch wirklich bey den mehresten Menschen der Fall ist, den blinden Schrecknissen der Phantasie zur Beute überliefern; seine gerühmte Freyheit ist absolut Nichts, wenn er auch nur in einem einzigen Punkte gebunden ist. (21:38-9; emphasis in original) He can no longer be the sort of entity that wills, if there is even a single case where he absolutely must do what he does not want to do. This singular, terrifying case of simply being necessitated to do what he does not want to do, will haunt him like a ghost and hand him over to the blind terrors of the imagination, something that is actually the case for the majority of people. His exalted freedom is absolutely nothing, if he is even bound in a single, solitary instance. (71; emphasis in original)

This passage contains a concession that undermines the claim that humans in the state of culture have overcome the sway of fear and superstition: most humans do in fact live in such a condition of terror and are in fact helpless prey of the horrors imagination can and does conjure up. It is hard to resist the conclusion that Schiller here is admitting that the moral education, and hence the emancipation, of humans via the sublime will succeed only with a minority. This realization brings us to a crucial conclusion for the present study: to the reason why one can see Schiller – as it were malgré soi – as a transitional phase from the sublime to the uncanny. From the concession in this passage to the world of dark Romanticism there is but one small step: one need only espouse Schiller’s assessment of the human condition, and assign to literature the task of portraying it as it is, rather than of offering a means of ideal escape. Equally significant is Schiller’s choice of metaphor to describe the condition of helpless fear: the frightful instance of compulsion will haunt the individual “wie ein Gespenst,” like a spectre. Again, this prefigures and helps explain the tropes of Romantic tales of horror: here, as in Romantic fiction, the (apparently) supernatural is a metaphor for the terrors of an unknown fate, or, to paraphrase Schiller’s previous essay, the terrors that the imagination conjures up when faced with the impenetrable, the indistinct, or the inexplicable. To summarize, Schiller represents a transitional phase in the emergence of the uncanny out of the sublime in a very different sense than, for instance, Jean Paul. Schiller’s theory of the sublime is not a precursor of the Romantic aesthetics of fear in terms of its tenets or intentions. On the contrary, in those respects it is emblematic of what the Romantics react against and undercut. Rather, Schiller clearly delineates a struggle that he admits could have another outcome that would be opposite to

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the triumph of reason and moral freedom. The path marked off but not taken by Schiller leads to the aesthetics of fear encountered in Romantic fiction. In other words, the Romantic concept “schauerlich” constitutes an offshoot and radicalization of the Schillerian sublime, in that it shares the first phase, the experience of limitations, but negates the second phase, the experience of limitlessness, by negating the possibility of a triumph of reason over a dark and potentially inimical nature (be it internal or external). As mentioned earlier, the need to find a new concept to denote the aesthetics of fear is in part a consequence of the tendency around 1800 to excise the dimension of fear from the sublime, to redefine the sublime around the notion of uplift alone, and to reassimilate it into the beautiful. An example of this is Herder’s Kalligone, a polemic against Kant’s theory of the sublime. Herder’s objections to Kant can be summed up as follows: (1) sublimity resides not in the subject and his rational faculty but in the object (be it nature, art, or the divine); (2) the sublime is not the immeasurable and chaotic, but rather the highest order, measure, and harmony; and (3) the sublime is a purely positive experience of joy, uplift, and admiration, in which negative emotions such as terror play no part. Of these aspects, the first is not relevant to the present investigation, and the second only insofar as it moves the sublime away from the notions of the overwhelming and the terrible. In rejecting Kant’s concept of the mathematical sublime, Herder rejects admiration before mathematics in favour of “verständig lernen” (learning with understanding) and goes on to equate comprehensible measure, with sublimity: “Anstaunen ist der Tod der Mathematik; ihr [Wesen] ist μ , verständig lernen, begreifen, und ihre Frucht das Erhabenschönste, Maas, klare Ansicht”31 (Wonder is the death of mathematics; its essence is μ , to learn with understanding, to comprehend, and its fruit is the most sublimely beautiful, measure, a clear view). Similarly, at the end of the first section on the sublime, he sums up: “die erhabenste Philosophie könne nicht anders als die faßlichste, das wahre Erhabene nicht anders als die Summe des Reinen, Klaren, Guten und Schönen seyn oder werden” (22:240; the most sublime philosophy can be no other than the most comprehensible, the true sublime can be or become no other than the sum of the pure, clear, good and beautiful). As already evident in both passages, Herder assimilates the sublime and the beautiful, sometimes equating them, sometimes even combining them in a compositum: “was ist Schöner als dieser mit seiner Kraft und seinen Gedanken alles erfüllende, ewigschaffende Geist, Er die

31 Herder, Sämtliche Werke, 22:238.

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thätige Regel alles Erhabnen und Schönen, das Universum […] Einer regiert und ist und herrscht ewig, das erhabenste Schönste, das Beste” (22:233; what is more beautiful than this ever-creating spirit that fills everything with its power and thoughts, He, the active rule of all that is sublime and beautiful, the universe … One Being rules and is and governs eternally, the most sublimely most beautiful, the best); “Und ihr fernen Ufer, ihr wolkengekrönten Felsen, ihr dahin ziehenden Vögel, ihr um uns scherzenden Delphine – erhabenschöne, schönerhabene JugendErinnerung […]” (22:235; And you distant shores, you cliffs crowned with clouds, you passing birds, you dolphins playing around us – sublimebeautiful, beautiful-sublime memory of youth …).32 Herder later explains the nature of the assimilation: the beautiful and sublime are not opposites, but rather “Stamm und Aeste Eines Baums; sein Gipfel ist das erhabenste Schöne”33 (trunk and branches of one tree; its top is the most sublimely beautiful); in other words, the sublime ist “das höchste und schwerste Schöne” (the highest and most difficult beautiful) or “der schwerzuerreichende Gipfel des Schönen” (22:243; the top of the beautiful which is difficult to reach). As such, it can arouse only positive emotions: Ein Gefühl des Erhabnen, oder am Erhabnen kann nichts als die Empfindung seiner Höhe und Vortreflichkeit seyn […] Dies Gefühl heißt Elevation, Erhebung. Es erhebt zum erhabnen Gegenstande; über uns selbst gehoben, werden wir mit ihm höher, umfassender, weiter. Nicht Krampf ist dies Gefühl, sondern Erweiterung unsrer Brust, Aufblick und Aufstreben, Erhöhung unsres Daseyns. (22:261) A feeling of the sublime, or in the sublime there can be nothing other than the sensation of its height and excellence … This feeling is called elevation, uplift. It lifts up to the sublime object; lifted up above ourselves, we become higher, more encompassing, wider, with it. This feeling is not a cramp, but rather expansion of our chest, looking up and striving up, a hightening of our existence.

He does concede an element of pain, but it is only temporary, and only in the sense of effort: “Der Schmerz des Anstrengens oder Aufstrebens,

32 See also Ralf Simon: “Herder kommt zu einer Synthese von Erhabenem und Schönem. Dort, wo im Erhabenen nicht das Andere, sondern das immanente Gesetz, seine Vernünftigkeit, gesehen wird, bequemt es sich dem Schönen an” (“Bildpolitiken der Erhabenheit,” 96; Herder comes to a synthesis of the sublime and the beautiful. Where in the sublme is seen not the Other but rather the immanent law, its reasonableness, it accommodates itself to the beautiful). 33 Herder, Sämtliche Werke, 22:240.

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den das Erhabne erreget, kann nur Spannung, mithin Uebergang zu andern Gefühlen seyn, oder die Feder ermattete Kraftlos” (22:240; The pain of the effort or striving up, which the sublime arouses, can only be tension, and hence transition to other feelings, or the spring would lose its strength). Herder does not tire of condemning any association of fear and terror with the sublime, stigmatizing all such negative emotions as false sublimity: Jeder kleine Begriff falscher Erhabenheiten, samt ihrer abscheulichen Brut, Entsetzen, Furcht, enge Persönlichkeit, Abgötterei, kriechender Dienst, Heuchelei, Lüge verschwinden. (22:233) Every little concept of false sublimity, together with its repulsive brood, horror, fear, narrow personality, idolatry, creeping servility, hypocrisy, lies, disappear. Verwirrungen der Begriffe sinds, wenn man das Erhabne in Nacht und Nebel, in Hölen und Tiefen, im Grausenden, Furchtbaren, gar im Formlosen sucht und sich daselbst Formlos verlieret. Verwirrung der Gefühle ists, wenn man die seligste Empfindung, über sich selbst erhoben zu werden, zum Kampf der Titanen macht, die von der ihnen unangemeßnen Höhe angezogen und hinabgeschleidert, in der grausen Tiefe ihr Grab fanden. (22:261–2) It is confusion of the concepts, if one seeks the sublime in night and fog, in caves and depths, in the horrible, the fearful, even in the formless, and loses oneself formlessly. It is confusion of feelings if one turns the most beatific sensation of being raised above oneself into the battle of the titans who were drawn to and then thrown down from the height that was not suitable for them, and found their grave in the horrible depth.

In one respect, Herder too celebrates the victory and emancipation of reason, but only over the false sublime, not over nature properly understood. By contrast with Schiller, Herder regards the inclination to superstition not as inherent in the human psyche, but rather as the product of poor education: “natürlicher Weise staunten wir als Kinder das Dunkel an, weil wir in ihm nichts sahen, nichts finden konnten; gefürchtet aber hätten wir uns an einem Gefahrlosen Ort vor dem Dunkel schwerlich oder minder, wenn nicht Märchen unser scheues Ohr furchtsam gemacht und uns in der allenthalben natürlichen Natur allenthalben Un- oder Uebernatur zu erwarten gelehrt hätte” (22:235–6; Naturally as children we gaped at darkness, because we could see nothing and find nothing in it; but in a place free of danger in darkness we would not have been afraid or less afraid, if fairy tales had not made our timid ear fearful and had

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not taught us to expect in the everywhere natural nature everywhere the unnatural or supernatural).34 Herder derives the fear of ghosts from such inculcations of superstition, not from inherent fear of the dark, as Burke and Schiller did. The process of growing up is one of coming to reason and emancipation from all such fears, which leads to the replacement of false with true sublimity: “Wir kamen zur Vernunft und lernten, daß Finsterniß ein Nichts, daß Nacht und Tag ein Zwillingspaar sey, die schöne Folge Einer und derselben harmonischen Regel. […] Ein reicher Ersatz jener falschen Erhabenheiten ist, dünkt mich, diese erhaben-schöne Gedankenklarheit”35 (We came to reason and learned that darkness is nothing, that night and day are a pair of twins, the beautiful result of one and the same harmonious rule … This sublime-beautiful clarity of thought is, I think, rich compensation for that false sublimity). As this approach to the sublime gained currency, a new concept was needed to denote the spectrum of negative emotions and their causes, which were now excluded from the sublime. Jean Paul’s Vorschule der Ästhetik, which largely follows Herder in its treatment of the sublime, exemplifies this transition. 2 . J e a n P au l ’ s V o r s c h u l e d e r Ä s t h e t i k The sublime plays a fairly minor role in Jean Paul’s Vorschule der Ästhetik (Pre-School of Aesthetics). In fact, the concept is not even introduced for its own sake, but merely as a foil against which its opposite, “das Lächerliche” (“the Ridiculous”), may be defined. Jean Paul’s treatment of the sublime, like Herder’s, takes the form of a response to Kant, knowledge of whose theory is presupposed.36 Like Herder, Jean Paul departs from theories that present the sublime as a mixed emotion, in that he focuses primarily on the dimension of uplift. Götz Müller contends that Jean Paul excludes the negative emotions altogether: “Das Erhabene in der ‘Vorschule’ ist eine Erhebung ohne Widerstand, ohne Schmerz und ohne Kampf”37 (The sublime in the “School” is an uplifting without resistance, without pain 34 This view that nurse’s tales are responsible for the fear of the supernatural that can have disastrous consequences in adulthood plays a central role – not sufficiently recognized by scholarship – in two of Hoffmann’s most uncanny tales, “Der Sandmann” and “Das öde Haus.” See chapter 5, section 6. 35 Herder, Sämtliche Werke, 22:236. 36 It may be noted in passing that Jean Paul’s departure from Kant is less extreme than he would like it to appear: having objected to Kant’s subdivision of the sublime into the mathematical and the dynamic, he essentially retains these categories and even falls back into using Kant’s terminology. 37 Müller, Jean Paul’s Ästhetik und Naturphilosophie, 134.

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and without struggle). However, the case for this is less clear-cut than it was with Herder, in that Jean Paul does not expressly reject pain and fear, except in one remark directed against Kant: “Ebenso wäre gegen den kantischen ‘Schmerz bei jedem Erhabenen’ viel einzuwenden, besonders dieses, daß nach ihm das größte den größten geben müßte, nämlich Gott”38 (Strong objection could be made to Kant’s notion of “pain with every instance of the sublime,” for it implies that the greatest instance of the sublime, namely God, will give the greatest pain [76]). Also, he retains some traditional examples that seem to involve the idea of danger (Homer’s description of a battle in deep darkness [108], a mountain or desert [467]). For Jean Paul as for Herder, the sublime and the beautiful are very close, as Müller pointed out.39 They are brought together, however, not directly but by means of another concept that plays a more important role and occupies a higher place than either of the others: the romantic. Jean Paul defines the sublime as “das angewandte Unendliche” (the applied infinite), that is to say, as the infinite applied to a clearly delimited sensible object that functions as symbol for it: “das Unendliche […] auf einen sinnlichen Gegenstand angewandt” (107; the infinite applied to a sensuous object [74]); “den ungeheuren Sprung vom Sinnlichen als Zeichen ins Unsinnliche als Bezeichnetes” (107; the immense leap from the sensuous as sign into the immaterial as thing signified [74]). Wulf Koepke explains: “Objects of the senses are signs that point to something beyond the senses. The sublime is, therefore, a natural or aesthetic sign of the world beyond the senses.”40 An object becomes sublime by means of a limit, “eine Grenze,” whereby “das Begrenzte ist erhaben, nicht das Begrenzende.”41 His concept of the romantic, by contrast, resembles Friedrich Schlegel’s in its defining connection with the infinite.42 Like Schiller as well as the Schlegels, Jean Paul takes the opposition of classical antiquity and modern Europe as the premise of his argument. He too associates the classical with objectivity, the sensible world, and sculpture, and the romantic with subjectivity, spirituality, and music or painting (i.e., the picturesque as opposed to the sculpturesque). Yet at

38 Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, 108. The English translations are from Margaret Hale’s translation (Horn of Oberon). 39 Müller, Ästhetik und Naturphilosophie, 133–4. 40 Koepke, “ Jean Paul Richter’s School for Aesthetics,” 189. See also Müller, Ästhetik und Naturphilosophie, 132. 41 Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, 108. 42 See Rasch, “Poetik Jean Pauls,” 99f.; Eichner, “Germany: Romantisch - Romantik Romantiker”; Schweikert, Jean Paul, 47.

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the same time the romantic transcends this opposition: Jean Paul, again like Schlegel, occasionally implies that all true poetry is or should be romantic. His definition of Poesie per se is virtually identical to that of romantic Poesie. In the first segment of the first program, he adopts as the basic definition of Poesie, “die alte aristotelische, welche das Wesen der Poesie in einer schönen (geistigen) Nachahmung der Natur bestehen lässet”43 (the old Aristotelian definition, according to which the essence of poetry consists in a beautiful (spiritual) imitation of nature [15]). He then elaborates on this. The task of true Poesie is to reconcile spirit and nature by portraying finite nature in such a way as to open vistas onto the infinite and immaterial. Consequently, beautiful imitation means “[die] begrenzte Natur mit der Unendlichkeit der Idee umgeben und jene wie auf einer Himmelfahrt in diese verschwinden lassen” (43; surrounds limited nature with the infinity of the idea, letting the one disappear into the other as if on an ascent to heaven [25]). He later defines the romantic as “beautiful infinity,” or that which opens a vista onto a vast open space losing itself in infinity: “Es ist in allen diesen Beispielen nicht das Erhabene, das, wie gedacht, so leicht ins Romantische verfließt, sondern das Weite, welches bezeichnet. Das Romantische ist das Schöne ohne Begrenzung, oder das schöne Unendliche” (88, emphasis in original; In all these examples it is not the sublime height which, as we have said, blends so easily into the romantic, but the breadth which is characteristic. The romantic is beauty without limit, or beautiful infinity [60–1; emphasis in original]). The proper subject matter of the romantic is the relationship of the finite world to the infinite, and here, Jean Paul associates the finite with want, and the infinite with beauty: the “wahrhaft romantisch-unendlich[e] Stoff [ist] das Verhältnis unserer dürftigen Endlichkeit zum Glanzsaale und Sternenhimmel der Unendlichkeit” (88; the truly romantic infinite idea [is] the relationship between our poor finitude and the splendid palace room and starry heaven of infinity [61]). Romantic Poesie consoles for the deficiencies of earthly existence by offering glimpses of a higher, spiritual sphere: “Ist Dichten Weissagen: so ist romantisches das Ahnen einer größern Zukunft, als hienieden Raum hat; die romantischen Blüten schwimmen um uns, wie nie gesehene Samenarten durch das allverbindende Meer aus der neuen Welt, noch ehe sie gefunden war, an Norwegens Strand anschwammen” (89; If poetry is prophecy, then romantic poetry is presentiment of a greater future than finds room here below; the romantic blossoms swim around us, just as unknown varieties of seeds in the past swam to Norway’s shore through the all-uniting sea from the yet

43 Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, 30.

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undiscovered new world [61]). Noteworthy about this last passage is that it introduces an element of the unknown into the essence of the romantic. The significance of this will emerge shortly, when we turn to the role of fear. The romantic is superior to the sublime because of its ability to transcend or efface limitations. Its higher status emerges in comparisons such as that of two passages from Homer: a passage where Zeus on Olympus surveys both the war-torn plains of Troy and the far distant idyllic fields of Arcadia is romantic, whereas the passage where Ajax in the darkness of a battle begs the gods for nothing more than light is “merely sublime.”44 Jean Paul conceives the infinite as a Geisterreich, a realm of undefined and undefinable numinous entities. He follows Friedrich Schlegel in establishing a very close connection between the romantic and Christianity, but differs from Schlegel in the details of the relations posited among the spheres of spirit, Christianity, and romantic Poesie. In the first edition of the Vorschule, Jean Paul had gone so far as to equate the Christian and the romantic: “Ursprung und Charakter der ganzen neueren Poesie läßt sich so leicht aus dem Christentume ableiten, daß man die romantische ebensogut die christliche nennen könnte” (86; The origin and character of all modern poetry can be derived from Christianity so easily that romantic poetry might as well be called Christian poetry [59]). The reason for this is Christianity’s contempt for the material world and its focus on a future realm of pure spirit: “Das Christentum vertilgte, wie ein Jüngster Tag, die ganze Sinnenwelt mit allen ihren Reizen, drückte sie zu einem Grabeshügel, zu einer Himmels-Staffel zusammen und setzte eine neue Geister-Welt an die Stelle” (93; Christianity, like a day of judgment, destroyed the entire material world with all its charms, crushed it into a gravemound, made it into a ladder leading to heaven, and replaced it with a new spiritual world [64]). As he himself admits in the second edition, critics raised objections that not all romantic literatures (i.e., literatures claimed as romantic by the Schlegels) were Christian, forcing him to qualify his position.45 Significantly, he does so by stressing the functional link between the romantic and the infinite and thereby reclaiming all religions that facilitate the dissolution of the sensible world into that of spirit as akin to Christianity. Thus the world of Norse mythology, of the Edda and Ossian, is romantic in that in the “Schattenreiche ihrer klimatischen verfinsterten Schauernatur” (shadowy realm of its dark and awesome natural climate), it found access to “eine grenzenlose Geisterwelt, worin die enge Sinnenwelt zerfloß und versank” (a limitless world of spirits … into which the narrow 44 Ibid., 88. 45 On the changes from the first to the second edition with respect to the romantic, see Koepke, “Jean Pauls Begriff des Kunstwerks,” 149f.

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material world dissolved and sank away), or manifested as from a great distance and so “ins Unendliche verschwommen”46 (absorbed into the infinite [61]). By contrast, the romanticism of India is a realm of light and joy, but it too has a religion that “von der Sinnenwelt durch Vergeistigung die Schranken wegbrach” (89; breaks down the barriers of the world of sense by breathing a spirit into it [61]), and oriental Poesie is permeated by “ein Gefühl der irdischen Nichtigkeit des Schattengewimmels in unserer Nacht” (90; a feeling … of the earthly nothingness of the swarming shadows that inhabit the night of our existence [62]). In his clarification, Jean Paul thus reiterates that the romantic is anything (be it religion or an art form) that opens vistas into the realm of spirit. The concept of the romantic takes the place previously occupied by the sublime in another respect as well. The aesthetics of fear, excluded or at least marginalized in the sublime, find a place and a function within the romantic. In fact, my earlier claim, that the uncanny begins to develop in this period as a specialization and radicalization of the sublime, already applies to Jean Paul’s concept of the romantic: it continues the Kantian and Schillerian sublime in that it too defines the relationship of the finite human individual to the infinite; it is a specialization in that this infinite is understood specifically as a spirit world that is absolutely unknowable and shrouded in the depths of night; it is a radicalization in that it is always accompanied by fear and Schauer; and finally, it is a refutation in that the self-emancipation of reason and its superiority over nature are excluded, leaving fear as the defining emotion. Despite its association with Christianity, Jean Paul’s spirit-realm is a realm of darkness, an unknown that provokes fear and dread more often and more intensely than joy and uplift. After Christianity destroyed the sensible world, all that remained to the poetic spirit was the inner world: “Der Geist stieg in sich und seine Nacht und sah Geister” (93; The spirit descended into itself and its night and saw other spirits [64]). In compensation for the lost sensible world, “blühte in der Poesie das Reich des Unendlichen über die Brandstätte der Endlichkeit auf” (the realm of the infinite flowered in poetry over the cinders of the finite). Yet this infinite realm is a threatening abyss, closely akin to descriptions of the sublime as an overwhelming and crushing force: “dafür öffnete das Ungeheuere und Unermeßliche seine Tiefe” (93; the monstrous and immense opened up their depths [64]).47 It is noteworthy that, in spite of the role he ­assigns 46 Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, 88. 47 In his review of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Hoffmann appropriates this phrase to describe the realm into which Beethoven’s music leads the listener. See below, section 4, of this chapter.

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to Christianity, Jean Paul does not choose Christian topoi to describe the spirit world, but rather confines himself to purely negative abstractions involving the prefix ‘un-’: unendlich, ungeheuer, unermeßlich. It is not even necessarily a higher sphere (Tiefe). The plural Geister, evocative as much of the supernatural spirits of superstition as of philosophy’s concept of pure spirit, points to the place that the marvellous and superstition occupy in Jean Paul’s concept of romanticism, as we shall see shortly. Lastly, the notion of an inner night suggests that the human psyche itself is unknown and potentially frightening, and in this respect (among others), Jean Paul can be regarded as a precursor of dark romanticism. A consequence of this characterization of the infinite is that the experience of it – the romantic – not only recuperates the mixed emotions typical of the sublime but also intensifies the element of fear. The romantic evokes “unendliche Sehnsucht” (infinite longing), “unaussprechliche Seligkeit” (ineffable bliss), “schwärmerische beschauliche Liebe” (enthusiastic, introspective love), ascetic renunciation, and Platonic philosophy, but also “die zeit- und schrankenlose Verdammnis” (perdition without limit in time or space) and “die Geisterfurcht, welche vor sich selber schaudert”48 (the fear of ghosts which dreads itself49). Jean Paul explains the predominance of the dark and frightening by a psychological motivation, akin to the one adduced by Burke and Schiller in explaining why darkness, silence, and solitude lend themselves so well to arousing the sublime. Human imagination faced by an unknown situation is more prone to fear than to hope, because fear and pain are more rooted in sensory experience and thus are more intense and vivid than joy. Imagination is therefore more skilled at generating images to portray an unknown terror or pain than an unknown joy: In der weiten Nacht des Unendlichen war der Mensch öfter fürchtend als hoffend. Schon an und für sich ist Furcht gewaltiger und reicher als Hoffnung […], weil für die Furcht die Phantasie viel mehr Bilder findet als für die Hoffnung; und dies wieder darum, weil der Sinn und die Handhabe des Schmerzes, das körperliche Gefühl, uns in jedem Haut-Punkte die Quelle eines Höllenflusses werden kann, indes die Sinnen für die Freude einen magern und engen Boden bescheren.50

48 Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, 93. 49 Jean Paul, Horn of Oberon, 64. 50 Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, 94. Compare Schiller’s explanation why the “Unbestimmte” and “Undurchdringliche” are a cause of fright: “Daß sie [i.e. die Phantasie] sich aber gerade zum Schrecklichen hinneigt und von dem Unbekannten mehr fürchtet als hofft, liegt in der Natur des Erhaltungstriebs, der sie leitet. Die Verabscheuung wirkt

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In the vast night of infinity man was more often afraid than hopeful. Fear as such is stronger and richer than hope … because the imagination finds many more images for fear than for hope; the images in turn are provided by the organ for pain, the physical sense of touch, which can become the source of an infernal flux at any point of the skin, while the senses allot so meager and narrow a ground for joy.51

Indeed, the arts cannot evoke the presence of Heaven, but only “unbestimm­ tes Sehnen” (indefinite longing), a longing for Heaven that has no distinct notion of its object – hence the centrality of Sehnsucht for the romantic.52 This notion that fear of the unknown is an inherent trait of the human psyche represents an element of continuity from Burke, through Schiller and Jean Paul to the Romantics, in whose works it will attain unprecedented prominence. From this instinctive fear of the unknown, it follows that cognitive uncertainty is productive of especially intense fear and is therefore a particularly effective poetic device – a further respect in which Jean Paul was a precursor, and in all probability a model, for dark Romanticism. Uncertainty is more frightening than the unquestionably supernatural, and the possibility of a dark uncontrollable force in one’s own psyche is more terrifying than an external ghostly apparition. This explains an assertion made in the fifth segment of the first program, which is devoted to the use of the marvellous (das Wunderbare): “Daher ist eine Geisterfurcht besser als eine Geistererscheinung, ein Geisterseher besser als hundert Geistergeschichten; nicht das gemeine physische Wunder, sondern das Glauben daran malt das Nachtstück der Geisterwelt”53 (A fear of ghosts is better than an apparition, a ghost-seer better than one hundred ghoststories. Not the common physical marvel, but the belief in it is what paints the nocturne of the spirit world54). Jean Paul claims that the marvellous is in and of itself poetic, as Müller explains: “Durch die Diskrepanz zwi­ ungleich schneller und mächtiger als die Begierde, und daher kommt es, daß wir hinter dem Unbekannten mehr Schlimmes vermuthen als Gutes erwarten” (“Vom Erhabenen,” Werke, 20:190, emphasis in original; that it [i.e., imagination] is inclined precisely to what is terrible and that the unknown is a source of fear more than hope, lies in the nature of the preservation instinct that guides it. Revulsion works with incomparably greater speed and force than desire does, and for this reason we rather suppose something bad than expect something good lying behind what is unknown [Essays, 39; emphasis in original]). 51 Jean Paul, Horn of Oberon, 64–5. 52 As we shall see, Hoffmann’s definition of romantic and its causal link with “unendliche Sehnsucht” are essentially the same as Jean Paul’s, from whom they derive. 53 Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, 45. 54 Jean Paul, Horn of Oberon, 26.

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schen der Aufklärung des Verstandes und den Bedürfnissen des Herzens wird für Jean Paul das Wunderbare in der Poesie so wichtig, daß er es in die Bestimmung der ‘Poesie überhaupt’ hineinnimmt”55 (Through the discrepancy between the enlightenment of the understanding and the needs of the heart, the marvellous in literature becomes so important for Jean Paul, that he builds it into the definition of poetic literature as such). It must, however, be properly handled. Jean Paul rejects both the explained and the confirmed supernatural (Todorov’s étrange and merveilleux respectively) as unpoetic, in favour of ambiguity (Todorov’s fantastique): “Das Wunder fliege weder als Tag- noch als Nachtvogel, sondern als Dämmerungschmetterling”56 (Let the marvelous fly neither as a bird of the day nor as one of the night, but as a twilight butterfly [26]). He envisages a transferring of the conflict to the psychological plane, to the sphere of spirit, which the fifth program associates with romanticism: “Aber es gibt noch ein Drittes, nämlich den hohen Ausweg, daß der Dichter das Wunder weder zerstöre, wie ein exegetischer Theolog, noch in der Körperwelt unnatürlich festhalte, wie ein Taschenspieler, sondern daß er es in die Seele lege” (45; But the best is a third method. Here the poet neither destroys the marvel, as does an exegetical theologian, nor imprisons it unnaturally in the physical world, as does a juggler, but rather locates it in the soul [26]). In other words, the poet should portray “Geisterfurcht” rather than “Geister,” or even better, “Geisterfurcht, welche vor sich selber schaudert” (93; the fear of ghosts which dreads itself [64]), because the most terrifying abyss possible is that located in one’s own psyche: “Das Ich ist der fremde Geist, vor dem es schauert, der Abgrund, vor dem es zu stehen glaubt” (45; The self is the alien spirit before which it shudders, the abyss on whose brink it believes it stands [26]). A crucial implication of Jean Paul’s conceptualization of the infinite as a dark, unknown, and inscrutable realm of spirit(s), and a logical consequence of the role assigned to cognitive uncertainty, is that reason is deprived of its function of recognizing infinity. This precludes the second phase of the Kantian and Schillerian sublime, namely, reason’s recognition of its own infinity, superiority to the physical realm, and hence sublimity. It is here that Jean Paul’s romantic becomes a refutation as well as a radicalization of the Kantian sublime in particular. Nowhere is this clearer than in his valorization of superstition, particularly when it is viewed in the context of Kant’s distinction between religion and superstition with reference to the sublime. Jean Paul establishes a symbiotic

55 Müller, Ästhetik und Naturphilosophie, 72. 56 Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, 45.

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relationship between Poesie and Aberglauben (superstition), particularly between romantic Poesie and Aberglauben. He presents superstition (as well as the marvellous) as poetic in itself, associating it with the world of childhood, which is aesthetically more pleasing than the knowledge-driven world of adulthood. How much more poetic, for instance, the story that when an infant smiles in its sleep angels are playing with it, than the explanation attributing the smile to acid in the stomach (95). As products of the same mental attitude – a belief in manifestations of the spiritual realm in the earthly – Poesie and superstition seem inseparable: “In Frankreich gab es von jeher am wenigsten Aberglauben und Poesie” (95; In France there has always been the least superstition and the least poetry [66]). Jean Paul posits a symbiotic relationship between superstition and romantic Poesie: “Der sogenannte Aberglaube verdient als Frucht und Nahrung des romantischen Geistes eine eigne Heraushebung” (94; Socalled superstition, a fruit and nourishment of the romantic spirit, deserves separate attention [65]). The reason for this symbiosis is that the two share the function of opening up perspectives into the spirit world and its relation to the earthly one. We have now reached the main and crucial respect in which Jean Paul’s concept of the romantic represents a bridge between the sublime and romantic forms of the Schauerliche, particularly Hoffmann’s: superstition and the emotion that inescapably accompanies and characterizes it, fear, acquire a cognitive function – one with a built-in anti-Enlightenment twist. Kant distinguishes between religion (which is compatible with sublimity) and superstition (which is not), on the basis of the presence or absence of fear. The individual who experiences the sublimity of the divinity cannot be in a state of “Zerknirschung” (prostration) and in actual fear of God’s wrath: “Der Mensch, der sich wirklich fürchtet, weil er dazu in sich Ursache findet, indem er sich bewußt ist, mit seiner verwerflichen Gesinnung wider eine Macht zu verstoßen, deren Willen unwiderstehlich und zugleich gerecht ist, befindet sich gar nicht in der Gemütsfassung, um die göttliche Größe zu bewundern”57 (A person who is actually afraid and finds cause for this in himself because he is conscious that with his reprehensible attitude he offends against a might whose will is at once irresistible and just is not at all in the frame of mind [needed] to admire divine greatness). Rather, he can only experience the sublimity of the divinity if free of fear because conscious of his own righteousness, that is, conscious that he shares the same moral principles as the divinity, and thus shares in its sublimity: “Nur alsdann, wenn er sich seiner aufrichtigen gottgefälligen

57 Kant, Kritik der Urteilskraft, II, §28 (emphasis in original).

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Gesinnung bewußt ist, dienen jene Wirkungen der Macht, in ihm die Idee der Erhabenheit dieses Wesens zu erwecken, sofern er eine dessen Willen gemäße Erhabenheit der Gesinnung bei sich selbst erkennt, und dadurch über die Furcht […] erhoben wird”58 (Only if he is conscious that his attitude is sincere and pleasing to God, will these effects of might serve to arouse in him the idea of God’s sublimity, insofar as he recognizes in his own attitude a sublimity that conforms to God’s will, and is thereby elevated above any fear). Superstition, by contrast, is characterized by fear of the divinity’s power: “Auf solche Weise allein unterscheidet sich innerlich Religion von Superstition; welche letztere nicht Ehrfurcht für das Erhabene, sondern Furcht und Angst vor dem übermächtigen Wesen [ist]”59 (This alone is what intrinsically distinguishes religion from superstition. The latter establishes in the mind not a reverence for the sublime, but fear and dread of that being of superior might). For Jean Paul too, fear is the marker and the determinant of superstition: any glimpse into the spirit world provokes shuddering, whether it heralds misfortune or fortune: “Sogar die Zeichen des Glücks behielten ihren Schauder”60 (Even the signs of good fortune inspired dread [66]). But this is a good thing, because, in an enlightened age guided by mechanistic science, superstitious fear has become the only indicator, even guarantor, that the spirit world exists. Jean Paul introduces this notion by posing, then answering, a question as to the truth-value of superstition: Was ist nun am After- oder Aberglauben wahrer Glaube? Nicht der partielle Gegenstand und dessen persönliche Deutung […] sondern ein Prinzip, das Gefühl, das früher der Lehrer der Erziehung sein mußte, eh’ es ihr Schüler werden konnte, und welches der romantische Dichter nur verklärter aufweckt, nämlich das ungeheure, fast hülflose Gefühl, womit der stille Geist gleichsam in der wilden Riesenmühle des Weltalls betäubt steht und einsam. (96)

58 Ibid. (emphasis in original). 59 Ibid. (emphasis in original). Schiller too sees the awareness of one’s own moral independence from the divinity as a requirement for recognition of its sublimity: “Nur insofern also, als wir der Gottheit allen Natureinfluß auf unsre Willenbestimmungen absprechen, ist die Vorstellung ihrer Macht dynamischerhaben” (“Vom Erhabenen,” Werke, 20:183; Hence, represented as a power … unable to have any influence on the actions of our reason, the divinity is dynamically sublime [Essays, 33–34]). This independence in turn is based on consciousness of moral congruence: “ihre Einstimmigkeit mit dem reinen Vernunftgesetz in uns” (Werke, 20:183, emphasis in original; its agreement with the pure law of reason within us [Essays, 33; emphasis in original]). 60 Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, 95.

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What then is true in sham or superstitious belief? Not the emotional object and its personal meaning … but the principle, the feeling, first the teacher of superstition and then the student, evoked and transfigured by the romantic poet: the immense, almost helpless feeling with which the mute spirit stands as if stunned and alone in the wild gigantic mill of the universe. (66–7)

The defining principle of superstition is the – correct – belief that the spirit world must manifest itself in the physical one; its error is only one of interpretation: Ist eine Harmonie zwischen Leib und Seele, Erden und Geistern zugelassen: dann muß, ungeachtet oder mittelst der körperlichen Gesetze, der geistige Gesetzgeber ebenso am Weltall sich offenbaren, als der Leib die Seele und sich zugleich ausspricht; und das abergläubige Irren besteht nur darin, daß wir diese geistige Mimik des Universums […] erstlich ganz zu verstehen wähnen und zweitens ganz auf uns allein beziehen wollen. (97–8) Once harmony between body and soul, earth and spirits is granted, then the spiritual lawgiver, whether with or without physical laws, must manifest himself in the universe, just as the body expresses both the soul and itself at the same time. The error of superstition consists only in our first thinking we understand completely this spiritual mimicry of the universe … and secondly wanting to relate it wholly to ourselves alone. (67–8)

As Müller comments, fear and superstition acquire value by contrast with the enlightened Cartesian conception of the world as a mechanical machine, so that “der Affekt zum Anzeichen dafür [wird], daß es Zwecke im Universum gibt und einen ‘Willen,’ der durch ‘die mechanische Bestimmtheit greift’”61 (affect becomes a sign that there are purposes in the universe and a “will” that “reaches through mechanical determination”). Jean Paul’s train of thought runs as follows. The external world most radically takes the form of an alien Other when it is conceived as a selfgoverning mechanism (in the world view of enlightened empirical science), with no kindred spirit above or behind it: “und so steht er [der Mensch] verlassen in der allgewaltigen blinden einsamen Maschine, welche um ihn mechanisch rauschet und doch ihn mit keinem geistigen Ton anredet”62 (and so he finds himself abandoned in the omnipotent, blind, solitary machine which roars about him mechanically and does not

61 Müller, Ästhetik und Naturphilosophie, 75–6. 62 Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, 96.

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address him with any living tone [67]). This sense of desolation becomes the first step in the rediscovery of the gods. The human subject, faced with the vast mechanism of the cosmos, assumes that a machine must have an inventor who is a spirit or will. The inventor of a machine that is a whole universe must be infinitely great and powerful, and so the object of both longing and fear: “aber sein Geist sieht sich furchtsam nach den Riesen um, welche die wunderbare Maschine eingerichtet und zu Zwecken bestimmt haben und welche er als die Geister eines solchen zusammengebaueten Körpers noch weit größer setzen muß, als ihr Werk ist” (96–7; But his spirit looks fearfully about for the giants who have set up and adapted the marvelous machine to certain goals, and whom he must suppose to be, as spirits of such a complexly constructed body, much greater than their work [67]). This positing of a creator spirit (or spirits) restores the balance, that is, relegates the sphere of the material to an inferior role compared to spirit (and hence inferior to humans, since spirit is what they share with the gods): “Jedes Körper- oder Welten-Reich wird endlich und enge und nichts, sobald ein Geisterreich gesetzt ist als dessen Träger und Meer” (97; Every material or universal realm becomes finite and narrow and nothing, as soon as a realm of spirits is thought to be its supporting earth and sea [67]). These spirits or gods, however, are not actually present but only assumed by humans (97). Because the gods are selfprojections of the human spirit, products of the dark unknown of the psyche, superstitious fear is the only connection to this realm and hence the only guarantee that it exists: “die Furcht [wird] nicht sowohl der Schöpfer als das Geschöpf der Götter” (97; fear becomes not so much the creator as the creation of the gods [67]). In this way, superstitious fear, particularly in its higher aesthetic expression in romantic Poesie, performs a function similar to that of the Kantian and Schillerian sublime, namely, the taming of the natural world as Other; but it does so by positing higher spiritual entities before which the human subject feels fear and awe, rather than by raising human reason to sublimity. This aspect of Jean Paul’s theory offers a possible insight into the use of inexplicable, apparently supernatural phenomena in Romantic fiction. These undermine the rationalist world view by showing the limits of science and philosophy, and at the same time, they function as evidence supporting an alternative, spiritualist and organicist position. In Jean Paul’s terms, they function as proof that the supersensible we fear yet hope for actually exists. As we shall see, this may explain Hoffmann’s preference for those composers who evoke a vision of terror rather than an idyll.63

63 See below, section 4.

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Jean Paul’s romantisch thus constitutes a middle stage between erhaben and schauerlich in that it evolves out of eighteenth-century theories of the sublime, retaining the latter’s mixed emotions, many of its originating phenomena, and much of its language, yet it moves away from the sublime in crucial ways. The link to specific natural phenomena is weakened in favour of more intangible causes; the mysterious, inexplicable, and supersensible begin to take the place of the immense (mathematical sublime) and destructive (dynamic sublime) in the natural world; the poetic realm of superstition and the emotions of fear it arouses acquire a cognitive value; lastly, the combination of crushing defeat and delightful self-raising depends no longer on the self-celebration of human reason achieving what the lower faculties cannot, but rather on the presentiment (Ahnung) of an Other, a higher realm of spirit, which is itself fundamentally ambiguous, causing both terror and enthusiasm. As we shall see, this summation fits Hoffmann’s discourse on music (especially Beethoven’s) as well as Jean Paul’s theory and thus sheds light on the former’s use of the term romantisch. Hoffmann’s writings on music can in turn be regarded as an intermediary step on the way to the more clearly uncanny world of his tales, where the experience of uplift is transient or missing and the individual is left helpless before inexplicable destructive powers. 3. Music Aesthetics and the Discourse of the Sublime Discourses on music in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries reflect the process of transformation traced in this chapter especially clearly. Carl Dahlhaus has shown that the theory of the symphony is grounded from the start in the aesthetics of the sublime, particularly in discussions of the ode, to which the symphony is paralleled.64 Dahlhaus highlights the continuity between Schulz’s treatment of the symphony (in Sulzer’s Allgemeine Theorie der schönen Künste [General Theory of the Fine Arts]) and Hoffmann’s, and he traces the debt both owe to eighteenth-century discourses on the sublime. On the other hand, in her article on the topos of Gewalt der Musik, Corina Caduff draws attention to the fact that music remained marginal to discussions of the sublime and that the term sublime was not widely used in connection with descriptions of the power of music. She explains this situation in part by a “zeitliche Inkongruenz” (chronological incongruity). Music’s rise in aesthetic rank occurred at a time when 64 See Dahlhaus, “E.T.A. Hoffmanns Beethoven-Kritik.” For a similar treatment of the  issue, see also Mark Evan Bonds, “The Symphony as Pindaric Ode”; and Reinhold Brinkmann, “In the Time(s) of the ‘Eroica.’”

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the aesthetics of the sublime were on the decline, when the beautiful and the sublime tended to be reassimilated and a new dichotomy of beautiful versus ugly replaced the earlier one of beautiful versus sublime: “Im Zuge dieser Erneuerung der ästhetischen Dichotomie wird das Erhabene seines Schreckens enthoben, es ist nunmehr entschärft und führt eine gleichsam zahnlose Existenz neben dem Schönen, eine ‘Gewalt des Erhabenen’ gibt es nicht mehr”65 (In the process of this renewal of the aesthetic dichotomy, the sublime is deprived of its terror, it is toned down and leads a quasi toothless existence beside the beautiful; there is no longer a “power of the sublime”). An example of this toothless form of the sublime is the article under that heading in Heinrich Christoph Koch’s Musikalisches Lexikon (Musical Dictionary, 1802). The term fear, or any synonym, make no appearance at all in the entry. Koch, quoting Rochlitz extensively, reduces the sublime to the unequivocal function of uplift, here defined as being raised above the material world: Die Empfindungen des Erhabenen […] sind das Bewußtseyn eines hohen Grades von Wirksamkeit, Konzentrirung, Exaltirung unsers ganzen Wesens, welches Bewußtseyn seinen ersten Grund hat in den Anlagen unsrer übersinnlichen Natur, und welches uns über den Einfluß gewöhnlicher alltäglicher Dinge erhebt, d.h. uns frey macht von ihrem Einfluß, uns selbst dadurch mächtiger, größer, höher fühlen läßt, als diese Dinge selbst sind.66 The sensations of the sublime … are the consciousness of a high degree of effectiveness, concentration, exaltation of our whole being, which consciousness has its first cause in the disposition of our supersensible nature, and which lifts us above the influence of ordinary everyday things, i.e., frees us from their influence, and through this lets us feel more powerful, larger, higher than these things are.

The apparent discrepancy between Dahlhaus’s and Caduff’s observations is bridged by my theory of a process of transformation. Writers such as 65 Caduff, “Die ‘Gewalt der Musik,’” 497. Zelle presents the decline of the sublime in similar terms: “In der idealistischen Kunstphilosophie kommt es zur Schönung und Harmonisierung des Erhabenen, d.h. zur Marginalisierung des negativen Grundes des Sublimen. Die beiden ästhetischen Kategorien werden einander angenährt und verschmolzen” (Die doppelte Ästhetik, 187; In the idealistic philosophy of art a beautification and harmonization of the sublime takes place, that means, a marginalization of the negative foundation of the sublime. The two aesthetic categories are approached to and fused with each other). See also 268, with reference to Friedrich Schlegel. 66 Koch, Musikalisches Lexikon, 541. As shown earlier in this chapter, Herder’s Kalligone exemplifies much the same understanding of the sublime.

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Schulz and Michaelis repair Kant’s omission by showing the applications of his theory of the sublime to music. As the concept becomes reduced to its positive dimensions, it loses appeal for those who accord importance to the elements of fear and terror in music, so that, though some of the ideas and vocabulary remain, the term sublime is no longer used. The reinterpretation of the dimension of fear at the hands of Romantic writers goes hand in hand with the introduction of a new element, to which fear points and of which it is a symptom: human reason’s uplifting realization of its own sublimity is replaced by longing for a transcendent but ambivalent and mysterious Other (as articulated for instance in Jean Paul’s Vorschule). The experience thus described either is not associated with a specific term (Wackenroder, Tieck), or is classified as a specialized subset of the sublime (Apel’s schauerlich-Erhabenes), or it acquires a new label such as romantic (Hoffmann). In the years 1799 to 1805, Christian Friedrich Michaelis published several essays on the sublime, the sublime in music, and the rank of music among the fine arts. The development of his thought to some extent reflects the contemporary Romantic re-evaluation of music in general and instrumental music in particular, in that the later essays begin to vindicate music as the most spiritual of the arts, intimately connected to a sense of the invisible. Nevertheless, Michaelis’s position clearly fits within eighteenth-century discourses on the sublime. Michaelis’s theory of the sublime, presented in detail in “Ueber das Erhabene” (1801; “Concerning the Sublime”) is based, as Lothar Schmidt states, on both Kant’s and Schiller’s.67 This double provenance is evident in his use of both Kant’s and Schiller’s categories of sublimity (mathematical and dynamic, and theoretical and practical, respectively) and in the fact that – like Schiller but unlike Kant – he includes a discussion of the sublime in tragedy. Michaelis agrees in all essentials with Kant and Schiller. The effect of the sublime consists of both “Erschütterung” (agitation) and “Selbsterhebung” (self-uplifting): “Das Erhabene bewegt uns tief, rührt uns innig, erschüttert uns, schlägt uns nieder, um uns die Freude der männlichen Emporrichtung und Selbsterhebung zu gewähren”68 (The sublime moves us deeply, touches us profoundly, shakes us, casts us down, in order to grant us the joy of manly elevation and self-uplifting). Its mixture of pleasure and unpleasure is due to the defeat of the lower 67 In his annotations to the essays, Schmidt draws attention to Michaelis’s detailed knowledge of several of Schiller’s essays on aesthetics and traces textual parallels to these, to Kant’s “Analytik des Erhabenen” and to other contemporary authors (Michaelis, Über den Geist der Tonkunst, 351ff.). 68 Michaelis, Über den Geist der Tonkunst, 154.

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faculties combined with the triumph of reason over nature and over one’s own sensibility and imagination. This means that sublimity, as for Kant and Schiller, resides properly speaking only in human reason, with nature providing merely the stimulus or occasion for reason to become aware of its own superiority and moral freedom: Die Vernunft ist die eigentliche innere Urquelle des Erhabenen; dieses läßt uns also unsrer eigenen Erhabenheit selbst über alle Einbildungskraft und Sinnlichkeit recht inne werden. (155; emphasis in original) Reason is the actual inner source of the sublime; the latter thus makes us aware of our own sublimity even over all imagination and sensibility. (emphasis in original) Der äußere unerreichbare Gegenstand wird uns ein Bild, ein Versinnlichungsmittel unsrer eigenen innern Größe und Erhabenheit. (157–8; emphasis in original) The external unreachable object becomes for us an image, a medium of sensualization of our own inner greatness and sublimity. (emphasis in original) Das Erhabene ist eigentlich in uns; denn in uns, in unserer Freiheit und Vernunft ist das Schlechthin-Große. (158; emphasis in original) The sublime is actually in us; for the absolutely great is in us, in our freedom and reason. (emphasis in original)

Unlike Kant and like Schiller, Michaelis draws his examples from both nature and the arts, and he goes into detail as to how the individual arts can create sublime effects and a sublime style. “Ueber das Erhabene in der Musik” (1801; “Concerning the Sublime in Music”), appearing at the same time and likely a reworking of “Ueber das Erhabene,” expands the discussion of music, omitting the other arts.69 Music is capable of sublimity by its ability to arouse “Staunen” (astonishment) and “Be-” or “Verwunderung” (admiration or wonder), by its evocation of the idea of the infinite (corresponding to the mathematical or theoretical sublime), and by its arousal of fear and pity (corresponding to the dynamic or practical sublime), though it is significant that it needs the help of poetry in order to effect the latter. Michaelis argues that music speaks through

69 Schmidt argues that the music essay is a reworking of the longer treatise, pruned of a number of reflective passages. Michaelis, Über den Geist der Tonkunst, 350.

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the imagination to reason; as with drama, its purpose is to show humans in a struggle against fate, to appeal to our ethical sense, and to arouse “das Bewußtsein moralischer Freyheit und Sicherheit” (174; the consciousness of moral freedom and security). Concomitantly, he downplays the sensual dimension as much as possible. The sublime style, he insists, is as simple and unadorned as possible, eschewing all appeal to the senses (sinnlicher Reiz). It achieves its goals by extreme variety and rapid movement (169), by extreme uniformity (170), or by surprise caused by sudden, unprepared changes. A later essay, “Einige Bemerkungen über das Erhabene der Musik” (1805; “Some Remarks Concering the Sublime of Music”), relates such effects more clearly to Kant’s account of the mathematical sublime: “Das Gefühl des Erhabenen wird durch Musik erregt, wenn die Einbildungskraft zum Grenzenlosen, Unermeßlichen, Unüberwindlichen erhoben wird. Dies geschieht, wenn solche Empfin­ dungen erregt werden, welche das Zusammenfassen der Eindrücke zu einem Ganzen entweder ganz verhindern, oder doch sehr erschweren” (242; The feeling of the sublime is aroused by music, when imagination is elevated to the boundless, immeasurable, insuperable. This happens, when feelings are aroused that either totally prevent or at least make difficult the summing up of impressions into a whole). Once again, this is achieved either by too great uniformity or too great variety (243). Webster sums up: “Thus Michaelis construes the musical sublime as a species of Kant’s mathematical sublime. Its sign is the musically abnormal, organized under the mutually opposed headings of excessive uniformity and unfathomable diversity.”70 As for Kant, the sublime is an experience that exposes the limitations of the imagination: “Erhaben kann also nur das in der Musik seyn, was das Fassungsvermögen der Imagination übersteigt”71 (Thus in music only that which surpasses the comprehensive faculty of the imagination can be sublime). It thereby calls into play reason and its ability to comprehend infinity: “Hierdurch wird die Einbildungskraft von schmeichelnden sinnlichen Empfindungen getrennt und gänzlich der Vernunft zugeführt” (173; Through this, the imagination is separated from flattering sensual impressions and led wholly to reason). The range of emotions that sublime music is allowed to evoke is circumscribed as: amazement, wonder and admiration, surprise, shuddering, delight, sweet horror (süßes Grauen). The limitations imposed on music’s affective power become clear in Michaelis’s account of the practical or pathetic sublime in music. Like tragedy for Schiller, music can and should portray strong

70 Webster, “The Creation, Haydn, and Musical Sublime,” 63. 71 Michaelis, Geist der Tonkunst, 243.

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emotions, notably fear and pity, but it must limit itself to “traurige und ernsthafte Affekte” (sad and serious affects), avoiding that which is “empörend” (shocking) or “herzzerreissend” (heart-rending) and concentrating on those affects “in denen unser sittliches Gefühl entscheidenden Einfluß behauptet” (174; in which our ethical feeling maintains decisive influence). It is here that it requires the aid of poetry. Implied in this dependency are the superiority of vocal to instrumental music and the inferiority of music to literature. Indeed, “Ueber den Rang der Tonkunst unter den schönen Künsten” (1799; “Concerning the Rank of Music among the Fine Arts”) makes both these points explicit. Music is assigned the third rank, behind poetry and the visual arts, and vocal music is described as nobler than instrumental: “so veredelt sich die Musik, wenn sie sich ihrer geistvolleren Schwester zugesellt, und die Ergiessungen der Poesie durch melodischen Vortrag in Gesang verwandelt” (148, emphasis in original; thus music is ennobled when it joins its more spiritual sister and transforms into song the outpourings of poetry through melodic performance [emphasis in original]). The reasons for this are the greater conceptual clarity of poetry and music’s greater dependence on the senses: “indem [Musik] mit blossen Empfindungen spielt, die nur auf unbestimmte Ideen von Affekten führen” (148, emphasis in original; because [music] plays with mere feelings, which only lead to indeterminate ideas of affects [emphasis in original]).72 In a later essay on the same subject (“Noch einige Bemerkungen über den Rang der Tonkunst unter den schönen Künsten,” [Further Remarks Concerning the Rank of Music among the Fine Arts], 1804), Michaelis, relying on Herder and Jean Paul, revokes this position. The claim of music’s inferiority appears again, but this time it is specifically identified as Kant’s view rather than the author’s own and is then refuted. Michaelis does not go so far as to claim the highest rank for music, but he does argue that music’s appeal to hearing alone makes it a particularly spiritual art form. Sound is invisible, and hearing therefore is an “edle[r] Sinn für das Unsichtbare” (a noble sense for the invisible) which “vereinigt uns mit einer geistigen Welt”73 (unites us with a spiritual world [emphasis in original]). The same applies to music (“eben so verhält es sich mit der Musik”). This idea is noteworthy: it links up with Jean Paul’s concept of the infinite as an unknown spirit-realm and of the romantic as a conduit to it; it also prefigures the Romantic valorization of instrumental music and suggests a reason for the uncanny nature of music in dark 72 For a detailed discussion of music’s exclusion from discussions of the sublime see Caduff, “Gewalt der Musik,” 494–8. 73 Michaelis, Über den Geist der Tonkunst, 190 (emphasis in original).

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romanticism. Just as reactions to the unknown spirit world are mixed, a compound of both fear and longing, any expression of or conduit to it has the potential to be terrifying and destructive as well as uplifting. Again prefiguring such Romantics as Hoffmann, Michaelis turns flaw (the absence of definite intellectual concepts) into merit: music is the freest of all arts because it seizes the imagination immediately, “ohne durch das Verstandesgebiet der Begriffe, ohne durch Anschauungen der gemeinen Wirklichkeit beschränkt zu seyn”74 (without being limited by the conceptual realm of the understanding or by intuitions of common reality). But unlike the Romantics, Michaelis still locates the sublimity of music in its appeal to the faculty of reason. The freer play of the imagination allows it to bypass the understanding and reach reason directly (“führt sie vielmehr der Vernunft zu”).75 Essentially, Michaelis adopts an amalgam of Kant’s and Schiller’s accounts of the sublime and argues for the inclusion of music into the system. He approaches the Romantic position in that he – eventually – ascribes to music a connection with the sphere of spirit, and in that he sees music as making possible the free play of the imagination. Nevertheless, he too makes the sublime dependent on the self-affirmation of reason, which means that the activity of the imagination must always lead it to that higher faculty, be it through the idea of infinity or through that of moral freedom. In one respect Michaelis differs from Kant and Schiller and reflects the time’s tendency to reduce the sublime to its positive dimension: the dynamic sublime appears only in Schiller’s application of it to tragedy, which means that the role of fear is reduced to the narrowest possible scope (that within which tragic drama operates).76 This fits in with Nicola Gess’s observation that authors who apply the Kantian sublime to music “zielen darauf ab, der Musik die Gewalt der Überwältigung, die ihr in den physiologisch orientierten Theorien noch zukommt, abzusprechen oder ihr mindestens die bedrohliche Dimension (d.h. die Heftigkeit und das Unangenehme ihrer Wirkung auf Empfindungen und Leidenschaften) zu nehmen”77 (aim to deny to music the power of overwhelming that physiologically oriented theories ascribe to it, or at least to take from it

74 Ibid., 192. 75 Ibid., 193. 76 Gess argues that Michaelis applies only the mathematical, not the dynamic sublime to music in order to avoid too much involvement of sensuality. Gewalt der Musik, 272–3. Webster too notes that Michaelis does not offer a musical analogue to the dynamic sublime. “The Creation, Haydn, and Musical Sublime,” 63. 77 Gess, Gewalt der Musik, 261.

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the threatening dimension [i.e., the intensity and unpleasantness of its effect on feelings and passions]). Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, like Michaelis, describes a sublime style of music and includes uplift and joy among the emotions it evokes. However, the experience of listening to music as he portrays it is more mixed; it includes an element of pain and violence, as well as dimensions that were not – or were no longer – encompassed within the concept of the sublime. Wackenroder also differs from Michaelis in that for him, reason plays no role in the experience of music: the realm that music opens up is either a higher, transcendent one or an internal psychic one of affects; what the two have in common is their inaccessibility to reason. The effect of music most often portrayed in Wackenroder and Tieck’s Phantasien über die Kunst, für Freunde der Kunst (1799; Fantasies on Art for Friends of Art) is one of joy and uplift. This uplift, however, is essentially different from the Kantian triumph of reason in that it takes the form of being lifted to an external higher realm. In “Ein wunderbares morgenländisches Mährchen von einem nackten Heiligen” (“A Wondrous Oriental Tale of a Naked Saint”), music freed the genie from its bodily prison so that it “hob sich nach den Tönen der Musik in tanzender Bewegung von dem Boden in die Höhe” (ascended in a dancing movement from the ground into the sky, in rhythm with the sounds of the music). The genie is literally “emporgehoben” (lifted up) by the waves of sound, his upwards dance a symbol of its “himmlischer Fröhlichkeit”78 (heavenly gaiety [177]). Similarly, in “Die Wunder der Tonkunst” (“The Marvels of the Musical Art”), music is compared to a phoenix rising upwards, which “Götter und Menschen durch seinen Flügelschwung erfreut” (pleases gods and men by the flapping of its wings), and to the soul of a dead child being gently removed from the body and carried to heaven by a ray of light, where it enjoys “goldne Tropfen der Ewigkeit” (1:205; golden drops of eternity [178]). This external higher realm is a “Land des Glaubens” (1:206; land of belief [179]), often associated with God and heaven, so that the concept of religious pathos that Dahlhaus applied to Hoffmann fits well here (indeed better than for Hoffmann). So, for instance, church music is “die edelste und höchste” (the noblest and most exalted) because it attempts to praise God and to storm “die Himmelsburg” (1:211; the fortress of heaven [183]).79 78 Wackenroder, Sämtliche Werke, 1:204. The English translations are from the translation by Mary Hurst, Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder’s Confessions. 79 See also the descriptions of sacred music as a way of praising God and striving upwards to the sphere of the angels in “Von den verschiedenen Gattungen in jeder Kunst, und insbesondre von verschiedenen Arten der Kirchenmusik” (Wackenroder, Sämtliche

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Wackenroder employs the term sublime in connection with church music, to denote one particular style of it. In “Von den verschiedenen Gattungen in jeder Kunst, und insbesondre von verschiedenen Arten der Kirchenmusik” (“Concerning the Various Genres in every Art and especially concerning Various Types of Church Music”), he distinguishes three styles: (1) the spontaneous, childlike, and above all joyous (fröhlich) praise of God; (2) the sublime or majestic style; and (3) a style associated with the miserere, characterized by great simplicity of form, humility, repentance, and the desire for mercy. This division in itself reflects the process described in this chapter: the reduction of the sublime to the lofty and uplifting, and the hiving off of the aesthetics of fear into a separate and distinct category. The description of the sublime style makes it clear that the term is here synonymous with grand or majestic. Such music uses great masses of sounds in order to paint “das Große, Erhabene und Göttliche” (that which is magnificent, exalted, and divine); flying upwards with “mächtigen Adlersschwingen” (powerful pinions of eagles), it presents a panorama of valleys and mountains that lifts human thoughts to God, and its power is compared to thunder. It either “schreitet in starken, langsamen, stolzen Tönen einher” (moves along in powerful, slow, proud strains), or rolls “feuriger und prachtvoller unter den Stimmen des vollen Chors” (1:212; more fervently and more magnificently amidst the voices of the full choir [184]). This kind of music causes tension and expansion of the soul (“erweiterte Spannung”) but does not seem to involve any sense of fear or threat. On the contrary, it is characterized by joy and a sense of freedom, due to a – perhaps false – belief in closeness to God: “Im freyen Taumel des Entzückens glauben sie das Wesen und die Herrlichkeit Gottes bis ins Innerste begriffen zu haben” (212; In the unconstrained delirium of ecstasy they believe that they have comprehended the being and the magnificence of God to the core [179]). As with Koch’s sublime, its defining experience is that of soaring above (and being oblivious to) the terrestrial: “Diese Musik ist jenen Geistern ähnlich, welche von dem allmächtigen Gedanken an Gott so ganz über alle Maaße erfüllt sind, daß sie die Schwäche des sterblichen Geschlechtes darüber ganz vergessen” (1:212; This music resembles those minds which are so filled beyond all measure with the almighty thought of God that they thereby totally forget the frailty of the human race [178–79]). The topos

Werke, 1:209–13; “Concerning the Various Genres in Every Art and especially concerning Various Types of Church Music”).

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of “Gewalt der Töne,”80 and the fear that is the response to it, have been excised from the sublime style and reassigned to the third kind of church music, which is the expression of “stille, demüthige, allzeit büßende Seelen” (quiet, humble, constantly penitent souls), whose praise of God takes the form of “wehmüthigen Sehnsucht nach den Gütern der reinen Engel”81 (melancholy longing for the blessings of the pure angels82). Their music is choral, slow-moving, lingering long on each chord before proceeding to a closely related one, and it is likened to an eternal “Miserere mei Domine.”83 It is this music that is associated with fear and awe, whose “leise-vordringende Gewalt der Töne durchzittert uns mit bangen Schauern”84 (gently advancing power of the sounds thrills through us with anxious shudders [185]). And it is this music – for which the term sublime is expressly rejected (“denen es frech und verwegen vorkommt, seine ganze Erhabenheit kühn in ihr menschliches Wesen aufzunhehmen […] zu dieser dreisten Erhebung mangelt ihnen der Muth” [1:212]; to whom it seems rash and presumptuous to absorb His entire sublimity boldly into their mortal beings … they are lacking the courage for this bold self-elevation) – that provokes mixed emotions:

80 Gess distinguishes three kinds of music in aesthetic discourses around 1800, the third being sublime music, “die den Hörer körperlich und emotional überwältigt, Schmerzen und Furcht erzeugt” (which overwhelms the hearer bodily and emotionally, which causes pain and fear), and which involves loss of autonomy. Gewalt der Musik, 15. This corresponds to the topos Gewalt der Musik described by Caduff: “Derart wird zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts eine neue Musikerfahrung zur Sprache gebracht, die nicht mehr in der Affektenlehre und nicht mehr an den Transport religiösen Gehalts gebunden ist, nämlich die Erfahrung eines freigewordenen, eines affektiv tangierenden, überwältigenden und fraglos auch lustbesetzten musikalischen Moments” (In this way at the beginning of the nineteenth century a new musical experience is described, which is no longer tied to the theory of affects or to the transport of religious content, namely the experience of a musical moment which has become free, which touches affect tangentially, which is overwhelming and unquestionably charged with pleasure), which is marked by ambivalence (of pleasure and pain) and thus corresponds to the sublime: “Damit entspricht dieser Topos präzise der seit Kant vorherrschenden Doppelstruktur des Erhabenen” (“Die ‘Gewalt der Musik,’” 490; In this way this topos corresponds precisely to the double structure of the sublime which had predominated since Kant). 81 Wackenroder, Sämtliche Werke, 1:212. 82 Ibid., Confessions, 185. 83 This is very similar to Michaelis’s description of sublime music, thus supporting my thesis about the emergence of a new aesthetics of fear branching off from the newly tamed sublime. 84 Wackenroder, Sämtliche Werke, 1:212–13. It will be remembered that “Schauer” was regarded as the trademark reaction to the sublime. Equally, it became the typical reaction to uncanny phenomena. In other words, it was a reaction that brought together religious awe and Jean Paul’s “Geisterfurcht.”

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“bittere, h ­ erzzerknirschende Accorde” (bitter chords … which overwhelm the heart with remorse) crush the soul, while “krystallhelle, durchsichtige Klänge […] trösten und erheitern unser Inneres” (1:213; crystal-clear, transparent sounds … console and cheer up our inner selves [185]). This is the dual experience of the sublime, but with a difference: the element of defeat or oppression predominates, in the form of awareness of human weakness and distance from God, while the self-affirmation of a human faculty is replaced by longing, mitigated by the modest and passive notion of comfort. This is a first indication of a change that will be more evident with Hoffmann: as the Absolute is externalized (here God rather than reason), longing, characterized by awareness of absence and postponement of fulfillment, replaces the fulfilled moment of reason’s realization of its own infinity. The external higher realm from which music hails is not always associated with God or religion. As Richard Littlejohns argued, music in the Phantasien tends to become a numinous entity in its own right. The metaphors used in “Wunder der Tonkunst” “imply that music has some kind of autonomous existence independent of those human beings who participate in its individual manifestations. Music is not merely a human activity engaged in by composers, performers, and their audience; it exists as a force or phenomenon in its own right.”85 So for instance, the phoenix of one such image (mentioned above) flies upwards “zu eigener Freude […] zu eignem Behagen stolzierend”86 (for its own pleasure … for its own gratification [178]). Another image suggests that the language of music, though manipulated by the composer, is not his own, and that he may control neither the message nor its effect: Daher kommt es, daß manche Tonstücke, deren Töne von ihren Meistern wie Zahlen zu einer Rechnung, oder wie die Stifte zu einem musivischen Gemählde, bloß regelrecht aber sinnreich und in glücklicher Stunde, zusammengesetzt wurden, […] eine herrliche, empfindungsvolle Poesie reden, obwohl der Meister wenig daran gedacht haben mag, daß in seiner gelehrten Arbeit, der in dem Reiche der Töne verzauberte Genius, für eingeweihte Sinne, so herrlich seine Flügel schlagen würde. (1:217–18) Thus it is that many musical pieces, whose notes were arranged by their composers like numbers in an accounting or like the pieces in a mosaic, merely according to the rules, but ingeniously and at a fortunate hour, – speak a magnificent,

85 Littlejohns, “Iniquitous Innocence,” 1. 86 Wackenroder, Sämtliche Werke, 1:205.

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emotionally rich poetry … although the composer may have little imagined that, in his scholarly work, the enchanted spirit in the realm of music would beat its wings so magnificently for initiated senses. (189)

In yet another image, music reflects the essential and disquieting mystery of human existence, as well as its poignant brevity: “bald ist die Tonkunst mir ganz ein Bild unsers Lebens: – eine rührend-kurze Freude, die aus dem Nichts entsteht und ins Nichts vergeht, – die anhebt und versinkt, man weiß nicht warum: – eine kleine fröhliche grüne Insel, mit Sonnenschein, mit Sang und Klang, – die auf dem dunkeln, unergründlichen Ocean schwimmt” (1:205; sometimes music is for me entirely a picture of our life: – a touchingly brief joy, which arises out of the void and vanishes into the void, – which commences and passes away, why one does not know: – a little, merry, green island, with sunshine, with singing and rejoicing, – which floats upon the dark, unfathomable ocean [178]). Noteworthy about this last image are the associations of human vulnerability and insignificance compared to the vast inscrutable cosmos, which, as we have seen, were gradually excluded from the sublime and reintroduced by Jean Paul via the concept of the romantic. The descriptions of music as force, Littlejohns continues, imply “supernatural, magical, or mythical features or capabilities that defy mortal limitations and reflect its transcendent origins.”87 For this reason, he calls it “ethically neutral,” meaning that it is essentially ambiguous, impossible to identify securely as either divine or demonic: “Music is, then, a morally indeterminate power beyond rational control: it may astonish or delight the human recipient, but it is ultimately incomprehensible and ambiguous.”88 It is chiefly in this respect that Wackenroder’s music aesthetics moves away from the eighteenth-century conception of the sublime. At the core of music, Wackenroder claims, is something inscrutable that cannot be expressed in words: “Das Dunkle und Unbeschreibliche […], welches in der Wirkung des Tons verborgen ist”89 (The dark and indescribable element … which lies hidden in the effect of the tone [188]). It does not increase human knowledge: “Werden hier Fragen uns 87 Littlejohns, “Iniquitous Innocence,” 2. 88 Ibid. My discussion of music’s ambivalent effects leaves out what we might call the social and ethical dimension found in the Berglinger novella and in “Fragment aus einem Brief Joseph Berglingers” (“Fragment of a Letter by Joseph Berglinger”), that is, music as a poisonous forbidden fruit or siren song that makes the musician incapable of active or ethical participation in society. This dimension has been extensively discussed in Wackenroder scholarship and is not germane to the exploration of the genesis of the uncanny. 89 Wackenroder, Sämtliche Werke, 1:216.

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beantwortet? Werden Geheimnisse uns offenbart? – Ach nein!” (Are questions answered for us here? Are secrets revealed to us? – O, no!). Instead, it offers a form of insight, in the literal sense of vision, that leaves strangeness undiminished: “mit kühner Sicherheit wandeln wir durch das unbekannte Land hindurch, – wir begrüßen und umarmen fremde Geisterwesen, die wir nicht kennen, als Freunde” (1:206, emphasis added; with brave certainty we wander through the unknown land; – we greet and embrace as friends strange spiritual beings whom we do not know” [179; emphasis added]). Music’s effect on the human soul cannot be explained “mit der Wünschelruthe des untersuchenden Verstandes” (1:218; with the diviningrod of the investigating intellect [190]), because it deals with emotion, which in turn is “ein selbstständiges verschlossenes göttliches Wesen, das von der Vernunft nicht aufgeschlossen und gelöst werden kann” (1:219; an independent, tightly sealed, divine entity, which cannot be unlocked and opened up by the reason [190]). Indeed, music rises to the highest rank among the arts precisely because of its mystery and its bypassing of the rational faculties: “Keine andre vermag diese Eigenschaften der Tiefsinnigkeit, der sinnlichen Kraft, und der dunkeln, phantastischen Bedeutsamkeit, auf eine so räthselhafteWeise zu verschmelzen” (1:217; No other is capable of fusing these qualities of profundity, of sensual power, and of dark, visionary significance in such an enigmatical way [188–89]). The conception of music as an autonomous, numinous, and inscrutable entity so aptly described by Littlejohns makes it available for dark tales that associate music with manifestations of the supernatural and musicians with potentially demonic forces. Indeed, Wackenroder’s treatment of the new genre in instrumental music, the symphony, itself prefigures such tales. Wackenroder is a precursor of Hoffmann in that he hails the symphony as “den letzten höchsten Triumph der Instrumente” (1:221; the latest, highest triumph of musical instruments [193]) and in that he presents terror as one of the chief emotions it arouses. The greatness of the new genre lies in the fact that it evokes, not just a single emotion, but rather “eine ganze Welt, ein ganzes Drama menschlichen Affekten” (1:221–2; an entire world, an entire drama of human emotions [193]). The text then goes on to narrate one such drama, afterwards identified as a dream vision (Traumgesicht). Littlejohns comments: “What is striking in this vision of the emotions embodied in symphonic music is their violence and their sheer intensity.”90 Equally striking is how the vision reveals music’s disturbing, even frightening, autonomy. The plot of the drama places

90 Littlejohns, “Iniquitous Innocence,” 7.

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the composer or the listener in the role of the sorcerer’s apprentice who cannot control the forces of violence and evil he has conjured up and by which he is at last overwhelmed. The beginning of the symphony portrays the innocence of childhood, with its playfulness and serenity: “gleich der Unschuld der Kindheit, die einen lüsternen Vortanz des Lebens übt, die, ohne es zu wissen, über alle Welt hinwegscherzt, und nur auf ihre eigene innerliche Heiterkeit zurücklächelt” (like the innocence of childhood, which is practicing a lustful opening dance of life, which unknowingly jests above and beyond the whole world and smiles back only upon its own inner gaiety).91 But then, in a hubristic desire to experience everything, the protagonist, that is “die tönende Seele” (the resounding soul), penetrates into wilder labyrinths and seeks to experience sadness and pain. As a result, it is attacked by terrible destructive powers – and here the traditional language of the dynamic sublime is deployed: “mit einem Trompetenstoße brechen alle furchtbaren Schrecken der Welt, alle die Kriegschaaren des Unglücks von allen Seiten mächtig wie ein Wolkenbruch herein, wälzen sich in verzerrten Gestalten fürchterlich, schauerlich wie ein lebendig gewordenes Gebirge übereinander” (with one burst of the trumpet, all frightful horrors of the world, all the armies of misfortune break in violently from all sides like a cloudburst and roll in upon each other in distorted shapes, frightfully, gruesomely, like a mountain range come alive). It is a pre-Kantian – or rather, given its date, an anti-Kantian – form of sublimity, in that the soul tries in vain to rise above the destructive forces, only to be overwhelmed and defeated. Indeed, the language here suggests a rejection of the Schillerian sublime, as the project of rising above fate and the forces of physical destruction is depicted as a hubristic and futile defiance: “Doch wehe! Sie dringt verwegen in wildere Labyrinthe, sie sucht mit kühn-erzwungener Frechheit die Schrecken des Trübsinns, die bittern Quaalen des Schmerzes auf” (emphasis added; But alas! it penetrates rashly into wilder labyrinths; with boldly forced impudence it seeks out the horrors of dejection, the bitter torments of pain [emphasis added]); “Mitten in den Wirbeln der Verzweiflung will die Seele sich muthig erheben, und sich stolze Seligkeit ertrotzen, – und wird immer überwältigt von den fürchterlichen Heeren” (emphasis added; In the midst of the whirlwinds of despair the soul desires to elevate itself courageously and defiantly obtain for itself proud salvation, – and is continously overpowered by the frightful armies [emphasis added]). At last, the destructive forces disappear, and an echo of original innocence is heard, but return is impossible, because

91 The entire description of the symphony (and hence all quotations in this paragraph) is found in Wackenroder, Sämtliche Werke, 1:222 (193 in Hurst).

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the imagination is confused, “zerstückt wie im Fiebertraum” (dismembered as in a feverish dream), and the phantasy world suddenly collapses into nothingness. Reflecting back on what he has heard, the listener realizes that, in the vision, human affects, like the spirits summoned by the sorcerer’s apprentice, have displayed a volition of their own, a force and frenzy bordering on madness: wenn ich in finsterer Stille noch lange horchend da sitze, dann ist mir, als hätt’ ich ein Traumgesicht gehabt von allen mannigfaltigen menschlichen Affekten, wie sie, gestaltlos, zu eigner Lust, einen seltsamen, ja fast wahnsinnigen pantomimischen Tanz zusammen feyern, wie sie mit einer furchtbaren Willkühr, gleich den unbekannten, räthselhaften Zaubergöttinnen des Schicksals, frech und frevelhaft durch einander tanzen. (emphasis in original) As I sit there listening for a long while in more ominous stillness, then it seems to me as if I had experienced a vision of all the manifold human emotions, how they incorporeally celebrate a strange, indeed, an almost mad pantomimic dance together for their own pleasure, how they dance between each other impudently and wantonly, with a frightful spontaneity,92 like the unknown, enigmatical sorcerer-goddessess of Fate. (emphasis in original)

With this reflection, music has gone beyond sublimity to reveal affinity with the supernatural of superstition (divinity as an overwhelming force and object of fear, according to both Kant and Jean Paul), and thus uncanny potential. The autonomy of the affects is expressly identified as “furchtbar,” for which reason they are compared to goddesses of fate. One is reminded of Jean Paul’s externalization of the human psyche as the source and home of the Absolute.93 It is not the musician who controls the affects; rather, they are making use of him for their own ends (“zu eigner Lust”), and their ends are inscrutable and in defiance of reason, as the emphasis on “Willkühr” indicates. In this connection Littlejohns aptly brings up the “typically Romantic” motif “of possession by music, complete loss of independence” – a clear parallel to traditional fears of possession by spirits.94 Admittedly, Wackenroder does not go so far as to

92 “Spontaneity” in this context is not a good translation for “Willkühr,” which means rather self-will, arbitrariness, or capriciousness. 93 See Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, 45, 93; see above, pages 79–82. 94 Littlejohns, “Iniquitous Innocence,” 8. The topos, Littlejohns states, is based on the conception of music as an “unfathomable, autonomous, and superhuman force” (8). Caduff and Gess too note Wackenroder’s portrayal of music as an alien, unknown force robbing the subject of autonomy. Caduff sees in this a parallel to Burke’s sublime as

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claim or establish a causal link between terror and transcendence as Jean Paul did, nor does the text claim that the experience of terror is a necessary component of all symphonies. Yet this vision is the only example given, and in this one example, terror and arbitrary control by a mysterious external – or externalized – force are the predominant impression. The reflections on the vision end with the statement that music is a deity in its own right and that its very ethical and ontological ambivalence is what makes it a deity: “Und eben diese frevelhafte Unschuld, diese furchtbare, orakelmäßig-zweydeutige Dunkelheit, macht die Tonkunst recht eigentlich zu einer Gottheit für menschliche Herzen”95 (And precisely this mischievous innocence, this frightful, oracularly ambiguous obscurity, makes the musical art truly a divinity for human hearts).96 The same phenomenon is even more striking in Tieck’s position on music as it emerges in his contributions to the second part of the Phantasien. Tieck portrays music as much more unequivocally positive than Wackenroder does. The emotions it is claimed to inspire include love of humanity (in “Unmusikalische Toleranz,” “Unmusical Tolerance”), beautiful sentiments, sweetest joy (in “Die Töne,” “The Tones”),97 and “Wonne und Seligkeit” (1:235, in “Die Töne”; delight and bliss). Tieck too hails instrumental music as the highest art because of its independence from the material world (1:243; in “Symphonien,” “Symphonies”), and the symphony as the “Vollendung” (peak of achievement) of instrumental music, because it explores a full range of affects and because it can “ein so buntes, mannigfaltiges, verworrenes und schön entwickeltes Drama darstellen” (represent

“Gewalterfahrung” (experience of force) involving pain, power, and terror. “Die ‘Gewalt der Musik,’” 489. Gess locates music’s alienating power in its connection with sensuality. Gewalt der Musik, 141. 95 Wackenroder, Sämtliche Werke, 1:223. 96 Wackenroder, Confessions, 194. Since the 1980s, scholars have justly criticized earlier interpreters who uncritically identified Berglinger, the fictional author of the essays in Phantasien, with Wackenroder himself. We need to consider whether this distinction should affect our reading of the passage on the symphony. On the one hand, the distinction of author and character is more important for the Berglinger novella and for the letters, where Berglinger’s personality plays an overt role, than for the more abstract essays on the nature and value of music. On the other hand, it could be argued that the character of the dream vision chosen was determined by Berglinger’s personality and mental state. But even then, we are still left with the fact that Wackenroder chose to portray only one musician in his texts, and that one someone who is first uplifted, then gradually driven to des­ pair, mental confusion, and death by the music that has taken over his life. Consideration of the distinction between character and author therefore does not affect the conclusions drawn here. 97 Wackenroder, Sämtliche Werke, 1:234. I cite all the texts of Phantasien über die Kunst, whether authored by Wackenroder or Tieck, from the historical-critical edition of Wackenroder’s works.

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such a colourful, varied, confused and beautifully developed drama), far beyond the power of words to achieve (1:244; in “Symphonien”). He too gives only one imaginative re-creation of a drama evoked by a symphony – this time a particular, identifiable instead of an archetypical one, namely, Reichardt’s setting of some scenes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth (see 1:397). Again, the vision is one of dark forces and the terror they inspire. A dismal foggy heath is peopled by witches, ghosts, and even more frightening indefinite shapes; a horrifying monster (entsetzlicher Unhold) appears, at first chained and then escaping from its bonds; its fury leads to the triumph of hell, then confusion more confounded: “Die Verwirrung verwirrt sich nun erst am gräßlichsten durch einander, alles flieht geängstigt und kehrt zurück” (1:245; Confusion now becomes most horribly confused, everyone flees in fear and comes back). Such a realization is not unexpected given the subject matter the music is setting, yet, as with Wackenroder, this is the only example Tieck chose to give. We thus find a paradox in both Wackenroder’s and Tieck’s writings on music: on the one hand, music is hailed as the highest and most divine of the arts, while on the other, fictional representations of it tend to show it causing terror and destruction. One explanation may be the one given by Burke and Jean Paul, that fear is the most powerful of the emotions and the easiest to portray effectively. At the same time, as with Jean Paul, the preponderance of fear reflects the nature of the sublime object: it is no longer any great force in the phenomenal world, but rather a dark, expressly unknowable, numinous Other that is at once transcendent and emerging from the depths of the human psyche. By its very unknowability and by the arbitrariness Wackenroder attributes to it, it precludes the affirmation (let alone self-emancipation) of reason and replaces the experience of limitlessness and freedom with one of helplessness and vulnerability; yet it retains an element of uplift in the form of contact with the divine. Wackenroder and Tieck do not give this aesthetic concept a name, but sublime is not available since, like Jean Paul, Wackenroder explicitly assigned a more limited sphere to that term. By its nature, the aesthetic experience they associate with music is closest to what Jean Paul, and later Hoffmann following Jean Paul, call the romantic. It also shows parallels to, and prepares the ground for, the frightening effects of Romantic fiction, not least in its reversal of the eighteenth-century trend towards taming the sublime. Another essay devoted to music, August Apel’s “Über musikalische Behandlung der Geister” (“On the Musical Treatment of Spirits,” in Der neue Teutsche Merkur, 1800), significantly by an author of horrific tales,98

98 See chapter 3, devoted to Apel and Laun’s Gespensterbuch.

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closes the gap between the sublime and das Schauerliche by merging them into a compound. It exemplifies particularly clearly the thesis advanced at the beginning of this chapter, that the Romantic aesthetics of fear, specifically its notion of Schauerlich, emerges from a process of specialization and radicalization of the sublime. Apel’s essay operates with Kantian terminology but introduces a classification that does not fit Kant’s model and that reinterprets Kantian concepts in a way that takes them in an entirely different direction. Like Wackenroder, Apel explicitly excludes any self-exaltation of reason from the experience of the sublime. Ghostly apparitions, Apel claims, are the best (possibly even the only) means of producing the subset of the sublime that he calls das schauerlich Erhabene: “zu welchem Ende bedient die Kunst sich der Erscheinungen, als um durch diese Darstellung die Empfindung des schauerlich Erhabenen und Grausenden im höchsten Grade zu erregen?”99 (for what purpose does art use apparitions, if not to arouse by this representation the feeling of the schauerlich sublime and horrific to the highest degree?). They are particularly effective because they embody an unresolvable contradiction. They belong at once to two worlds, a higher one of life (through their knowledge of the future and of fate) and a lower one of death (through their incapacity to act). This contradiction, which must present itself to intuition (Anschauung), not to the understanding (Verstand), is the reason for the fear and horror they occasion: Die ästhetische Wahrheit fordert von dem Karakter der Geistererscheinung das Unbestimmte und Zweideutige, die widersprechenden Symbole der zwei Welten des Seyns und Nichtseyns, des Lebens und des Todes, der Kraft und der Ohnmacht, welchen der Geist angehört, und welche ihn in dem ersten Momente der Anschauung, durch diesen innern und unauflöslichen Widerspruch, als einen Fremden in dieser Welt ankündigen und die sinnliche Natur des Menschen in ein schauderndes Schrecken versetzen. (98) Aesthetic truth demands from the character of the spectral apparition the indefinite and ambiguous, the contradictory symbols of the two worlds of being and non-being, of life and death, of power and powerlessness, to which the spirit belongs, and which announce it at the first moment of intuition, by means of this irresolvable contradiction, as a stranger in this world, and place human sensuous nature in a shuddering fright.

99 Apel, “ Über musikalische Behandlung,” 98.

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The experience hinges on two factors that already played a role in Burke’s and Schiller’s sublime and that were central to Jean Paul’s romantic: indeterminacy and fear of the unknown, both of which spur the imagination to magnify helplessness and to conjure up potential horrors, and both involving cognitive uncertainty. The spirit causes fright because it is an emissary from an unknown world and because its contradictory essence precludes distinctness and clarity: “Sein Erscheinen ist daher unbestimmt, zweideutig, und deswegen furchtbar und schauerlich” (96; Its appearance is thus indefinite, ambiguous, and therefore fearful and schauerlich). It not only poses a threat to physical nature but also spurs the imagination “in den fürchterlichen Ahndungen die geheimnißvolle Beziehung des Uebernatürlichen aufzufinden, vor welchem alle Kraft des Naturwesens in Nichts sich auflöst” (99; to discover in the fearful intimations the mysterious relationship to the supernatural, before which all power of natural beings dissolves into nothing). Compared to Kant’s analysis, a double reduction is at work here. The cause of the schauerlich sublime is reduced to the representation of a contradiction, and the contradiction itself is reduced to one type, the one between the realms of life and death. Apel’s explanation of the schauerlich sublime, in other words, coincides exactly with what Ernst Jentsch more than a hundred years later would identify as the cause of the uncanny in Hoffmann’s “Der Sandmann,” namely, intellectual or ontological uncertainty.100 Apel seems to follow Kant in accounting for fear in terms of a threat to physical existence (“Furcht vor dem drohenden Uebel” [fear of the threatening evil]), and for the feeling of being crushed and overwhelmed in terms of a defeat of the lower faculties; but in fact he departs from Kant by attributing this defeat to an indeterminate alien power: “Dieses Schauerliche nämlich greift unsre Sinnlichkeit nicht nur von Einer Seite an, indem es […] den Vorstellungstrieb, wie das mathematisch Erhabene, seine Abhängigkeit von einer fremden unwiderstehlichen Macht fühlen läßt”101 (This Schauerliche namely attacks our sensibility not only from one side, in that it … lets the drive for representation feel its dependence from an alien irresistible power, as does the mathematical sublime). The next step reverses Kant. Reason does not come to realize its own superiority over anything in physical nature – and here the importance that Apel assigns to the supernatural is explained, since it is not anything in physical nature that confronts humans in an apparition, but rather an emissary

100 Jentsch, “Zur Psychologie des Unheimlichen.” 101 Apel, “Musikalische Behandlung,” 99.

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from an alien world. As a consequence, reason is drawn into the experience of helplessness and crushing defeat: Es ist daher nicht allein die Furcht vor dem drohenden Uebel, was jene Wirkung des schauerlich Erhabenen hervorbringt, sondern hauptsächlich das Grauen vor dem dunkeln Geheimniß einer andern Welt, vor einem Unbekannten, was selbst die theoretische Vernunft nicht zu enthüllen vermag und dem sie nur im Praktischen sich entgegen stellen kann.102 It is thus not only fear of the threatening evil that produces the effect of the schauerlich sublime, but rather primarily horror of the dark secret of another world, of an unknown that even theoretical reason cannot uncover and that it can only oppose in the practical sphere.

This reverses the Kantian and Schillerian model, according to which the impossibility of resisting on a practical level is the precondition for the realization of reason’s superiority on the theoretical one. Apel, like Jean Paul and Hoffmann, introduces an unknown and unknowable tran­ scendent realm, which confronts reason with its own limitations (i.e., its incapacity to penetrate and subject this Other). Unlike Jean Paul and Hoffmann, however, Apel does not mention longing or pleasure as responses to apparitions from the spirit world. In this respect also, what purports to be a subset of the sublime in fact departs from the defining essence of the concept. Apel’s essay thus bears witness to the fragmentation and dissolution of the sublime around 1800 pointed out by Caduff. While a number of thinkers strip the sublime of terror, reducing it merely to an experience of uplift and expansion before beautiful vastness, others redefine it as an experience of terror before an alien force that crushes and overwhelms the subject. Since in this form the concept involves a defeat of reason, it in fact undermines the theory it claims to continue. 4. Hoffmann’s Review of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony E.T.A. Hoffmann’s review of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony once again exemplifies the process of transformation from the sublime to a specifically Romantic concept of das Schauerliche. This review is of crucial importance for an understanding of Hoffmann’s aesthetics of fear. It constitutes Hoffmann’s first formulation of a theory on the nature, causes, and

102 Ibid.

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function of fear in the arts, which he developed first in connection with music using the term “romantisch,” then later varied and expanded in his fiction (particularly in the frame narratives of the Serapionsbrüder and of individual tales), and finally used as an apology and justification for his own poetics of fear. Hoffmann’s position in the review, as Carl Dahlhaus has shown in “E.T.A. Hoffmanns Beethoven-Kritik und die Ästhetik des Erhabenen” (“E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Beethoven-Critique and the Aesthetics of the Sublime”), is rooted in eighteenth-century discourse on the sublime and draws heavily on Jean Paul’s account of the romantic in the Vorschule. I will argue that, just as Jean Paul’s romantic represented both a continuation of and a departure from theories of the sublime, Hoffmann further develops and radicalizes some of Jean Paul’s innovations to form a theory that can serve as theoretical ground and justification for tales of horror and the supernatural. Hoffmann’s own radicalizing innovations pertain to two aspects of Jean Paul’s thought: first, the links between the romantic, the infinite, and fear, and second, the cognitive role of fear. Dahlhaus argues that Hoffmann’s theory of the symphony is grounded in eighteenth-century aesthetics of the sublime.103 To show this, he identifies parallels between Hoffmann’s position and that of eighteenth-century thinkers who likened the symphony to the ode (100). For instance, Dahlhaus argues, the basic concepts that determine Hoffmann’s panegyric of Beethoven also shape the entry on the symphony in Sulzer’s Allgemeine Theorie der schönen Künste, where a comparison to the ode is made: “Leidenschaft und Besonnenheit, Enthusiasmus und Reflexion aber sind die Momente, deren Konfiguration die Theorie der Symphonie bei Schulz ebenso bestimmt wie bei Hoffmann”104 (Passion and deliberation, enthusiasm and reflection are the elements whose configuration determines the theory of the symphony for Schulz just as for Hoffmann). This duality is closely linked to the aesthetics of the sublime, as is evident in the corresponding reaction of the listener, described by Schulz as a compound of “Erhebung” (uplift) and “Erschütterung” (agitation). In showing Hoffmann’s debt to theories of the sublime, Dahlhaus notes parallels with both the Burkean and the Kantian conceptions. The reactions attributed to the listener in particular hail from Burke’s definitions: shuddering (Schauer) as the primary effect of the sublime, shock caused by either fear or astonishment, darkness as a cause of horror (Grauen), and the infinite as the source of “derjenigen Art frohen Schreckens” (that type of joyful fright) that is especially characteristic

103 Dahlhaus, “E.T.A. Hoffmanns Beethoven-Kritik,” 104. 104 Ibid.

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of the sublime (104–5). The basic design of Hoffmann’s account, Dahlhaus contends, is grounded in Kant’s theory of the sublime: “Kants Theorie des Erhabenen ist in E. T. A. Hoffmanns Beethoven-Charakteristik als halb ausgelöschtes Grundmuster, dessen Umriß jedoch rekonstruierbar bleibt, gerade noch kenntlich” (108; Kant’s theory of the sublime is still just recognizable in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Beethoven-characterization as a half-deleted basic pattern, the outline of which however remains reconstructible). To Dahlhaus’s list of parallels to theories of the sublime one could add details of style, notably the use of comparisons with forces of nature (weather, water, light) common to descriptions of the dynamic sublime and to Hoffmann’s portrayal of Beethoven’s music, the use of strong and startling contrasts, and the inclusion of pain and a threat to one’s physical existence. Nevertheless, as Dahlhaus himself states, Hoffmann’s position does differ from eighteenth-century theories of the sublime at some crucial points. Hoffmann retains the first phase of the sublime experience, the feeling of being crushed by an irresistible force of overwhelming magnitude; in the second phase, as Dahlhaus noted, infinite longing takes the place occupied by reason in Kant’s and Schiller’s sublime: Bestimmt man den Begriff der “unendlichen Sehnsucht” durch den syste­ matischen Ort, an dem er steht, so zeigt sich, daß er an den Platz gerückt ist, der in der Ästhetik des Erhabenen, […] durch die Vorstellung eingenommen wurde, daß sich die Überlegenheit der menschlichen Vernunft gerade im Augenblick physischer Ohnmacht angesichts überwältigender und erschütternder Naturwirkungen am untrüglichsten zeige und manifestiere. (108) If one determines the concept of “infinite longing” by the systematic place which it occupies, it emerges that [this concept] has taken the place which in the aesthetics of the sublime … was occupied by the notion that the superiority of human reason reveals and manifests itself most unmistakably precisely in the moment of physical helplessness before overwhelming and distressing natural phenomena.

This longing determines the unified, consistent overall mood pervading the whole (106). Dahlhaus does not accord major significance to this change, viewing it merely as the substitution of a religious for a moral exaltation (108). I would argue that on the contrary, it is a symptom of a drastic change involving the substitution of an external, untameable, and unknowable Other (a spirit-realm, on Jean Paul’s model) for a human faculty and hence a rejection of the Kantian and Schillerian affirmation

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of human moral superiority and freedom – the very feature we saw occasioning the outrage of contemporary reviewers.105 As Dahlhaus notes, Hoffmann’s use of the term romantic derives from Jean Paul’s Vorschule, where it meant opening vistas onto the infinite or blurring the boundaries between the finite and the infinite. In Hoffmann’s music aesthetics, romantic denotes the very quality thanks to which instrumental music is being raised to the rank of highest art, namely, its purely abstract, spiritual, and non-mimetic character.106 Instrumental music is the most romantic, indeed the only purely romantic art form: “Sie [i.e. die Instrumentalmusik] ist die romantischste aller Künste – fast möchte man sagen, allein rein romantisch”107 (It is the most romantic of all arts – one might almost say the only one that is purely romantic [236]). Beethoven is the most romantic composer, that is, the one who has most fully understood music’s romantic spirit and brought it to its greatest flowering: “wer sie da mit voller Liebe anschaute und eindrang in ihr innigstes Wesen, ist – Beethoven” (SM:35; but the one who regarded it with total devotion and penetrated to its innermost nature is Beethoven [237]); “Beethoven ist ein rein romantischer eben deshalb ein wahrhaft musikalischer Komponist” (SM:36; Beethoven is a purely romantic, and therefore truly musical, composer [238]). Hoffmann defines romantic as soon as he introduces it and does so in Jean Paul’s sense. Romantic is that art form which leaves behind the world of the senses and of reason and opens vistas into the sphere of the infinite or spirit-world.108 The claim (quoted earlier) that music is the most romantic of all the arts is followed by this explanation: “Orpheus’ Lyra öffnete die Tore des Orkus. Die Musik schließt dem Menschen ein unbekanntes Reich auf; eine Welt, die nichts gemein hat mit der äußern Sinnenwelt, die ihn umgibt, und in der er alle durch Begriffe bestimmbaren Gefühle zurückläßt, um sich dem Unaussprechlichen hinzugeben”109 (Orpheus‘ lyre opened the gates of Orcus. Music reveals to man an unknown realm, a world quite separate from the outer sensual world surrounding him, a world in which he leaves 105 See section 1 of the Introduction. 106 In this respect, Hoffmann differs from Jean Paul, who saw imitation as a requirement of true Poesie, as discussed earlier in this chapter. 107 Hoffmann, Werke, SM:34. Throughout this book, I cite Hoffmann using an abbreviation for the volume title followed by the page number. The English translations in the remainder of this chapter are from the collection translated by Martyn Clarke (Musical Writings), unless otherwise noted. 108 On the importance of the concept of the infinite in the review see Lubkoll, “‘Basso ostinato’ und ‘kontrapunktische Verschlingung,’” 88. 109 Hoffmann, Werke, SM:34.

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behind all feelings circumscribed by intellect in order to embrace the inexpressible [236]). When he takes up this formulation in the Kreislerianum, “Beethovens Instrumentalmusik” (“Beethoven’s Instrumental Music”), Hoffmann makes an addition that highlights the essential connection of the romantic to the infinite: “[Die Instrumentalmusik] ist die romantischste aller Künste, beinahe möchte man sagen, allein echt romantisch, denn nur das Unendliche ist ihr Vorwurf” (FS:41, emphasis added; [Instrumental music] is the most romantic of all arts, one might almost say the only one that is genuinely romantic, since its only subject-matter is infinity [96; emphasis added]).110 The feeling that predominates in the musical experience, and that constitutes humans’ main link to this unknown realm, is longing,111 which is therefore “das Wesen der Romantik”112 (the essence of romanticism).113 Hence, the romantic is that which, if it does not actually grant transcendence, at least arouses a desire for it.114 Hoffmann again and again praises Beethoven’s Fifth as a sustained embodiment of longing: “das Gemüt jedes sinnigen Zuhörers wird gewiß von einem fortdauernden Gefühl, das eben jene unnennbare, ahnungsvolle Sehnsucht ist, tief und innig ergriffen”115 (The heart of every sensitive listener, however, is certain to be deeply stirred and held until the very last chord by one lasting emotion, that of nameless, haunted yearning [250]). This longing is specifically identified as the conduit by which glimpses of the spirit world are obtained: [In Beethoven’s music, we] werden Riesenschatten gewahr, die auf- und abwogen, enger und enger uns einschließen, und alles in uns vernichten, nur nicht 110 “Beethovens Instrumentalmusik” is a compendium of passages from the reviews of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and of the opus 70 trios. 111 Jean Paul, too, associated music with indeterminacy and with longing: “Die Hölle wurde mit Flammen gemalt, der Himmel höchstens durch Musik bestimmt, die selber wieder unbestimmtes Sehnen gibt” (Vorschule der Ästhetik, 94; Hell was painted with flames, heaven designated at most by music, which itself produces indefinite longing [Horn of Oberon, 65]). 112 Hoffmann, Werke, SM:36. 113 Hoffman, Musical Writings, 238. 114 Ricarda Schmidt rightly argues that for Hoffmann instrumental music is quintessentially romantic because it is particularly suited “den eigentlichen Zweck des romantischen Kunstwerks zu erfüllen, nämlich im Rezipienten eine Sehnsucht nach Transzendenz zu erwecken” (“Klassische, romantische und postmoderne,” 25; to fulfill the actual purpose of the romantic art work, namely to awaken in the recipient a longing for transcendence). 115 Hoffmann, Werke, SM:50.

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den Schmerz der unendlichen Sehnsucht, […] und nur in diesem Schmerz, der Liebe, Hoffnung, Freude in sich verzehrend, aber nicht zerstörend, unsre Brust mit einem vollstimmigen Zusammenklange aller Leidenschaften zersprengen will, leben wir fort und sind entzückte Geisterseher. (SM:36) [In Beethoven’s music, we] become aware of giant shadows swaying back and forth, moving ever closer around us and destroying within us all feeling but the pain of infinite yearning … Only in this pain, in which love, hope, and joy are consumed without being destroyed, which threatens to burst our hearts wth a full-chorused cry of all the passions, do we live on as ecstatic visionaries. (238)

Hence, it replaces reason in the second phase of the sublime, the experience of infinity. As already stated, this substitution changes the character of the experience. Uplift no longer comes from the realization of one’s own superiority over the object to which sublimity is ascribed, but rather from momentary intimations of an unattainable realm from which the sublime object hails. An absence has thus replaced a presence; uplift still occurs, but it brings no diminution of the awareness of human insignificance and frailty. The description of the spirit-realm quoted above involves an explicit and complete exclusion of reason from the experience: Hoffmann excludes not just anything belonging to the corporeal world (“die nichts gemein hat mit der äußern Sinnenwelt”), but also language (“sich dem Unaussprechlichen hinzugeben”), as well as anything – even emotions – that can be circumscribed by concepts (238; “in der er alle durch Begriffe bestimmbaren Gefühle zurückläßt” [SM:34]). For Kant and Schiller, the infinite and absolute was a concept of reason. In view of this deliberately anti-rationalist twist, the change is not merely a variation on but rather a rejection of the Kantian and Schillerian sublime. Hoffmann, like Jean Paul, conceives the infinite, or the spirit-world, as irreducibly unknowable. It is not a higher sphere of light, but rather unfathomable night, and even geographically indeterminate, as likely to be in the depths as in a celestial upper sphere. Significantly, the first definition of the realm to which music takes one (quoted above) is accompanied by a reference to Orpheus opening the gates of Orcus: “Orpheus’ Lyra öffnete die Tore des Orkus. Die Musik schließt dem Menchen ein unbekanntes Reich auf” (SM:34; Orpheus’s lyre opened the gates of Orcus. Music reveals to man an unknown realm [236]). Hoffmann, like Jean Paul, characterizes this unknown realm entirely negatively, by what it is not, and by compounds with the prefix un-: in addition to “unbekannt,” one finds “unaussprechlich” (inexpressible), “Reich des Unendlichen” (SM:35 and 36, respectively; realm of the infinite [238]), and “Reich des

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Ungeheueren und Unermeßlichen” (SM:36; realm of the mighty and the immeasurable [238]).116 The preponderant emotions it inspires correspond in character to the realm itself and tend rather to fear and shuddering than to faith or love. The longing for the spirit-realm is itself “unaussprechlich” (SM:36), “unnennbar” (SM:50; nameless [250]), and “unendlich” (SM:36; infinite [238]), but also “ängstlich” (anxious) and “unruhvoll” (SM:39 and 46, resp.; restless [241 and 247, resp.]); the intimations of the spirit-realm are “Ahnungen des Ungeheuren” (presentiments of enormity [242]) that oppress and frighten (SM:40; “gepreßt und beängstet”). The absence of specifically religious connotations is particularly striking. Hoffmann does not, as Friedrich Schlegel and Jean Paul did, associate romanticism and Christianity; nowhere in the review is there a suggestion of a benevolent or loving or even simply a personal god; the adjective divine is not applied to the spirit-realm, and Hoffmann does not, as Wackenroder and Tieck did, refer to music as the language of the angels. For this reason, Dahlhaus’s claim of a religious pathos is misleading, unless one defines religious simply as pertaining to a superhuman spiritual sphere or to the infinite per se.117 Littlejohns’s description of music (in Wackenroder’s oeuvre) as an inscrutable, ambiguous and morally neutral entity fits Hoffmann’s spirit-realm better. Hoffmann’s descriptions of the three composers whom he regards as quintessentially romantic fill out the portrait of the spirit-world and reveal the positive, and cognitive, role of fear. The chronological order Haydn – Mozart – Beethoven is also an order of preference, reflecting the degree to which the composers are said to achieve the potential of instrumental music, that is, their degree of romanticism: “Haydn und Mozart […] zeigten uns zuerst die Kunst in ihrer vollen Glorie; wer […] eindrang in ihr innigstes Wesen, ist – Beethoven” (SM:35; Haydn and Mozart … first showed us the art in its full glory; but the one who … penetrated to its innermost nature is Beethoven [237]). Four other progressions coincide with that in greatness and romanticism: increasing abstraction,118 increasing darkness, increasingly sharp contrasts, and increasing fear and Schauer. They can be charted as in table 1.1. 116 On the use of negatives in characterizing the spirit world, see also Schnaus, E.T.A. Hoffmann als Beethoven-Rezensent, 58. 117 This absence of Christian references and symbols was also noted by Schnaus (ibid., 58) and Haimberger (Vom Musiker zum Dichter, 82). 118 Lubkoll also noted this order of preference and associated it with the question of abstractness: “[one can see] in der historischen Reihung eine Tendenz zur zunehmenden Entkonkretisierung und Abstraktion” (“‘Basso ostinato’ und ‘kontrapunktische Verschlingung,’” 97; [one can see] a tendency towards increasing deconcretization and abstraction in the historical order).

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Table 1.1 Haydn

Mozart

Beethoven

Concreteness  Abstractness Menschen

Gestalten

Riesenschatten

(people)

(figures)

(giant shadows)

unabsehbare grüne Haine

Tiefen des Geisterreichs

Reich des Ungeheueren und Unermeßlichen

(endless green forest glades)

(depths of the spirit realm) (realm of the mighty and the immeasurable)

Darkness Abendrot

Nacht

tiefe Nacht

(sunset)

(night)

(deep night)

Glanz des Abendrotes

heller Purpurschimmer

glühende Strahlen

(glow of sunset)

(bright purple shimmer)

(shining rays)

unaussprechliche Sehnsucht

Schmerz der unendlichen Sehnsucht

Light

Emotions süßes wehmütiges Verlangen

(sweet melancholy longing) (inexpressible longing)

(pain of infinite longing)

Liebe, Seligkeit

Liebe, Wehmut

Zusammenklang aller Leidenschaften

(love, bliss)

(love, melancholy)

(full-chorused cry of all the passions)

Furcht

Furcht, Entsetzen, Schauer

(fear)

(fear, horror, Schauer)

Haydn’s music is the least abstract and most bound to the human world: “Haydn faßt das Menschliche im menschlichen Leben romantisch auf; er ist kommensurabler für die Mehrzahl” (SM:35; Haydn romantically apprehends the humanity in human life; he is more congenial to the majority [238]). This implies a lesser degree of romanticism, since Hoffmann stated at the outset that pure romantic art reveals an unknown, inexpressible realm. Nor is accessibility for the masses a merit in Hoffmann’s eyes, as evident in his scathing satires of the bourgeois world’s relationship to music (e.g., in the Kreisleriana cycles). The images Hoffmann associates

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with Haydn’s symphonies stem from the sensible world, although they evoke the naive harmony of the golden age: happy, youthful people dancing in green meadows, representing “Ein Leben voll Liebe, voll Seligkeit, wie vor der Sünde, in ewiger Jugend” (SM:35; A world of love, of bliss, of eternal youth, as though before the Fall [237]). One can hear echoes of the “heitere Freude” (serene joy) that for Jean Paul characterized Greek civilization. It is an idyll, but a limited one compared to the ideal realm of infinity, and it offers no transcendence. Mozart travelled a step farther down the road to abstraction, moving from the human to the super­ human: “Mozart nimmt das Übermenschliche, das Wunderbare, welches im innern Geiste wohnt, in Anspruch” (SM:36; Mozart takes as his province the superhuman, magical quality residing in the inner self [238]). It is worth remembering that Jean Paul regarded the marvellous as poetic in and of itself. The phrase “im innern Geiste” suggests that, for Hoffmann as for Jean Paul, the realm of spirits may be in the inner world of the psyche rather than in an external heaven – another reason why Dahlhaus’s notion of religious pathos is misleading. The images conjured up by Mozart’s symphonies are much less corporeal and distinct: here too one sees dancing, but of figures rather than humans, and they are not on earth but rather flying through the clouds (SM:35–6). Beethoven’s symphony comes still closer to pure abstraction. Instead of figures one encounters insubstantial shadows that by their very size transcend human measure and whose activity does not share human intentionality as dancing does: “wir werden Riesenschatten gewahr, die auf- und abwogen” (SM:36; we become aware of giant shadows swaying back and forth [238]). Darkness increases apace with abstractness (another way in which Hoffmann’s spirit-world differs from the heaven of conventional religious imagery). The vision of the golden age conjured up by Haydn is bathed in an eternal sunset: “solange sie [die Geliebte] da ist, wird es nicht Nacht, denn sie selbst ist das Abendrot, von dem Berg und Hain erglühen” (SM:35; as long as it [the beloved] is there, the night will not draw on, for the vision is the evening glow itself illuminating hill and glade [237]). Mozart’s music leads the listener in “die Tiefen des Geisterreichs” (deep into the realm of spirits) and “die Nacht der Geisterwelt” (the nocturnal spirit-world) partly lightened by “hellem Purpurschimmer” (SM:35; purple shimmer [237–8]). Beethoven’s music takes one into a deep night where light is intensely bright (thus hindering rather than facilitating vision) but brief and sporadic: “Glühende Strahlen schießen durch dieses Reiches tiefe Nacht” (SM:36; shining rays of light shoot through the darkness of night [238]). It should be noted that, again by contrast to traditional religious imagery, penetration into the spirit-realm leads downwards (into the depths) rather than upwards.

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Fear too increases in step with darkness. The vision associated with Haydn does not include fear and expressly excludes pain and suffering; significantly, it also arouses only the less intense “Wehmut” (melancholy) instead of the “Sehnsucht” (longing, yearning) that Hoffmann termed the essence of romanticism: “kein Leiden, kein Schmerz; nur süßes, wehmütiges Verlangen” (SM:35; no suffering, no pain; only sweet, melancholy longing [237]).119 Mozart’s music, by contrast, does arouse fear, but without pain: “In die Tiefen des Geisterreichs führt uns Mozart. Furcht umfängt uns; aber, ohne Marter, ist sie mehr Ahnung des Unendlichen” (SM:35; Dread lies all about us, but withholds its torments and becomes more an intimation of infinity [237]). Since it opens a vista into the infinite, it inspires “unaussprechlich[e] Sehnsucht” (inexpressible yearning [238]) and intimations of transcendence (SM:36). This passage, with its equation of fear and intimations of infinity, reveals another characteristic of the romantic. Hoffmann’s predilection for frightening musical effects indicates that he adopted Jean Paul’s notion of a cognitive function of fear as the vehicle for experiencing the infinite and thus the guarantor for the existence of the world of spirits. In the music of the greatest and most romantic composer, longing is accompanied by, perhaps even causally interlinked with, fear, horror, pain, and shuddering: “Beethovens Musik bewegt die Hebel des Schauers, der Furcht, des Entsetzens, des Schmerzes, und erweckt jene unendliche Sehnsucht, die das Wesen der Romantik ist” (SM:36; Beethoven’s music sets in motion the machinery of awe, of fear, of terror, of pain, and awakens that infinite yearning which is the essence of romanticism [238]).120 Hoffmann uses Jean Paul’s very words in describing how the realm of the infinite is experienced through Beethoven’s music; thus Beethoven occupies the place in the model that Christianity held in Jean Paul’s conception: “So öffnet

119 Longing is not a good translation of “Verlangen” as its most common equivalent is “Sehnsucht.” “Verlangen” would be better translated as desire. 120 Several scholars have taken Hoffmann’s remarks on the fear-inspiring elements in Beethoven’s music as criticism. See, for instance, Feldges and Stadler (E.T.A. Hoffman, 255); or Keil, who construes as criticism Hoffmann’s comments on Beethoven’s use of dissonance, such as the use of a diminished seventh chord, which arouses fear and anxiety (“Dissonanz und Verstimmung,” 127). Haimberger, by contrast, recognized that Hoffmann viewed music’s evocation of the dark and demonic with approbation, “denn auch die Schauer dämonischer Klänge […] führen zur Berührung mit dem Unendlichen, d.h. zu einem romantisch weitenden und deshalb positiv gewerteten Gefühl” (Vom Musiker zum Dichter, 59; because the Schauer of demonic sounds … also lead to contact with the infinite, that is, to a feeling that is romantically expansive and for that reason positively valued). This however, does not go far enough. Music of this kind is not “also” but rather “especially” romantic and positively valued.

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uns auch Beethovens Instrumentalmusik das Reich des Ungeheueren und Unermeßlichen” (SM:36; Beethoven’s instrumental music unveils before us the realm of the mighty and the immeasurable [238]). In Jean Paul’s Vorschule, Christianity destroyed the sensible world, and also the world of anthropomorphic gods, so that the realm of incommensurable abstractness and infinity could be glimpsed: “Engel, Teufel, Heilige, Selige und der Unendliche hatten keine Körper-Formen und Götter-Leiber; dafür öffnete das Ungeheuere und Unermeßliche seine Tiefe”121 (Angels, devils, saints, souls of the blessed, and the Infinite One had no bodily forms or divine bodies; so the monstrous and immense opened up their depths122). Beethoven’s music performs this same function by arousing the negative emotions: romantic is that which opens a vista into the realm of the infinite and awakens longing for it; humans’ instinctive fear of the unknown makes it likely that any glimpse into the dark depths of the infinite will be accompanied by fear and shuddering; Hoffmann seems to be following Jean Paul in making the fear the indicator or guarantor that one is confronted with the supersensible; if so, it follows that music which evokes fear, horror, and pain is most likely to afford intimations of the infinite. This causal interlinking of intimations of the infinite and fear is shown by their coupling in the case of Mozart and Beethoven, and confirmed ex negativo by Haydn’s music, through which the listener does not experience pain or fear but also is not lifted above the sphere of the human and corporeal.123 In the Serapionsbrüder, Hoffmann returns to the same formulation in his own cause (see table 1.2). He thus implies that his own fiction is romantic – and of artistic value, because it too affords intimations of transcendence by narrating horrific events and inducing the reader to share in the characters’ fear and horror. As Caduff points out, the reaction of shuddering, common to the sublime and the uncanny, facilitates this coupling: In der Folge wird der Schauder zu einem Stereotyp der Gewaltdarstellung nicht nur des Erhabenen, sondern auch der Musik. E.T.A. Hoffmann prägt ‘das Schauern’ in seinen Musikrezensionen als wesentliches Merkmal der romantischen Musik und bringt es auch in seinen literarischen Texten zur Darstellung anhand ‘schauderhafter’ unheimlicher Musikerfiguren.124

121 Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, 93. 122 Jean Paul, Horn of Oberon, 64. 123 This predilection for the dark and frightening in music is also confirmed by the passages from the Fifth Symphony that Hoffmann singles out for particular attention and praise. As Schnaus showed in detail, the bright, joyous or comforting moments of the symphony tend to receive scant attention and scant praise (E.T.A. Hoffmann als BeethovenRezensent, 98–100). 124 Caduff, “’Die ‘Gewalt der Musik,’” 494.

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Table 1.2 Beethovens Musik bewegt die Hebel des Schauers, der Furcht, des Entsetzens, des Schmerzes, und erweckt jene unendliche Sehnsucht, die das Wesen der Romantik ist.*

Warum sollte es dem Dichter nicht vergönnt sein, die Hebel der Furcht, des Grauens, des Entsetzens zu bewegen?**

Beethoven’s music sets in motion the machinery of awe, of fear, of terror, of pain, and awakens that infinite yearning which is the essence of romanticism.***

Why should not a writer be permitted to make use of the levers of fear, terror and horror [?]****

* Hoffmann, Werke, SM:36. ** Hoffmann, Werke, SB:927. *** Ibid., Musical Writings, 238. **** Ibid., Serapion Brethren, 2:303.

Subsequently shuddering becomes a stereotype of the portrayal of force not only for the sublime but also for music. E.T.A. Hoffmann coins “Schauer” in his music reviews as essential characteristic of romantic music and also portrays it in his literary texts through ‘shudder-inducing’ uncanny musician-figures.

In particular, the twist that Hoffmann gives to fear of the spirit-realm closes the gap between the romanticism of music and the sphere of the potentially supernatural and horrific explored by his fiction, just as Jean Paul functionally linked superstition and romantic Poesie. Hoffmann, like Jean Paul, blurs the distinction between the realm of spirit as a philosophical concept of the infinite, and the realm of spirits as abode of supernatural beings and subject matter of superstition. Hoffmann describes the listener to the Fifth Symphony as a “Geisterseher” (ghost-seer) and the drama being evoked by the music is acted out by spirits.125 The type of fear evoked by this spirit-drama is the very one associated with superstition, indeed, with the Schauerlichen itself. A diminuendo on a first inversion chord is described as “ahnungsvoll und schauerlich”126 (ominous, eerie [243]); the effect achieved by interruption and repetition of a theme could, Hoffmann acknowledges, be regarded as playful, but he chooses to introduce the notion of the uncanny: “Manchem mag das scherzhaft vorkommen, dem Rez. erweckte es ein unheimliches Gefühl” (46; This may strike many people as amusing, but in the reviewer it produced an uneasy feeling [247]).127 Lastly, dissonance evokes superstitious fear of the 125 See, for instance, SM:43–4, as well as the descriptions quoted above. 126 Hoffmann, Werke, SM:41. 127 The word “unheimlich” in this passage should be translated by its English equivalent, uncanny, not merely as uneasy.

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unknown: “Diese dumpfen Schläge ihres [i.e., der Pauke] Dissonierens, wie eine fremde, furchtbare Stimme wirkend, erregen die Schauer des Außerordentlichen – der Geisterfurcht” (47; These heavy, dissonant blows, sounding like a strange and dreadful voice, arouse a horror of the extraordinary, of ghostly fear [247]).128 We are reminded of Burke’s identification of the unknown as an especially powerful source of the sublime, here narrowed down to fear of supernatural spirits, described by Jean Paul as the preserve of superstition, itself “Frucht und Nahrung” (fruit and nourishment) of romantic Poesie. The linking of romantic music and Schauerliteratur at this particular time was facilitated by the development of the symphony, with the scope it allowed for strong and dramatic contrasts. As mentioned earlier, Hoffmann builds on Wackenroder’s portrayal of the symphony as a drama, specifically, one in which the listener ventures into unknown realms and encounters superhuman entities who inspire intense and mixed emotions. Hoffmann, however, goes beyond his predecessor in heightening the connection with the spiritual and the abstract. It is reasonable to suppose that Hoffmann has the symphony in mind when he talks about the new developments in instrumental music. What examples he gives are almost all symphonies: an unidentified Haydn symphony, Mozart’s Symphony in E flat #39, and, of course, Beethoven’s Fifth in the review; to this we might add that in “Der Dichter und der Komponist,” a dialogue devoted to the virtues and vices of opera and to the relationship between text and music in opera, the fictional composer Ludwig who is serving as Hoffmann’s mouthpiece has just composed, not an opera, but a symphony.129 Like Wackenroder, Hoffmann is struck by the possibilities for drama and suspense the genre offers, its ability to evoke a whole spectrum of different and conflicting emotions. As Feldges and Stadler pointed out, Hoffmann conceived of the symphony as “die Oper der Instrumente” (the opera of instruments), “und [er] hebt sie als 128 Keil regards dissonance as the essential defining element of the new Romantic music. His analysis of the role of dissonance in Hoffmann’s thinking is instructive, with the caveat that he erroneously takes Hoffmann’s descriptions of the frightening and disturbing effect of dissonance as criticism (see above, n120). 129 Like the name Ludwig, the description of his symphony – with its echoes of the formulation from the review of the Fifth Symphony – is a homage to Beethoven: “es sollte das Werk, wie Beethovens Kompositionen der Art, in göttlicher Sprache von den herrlichen Wundern des fernen, romantischen Landes reden, in dem wir in unaussprechlicher Sehnsucht untergehend leben” (Hoffmann, Werke, SB:76–7; a work which, like Beethoven’s colossal ones of that kind, should tell, in heavenly language, of the glorious wonders of that far-off, romantic realm where life is all unspeakable, blissful, longing [Hoffman, The Serapion Brethren, 1:55]).

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‘Drama’ ab von der früheren Hauptgattung selbständiger Orchestermusik, dem Concerto grosso, dem er eine ‘steife, langweilige Form’ vorwirft”130 (and [he] distinguishes it as “drama” from the earlier main genre of independent orchestral music, the concerto grosso, which he reproaches for having a “stiff, boring form”). The passage being referred to here is the opening of Hoffmann’s first review for the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, of Friedrich Witt’s Symphony #5. This contains several of the same ideas as the review of Beethoven’s symphony, but praises the genre more specifically, taking Haydn’s symphonies as the standard against which to measure others: Daß die Instrumentalmusik jetzt zu einer Höhe gestiegen ist, von der man vor nicht gar zu langer Zeit wohl noch keinen Begriff hatte; daß ferner die Sinfonie insonderheit durch den Schwung, den Haydn und Mozart ihr gaben, das ­Höchste in der Instrumentalmusik – gleichsam die Oper der Instrumente geworden ist: alles dieses weiß jeder Freund der Tonkunst. Alle im Orchester üblichen Instrumente, ihre charakteristischen Eigenheiten aussprechend, in der Aufführung solch eines Drama zu vereinigen, und so, die steife, langweilige Form des ehemaligen Concerto grosso verachtend, das Einzelne nur zum Ganzen wirken zu lassen: das war die schwierige Aufgabe, welche jene Heroen der Tonkunst in der Sinfonie mit Glück lösten.131 That instrumental music has now risen to a level of which one probably had no inkling not so long ago, and that the symphony, especially following the impetus it received from Haydn and Mozart, has become the ultimate form of instrumental music – the opera of instruments as it were – all this is well-known to every lover of music. The onerous task those musical heroes were happily able to perform in the symphony was to unite all the common instruments of the orchestra, voicing their individual characteristics in the performance of one great drama.132

Hoffmann’s review of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is for the most part devoted to detailed musical analysis, particularly of how Beethoven’s compositional technique reveals the master’s capacity for deliberation (Besonnenheit) in the creation of a tightly structured work; but there are

130 Feldges and Stadler, E.T.A. Hoffman, 245. 131 Hoffmann, Werke, SM:19–20. The motivation for Hoffmann’s rejection of the concerto grosso, and for his prescription that all instruments work towards the overall effect, can be found in his frequently expressed dislike of virtuosity for its own sake; the inclusion of passages designed specifically for a display of the performer’s skill seemed to him a perversion of the purpose of performance, a violation of the sanctity of music. 132 Hoffman, Musical Writings, 223.

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also passages that describe the character of the whole or of individual movements in terms of episodes of dramatic action in the spirit-world. This feature emerges more clearly in the Kreislerianum mentioned above, where the technical analysis is omitted. Turning to the symphony, Hoffmann here identifies its chief merit in terms that overlap with the definition of the romantic (opening vistas into the infinite): “Wie führt diese wundervolle Komposition in einem fort und fort steigenden Klimax den Zuhörer unwiderstehlich fort in das Geisterreich des Unendlichen” (FS:44; How this wonderful composition irresistibly draws the listener in an ever-rising climax into the spirit-realm of the infinite [98]). Having praised the simplicity of the main motive, he thus characterizes the first movement: Den Charakter der ängstlichen, unruhvollen Sehnsucht, den dieser Satz in sich trägt, setzt das melodiöse Nebenthema nur noch mehr ins klare! – Die Brust von der Ahnung des Ungeheuern, Vernichtung Drohenden gepreßt und beängstet, scheint sich in schneidenden Lauten gewaltsam Luft machen zu wollen, aber bald zieht eine freundliche Gestalt glänzend daher und erleuchtet die tiefe grauenvolle Nacht. (FS:44) The mood of anxious, restless yearning created by this subject is heightened even further by the melodious secondary theme. The breast, constricted and affrighted by presentiments of enormity and annihilation, seems to be struggling for air with a series of stabbing chords, when suddenly a friendly figure moves forward and shines brilliantly through the dreadful darkness of night. (99)

The description of the second movement opens with another dramatic episode: Tönt nicht wie eine holde Geisterstimme, die unsre Brust mit Hoffnung und Trost erfüllt, das liebliche Thema des Andante con moto in As-dur? – Aber auch hier tritt der furchtbare Geist, der im Allegro das Gemüt ergriff und ängstete, jeden Augenblick drohend aus der Wetterwolke hervor, in die er verschwand, und vor seinen Blitzen entfliehen schnell die freundlichen Gestalten, die uns umgaben. (FS:45) Does not the lovely theme of the Andante con moto in A flat major sound like the voice of a propitious spirit that fills our breast with hope and comfort? But even here the awful phantom that seized our hearts in the Allegro threatens at every moment to emerge from the storm-cloud into which it disappeared, so that the comforting figures around us rapidly flee from its lightning-flashes. (99)

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Most strikingly dramatic is the general description of Beethoven’s music in the earlier passage (quoted above), in which Beethoven’s symphony is characterized as the activity of giant shadows, provoking the struggle of all the passions in which longing emerges triumphant (FS:43). The similarities to Wackenroder’s imagined drama are evident: the encounter with superhuman forces involving the threat to physical existence; the autonomous, self-referential interaction of all emotions together, which is full of conflict yet harmonious; the preponderance and intensity of negative emotions such as fear and dread. The differences, however, are equally noteworthy: no suggestion of hubris accompanies this journey into the spirit-world, and the experience of existing in the spirit-realm is enrapturing in all its pain and fear. Then too, whereas Wackenroder’s drama is a human one, the rise and fall of a “tönende Seele,” the conflict outlined by Hoffmann’s episodes is a battle between spiritual forces of light and darkness, with the listener taking rather the role of spectator. In its own way, this achieves the same result as Wackenroder, of presenting music as an autonomous, numinous entity, one to which humans can lend a voice but which is ultimately more powerful than they are and escapes their control. The image of the sorcerer’s apprentice implied in Wackenroder’s text will re-emerge in Hoffmann’s tales of musicians. It is not only in the introduction of longing and of the transcendent realm which is its object that Hoffmann’s music aesthetics departs from theories of the sublime in which it is grounded. The particular nature of this realm and the reactions it evokes transform music into the kind of entity described by Littlejohns – an unknowable, ambiguous, numinous one. The result is both a specialization and a radicalization of one aspect of the sublime: the focus is on one type of fear (fear of the unknown), to the exclusion of others (e.g., fear of an obvious and present danger); fear regains the preponderance it had with Burke but lost with Kant and Schiller, but also acquires a new cognitive function as a link to a transcendent realm. This conception renders music akin to the disquieting phenomena explored by Hoffmann’s tales and suggests an explanation for the tales’ strikingly frequent association of art and the Schauerliche: they take the reader on the negative path to transcendence by showing an artist who tries to achieve transcendence, fails or succeeds fleetingly, then inevitably falls prey to some crushing dark force, internal or external. One could summarize the relationship of the new Romantic aesthetics of fear – as yet a concept in search of a name – to eighteenth-century theories of the sublime as follows: (1) they share a causal linking of transcendence and fear, but fear is the conduit of transcendence rather than its prelude and spur; (2) the infinite is not found in a human faculty,

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rather it is a transcendent Other that is irreducibly unknowable and therefore as such terrifying; (3) from this derives a reintroduction of cognitive uncertainty more radical than even in Burke’s account; and (4) a deliberately anti-rationalistic tendency emerges that makes reason share in the crushing defeat of the lower faculties and thus reverses the trend of eighteenth-century aesthetics of fear to bring the Other under the control of reason.

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2

Ludwig Tieck

Ludwig Tieck is rightly regarded as the pioneer of the Romantic fantastic tale.1 His poetic practice ran ahead of his aesthetic theory, which operated with well-established eighteenth-century concepts: the sublime (das Erhabene) and the marvellous (das Wunderbare). No terms such as das Schauerliche or das Unheimliche (the uncanny) appear in his writings, and this is true as late as the frame discussion of Phantasus (1812). Nevertheless, the makings of a new, Romantic aesthetics of fear can be discerned in his oeuvre. In particular, the essay “Über Shakespeare’s Behandlung des Wunderbaren” (“Concerning Shakespeare’s Treatment of the Marvellous”), penned when Tieck was just twenty years old, though in the main conforming to the status quo, contains ideas that can justifiably be described as new. These offer pointers for an interpretation of Tieck’s own tales of terror; they also prefigure, or likely pave the way for, later, fully fledged Romantic aesthetics of fear such as Hoffmann’s. Tieck’s aesthetics of fear, both the theory and the fictional practice, reflect the ongoing radicalization of the sublime described in the previous chapter, mainly in the attack on the reader’s safety, which theories of the sublime regarded as indispensable. Tieck’s tales challenge that security on the intellectual level by undermining the reliability of cognition and perception and on the emotional one by presenting the world as unhomely, either lacking purposive order or governed by unfathomable and possibly hostile forces.

1 Thus Winfried Freund: “Tieck ist der eigentliche Pionier phantastischer Dichtung und ihrer Programmatik in Deutschland” (Literarische Phantastik, 9; Tieck is the actual pioneer of fantastic literature and its aims in Germany).

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1. Definitions and Theories The essay “Über das Erhabene” (“Concerning the Sublime”), likely written in 1792 and unpublished in Tieck’s lifetime,2 is based primarily on Longinus and reflects the general tendency towards the taming of the sublime discussed in the previous chapter. Though horror (Grausen) is included among the passions whose highest degree is capable of sublime representation, Tieck does not seem to regard fear or terror as a necessary component of the sublime: “Eine Menge klarer Gefühle ist das Wesen des Schönen, viele dunkle Gefühle der Charakter des Schrecklichen und Gedanken das Zeichen des Erhabenen” (1:641, emphasis in original; A quantity of clear feelings is the essence of the beautiful, many dark feelings the character of the terrible, and thoughts the sign of the sublime [emphasis in original]). Tieck’s sublime is circumscribed by the notions of uplift, infinity, and above all the generation of a multiplicity or unending series of thoughts. He reports Longinus’s definition: “Longin definiert […] das Erhabene auf folgende Art: Groß ist das, dem wir auf keine Art widerstehn können, was sich tief in unsre Seele prägt und sich nicht wieder auslöschen läßt” (1:641; Longinus defines … the sublime in the following way: great is that which we cannot resist in any way, which imprints itself deeply in our soul and does not let itself be effaced). Significantly, Tieck develops only the second of these two conditions: “Nach meinem Urteil besteht das Wesen des Erhabnen darin: daß ich es sogleich mit Freude bemerke, es nicht ohne Mühe zu meinem Eigentum mache, und eine Menge Gedanken außer dem Hauptgedanken in ihm entdecke” (1:641, emphasis in original; In my judgment the essence of the sublime consists in this: that I notice it immediately and joyfully, that I make it my own with an effort, and that I discover in it a quantity of thoughts beyond the main thought [emphasis in original]). Tieck conceives the lasting impression as a proliferating multiplicity of associations and makes this the crucial, defining characteristic. The duality or ambivalence of the sublime experience is still present but is heavily weighted in one direction. The element of pleasure is intensified to “Freude,” while that of pain or unpleasure is reduced to the effort with which the sublime is grasped and appropriated. Tieck is close to Kant’s mathematical sublime when he states that a vast landscape and an unmeasurable abyss are particularly suited to arousing sublime thoughts, but the infinity seems to be found chiefly in that there is no limit to the number of thoughts thus generated:

2 For genesis, sources, and commentary, see Tieck’s Schriften, 1:1137ff. This edition, published by the Deutscher Klassiker Verlag (DKV), is used throughout this book.

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Wenn ich auf einer Klippe stehe, die sich weit übers Meer hinaus bückt, die Unendlichkeit vor mir, unten nur unermeßliche Abgründe, da wird die Seele sich erhaben fühlen, aus meinen Gefühlen werden sich große erhabne Gedanken entwickeln, ich werde mich selbst in der Großen Masse verlieren und tausend Gedanken von Ewigkeit und Unendlichkeit werden sich tief in mein Innres graben. If I stand on a cliff which leans far out over the sea, infinity before me, below only immeasurable abysses, then the soul will feel sublime, great sublime thoughts will develop out of my feelings, I will lose myself in the mass of great things and a thousand thoughts of eternity and infinity will dig themselves deeply into my inner being. Und liegt hier nicht die Erhabenheit darin, daß wir diesen großen Gedanken nie ganz zu Ende denken können, daß sich immer noch neue Begriffe darbieten. (1:643) And doesn’t sublimity here lie in this, that we can never think this great thought to the end, that ever new concepts offer themselves.

What is not said is as significant as what is said. We might have expected the sea, or the immeasurable abyss, to evoke the idea of threat and danger, or the dynamic sublime, but this does not happen – they are only used to evoke infinity. Though he still distinguishes the sublime and the beautiful, Tieck, like Herder and Jean Paul, stresses the element of uplift, and he tends towards its reassimilation with the beautiful, suggesting that the distinction may be a mere matter of degree: Der Genuß der Schönheit wird uns weit leichter als der Genuß des Erhabenen, […] das Erhabene (die Definition liegt gleichsam im deutschen Worte selbst) steht über uns, wir bewundern, wünschen und erringen endlich den schönen Preis, statt daß in der Schönheit klare Gefühle um uns her spielen und uns freiwillig entgegen kommen. (1:641–42; emphasis in original) The enjoyment of beauty is much easier for us than the enjoyment of the sublime … The sublime (the definition is, as it were, already in the German word itself) stands above us, we admire, desire, and finally achieve the beautiful prize, whereas with beauty clear feelings play around us and come towards us voluntarily. (emphasis in original)

The sublime, we should note, is described as “the beautiful prize.”

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What does “Über das Erhabene” contribute to the investigation of the Romantic aesthetics of fear? Arguably, nothing directly, but rather ex negativo, another instance of why the concept of the sublime can no longer serve as a basis for such an aesthetics and hence why a new term and a new theory are needed: (1) The young Tieck operates with received concepts in the received sense, but he does add a new idea or a twist that is peculiarly his own; (2) In keeping with the tendency of the time, he excises the element of fear and pain from the sublime, reducing the latter to the elements of uplift and infinity; (3) As with Jean Paul, the theorization of fear does not disappear but rather is treated in another context and, due to the nature of this context, becomes specialized to the association with the supernatural and popular superstition, as consideration of the essay on Shakespeare’s handling of the marvellous, written about the same time or shortly after, shows. “Über Shakspeare’s Behandlung des Wunderbaren,” like the previous essay, deals with a well-established concept in eighteenth-century aesthetics, using it in the well-established sense:3 the marvellous is determined by the presence of supernatural beings, whether of mythology (pagan deities), fairy tale (fairies, elves), or popular superstition (ghosts). At the same time, the essay prefigures Todorov’s theory of the fantastic in that it distinguishes two genres on the basis of audience reaction. In Tieck’s case, the genres are derived from Shakespeare, who is the subject under investigation. Tieck argues for two different forms of the marvellous, one for tragedy and one for comic plays that are close to fairy tales, such as The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The reaction on which the distinction is based is the presence or absence of fear, which in turn is derived from absence of knowledge and from the confounding of the categories on which knowledge and experience ground, in a manner very similar to Todorov’s hesitation. We are thus led back to a specialization of the aesthetics of fear already discussed in the previous chapter. Tieck echoes authors such as Burke or Schiller in his analysis of fear of the unknown and the scope it allows to the imagination, but like Apel, he narrows it down to the conundrum that spirits as emissaries of an alien world pose for cognition. Like Jean Paul, the young Tieck regards popular superstition as a good source of poetic effects. It is a particular merit of Shakespeare that his marvellous is not drawn from Greek and Roman mythology or from the 3 On this, and for a comprehensive account of eighteenth-century theories of the marvellous, see Stahl, Das Wunderbare als Problem und Gegenstand. For an account of Tieck’s precursors and models for the marvellous in Shakespeare, see Paulin, The Critical Reception of Shakespeare in Germany.

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common practice of allegory – which Tieck stigmatizes as ineffectual – but rather from the realm of superstition, which is effective because familiar and meaningful to his audience: “als Volksdichter ließ er sich zu der Tradition seines Volkes hinab”4 (as a poet of the people, he descended to the tradition of his people), that is, to superstition. Unlike Jean Paul, however, Tieck does not find superstition in and of itself poetic, for it contains much that is “kindisch” (childish) and “abgeschmackt” (tasteless) and that therefore must be subjected to a process of “Veredelung” (ennoblement) and “Verfeinerung des Gefühls” (1:687; refinement of feeling). Reflecting on Shakespeare’s plays, Tieck finds that the marvellous has a different effect in the tragedies than in fairy tale–like plays such as The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and must therefore be handled differently. The major distinction lies in whether a reaction of fear on the part of the audience is intended or not. This in turn depends on the presence or absence of an element of mystery and the unknown, on whether the marvellous world becomes familiar or remains distant and alien. In either genre, however, the marvellous can only be effective if the audience experiences a degree of cognitive confusion so that the operations of “der richtende Verstand” (the critical understanding) are suspended and the marvellous not dismissed as improbable and unreal. In the more comedic-marvellous plays, Tieck argues, a complete, selfsufficient supernatural world must be created and kept free of any irruptions of the ordinary, so that the audience may be kept in a state of unbroken illusion, as the heading of section 1 already establishes: “Durch die Darstellung einer ganzen wunderbaren Welt, damit die Seele nie wieder in die gewöhnliche Welt versetzt, und so die Illusion unterbrochen werde” (1:689, emphasis in original; Through the representation of an entire marvellous world, so that the soul never again be transported to the ordinary world, which would interrupt the illusion [emphasis in original]). By such a sustained illusion, the marvellous world will become familiar and thus come to seem ordinary and natural: “Das Wunderbare wird uns itzt gewöhnlich und natürlich: weil wir von der wirklichen Welt gänzlich abgeschnitten sind, so verliert sich unser Mißtrauen gegen die fremdartigen Wesen” (1:692; The marvellous now becomes ordinary and natural for us: because we are wholly cut off from the real world, our mistrust towards the alien world dissipates). Such familiarity precludes a reaction of fear. The impression of naturalness and ordinariness is achieved through the piling on of as vast as possible a multitude of supernatural beings and effects: “so entsteht die

4 Tieck, Schriften, 1:686.

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Nicht-Unterbrechung der Illusion jedesmal von der unendlichen Menge neuer magischen Gestalten” (1:692; each time, the non-interruption of the illusion originates in the infinite multitude of new magical figures); “Mannigfaltigkeit der dargestellten Wesen scheint unentbehrlich” (1:699, emphasis in original; Variety of represented beings seems indispensable [emphasis in original]). This multiplicity serves to ensure cognitive disorientation, a temporary disconnection from reality, and so an acceptance of incomprehensibility: Wir verlieren in einer unaufhörlichen Verwirrung den Maßstab, nach dem wir  sonst die Wahrheit zu messen pflegen; eben, weil nichts Wirkliches unsre Aufmerksamkeit auf sich heftet, verlieren wir in der ununterbrochenen Beschäftigung unsrer Phantasie, die Erinnerung an die Wirklichkeit; der Faden ist hinter uns abgerissen, der uns durch das rätselhafte Labyrinth leitete; und wir geben uns am Ende völlig den Unbegreiflichkeiten Preis. (1:692) In a continual confusion we lose the standard of measure by which we otherwise usually measure truth; precisely because nothing real holds our attention, we lose the recollection of reality in the uninterrupted occupation of our imagination; the thread is broken behind us which led us through the enigmatic labyrinth; and at last we give ourselves wholly up to incomprehensibility.

What characterizes this genre, the marvellous without fear, is thus an acceptance of a strange, incomprehensible world, an acceptance of the impossibility of cognition, and an illusion of familiarity and hence of comfort – in other words, the kind of unquestioning acceptance of the supernatural as ordinary that characterizes the protagonists of folk fairy tales or that we see with the child Bertha in Tieck’s own “Der blonde Eckbert” (“Blond Eckbert”). For this to happen, Tieck stresses, there can be no mixing of the spheres of the marvellous and the ordinary or real. The cognitive disorientation is temporary, lasting only as long as needed to reach the state of contented abandonment of understanding. The other condition that prevents a reaction of fear is the absence of mystery or surprise. The section heading introduces this: “Dadurch, daß die dargestellten Wunder nicht ganz unbegreiflich scheinen” (1:689, emphasis in original; In that the represented marvels do not seem wholly incomprehensible [emphasis in original]). In actuality, such beings as Ariel and Caliban remain unknown and incomprehensible, but because the audience is informed of all of Prospero’s plans, and is allowed to know his commands to Ariel and their reasons before they happen, an impression of knowledge and understanding is created: “er [i.e., the viewer] glaubt sich in alle Geheimnisse eingeweiht, indem keine Wirkung erfolgt, die er nicht

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gleichsam selber zubereiten sah” (he [i.e., the viewer] thinks himself inducted in all the secrets, in that no effect results which he did not quasi see being prepared). Thus there is no surprise, shock, or fear: “Er wird daher durch nichts überrascht oder erschreckt” (1:695, emphasis in original; He is therefore not surprised or frightened by anything [emphasis in original]). Everything is calculated, we might conclude, to make the unfamiliar and supernatural seem familiar and natural. The opposite conditions obtain in tragedy. Here, the marvellous does not constitute a world unto itself but rather is subordinated to the real, ordinary one (“die Geisterwelt ist hier der wirklichen untergeordnet” [the spirit world is here subordinated to the real one]) and is present for the sole purpose of heightening the effect of pity and fear that is the aim of tragedy. It is introduced in order to arouse fear: “die wunderbare [Welt] dient ihm nur dazu, das Furchtbare zu verstärken, uns noch tiefer zu erschüttern” (1:709–10; the marvellous world only serves to strengthen the terrible, to shake us even more deeply). Unfamiliarity, incomprehension, and cognitive disorientation are therefore to be perpetuated. Tieck identifies several means to this end. First and foremost, the marvellous world must appear at all times as unknown, alien, and wholly incomprehensible.5 Again, the section heading identifies this precondition: “Die Geisterwelt steht uns hier entfernter, und ist uns unbegreiflicher”6 (emphasis in original; The spirit world is here more distant from us and is more incomprehensible for us [emphasis in original]). Time and again, Tieck stresses the element of the unknown, even of mystery, as the cause of fear: “In dem Dunkeln und Rätselhaften dieser wunderbaren Welt liegt das Erschreckende” (1:710; The frightening [element] lies in the dark and enigmatic [character] of this marvellous world); “Wären wir mit Hamlets oder Banquo’s Geist so vertraut wie mit Ariel oder Caliban, so würden sie uns wenig erschrecken; nur in dem Dunkel, womit der Dichter hier seine wunderbare Welt umhüllt, liegt das Furchtbare, und indem er es mit den höchsten Ausbrüchen der Leidenschaft in Verbindung bringt, erregt er das Erschütternde” (1:712; If we were as familiar with Hamlet’s or Banquo’s ghost as with Ariel and Caliban, they would frighten us little; the terrible lies only in the darkness with which the poet here shrouds his marvellous world, and when he combines it with the highest outbursts of passion, he provokes the shocking). Any diminution of the mystery inevitably means a diminution of its frightening potential: “indem das Gespenst anfängt zu sprechen, verliert es zwar etwas von seiner Furchtbarkeit,

5 This constitutes a parallel to Apel; see chapter 1, section 3, of this book. 6 Tieck, Schriften, 1:709.

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weil hier sogleich etwas von dem Rätselhaften in der Erscheinung verschwindet” (1:715; when the ghost begins to speak, it admittedly loses something of its fearsomeness, because here at once something of the enigmatic in the apparition disappears). Tieck is in line with Burke, Schiller, and Jean Paul in associating the intensity of fear of the unknown with the activity of imagination, which searches in vain for an explanation. But Tieck, like Apel, links fear of the unknown to supernatural apparitions specifically: “daß wir so unendlich weit von ihr [i.e. der wunderbaren Welt] entfernt stehen, und mehr ahnden, als wirklich wahrneh­ men, dies ist es, was unsern Schauder erregt, und uns so stark erschüttert” (1:710; that we stand so infinitely far away from it [i.e., the marvellous world] and intuit more than we really perceive, this is what causes our shudder and shocks us so strongly). Again like Apel, Tieck ascribes the effect of horror and fear not to the unknown pure and simple, but rather to the unknown combined with an element of contradiction causing cognitive confusion. Apel, as we have seen, found this in the fact that spectres belong to two incompatible realms simultaneously (life and death); Tieck raises a notion that Hoffmann will later repeat almost verbatim and use in more than one tale: an effect without a cause. The passage is worth quoting at some length: Alles Unbegreifliche, alles, wo wir eine Wirkung ohne eine Ursache wahrneh­ men, ist es vorzüglich, was uns mit Schrecken und Grauen erfüllt: – ein Schatten, von dem wir keinen Körper sehen, eine Hand, die aus der Mauer tritt […] ein unbekanntes Wesen, das plötzlich vor mir steht, und eben so plötzlich wieder verschwindet. Die Seele erstarrt bei diesen fremdartigen Erscheinungen, die allen ihren bisherigen Erfahrungen widersprechen; die Phantasie durchläuft in einer wunderbaren Schnelligkeit tausend und tausend Gegenstände, um endlich die Ursache der unbegreiflichen Wirkung herauszubringen, sie findet keine befriedigende, und kehrt noch ermüdeter zum Gegenstande des Schreckens selbst zurück. Auf diese Art entsteht der Schauder, und jenes heimliche Grausen, das uns im Macbeth und Hamlet befällt: ein Schauder, den ich einen Schwindel der Seele nennen möchte. (1:712) What fills us with fright and horror is above all everything incomprehensible, everything in which we see an effect without a cause: – a shadow, of which we do not see a body, a hand that comes out of the wall … an unknown being that suddenly stands before me and disappears just as suddenly. The soul freezes before these alien apparitions that contradict all its previous experiences; the imagination runs through a thousand and a thousand objects with marvellous speed in order to bring out finally the cause of the incomprehensible effect, it does not find any satisfactory one, and returns even more tired to the object of

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fright itself. In this manner originates the shudder and that secret horror that overcomes us in Macbeth and Hamlet: a shudder that I would like to call a vertigo of the soul.

Tieck attributes the soul’s state of shock to the fact that the phenomenon of an effect without a cause runs counter to all previous empirical experience. Two implications emerge here. The notion of causality is essential to how humans process and organize sensory data and experiences, as well as fundamental for all moral and purposive action; without causality, there could be no certainty about anything in the world. The soul’s compulsive and desperate search for a cause brings up the notion of multiplicity that Tieck identified as the precondition of the sublime, and of the disorientation leading to acceptance in the case of the non-frightening marvellous. Here, the notion of disorientation is intensified by the idea of rapid circular motion, associated with the physical phenomenon of dizziness (Taumel). This experience of psychic dizziness caused by the undermining of a category fundamental to the processing of experience is singled out as “vorzüglich” (principally) responsible for not just fear, but – the terms are significant – “Schauder” and “heimliches Grausen.”7 Tieck’s list of examples, involving visual ghostly apparitions, is very similar to Apel’s. Hoffmann will find a way to ratchet the disorientation and insecurity a degree higher by adding sounds without visible origins, setting the senses in contradiction with each other. A comparison with Kant’s theory of the sublime must be treated with extreme caution, since knowledge of the Kritik der Urteilskraft on Tieck’s part is neither provable (in the absence of all references to it) nor likely (given the temporal proximity and Tieck’s lack of interest in academic philosophy). Nevertheless, it is instructive. Both involve a defeat of the imagination in its inability to fathom the phenomenon confronting it. Whereas Kant’s sublime, however, leads to the exaltation of reason discovering its own absolute greatness as opposed to the phenomenon’s relative greatness, Tieck’s theory involves a defeat of reason discovering 7 See also Schürk: “Den Schrecken, den das Dunkle und Rätselhafte der Geisterwelt auslöst, findet er wieder begründet in den Mechanismen der Phantasie […]. In der sich daraus ergebenden Desorientierung einem ‘Schwindel der Seele’ […], erkennt er das Wesen des Schauders und Grauens” (Die Geister- und Gespenstererscheinungen, 36; He sees the fright that is provoked by the dark and enigmatic of the spirit world rooted in the mechanisms of the imagination … In the resulting disorientation like a vertigo of the soul … he recognizes the essence of shuddering and horror). Also see, more pointedly, Rath: “Schauer ist Anschauungsmittel für den diagnostizierten Realitätsschwund, weil er Wirkungen ohne begreifbare Ursachen zeitigt” (Das vergessene Genie, 115; Schauer is the medium of perception for the diagnosed loss of reality, because it occasions effects without comprehensible causes).

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its own inadequacy, since the connection of cause and effect and the discovery of causes are logical functions, properly belonging to the faculty of reason. The last section of the essay introduces another characteristic of Shakespeare’s handling of the “fürchterlich Wunderbare[n]” (fearsomely marvellous): “Der Dichter läßt für das Wunderbare fast immer eine natürliche Erklärung übrig”8 (The poet almost always leaves a natural explanation for the marvellous [emphasis in original]). This too involves cognitive uncertainty, though the young Tieck does not explicitly make the connection. This prefigures the hesitation that is constitutive of Todorov’s fantastic; it also accords with Tieck’s narrative practice in his Romantic tales such as “Der blonde Eckbert” and “Der Runenberg” (“The Runenberg”), which Hoffmann would later develop into his trademark technique. At this stage in his career, Tieck merely describes this feature, without explaining its import or effect, and even involves himself in some contradictions. Nevertheless, his account is worth noting as the first germ of something that would become crucial to both theory and narrative practice of the fantastic. Tieck begins by identifying a correspondence between the nature of ghostly apparitions and the psychology of the main character: the ghost of his father fits Hamlet’s tendency towards melancholy brooding; the horrific, wild witches match the harder, rougher character of Macbeth; one could not exchange the two without spoiling the effect. He then adds that the apparitions are generally witnessed by only one person. He seems not to notice that this is not true of Hamlet’s ghost (though he earlier discussed its apparitions with Bernardo, Marcello and Horatio). He then draws this conclusion: “Fast immer hat Shakspeare auch, um in die Phantasie keine Unterbrechung fallen zu lassen, dafür gesorgt, daß alle seine Übernatürlichkeiten sich von den Personen im Schauspiele können natürlich erklären lassen” (1:720, emphasis in original; Almost always Shakespeare takes care that all his supernatural phenomena can be explained naturally by the characters in the play, in order not to let any interruption occur in the imagination [emphasis in original]). Tieck appears to be contradicting himself here, as earlier he stated that the audience has no doubt as to the existence of the ghosts, since Shakespeare very wisely lets them appear physically before the viewers’ eyes, though other characters in the play do not see them; this gives the viewers a kind of superior knowledge: “der Zuschauer findet ihren [i.e., of Macbeth’s friends who believe the ghost a delusion] Glauben sehr natürlich, aber der Dichter stellt ihn gleichsam über diese Aufklärung, er sieht ihren

8 Tieck, Schriften, 1:716 (emphasis in original).

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Unglauben in ihren verschlossenen Augen gegründet, sie sind blind für das, was der Zuschauer und Macbeth sehen” (1:719, emphasis in original; The spectator finds their [i.e., Macbeth’s friends who believe the ghost a delusion] belief very natural, but the poet places him as if above this enlightenment, he sees their disbelief rooted in their closed eyes, they are blind for that which the spectator and Macbeth see [emphasis in original]).9 This renders the inclusion of a natural explanation puzzling, and Tieck offers no further clarification than the phrase “um in die Phantasie keine Unterbrechung fallen zu lassen” (in order that no interruption occur in the phantasy). One could speculate that he has in mind the interface of the two worlds – the ordinary human and the marvellous ones – which again would shed light on the technique of Tieck’s (and Hoffmann’s) tales: the psychology of the characters and the problematic nature of perception are what allow for transition from one sphere to the other without a break in the narrative. “Über Shakespeare’s Behandlung des Wunderbaren,” it can be argued, contains several germs of the aesthetics of fear characteristic of the Romantic period: (1) Based on the genre of Shakespeare’s plays, Tieck distinguishes two modes of the marvellous, determined by the presence or absence of fear, which in turn depends on whether the marvellous comes to seem familiar, natural, and comfortable, or whether it remains alien and unknown. (2) The presence or absence of mystery and surprise (or shock) also determines whether fear will arise. (3) Cognitive disorientation is essential to the effect of the marvellous; this disorientation arises out of a multiplicity of supernatural phenomena that put the critical judgment (the faculty for reality testing) out of action; if the disorientation is to be perpetuated and lead to fear, rather than transitory and leading to temporary acceptance of the marvellous, an element of contradiction needs to be present. (4) The notion of two explanations, natural and supernatural, coexisting without definitively invalidating each other, is introduced. Tieck’s Romantic phase, the time of his collaboration with the Schlegels and Novalis, offers no theoretical statements on the aesthetics of fear. The Briefe über Shakespeare (Letters on Shakespeare) do not touch on this aspect of the poet’s work. Only in Phantasus (1812), in the context of Tieck’s reworking and republication of his Romantic fairy tales, do further 9 Earlier, he states that the protagonist’s reaction also removes all possibility of doubt: “hiedurch läßt uns der Dichter gar keinen Zweifel an der Existenz der Geister selbst übrig, indem sich die Empfindung Macbeths und Hamlets dem Zuschauer mitteilt” (Tieck, Schriften, 1:712; through this the poet leaves us no doubt at all about the existence of the ghosts themselves, in that the sensation of Macbeth and Hamlet is communicated to the spectator).

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comments on the topic appear. Even these are quite brief compared for instance with the lengthy programmatic discussions on theatre in the frame of the second section. This is the more striking given that the uncanny and horrific dominate the first section, which is devoted to fairy tales. As earlier in his career, Tieck still operates with established concepts of eighteenth-century aesthetics: the sublime – though the term is not used – and the notion of mixed emotions. The passages in the Phantasus frame dealing with the frightful and the horrific are descriptive rather than prescriptive, yet they too suggest a new twist to the concept of the sublime, refocusing it as the expression of an existential anxiety caused by the irreducible Otherness of nature. They also contain germs of ideas that are not developed further on the theoretical plane yet shed some light on the tales they frame and arguably pave the way for later developments of the Romantic Schauerlichen, particularly in Hoffmann’s hands. In the introductory part of the first section, the frame characters’ discussion of gardens leads to some satiric remarks on “Naturjäger,” people who turn to certain types of landscape in order to partake of the fashionable experience of nature’s sublimity. Such experiences, Anton argues, are very rare and depend on a particular state of mind. The fearful side of the sublime, Ernst adds, the “wundervollen Schauer, die Beängstigung […] die in manchen Stunden die Natur unserm Herzen erregt” (wonderful Schauer, the anxiety … that nature provokes for our hearts in many hours) is even rarer than the dimension of uplift. This fear is inspired not only by landscapes traditionally associated with the sublime, such as mountain passes and sheer cliffs towering above the sea, but even by “beautiful” landscapes: Sondern selbst die schönste Gegend hat Gespenster, die durch unser Herz schrei­ten, sie kann so seltsame Ahndungen, so verwirrte Schatten durch unsre Phantasie jagen, daß wir ihr entfliehen, und uns in das Getümmel der Welt hinein retten möchten. Auf diese Weise entstehn nun wohl auch in unserm Innern Gedichte und Märchen, indem wir die ungeheure Leere, das furchtbare Chaos, mit Gestalten bevölkern, und kunstmäßig den unerfreulichen Raum schmük­ ken. (6:112–13) Rather even the most beautiful spot has ghosts that walk through our hearts, it can drive such strange intimations, such confused shadows through our imagination, that we escape it and would like to save ourselves in the tumult of the world. In this way many poems and fairy tales may well originate in our inner being, in that we populate the monstrous emptiness, the fearful chaos, with figures, and decorate the unpleasing space according to the rules of art.

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The cause of sublimity in nature is no longer a potential threat to physical existence; rather, it is the very essence of nature, even at its most beautiful, as emptiness or chaos – both of which preclude the possibility of purposive activity and therefore of meaning. Nature is therefore disturbing and uncomfortable, “unhomely” in the literal sense of the word; it cannot be understood or come to terms with, let alone mastered; it causes an experience of isolation and insignificance that cannot be faced, which the individual seeks to escape and forget in “Getümmel” (tumult). As in the passage from Schiller’s “Über das Erhabene” quoted in the previous chapter,10 the supernatural (“Gespenster”) becomes a metaphor for the disquieting and frightening aspects of external forces beyond human understanding and control (physical nature, destiny) – again a pointer to the function and meaning of the supernatural in Romantic fiction, Tieck’s own as well as that of later writers.11 Particularly worthy of note is the function assigned to literary production in this context. It is indeed an attempt to conquer the Otherness of nature, to defeat it by a human activity that changes nature (i.e., peoples the emptiness and imparts artistic order and meaning to it), but it is also the equivalent of escape into “the tumult of the world” and thus covers over rather than overcomes the realization of nature’s frightening Otherness. It is, in short, a sort of whistling in the dark and as unsuccessful as that attempt to conquer or hide fear usually is. It is unsuccessful because the fear and existential anxiety that prompted literary composition remain inscribed in the product and indeed determine its character: “diese Gebilde aber können dann freilich nicht den Charakter ihres Erzeugers verleugnen. In diesen Natur-Märchen mischt sich das Liebliche mit dem Schrecklichen, das Seltsame mit dem Kindischen, und verwirrt unsre Phantasie bis zum poetischen Wahnsinn, um diesen selbst nur in unserm Innern zu lösen und frei zu machen”12 (but these creations can admittedly not deny the character of their progenitor. In these nature fairy tales the charming mixes with the terrible, the strange with the childish, and they confuse our imagination to the point of poetic madness, in order to release and free the latter in our inner being). This, then, is the characterization that introduces the fairy tales of the first section, beginning with “Der blonde Eckbert.” To summarize, it introduces fairy tales as products of an 10 See chapter 1, pages 70–1. 11 Von Mücke also reads this passage as a “rudimentary poetics of the fantastic,” featuring the “experience of radical alterity” caused by a “confrontation with emptiness and chaos” (Seduction of the Occult, 62-3). 12 Tieck, Schriften, 6:113.

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experience of the frightening emptiness and purposelessness of nature and as an attempt to deny and disguise this insight – an attempt that is necessarily unsuccessful in that the resulting tales bear witness to existential angst rather than alleviating it, and in that they bring about a sort of triumph of irrationality and purposelessness (Wahnsinn). Since the first tale to be read is “Der blonde Eckbert,” it is further worth noting that this passage introduces the seesawing between solitude and “tumult of the world” that plays so significant a role in that tale. This passage is clearly intended as a characterization, explanation, and guide to reading for the following fairy tales, or at least for those that precede the rebellion of the women among the frame characters and the subsequent change of mood. The first four tales are “Der blonde Eckbert,” “Der getreue Eckart und der Tannenhäuser” (“Faithful Eckart or Tannenhäuser”), “Der Runenberg,” and “Liebeszauber” (“Love Spell”). They involve a scale of increasing horror, charted by the reactions of the listeners. After “Der blonde Eckbert,” all have tears “eines heimlichen Grauens” (of a secret horror) in their eyes; after “Der getreue Eckart” they are “still und in sich gekehrt” (quiet and withdrawn into themselves); “Der Runenberg” has caused them all to grow pale, and Emilie protests that “der Schluss ist zu schrecklich” (the ending is too terrible); finally, “Liebeszauber” provokes outright rejection by the women on the grounds that it is “abscheulich” (repulsive), “zu gräßlich” (too ghastly) and that the escalation of shuddering has reached intolerable proportions. Admittedly, this framing discussion must be treated with some caution, as it does not necessarily reflect Tieck’s intentions at the time of first writing these tales, but it does shed light on the spirit in which the Tieck of 1810–12 revives these works, how he himself interprets them, and how he wishes his readers to interpret them. The frame introduction culminates in yet another characterization of the fairy tale genre, this time in the form of an allegorical poem revolving around the figure of Phantasus. The latter, Frank explains in the commentary of the DKV edition, the “Traumerzeuger” (creator of dreams) in classical mythology, “ist […] ein zarter Knabe geworden, der Anreger und Eingeber der Phantasien der Dichter” (6:1253–4; has become a delicate boy, the spur and inspirer of poets’ fantasies). What he shows Anton is a characterization of the realm of fairy tales, dominated by the mixed emotions that in eighteenth-century aesthetics are associated with the sublime. Phantasus himself, and nature in the landscapes through which he takes Anton, are gentle, youthful, and laughing, reflective of the joyfulness and renewal of spring. Yet when allegorical figures are introduced, the frightening and awe-inspiring predominate. The first such figure is Schreck (fright), engaged in telling Albernheit (foolishness) about

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“die Schaurgestalten” (horrific figures) from old fairy tales; he is followed by Scherz (wit, playfulness), who begins as small but becomes terrible and destructive on a scale approximating the sublime; the mood then changes to the beautiful with Liebe (love), then culminates in the Schauer of awe caused by the vision of Pan. Both Schreck himself and his listener Albernheit exemplify mixed, even contradictory emotions, particularly the paradox of the pleasure taken at being terrified. The former is a wild-looking darkhaired man dressed in black, “Doch lächelt er mit Freundlichkeit” (Yet he smiles with friendliness). Albernheit is pale and trembling with fear, but clings to Schreck, the more tightly the more frightened she gets (“Sie meint, sie stirbt vor Angst und Schmerz / Und drückt dem Schreck sich mehr ans Herz” [6:121; She thinks she will die of fear and pain / and presses herself more to Fright’s heart]). She laughs and cries at the same time (“Sie lächelt, und vor Schauder weint / Ihr Lachen” [6:121; She smiles and her laughter cries with shuddering]), and when promised something particularly horrific, she asks to be spared and then immediately asks to hear it. A clue to the motivation of these reactions is the twice occurring notion of “Spiel” (play): “Sie fürchtet sich vor dem Erschrecken, / Läßt sich doch spielend davon necken” (she is afraid of being frightened / but she lets herself be teased by it in play), and “Sie freut sich und wird voraus bleich, / So spielt sie mit dem Geisterreich” (6:121; She is glad and pales in anticipation, / Thus she plays with the spirit-world). It does not seem too far-fetched to hear in this an echo of Jean Paul’s notion of superstitious fear as a conduit for an experience of the sphere of spirit – a glimpse of the ideal yet terrible and awe-inspiring that is safe and enjoyable because contained in the predictable confines of art-play. This notion will return in slightly different form in the conversation following “Liebeszauber.” The feelings inspired by Schreck return in more serious, heightened form – more conventionally sublime – in the concluding vision of Pan. On realizing that the landscape he beholds is in fact part of the gigantic face of Pan, Anton feels his breath taken away by the “allergrößte[n] Schreck” (the very greatest fright), trembles with “Angst,” and becomes prey to “ein mächtger Schauder” (6:125; a powerful shudder). The playful or frightening visions experienced in the realm of fairy tale, this conclusion suggests, culminate in the recognition of nature itself as a numinous all-encompassing force and thus sublime in its own right (not by subreption, as with Kant). We might see in this a clue to the interplay of nature and spirit – that is, to the relationship of nature and the so-called supernatural – in Tieck’s fairy tales, and thus a clue as to their meaning, at least as he saw it at the time of Phantasus. A final statement on the horrific in literature is occasioned by the rebellion of the women listeners after “Liebeszauber.” Manfred defends the

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genre by arguing that real life presents much greater and more cruel horrors, which are much more terrible and destructive to the soul because they are not mitigated and refracted by aesthetic form: Hier könnt ihr euch nirgend trösten und euch sagen: es ist nur ersonnen! die Kunstform beruhigt euer Gemüt nicht mit der Notwendigkeit, ja ihr könnt oft in diesem Jammer nicht einmal ein Schicksal sehn, sondern nur das Blinde, Schreckliche, das was sagt: so ist es nun einmal! In dergleichen märchenhaften Erfindungen aber kann ja dieses Elend der Welt nur wie von vielen muntern Farben gebrochen hineinspielen. (6:243) Here you can nowhere console yourselves and tell yourselves: it is only invented! The art form does not calm your mind with the notion of necessity, you often cannot even see fate in this misery, but rather only a blind, terrible something that says: that is how it is! But in such fairy tale inventions this desolation of the world only looks in playfully, as if reflected in many bright colours.

There are three aspects to the mitigating effect of artistic form: the safety of the reader introduced by the notion of poetic invention, offering the reassurance that escape is at all times in the reader’s power; the indirectness or refracting effect that introduces beauty where there is none in life; and lastly, echoing the explanation for the creation of fairy tales in the introductory portion of the frame,13 the suggestion that literature introduces meaning and purpose where reality displays only blind, senseless chaos. The examples Manfred chooses all stem from the realm of man’s inhumanity to man, with special insistence on the cruelties and injustices perpetrated by judicial systems – injustices that include tyranny, corruption, and oppression of the poor. He then comments: “Nicht wahr, diese sind die echten Gespenstergeschichten?” (6:243; Isn’t it true, these are the true ghost stories?). Once again we encounter the supernatural as a metaphor, this time for that which is monstrous in human society. Once again, this is a germ that comes to full fruition in Hoffmann’s oeuvre: the fantastic as a way of commenting on contemporary socio-political as well as cultural conditions indirectly, using the supernatural as symptom and symbol for them. Curiously, however, this notion remains something of a red herring in the context of Phantasus, in that its fairy tales do not actually deal with such subjects, focusing instead on psychological processes. Manfred’s remarks would thus seem more in the nature of

13 Quoted above, page 135.

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self-exculpation – “we could deal with much more horrific subject matter than we have done” – rather than a comment on the embedded tales. Two other brief moments in the frame can be mentioned here, as aids to the interpretation of Tieck’s fairy tales and as germs of future developments in the Romantic aesthetics of fear. Early in the frame narrative, during the discussion of fashions in gardens, Tieck appears to distance himself from the genre of Schauerroman in which he himself worked in his youth, by his rejection of the explained supernatural. The friends are united in condemning the “Vexierkunst” (teasing art) that introduces the bizarre into gardens: the cutting of trees into unnatural shapes and the reduction of water to the role of “Possenreißer” (jokester). For instance, Theodor comments, the sudden spurts that wet one through “sind den abgeschmackten neumodischen Gespenstergeschichten mit natürlichen Erklärungen zu vergleichen; der Verdruß ist viel größer als der Schreck” (6:74; are comparable to the tasteless ghost stories in the new fashion; the irritation is much greater than the fright). His tales, we can expect, will offer the reader no such convenient, natural escape. Tieck, as we have seen, conforms to eighteenth-century discourses on the sublime in seeing the safety of the reader or viewer as a reason for the pleasure involved. Yet an episode towards the end of Part I experiments with the possibilities of removing this afforded by the genre of tale collection with frame. Here, the barriers between reality and unreality or fantasy are briefly broken down in two directions: between dream and waking life, and between narrated past or fictional tale and the present reality of the frame. Anton tells the story of a country nobleman who is disturbed by a dream in which his maid begs him for help; he gets up and finds her on the stairs, dressed as she was in his dream; by preventing her from joining the gardener who supposedly awaits her in order to marry her secretly, he in fact saves her from being murdered. As this narration closes, the frame characters are suddenly frightened by “ein ungeheurer Schlag” (a monstrous knock) on the door, followed by the entrance of the stone guest. Tieck does not develop the possibilities of this merging of narrative levels. The stone guest at once announces his identity as Manfred. The point would seem to be the insight – prefiguring Freud – that it is precisely the combination of the alien and the familiar that is so disturbing. Rosalie protests, “glaubst du denn, daß ich nicht eben so stark schaudre, wenn ich gleich erkenne, daß das Gespenst nur eine weiße Maske ist, gerade deshalb, weil du, der Bekannte, der Befreundete, mir so grauenvoll erscheinst? Diese Vermischung dessen, was uns lieb und entsetzlich ist, ist gerade das Widerwärtigste” (6:351; do you believe that I do not shudder just as strongly if I immediately recognize that the ghost is only a white mask, precisely because you, the familiar, the friend, appear

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to me so horrifically? This mixture of that which is pleasing and horrible, is precisely the most repulsive). Given Hoffmann’s familiarity with and admiration for Tieck, it is not unreasonable to see this “ungeheurer Schlag” at the door as the inspiration for the similar but tripled knock in “Der unheimliche Gast” (“The Uncanny Guest”).14 In concluding the section on Tieck’s theoretical statements one may ask, what pointers do they offer towards interpreting his poetic practice? And what common elements run through from the early essays to Phantasus? The main insight is that Tieck, in 1793 as in 1812, presents encounters with the supernatural, the sublime, the horrific, or simply the overwhelmingly great, as an experience of existential anxiety caused by the alienness of nature or the cosmos. In the Shakespeare essay the emphasis is on cognitive disorientation as source of fear and anxiety, caused by the irreducibly unknowable or by the logically contradictory. Phantasus rather emphasizes the purposelessness and emptiness of nature, qualities that, however, also undermine the possibility of human cognition by violating its categories; the disquieting effect of mixing the strange and familiar; and monstrosity, that which should not be yet is (this last is a blind alley). Furthermore, in 1793 as in 1812, the sublime is acquiring a resemblance to Freud’s uncanny in that it is becoming internalized and psychologized: the notion here is of a correspondence between Shakespeare’s ghosts and the psychology of the protagonist, and of the “ghosts” inhabiting nature originating in the human fear of meaninglessness rather than in an external physical threat. Lastly, Phantasus adds a meta-literary, selfreflexive dimension: literature, specifically the fairy tale, as both expression and mitigation of this existential anxiety – mitigation by means of aesthetic refraction and as an artificial imposition of content and order. 2. The Fictional Texts The second part of this chapter explores Tieck’s treatment of the marvellous – to stay with his own term – and especially of fear, in a selection of his fictional works covering the period from roughly 1792 to 1802 (or 1816 if we consider the republication of his fairy tales in Phantasus). The aims of this exploration are (1) to establish correspondences between Tieck’s theoretical reflections and his fictional practice, but also to see if and to what extent his practice outpaces his theorizing and moves towards a form of literary fear not envisioned by the latter, and (2) to establish elements of continuity from each text to the others and so work towards a

14 See chapter 5, section 6.

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characterization of the causes and functions of fear in Tieck’s fiction of the Romantic phase. Tieck’s fairy tales “Der blonde Eckbert,” “Der getreue Eckart oder der Tannenhäuser,” “Der Runenberg,” and “Die Elfen” (“The Elves”) display extensive parallels: all end tragically, partly through the protagonist’s guilt and partly through the workings of a hostile fate that seems at best only partly just; solitude (Einsamkeit) plays a role in all; borders dividing different landscapes and at the same time different psychic realms play a role in all. “Die Elfen,” however, differs from the other three in that neither the existence nor the beneficent nature of the marvellous realm is in question. It will be excluded from the present discussion, since it does not thematize fear and cannot be described as schauerlich, despite its tragic ending. If we consider the other three, further similarities emerge: in all three the protagonist ends in insanity; narrative ambiguity plays a major role, to the extent that it is impossible to determine exactly what and how much of the narrated events actually happened (this is strongest in the most neglected tale, “Der getreue Eckart”); jewels play a significant role in two of the three; an underworld journey plays a significant role in two of the three. Before turning to the fairy tales, Tieck’s early Schauerroman, Abdallah, will be briefly considered, because, in spite of its obvious artistic failings, it contributes to the aims identified above. It was conceived at about the same time as the essay on Shakespeare’s treatment of the marvellous and,15 due to its lack of subtlety and sophistication, reveals with particular clarity Tieck’s attempt to emulate Shakespeare by implementing his own analysis of the playwright.16 It also shows elements of continuity with the later fairy tales and thus confirms the centrality of the aspects in question, the difference lying mainly in the clumsiness with which the marvellous is handled in Abdallah, and in the as yet small role of ambiguity. This continuity offers some support for the hypothesis that the Tieck of the Romantic tales still held to the ideas outlined in his Shakespeare essay; thus it creates a bridge from the theory to the practice. As Hölter points out in his commentary (1:989f.), Abdallah fits the genre of the Schauerroman and displays considerable similarities to William Lovell, which Tieck wrote immediately after. Though Abdallah is not a Bundesroman in that there is no Bund (secret society), its eponymous hero, like Lovell, 15 Hölter dates the conception and writing as 1791–93. See Tieck, Schriften, 1:972ff. The essay, as we have seen, dates from 1792. 16 Hölter points out this dimension: “Abdallah ist auch eine Probe auf die Wirksamkeit des Schauerlichen und des Erhabenen, wie er es zugleich theoretisch durchdachte” (Tieck, Schriften, 1:991; Abdallah is also an experiment in the effectiveness of the Schauerlichen and the sublime, as he had thought it through theoretically).

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is the victim of machinations by a sinister figure of superior intellect and mysterious powers, and there are correspondences between Abdallah and Lovell, and equally between Omar and Andrea. Perhaps the major difference, and the most significant in the present context, is that William Lovell fits the mould of the explained supernatural, whereas in Abdallah the supernatural is confirmed or at a least valuation remains in doubt, the object of continued uncertainty. Tieck’s own preface confirms in veiled terms the novel’s adherence to the topoi of the Schauerroman, admits that the genre all too frequently “gemißbraucht werde” (is misused) in order to afford the masses a superficial thrill and empty entertainment, and claims a distinction in that his use of it is better motivated: “Ich hoffe, daß man den Zweck meiner Erzählung nicht verkennen werde, wenn man sie zu Ende gelesen hat” (1:255, emphasis in original; I hope that one will not misunderstand the aim of my tale, when one has read it to the end [emphasis in original]). His conscious intention to emulate Shakespeare is made explicit from the outset, by the quotation from A Midsummer Night’s Dream that precedes the tale,17 and by the reference in the preface to the horror provoked by the marvellous in Hamlet and Macbeth – the very plays from which the Shakespeare essay drew its examples of the marvellous in tragedy. As mentioned earlier, Tieck’s essay identified the aim of the marvellous as to intensify fear and pity (i.e., the same as for tragedy). There is no doubt that he intended his Abdallah to be a tragic tale: a basically good but weak and manipulable youth is induced by a sinister figure masquerading as his teacher, first to give up his belief in virtue, justice, and the cosmic order and to believe only in pleasure, and then to commit patricide – a crime that plunges him into remorse and self-hatred, then into insanity and death. Within this plan, the functions of the marvellous can be thus identified: (1) in terms of plot advancement, both the villain and his antagonist use the supernatural as a tool to steer the protagonist, the former to terrify and confuse him and so make him malleable, the latter to test his courage and worthiness to be helped; (2) the marvellous generates fear and horror, both in the protagonist and in the reader; (3) the ontological status of the marvellous is left in doubt, and this generates an existential anxiety grounded in the uncertain nature of the cosmic order and in the concomitant undermining of the possibility of cognition. As discussed above, Tieck regarded such cognitive disorientation as the precondition for the effectiveness of the marvellous. Before proceeding with our investigation, it is well to address the tale’s chief flaw, since it hinges on Tieck’s technique for handling the

17 “The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling” etc. Tieck, Schriften, 1:254.

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supernatural and achieving the intended effect of disturbing the reader. In the preface to the 1828 reprinting of Abdallah, Tieck himself identifies the problem as the excessive style of high pathos: “Es ist schwer, bei der Bearbeitung des Wunderbaren einen gewissen enthusiastischen Stil zu vermeiden, der den Verfasser nach und nach immer mehr von seinen Lesern entfernt, oder gar in leeren Schwulst ausartet” (1:256; In the handling of the marvellous, it is difficult to avoid a certain enthusiastic style, which increasingly distances the author from his readers, or even degenerates into empty bombast). The author leaves it up to the reader to decide how far he has fallen into this error, and the reader can hardly fail to find him guilty. Examples of this would be the multitude of bathetic speeches on the blackness of fate or the unparalleled intensity of the hero’s misfortunes, the constant use of superlatives and references to vague, unspecified “Furchtbarkeiten” (frightfulnesses), and the high incidence of the terms Schauder (shuddering), Grausen (horror), and gräßlich (ghastly), or synonyms for these. This failing is not just of style, but of content, as Tieck recognized by 1828 – namely, the piling up of horror upon horror, the multiplication of spectres and other apparitions into thousands, and the intensification of the frightening into the macabre and morbid, so that the intended effect is overshot and the reader merely disgusted: “Das Gespenstische und Wilde, wenn es sich auch steigert, übersättigt endlich” (1:973; The ghostly and wild finally surfeits if it keeps escalating). By 1796, the time of “Der blonde Eckbert,” Tieck has learned to avoid such mistakes. The instances of the marvellous span the usual repertoire of the Schauerroman, ranging from humans with supernatural and magical powers (the mysterious arch-villain Mondal and the two opposing wise men Omar and Nadir), to vague spectral apparitions, lamiae or bacchantic female monsters, dancing skeletons, visions of corpses both dead and returning to life, and a disembodied hand emerging from the wall. They are mostly concentrated in three crucial moments of the narrative: the subterranean journey on which Omar sends Abdallah so that his future may be revealed to him (Book I, Chapter 8), the passage through darkened valleys and into an enchanted castle on which Nadir sends Abdallah in order to test his courage (Book II, Chapters 8–10), and the final three chapters of the tale, in which various supernatural apparitions confront Abdallah with his guilt and drive him to madness and death. To each of these groups corresponds a function in terms of plot development. The underground journey on which, amid thunder and other unidentified noises, fires, and meanderings through “thousands” of dark caverns, Abdallah first sees the corpse of his father and hears the accusation “Vatermörder” (patricide), constitutes the second stage of Omar’s plan

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to drive Abdallah to patricide. Having first removed his pupil’s scruples by convincing him that virtue is a sophistical concept, that there is no cosmic order or justice, and that humans are in no way superior to beasts and should give themselves up to pleasure,18 he now terribly and indirectly introduces the notion that only the death of his father can help Abdallah to marriage with the sultan’s daughter whom he desires. It may, perhaps, not be too fanciful to see a parallel here with the role of the witches in Macbeth. The second journey, on which the good dervish Nadir sends Abdallah, rather resembles the testing of Tamino in Mozart’s Zauberflöte. In order to be worthy of obtaining the sultan’s daughter without betraying his father, Abdallah must travel through the terrors of the spirit-world, as well as through darkness, isolation, and silence, without showing fear. In this way, he will learn to recognize the insubstantiality of this realm, and so defeat it: Du wirst durch eine Menge von Schreckgestalten gehen, sagte Nadir, aber laß dich von keiner auf deinem Wege zurückhalten, es sind nur leere Gebilde, die wie ein Rauch um dich wehen und sich wieder in Nichts verwandeln, wenn du durch alle Schrecken hindurchgezogen bist, so bist du nur von einem schweren Traum erwacht. Um nie wieder vom Geisterreich und seinen Phantomen im Glücke beunruhigt zu werden, mußt du durch das ganze magische Gefilde wandeln, laß dich von keiner Furcht überraschen.19 You will go through a quantity of frightful figures, said Nadir, but don’t let yourself by held back on your way by any of them, they are only empty forms that blow about you like smoke and transform again into nothing, once you have passed through all terrors you will have merely awakened from a heavy dream. In order to never be disquieted again in your happiness by the spirit world and its phantoms you must wander through the whole magic field, don’t let any fear surprise you.

Abdallah, like Tamino, should learn to distinguish truth from delusion, but unlike Tamino, he fails, giving way to fear and calling to Omar for help.

18 Ribbat points out that the text, in presenting a seduction to a sensualistic, destructive world view, engages with the various issues of interest to Enlightened philosophy and empirical psychology and shows “die Nichtigkeit einer jeden in der Epoche vorgeschlagenen Antwort und Lösung” (Ludwig Tieck, 28; the nullity of each and every answer and solution put forward in that epoch). 19 Tieck, Schriften, 1:363.

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The third group is the one most obviously modelled on Shakespeare, notably on the appearance of Banquo’s ghost in Macbeth, and serves to generate pity and fear by showing retribution for crime in the form of the protagonist’s remorse, terror, psychological dissolution, and death. Here, Tieck capitalizes on his (inaccurate) observation that Shakespeare’s ghosts are generally seen only by one person, thus allowing for the possibility of a natural, psychological explanation. Abdallah has been wedded to the sultan’s daughter as a reward for betraying his father. The subsequent feast is first interrupted by the intrusion of a death-like, black-clad Nadir, who reminds Abdallah of his own cowardice and of Omar’s deception and shows Abdallah Omar’s true face in a mirror. Immediately after, just as Macbeth alone saw Banquo’s ghost at the banquet, Abdallah – and only Abdallah – sees a disembodied skeletal hand emerge from the wall and beckon to him. In an attempt to out-Shakespeare Shakespeare, Tieck then has Abdallah beset by lamia-like female monsters from the enchanted castle and by the ghost of his murdered father coming to life and seeking to embrace him. These, and indeed all apparitions in the final three chapters, can easily be regarded as projections of Abdallah’s guilt and remorse, as with Macbeth seeing Banquo’s ghost, or as delusions caused by insanity. The break in narration at the end shows that Tieck intended to leave this doubt, accompanied by uncertainty as to the cause of Abdallah’s death, in order to heighten the fearful effect. To show this, it is necessary to quote the last three paragraphs in full: Der Tote kam mit offnen Armen auf ihn zu. – Abdallah fuhr zurück. – Hinweg! hinweg! brüllte er, – wir kennen uns nicht mehr! Dann stürzte er auf ihn zu und schlug ihn wütend mit der Faust auf den Schädel, daß er laut und fürchterlich erklang. – – Als die Sklaven sich am Morgen zitternd in den Saal schlichen, fanden sie Abdallah mit wild verzerrtem Gesicht tot auf der Erde liegen. (1:447) The dead man came towards him with open arms. – Abdallah started back. – Away! away! he bellowed, – we don’t know each other any more! Then he rushed towards him and hit him furiously with his fist on the skull, which resounded loudly and fearfully. – – When in the morning the slaves crept tremblingly into the hall, they found Abdallah lying dead on the earth with wildly distorted face.

This ending is an unmistakable, if overblown, precursor of the conclusions of “Der blonde Eckbert” and (except for the protagonist’s death) of “Der getreue Eckart” and “Der Runenberg”: it is certain that the protagonist ends in madness and complete alienation from society, but it remains

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unclear to what extent the causes are internal (guilt and remorse), or external (the impossibility of cognition, the questionable justice of fate). To understand this, we need to explore the ontological status of the marvellous and the theme of fate more closely. Hölter contends that roughly one third of the action in Abdallah takes place in a dream or can be interpreted thus (1:1009). This is perhaps too generous a valuation, but there is no doubt that Tieck gives deliberately contradictory signals as to the ontological status of the marvellous. One is inclined to take the first group of apparitions (in Abdallah’s underground journey) as objective fact. True, the reader only learns of his experiences at second hand, through his own narration, but Omar’s opening of the ground and Abdallah’s descent and ascent are narrated objectively, the latter even in Abdallah’s absence: Man ruft dich, sprach Omar und zugleich riß sich eine schwarze Kluft klingend in den Boden […] Omar ließ die Hand Abdallah’s fahren und dieser taumelte hinab. – Die Erde verschloß sich wieder. […] Omar stand sinnend an eine Felsenwand gelehnt. Ein fernes Winseln zitterte unter der Erde, Omar schlug auf den Boden – und Abdallah trat bleich […] aus der Grube. (1:309–10; emphasis in original) You are called, said Omar and at the same time a black chasm opened with a ringing sound in the earth … Omar let Abdallah’s hand go and the latter tumbled downwards. – The earth closed again … Omar stood in thought leaning against a cliff wall. A distant whimper trembled under the earth, Omar hit the ground – and Abdallah, pale, stepped … out of the pit. (emphasis in original)

Furthermore, Abdallah on his return is wearing a talisman ring on his finger that he didn’t have before. On the other hand, more doubt is cast on the second group of marvellous events, those connected with Nadir. The tale of Omar’s association with the evil genius Mondal is told thirdhand: Omar recounted it to Nadir, who inscribed it on palm leaves and gave it to Abdallah to read. As to the visions used to test Abdallah’s courage, the imputation that it was a dream is quite strong. At the end of Book II, Abdallah turns the magic ring on his finger, calling to Omar, and then faints. Book III opens with his waking up in his own bed, with Omar at his side. The latter assures his pupil that it was all a dream, that he himself arrived at the hut at midnight (the time of the meeting with Nadir) and found Abdallah asleep on his bed (1:377). Abdallah’s father then confirms that Abdallah was sleeping when Omar arrived (1:380). The third group, as mentioned earlier, is most easily explained psychologically, as the delusions of madness and remorse.

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Comparison with the Shakespeare essay sheds some light on the techniques for creating uncertainty and on the reasons for it. As we have seen, Tieck contended that cognitive confusion, caused by a bewildering multiplicity of marvellous phenomena as well as by such seeming impossibilities as effects without causes, serves both to induce the spectator to suspend disbelief and to produce fear and horror. Abdallah’s two underground journeys, with their “thousands” of horrific apparitions, might serve as textbook examples of overwhelming multiplicity bombarding and disabling the faculty of reason – for the protagonist if not for the reader. The disembodied hand emerging from the wall at the wedding banquet provides an obvious illustration of logical contradiction as a way of creating cognitive confusion and constitutes an even more direct link to the essay. It was one of the essay’s examples of effects without causes that poets might use to generate fear and horror (1:712, see above, 130–1). Of particular interest is Abdallah’s conversation with Omar after the former wakes up on his bed following his second underground journey and is assured by the latter that it was all a dream. Here, doubt surrounding the possibility of cognition acquires thematic as well as plot significance. Abdallah himself recognizes how uncertainty as to this episode casts doubt on the reliability of the human cognitive apparatus, and he points out the difficulty of living with such uncertainty: “Was sind alle meine Sinne, wenn sie solche Täuschung nicht bemerken? […] Omar, dann bin ich mir noch nie unbegreiflich gewesen, als itzt, wie soll ich dann die Wahrheit festhalten, die wie eine Schlange meinen Händen entschlüpft? […] Welchen Gehalt hat dann der Verstand des Menschen, wenn seine Sinne, durch die er seine Schätze erhält, so betrügerische Sklaven sind?” (1:380; What are all my senses, if they don’t notice such a deception? … Omar, then I have never been so incomprehensible to myself as now, how then shall I hold on to truth, which slips out of my hands like a snake? … What content does the understanding of humans then have, if their senses, through which they receive their treasures, are such deceitful slaves?). His comments systematically dismantle the cognitive process, as described for instance in Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft, proceeding from the senses to the understanding and finally to reason. The last is not mentioned in the passage, but its dissolution accelerates after this point in the story as Abdallah reacts to his horrifying insight through a panicked decision, the intent of which is to manufacture the unobtainable certainty. Since he must trust something or someone in order to live, he decides to abandon all doubt of Omar, though he knows this is an arbitrary decision born of desperation: “Durch diese einzige Gewißheit, die ich eigenmächtig zur Untrüglichkeit stemple, fallen alle Zweifel die mir boshafte Geister entgegenhielten, wieder zur Erde”

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(1:384–5; Through this single certainty, which I arbitrarily stamp as infallibility, all doubts that evil spirits opposed to me fall to earth again). Immediately after that, he begins to contemplate the murder of his father and to find reasons why it would not be too evil an action. In this way, Abdallah looks forward to the thematizing of existential anxiety in the later fairy tales, notably “Der blonde Eckbert.” Another element of continuity with the later tales, and one that also contributes to existential anxiety, is the role of fate and the concomitant question whether a cosmic order and justice are confirmed or undermined. In Abdallah, the notion of fate is mainly a tool Omar employs for mystification. It is presented by him and accepted by Abdallah as an excuse for the deed of patricide, on the grounds that where there is no freedom of action, no moral blame can attach. The events and their outcomes are not fate, but the result of villainy in one case and character weakness in the other. Omar has deliberately chosen Abdallah as the tool for redeeming himself with Mondal because his moment of pity for Abdallah’s father was the cause of his incurring Mondal’s displeasure. It is Omar who, by argument, emotional manipulation, and magic, induces Abdallah to murder his father. What makes Abdallah easy prey is his credulity, but also his tendency towards self-indulgence, which involves him in guilt. Yet, as with Bertha in “Der blonde Eckbert,” the wrongdoing is suggested to the protagonist by an older and wiser mentor, indeed, one with supernatural powers. Abdallah is a naive and inexperienced youth who becomes a pawn in the struggle between forces far greater than himself. As Hölter comments, the representative of negation is opposed only by this unformed youth, not by any competent representative of political and moral order (1:1009).20 This does raise questions as to the justice of the cosmic order and the nature of the power governing it, if indeed there is one. Hölter argues that the text ultimately confirms the moral order: “Dennoch führen die verschiedenen Wege der Interpretation, ob psychologisch, erzählanaly­ tisch, philosophisch alle zu dem Ergebnis, daß das moralische Prinzip durch die Erzählung nicht erschüttert, sondern – gezielt oder unbewußt – bestätigt werden soll”21 (Nevertheless the different paths of interpretation, whether psychological, narratological, philosophical, all lead to the result that the moral principle is not intended to be shaken by the tale, but rather – intentionally or unconsciously – confirmed). This is certainly

20 Hölter is here quoting Ribbat, Ludwig Tieck, 27. 21 Tieck, Schriften, 1:1012.

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true so far as Abdallah’s case is concerned: he is driven mad and finally killed, either by his own remorse or by supernatural emissaries of divine justice. On the other hand, the true villain of the piece, Omar, emerges triumphant and unpunished, and this is no trifling obstacle to the reader’s sense that justice and order have been vindicated and re-established. Contemporary responses quoted in Hölter’s commentary confirm this. The review in the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (Jena General Literature Journal) comments: “Daß aber der mehr als teuflische Omar, der unter der Maske der Freundschaft der Urheber aller der Greuel ist, und der Vernichtung und Zerstörung zu seinem Tagwerk zu machen geschworen hat, so ungehindert alles vollführen, und seine Schadenfreude befriedigen kann, ist gar zu entsetzlich”22 (It is much too horrible that the more than devilish Omar, who under the mask of friendship is the source of all the atrocities and who has sworn to make annihilation and destruction his daily work, is able to carry everything out without obstacles and to satisfy his pleasure in harm). So too Franz Horn’s Umrisse zur Geschichte und Kritik der schönen Literatur Deutschlands während der Jahre 1790 bis 1818 (Outlines for the History and Criticism of Fine Literature in Germany in the Years 1790 to 1818): “[Der Roman] zeigt im Großen und Ganzen eine tragische Stimmung; doch schlagen leider die Klagen an einaltes und finsteres Himmelsgewölbe, von wo aus keine Stimme der Versöhnung gehört werden kann”23 ([The novel] on the whole displays a tragic mood: but unfortunately the laments strike against a cold and dark vault of heaven, from which no voice of reconciliation can be heard). In my view, this is an early instance of a theme central to Tieck’s Romantic fairy tales: the power governing the order of the cosmos is unknown, inscrutable, and morally ambiguous, with the result that human beings, adrift in an incomprehensible and possibly hostile world, have little or no chance of escaping wrongdoing or achieving happiness.24 Connected with this world view is the motif of solitude (Einsamkeit), which plays a small role in Abdallah but rises to greater prominence in “Der blonde Eckbert,” “Der getreue Eckart,” and “Der Runenberg.” In Abdallah, solitude is both the cause and the effect of human evil. It is

22 Rev. of Abdallah, Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, Nr. 162, 23 May 1797, column 478f, quoted in Tieck, Schriften, 1:986. 23 Franz Horn, Umrisse zur Geschichte und Kritik der schönen Literatur Deutschlands während der Jahre 1790 bis 1818 (Berlin: Theodor Christian Friedrich Enslin Verlag, 1819), 105, quoted in Tieck, Schriften, 1:988. 24 Dieter Arendt similarly argues that there is no real freedom in Tieck’s Märchen, that humans are tugged around like marionettes, and that as a result, “Angst” is the basic mood (Der poetische Nihilismus, 278ff, esp. 284).

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the cause of the sultan Ali’s sense of superiority over other humans and of his tyranny: Freundschaft und Wohlwollen war seinem Herzen stets fremd geblieben, in ei­ ner ewgen Einsamkeit, von den übrigen Geschöpfen losgerissen war ihm endlich der Gedanke gewöhnlich geworden, die Gottheit habe ihn als ihren Liebling über sein Volk gesetzt: darum hielt er seine Befehle für unwiderrufliche Gesetze und seine Launen für Winke des Schicksals.25 Friendship and benevolence had always been strangers to his heart, in an eternal solitude, torn apart from other beings, finally he had become accustomed to the thought that the divinity had placed him, as its darling, over his people: for that reason he considered his orders as irrevocable laws and his whims as signals of fate.

It also created an emptiness and discomfort in him that he tried in vain to fill, first with sensual pleasures and then with a sense of power fed by the fear of his subjects. Solitude is thus the spur of his contempt for his subjects, and of his cruelties, which are intended to provide him with visible proofs of his power and of his subjects’ fear. Likewise, solitude is the dwelling, the essence of Mondal, and the punishment of his evil: Am Ende der Welt, […] an einer Stelle, wohin noch kein Menschenfuß sich verirrte, wo zwischen ewig einsamen Felsenwänden das Grausen wohnt […] wohne seit Jahrtausenden ein furchtbarer Sterblicher, der hier im kalten Haß der Ewigkeit entgegenwarte, von Menschen und Engeln losgerissen, ein Wesen, einzig, ohne je ein Leben zu finden, dessen Seele mit der seinigen gleichgestimmt sei. (1:335–6) At the end of the world, … at a place to which no human foot had ever strayed, where horror dwells among eternally lonely cliff walls … there lives for thousands of years a frightful mortal, who awaits eternity here in cold hatred, torn apart from humans and angels, a being, alone, without ever finding a life whose soul be in harmony with his.

The effect of solitude on the protagonist is initially ambivalent but becomes solely destructive through the manipulation of Omar. In connection with nature at its most immense, solitude gives Abdallah a traditional experience of sublimity, that is, a sense of his own insignificance and helplessness

25 Tieck, Schriften, 1:257.

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compared to the vastness of the cosmos: “Noch nie hab’ ich mich so einsam in der Natur gefühlt, so einsam unter tausend Schaudern und fremden Gefühlen, so losgespült wie ein Sandkorn und an ein fremdes Gestade angeworfen. Dies wunderbare Gefühl der Einsamkeit, Omar, macht mich schaudern” (1:304; I have never felt so alone in nature, so alone among a thousand shudders and strange feelings, as washed away as a grain of sand and thrown onto a strange shore. This wonderful feeling of solitude, Omar, makes me shudder). The other aspect of the sublime, that of uplift, is introduced by Omar (“Mich begeistert diese Einsamkeit, zu hohen Gedanken und Träumen” [1:104; This solitude inspires me to high thoughts and dreams]) in order to induce contempt for other humans who do not recognize the sublimity of nature and the insignificance of humans. This allows him to introduce the notion that select individuals who do attain this insight may be able to achieve superhuman powers, which is followed in turn by the revelation of his own powers and Abdallah’s underground journey. Omar is thus using solitude and the traditional discourse of nature’s sublimity that goes with it to undermine Abdallah’s moral code, to generate a sense of helplessness, and consequently to increase Abdallah’s reliance on Omar’s superior power and wisdom. Subsequently, the sense of isolation, the belief that he has been singled out for a fate blacker than that of any other human, will work on Abdallah in similar manner as on the sultan, driving him first to murder and then to despair. In sum, Abdallah introduces, often clumsily or in a small way, the world view, themes, and techniques that will determine the dimension of fear in Tieck’s Romantic fairy tales: (possibly) supernatural apparitions as harbingers of an unknown, potentially hostile realm of spirits; the helplessness of the lone individual confronted with the emptiness and inscrutability of the cosmos; madness as the result both of the impossibility of ascertaining borders between reality and phantasy or dream, and of guilt and remorse; and a narrative ambiguity that projects the protagonist’s doubts onto the reader. It also exhibits correspondence to the ideas put forward in the essay “Über Shakespeares Behandlung des Wunderbaren”: the use of apparitions from the spirit world in a tragic story to increase the pity and fear of the reader or spectator, and the generation of fear by means of the uncertainty caused first by narrative ambiguity and second by the cognitive confusion engendered by beings transcending the categories of human experience. In terms of the inscrutability of the world order and of the theme of solitude, Abdallah also looks forward to the explanation of literary fear found in the frame of Phantasus. Tieck’s next tale of fear was “Der blonde Eckbert,” written in 1796, three years after the Shakespeare essay. The interpreter tackling this text

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is confronted with a multitude of scholarly studies that makes it difficult to avoid recrossing well-trodden ground. In view of this, I shall not attempt a close reading of the tale as a whole, but rather confine myself to a discussion of the themes and mechanisms of its aesthetics of fear. Again, within this, I shall leave aside aspects already extensively discussed by other scholars – notably the question of incest, Eckbert’s paranoia, repressed sexuality – focusing rather on those aspects that relate to Tieck’s theoretical reflections in the Shakespeare essay and in Phantasus and that display the above-mentioned parallels to the other fairy tales and to Abdallah. “Der blonde Eckbert” is a psychological study with various strands. One such is the exploration of how two people are driven to illness or madness and then death by the loss of their grasp of reality and by the realization that reliable knowledge of the world may not be possible. In both cases, guilt and remorse are also involved in the descent into madness and death, but I would argue that they are secondary to the loss of ontological orientation, more a contributing factor than the primary cause. This dimension of the tale emerges most clearly through reference to the essay “Über Shakespeare’s Behandlung des Wunderbaren” and the two modes of the marvellous outlined there. As discussed earlier, for what we might call the non-frightening, fairy tale-like marvellous to obtain, Tieck requires that the illusion be unbroken and that the spectators or readers be bombarded by such a plethora of fantastic occurrences that critical judgment (der richtende Verstand) gives up its task, disbelief is suspended, and the marvellous comes to appear as ordinary. In tragedy, by contrast, where the marvellous is intended to increase fear, Tieck holds that it must remain alien, mysterious, and inexplicable, arousing an unresolvable and perpetual rather than merely temporary cognitive confusion. Both possibilities are actualized in “Der blonde Eckbert,” the first embodied in the child Bertha, the second in the adult Bertha and in Eckbert. All of the conditions for the non-frightening marvellous laid out in the essay are realized in the experiences of eight-year-old Bertha. For her, the fairy tale paradise of the old woman’s hut quickly goes from being strange, extraordinary, and provocative of Schauer, to being ordinary: Ich lernte mich schnell in die Wirtschaft finden, und alle Gegenstände umher wurden mir bekannt; nun war mir, als müßte alles so sein, ich dachte gar nicht mehr daran, daß die Alte etwas Seltsames an sich habe, daß die Wohnung abenteuerlich und von allen Menschen entfernt liege, und daß an dem Vogel etwas Außerordentliches sei.26 26 Tieck, Schriften, 6:133–4. The English translations for “Der blonde Eckbert” cited in the remainder of this chapter are from the collection translated by Helene Scher (Four Romantic Tales).

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I quickly got used to running the household. Soon I felt as if everything had to be the way it was. I no longer thought that there was something strange about the old woman, that her dwelling was odd and far away from all human beings, and that there was something extraordinary about the bird. (8)

Various factors come together in making this possible. One might cite first the adaptability of children and the fact that in childhood, critical judgment is not yet fully developed and fantasy and reality intermingle easily. Bertha, in particular, always existed more than half in the fantasy world: her dreams of living a fairy tale estranged her from reality and made her all the more clumsy and inept: “die wunderbarsten Phantasien beschäftigten mich, und wenn ich nun aufstehen mußte, um irgend etwas zu helfen, oder zu tragen, so zeigte ich mich noch viel ungeschickter” (6:128; I was lost in the most marvelous daydreams, and whenever I had to get up to help or to carry something, I was even clumsier than before [3]). In a sense, though not consciously so, she escapes in search of her fairy tale. Then too, her journey takes her farther and farther from human society, through landscapes that, though natural, are fantastic and terrifying to her: first fields, then woods, then mountains (which she has only ever heard about and always found terrifying), then wilder, desolate mountains with fantastically shaped cliffs and rocks. By now, hunger and thirst have familiarized her with the possibility of death and her fatigue is such that she is barely aware of being alive and no longer can wish to continue so. She is thus already completely cut off from the human world she has known, and the mountain ranges are a physical symbol of this. She is prepared to come to a completely different world and indeed immediately feels that she has come through hell into paradise (6:131). Once there, she is confronted with a number of new and strange phenomena, some of which, notably the old woman, do not allow themselves to be classified and thus confound her cognitive abilities. This, I would argue, is one function of the old woman’s constantly changing appearance: “Indem ich sie so betrachtete, überlief mich mancher Schauer, denn ihr Gesicht war in einer ewigen Bewegung, indem sie dazu wie vor Alter mit dem Kopfe schüttelte, so daß ich durchaus nicht wissen konnte, wie ihr eigentliches Aussehn beschaffen war” (6:133, emphasis added; While I was watching her, chills ran up and down my spine, for her face was in constant motion; moreover, her head shook as if from old age so that I could not tell at all what she really looked like [8]). Cognitive confusion is heightened in that the old woman mixes the attributes of a witch with those of Christian piety. She is dressed in black and carries a crooked stick, has a screechy voice and a magic bird providing her with treasures, and lives in the wilderness, isolated from human society. On the other hand, she prays before and after meals, sings sacred songs, and gives the

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child bread and wine. Lastly, there is nothing to break the illusion, no irruption of the ordinary into the marvellous realm27: it is stated repeatedly that the paradise is cut off from human society and not visited by ordinary beings, either human or animal (6:133–34). It is thus no surprise that Bertha, lacking any terms of comparison, soon comes to find her fairy tale existence quite ordinary.28 By contrast, not only the mixing of genres but conscious reflection on that mixing play a central role in the creation of the frightening marvellous. Bertha physically leaves the fairy tale world behind and once she enters human society is confronted with the shocking difference in its character. This realization is dramatically symbolized by the denial of her longed-for fairy tale ending. Time operates here in a way it did not in the forest paradise: her parents have died and cannot welcome her back or rejoice in the jewels she brings. She adapts to this new world and becomes aware retrospectively of the strangeness of her previous life (“Nur haltet meine Erzählung für kein Märchen, so sonderbar sie auch klingen mag” [6:127; Just do not take my story for a fairy tale, no matter how odd it may sound [3]), yet she cannot wholly dismiss it or relegate it to a past in a different world: she has carried the jewels into this world, and they are the basis for her existence in it. Her theft has thus set the stage for the mixing of dimensions that, as Tieck’s essay argued, is bound to cause fear as well as cognitive confusion. Indeed, the contradictory nature of reality, identified in the essay as the source of fear and horror, is given in the fairy tale as the explanation for Eckbert’s collapse into madness: “das Wunderbarste vermischte sich mit dem Gewöhnlichsten, die Welt um ihn her war verzaubert, und er keines Gedankens, keiner Erinnerung mächtig” (6:145; The most marvelous things mingled with the most ordinary, the world around him was enchanted, and he was incapable of a single thought, a single memory [20]). The immediate cause of this realization is the hearing of the magic bird’s song, which Eckbert had only known about from his wife’s recounting; yet this is a new version that Bertha had not heard, and the bird is supposed to be dead, having been strangled by Bertha. The laws of the ordinary world seem no longer to obtain; the fairy tale not only enters his life but seems to reverse the past. This is the final phase of a gradual process that now needs to be examined in more detail.

27 In its spatial isolation from human society, the old woman’s realm is an excellent parallel to Prospero’s island in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the central example of Tieck’s essay. 28 Compare the wording of the essay (1:692, quoted above, pages 127–8).

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The source of Bertha’s guilt is easily identified and has been extensively discussed in scholarship, so it need not be examined in detail here. Briefly, she has betrayed the old woman’s trust, taken the jewels and the bird, and left the little dog tied up in the hut to starve. Remorse sets in very quickly, already during her journey away from the fairy tale paradise. It is worth noting that her remorse manifests itself as fear: frightening dreams in which the old woman threatens her; fear that the old woman may surprise her; anxiety about the small dog (6:138); and, after killing the bird, fear of her hired companion, that is, fear that the latter may behave as Bertha herself had done and thus steal the jewels or even murder her. It is fear, rather than love, that drives her to marriage with Eckbert. Nevertheless, Bertha had learned to live with her fear and remorse; she and Eckbert kept it at bay by means of self-isolation from society, staying mostly within the walls of their castle and trusting no one except Walther (a side light on supposedly positive solitude, to which we will return later). It is thus not remorse that kills Bertha – not even its resurfacing after partial repression.29 What kills her is a single occurrence that is completely incomprehensible to her: Walther’s mention of the name of the dog. She cannot comprehend (1) how he knows it, (2) how he fits into her fate, and (3) what his intention in mentioning it was: “Ist das Zufall? Hat er den Namen erraten, weiß er ihn und hat er ihn mit Vorsatz genannt? Und wie hängt dieser Mensch dann mit meinem Schicksale zusammen? […] Ein gewaltiges Entsetzen befiel mich, als mir ein fremder Mensch so zu meinen Erinnerungen half”30 (Is that a coincidence? Did he guess the name, did he know it and mention it deliberately? And what does this man have to do with my fate? … I was seized with terror when a stranger could help me to find my memories [16]). It is the impossibility of making sense of this occurrence, of finding answers to these questions, that destroys her: “ich muß dir etwas entdecken, das mich fast um meinen Verstand gebracht hat, das meine Gesundheit zerrüttet, so eine unbedeutende Kleinigkeit es auch an sich scheinen möchte” (6:141; I must disclose something to you that has almost driven me out of my mind, that is ruining my health though it may seem to be a mere trifle [16]). Obviously, ­knowledge of her guilt gives an edge to her fear, but she had been confronted with that by the bird’s changed song and had dealt with it by murder. Now it is the attempt to make sense of the phenomenon, to apply her understanding (Verstand) to it, and the realization that understanding 29 The repression should not be rated too highly, since, as von Mücke points out, Bertha has repressed only the name, not the existence of the dog, and obviously not her childhood existence or her misdeed. The Seduction of the Occult, 78. 30 Tieck, Schriften, 6:141–2.

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is not adequate to the task, that is leading to the self-destruction of the inadequate tool. By contrast, the child Bertha had accepted the incomprehensible without seeking explanations. In her narrative, Bertha had blamed the development of rational thought for her fall from grace; her death is the second instance in which trusting to rational thought proves disastrous in her life. Eckbert’s case is more complex, but here too the main cause of madness is the impossibility of making sense of events, of drawing boundaries between reality and dream, compounded – but only compounded – by guilt and remorse. A predisposition for madness had been created by Eckbert’s melancholia, which in turn was the symptom of an unease caused by living on the proceedings of theft (and possibly by subconscious awareness of incest). But it is only when he begins to question the nature of reality that madness sets in. That the mixing of literary genres is crucial to this is highlighted by the narrator’s choice of words. The suddenness and drastic nature of the change in his life first causes Eckbert a sense of unreality: “Er hatte so lange mit Bertha in einer schönen Ruhe gelebt, die Freundschaft Walthers hatte ihn so manches Jahr hindurch beglückt, und jetzt waren beide so plötzlich dahin gerafft, daß ihm sein Leben in manchen Augenblicken mehr wie ein seltsames Märchen, als wie ein wirklicher Lebenslauf erschien” (6:143; He had lived with Bertha for such a long time in peace, Walther’s friendship had made him happy for so many years, and now both of them had so suddenly been taken from him that at certain moments his life seemed more like a strange fairy tale than an actual existence [17]).31 What drives him fully out of his mind is the uncertainty whether the seemingly supernatural apparitions that have invaded his life are real occurrences or products of his own diseased mind. The first “Rätsel” (riddle) – the word is significant – is posed by Hugo assuming Walther’s features: “Oft dachte er, daß er wahnsinnig sei, und sich nur selber durch seine Einbildung alles erschaffe; dann erinnerte er sich wieder der Züge Walthers, und alles ward ihm immer mehr ein 31 Von Mücke takes this formulation as the basis for one strand of her analysis, the mixing of the generic conventions of psychological realism and fairy tale. The Seduction of the Occult, 65ff. Greiner too points to Tieck’s radical alteration of the fairy tale genre, hinging on the characters’ disorientation: “Die Helden haben wie im Märchen keinen Überblick – aber sie erleben dies unmärchenhaft als Desorientierung; das Nicht-Bewußte der Märchenhelden wird zum Gegenstand und Problem – es wird psychologisiert zum ‘Unbewußten’ und ‘‘Verdrängten’” (“Pathologie des Erzählens,” 119; The heroes have no overview as in fairy tales – but they experience this in an un-fairy tale manner as disorientation; the non-conscious content of the fairy tale heroes becomes the subject and the problem – it is psychologized as ‘unconscious’ and ‘repressed’). Klussmann had identified the mixing of genres as the cause of Eckbert’s madness and death. “Zweideutigkeit,” 441.

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Rätsel”32 (Often he thought he was insane and only created everything in his imagination; then he recalled Walther’s features and everything became more and more of a mystery [19]). He attempts escape, but that only leads to the posing of more “riddles” of the same kind, until the doubt as to what is real and what is not encompasses his whole past existence. The old peasant seems to turn into Walther as well, and then Eckbert hears the bird’s song, and it is now that he loses his consciousness and his senses: “Jetzt war es um das Bewußtsein, um die Sinne Eckberts geschehn” (6:145; Now Eckbert was done for, his consciousness, his senses left him [19]). One should pay close attention to the motivation for this, given immediately after: “er konnte sich nicht aus dem Rätsel heraus finden, ob er jetzt träume, oder ehemals von einem Weibe Bertha geträumt habe” (6:145; He could not find his way out of the mystery whether he was dreaming now or had been dreaming of a wife named Bertha [19–20]). The very next clause (quoted above) addresses the mixing of the marvellous with the ordinary. In short, it is a cognitive problem that drives Eckbert mad. It is helpful at this point to recall Abdallah’s lament – at a moment when he too cannot decide if an experience occurred in dream or in waking life – that there is no possibility of any certainty if he cannot trust the evidence of his senses on this, and that one cannot live in such an ocean of doubt. Eckbert then, is already incapable of thought or memory (6:145; “keines Gedankens, keiner Erinnerung mächtig” [he was incapable of a single thought, a single memory; 20]) before ever he sees the old woman; her revelations, including the final one of the incest, are only the coup de grâce. The hypothesis advanced at the outset, that the tale is a study of how two people are driven to mental or physical illness and then to death by loss of their grasp on reality – that is, by recognition that cognitive certainty is impossible – is now confirmed. This takes us to the question as to the precise nature of the uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding the marvellous apparitions. In “Der blonde Eckbert,” Tieck is applying his own recipe from the Shakespeare essay, of maintaining the possibility of a natural, psychological explanation (hallucinations due to remorse and mental illness). Yet von Mücke is right to state that we are not dealing with a hesitation in Todorov’s sense, between the laws of nature and the supernatural.33 There can be no doubt that supernatural phenomena are present in “Der blonde Eckbert.” At the least valuation, the magical bird laying eggs that contain precious stones must be accepted as a fact. And if that much is true, there is no reason to

32 Tieck, Schriften, 6:144. 33 von Mücke, The Seduction of the Occult, 74.

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doubt the rest of Bertha’s childhood experiences, which means we must grant both the fairy tale and the ordinary realm equal reality status, and so must Eckbert have done all along. What then, is in doubt? With respect to the marvellous occurrences, two things: first, the extent of their involvement, and second, their ontological and ethical character. An even more far-reaching source of uncertainty, however, pertains not to the marvellous but to human perception and human relations. In the final analysis, human psychology proves to be the most insidiously mysterious and shifting ground, and thus the most disturbing. Doubts as to what really happened only begin after the murder of Walther. From here on, the reader is not told what happened, but rather what Eckbert perceived, and Eckbert’s mind is already diseased at this point. The reader is thus made to share Eckbert’s uncertainty, but for the reader Eckbert is not only the vehicle but also the object of doubt. The particular situations present a parallel to the final chapters of Abdallah, including a subtler and more skilful restaging of the appearance of Banquo’s ghost from Shakespeare’s Macbeth than Tieck had achieved in the earlier tale. In the midst of a social gathering, Eckbert suddenly sees a reincarnation of his victim; the result is “Entsetzen” (terror) and precipitate flight. As with Abdallah and Macbeth, one is left in doubt whether the apparition is real or a projection of guilt and remorse. The language very skilfully establishes and maintains this doubt, clearly indicating that only Eckbert’s perception is reported: “Dieser sah jetzt seinen Argwohn bestätigt, er glaubte sich verraten, und eine schreckliche Wut bemeisterte sich seiner. Indem er noch immer hinstarrte, sah er plötzlich Walthers Gesicht […] er sah noch immer hin und ward überzeugt, daß Niemand als Walther mit dem Alten spreche”34 (Confirmed in his suspicions, Eckbert thought himself betrayed, and a horrible rage overcame him. With his eyes fixed on them, he suddenly saw Walther’s face … He continued to stare and became convinced that no one else but Walther was speaking with the old man [18]). The perception is thus directly the product of “Wut” as well as of the remorse that never leaves Eckbert. Similarly, on Eckbert’s final journey, the sighting of Walther is presented as Eckbert’s perception prompted by self-suggestion and is followed by panic flight: “Was gilts, sagte Eckbert zu sich selber, ich könnte mir wieder einbilden, daß dies Niemand anders als Walther sei? – Und indem sah er sich noch einmal um, und es war Niemand anders als Walther” (6:145; “Let’s see,” Eckbert said to himself, “whether I can imagine that he too was no one else but Walther.” And when he looked up again, it was indeed no one

34 Tieck, Schriften, 6:144 (emphasis in original).

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else but Walther [19]). True, the old woman then confirms that both were indeed she, as was Walther himself, but the old woman only enters the scene after Eckbert has been diagnosed by the narrator as incapable of thought or recollection, so that the whole encounter might – just – be dismissed as Eckbert’s hallucination. Like Abdallah, but more skilfully, this tale thus puts into practice the analysis of the Shakespeare essay. Apparitions from the spirit-world are used to increase the fear and horror, both of the character and of the reader, to bring out the workings of remorse, and to occasion mental illness by presenting the protagonist with an unresolvable puzzle that contradicts the known laws of nature (one person cannot be another, the dead cannot come back to life). Uncertainty is heightened by creating a doubt as to whether given events really occurred outside the protagonist’s mind, so that cognitive uncertainty is transferred to the reader, yet without seriously calling the presence of the marvellous into question (the whole tale would not make sense if we regarded the old woman’s final revelations as a figment of Eckbert’s imagination). Nevertheless, though the existence and supernatural powers of the old woman cannot seriously be doubted, she is enveloped in ambiguity of a different kind. She is the crux of the uncertainty as to the nature and justice of the cosmic order. Tieck had argued that in tragedy some element of mystery and the unknown must attach to emissaries of the spirit-world. We have already noted that the old woman’s very appearance and behaviour are ambiguous and contradictory from the start. As mentioned earlier, the old woman initially causes Bertha Schauer because her face is constantly changing, so that it is impossible to know what she really looks like. She also confusingly combines attributes of a witch with Christian piety. She reveals that Bertha was undergoing a trial period and that all would have been well had she not run away, but it never emerges what the old woman’s intentions for Bertha were. The question as to the justice of the old woman’s behaviour and of the punishment she metes out brings us back to the question of the protagonists’ guilt. As has often been noted in scholarship, the old woman herself plays a role in actively fomenting the wrongdoings she then punishes. Her warning to Bertha was what put the idea in the girl’s mind that the stones were valuable and that she might be doing wrong by stealing them: “[I]n der Nacht fiel es mir wieder ein, und ich konnte nicht begreifen, was sie damit hatte sagen wollen. Ich überlegte alle Worte genau, ich hatte wohl von Reichtümern gelesen, und am Ende fiel mir ein, daß ihre Perlen und Edelsteine wohl etwas Kostbares sein könnten” (6:136; During the night it occurred to me again and I could not understand what she had meant. I carefully pondered every word. I had read about great riches, and at last it occurred to me that her pearls and precious stones might be very valuable [10–11]). Admittedly, there

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can be no trial without the possibility of making the wrong choice, but the old woman’s role as both instigator and punisher nevertheless puts her in a rather sinister light. Arguably too, the old woman as Walther precipitates the catastrophe in various ways. The suggestion to spend the night in cozy conversation, and to entrust Walther with the couple’s secrets, is prompted by Walther’s complaints: “Walther klagte über den weiten Rückweg, den er habe, und Eckbert schlug ihm vor, bei ihm zu bleiben” (6:127; Walther complained about his long trip back home, and Eckbert proposed that he stay [2]). The murder of Walther is provoked by the indifference he displays immediately after the narrative, by his lack of interest in Bertha’s illness, and by his infrequent visits after. Nor is it a murder, except in intention, inasmuch as Walther does not exist. What exactly then is the crime for which Eckbert is being punished? Scholarship has treated this question far less often than that of Bertha’s guilt, despite the fact that he is the title character, with whom the tale begins and ends. It is in connection with his fate that the old woman’s behaviour appears most questionable. The obvious suggestions as to the wrong being punished fail to satisfy. As already mentioned, there is no actual murder, and in any case the punishment predates the crime, since the old woman in the person of Walther has been feigning friendship for years. As for the incest, of which Eckbert is only subconsciously aware, or living off the proceeds of stolen goods, the severity of the punishment far outweighs the magnitude of the crime. Some scholars have argued that Eckbert is of secondary importance in the tale. Rath sees him as a mere extension of Bertha,35 Kreuzer as an object and a tool: “Im Gegensatz zu Bertha handelt Eckbert niemals frei; er wird zuerst von Bertha instrumentalisiert, die nach dem Vogelmord einen Beschützer sucht und ihre Schuld an Eckbert abgibt; später manipuliert ihn die Alte, die ihn im Austausch gegen Bertha akzeptiert hat”36 (By contrast with Bertha Eckbert never acts freely; he is first instrumentalized by Bertha, who after the murder of the bird seeks a protector and passes her guilt on to Eckbert; later the old woman manipulates him, having accepted him in exchange for Bertha). She explains his punishment by postulating a concept of guilt as a debt that must be paid, no matter by whom: “Soll und Haben, Sühne und Schuld sind für den jungen Tieck vorwiegend Mengenbegriffe, ohne ethische oder moralische Auffüllung. Ihre Balance muß ausgeglichen sein; dabei spielt es keine Rolle, wer eine Schuld bezahlt, noch wie sie

35 “Eckbert fehlt als Erzählfigur daher jedes Eigenleben” (Rath, Ludwig Tieck, 268; Hence Eckbert as narrative figure lacks all independent life). 36 Kreuzer, Märchenform, 167.

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beschaffen ist […] so zahlt der blonde Eckbert für Berthas Vergehen”37 (Credit and debit, expiation and guilt are mainly quantitative concepts for the young Tieck, without ethical or moral content. Their balance must be made good; it doesn’t matter who pays a debt, nor what the debt is … so blond Eckbert pays for Bertha’s wrongdoing [emphasis in original]). This ingenious suggestion offers an explanation for Eckbert’s fate, but in a way that makes the notion of just retribution all the more dubious. Since her decisions are questionable, and her nature remains mysterious, there is at least justifiable doubt that the old woman represents higher forces of order. There is nothing in the text to refute the possibility that she is a vengeful spirit acting only out of personal motivation, in accordance with her witch-like traits. At any rate, the sentence with which she announces herself to Eckbert as harbinger of justice is self-contradictory and thus self-cancelling: “Siehe, das Unrecht bestraft sich selbst: Niemand als ich war dein Freund Walther, dein Hugo”38 (You see, injustice punishes itself: no one else but I was your friend Walther, your Hugo [20]). Wrongdoing obviously did not punish itself, since the old woman twice shape-shifted and spent years feigning friendship in order to bring punishment about. Once again, as with Abdallah, a source of fear is uncertainty as to the nature of the universe and the forces that govern it, and thus the unknown on a cosmic scale as well as on the plane of individual events. We are reminded of the comment in the frame of Phantasus, that poets invent fairy tales in order to dispel the reaction of fear before cosmic emptiness and chaos, but that the fear remains inscribed in the products. This consideration takes us to the motif of solitude, and through it, to the ambiguous nature of human relationships. Scholarship on this tale has often remarked on the use of the verb “scheinen” (to seem) and the possible gap it marks between appearance and reality. In “Der blonde Eckbert,” despite the ambiguous nature of the supernatural, the uncertain and shifting conditions indicated by “scheinen” pertain not to external reality or to apparitions from the spirit-world but rather to human behaviour and relationships. Only in the final phase of the tale does this give rise to the more radical ontological uncertainties discussed above. One relationship called into question by the verb to seem is the putative love between Eckbert and Bertha: “beide schienen sich von Herzen zu lieben” (6:126; the two seemed to love each other most deeply [1]). The comments of both at the end of Bertha’s narrative confirm the suspicion. Bertha does not claim that love drove

37 Ibid., 87 (emphasis in original). 38 Tieck, Schriften, 6:145.

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her to the marriage: “Schon lange kannt’ich einen jungen Ritter, der mir überaus gefiel” (6:140; For quite some time I had known a young knight, whom I liked very much [14]). Clearly, this liking was not in itself enough to make her consider marriage, since she had already known him “long” and only decided to marry him upon becoming afraid of her hired companion. Eckbert’s declaration to Walther of his love for Bertha is equally double-edged: “Ihr hättet sie damals sehn sollen […] ihre Jugend, ihre Schönheit […] Sie kam mir vor wie ein Wunder, und ich liebte sie ganz unbeschreiblich. Ich hatte kein Vermögen, aber durch ihre Liebe kam ich in diesen Wohlstand; wir zogen hieher, und unsre Verbindung hat uns bis jetzt noch keinen Augenblick gereut” (6:140, emphasis added; You should have seen her then … her youth, her beauty … She seemed to be a miracle and my love knew no bounds. I had no fortune, yet she brought me prosperity; we moved here, and we have not regretted our union for a moment [14; emphasis added]). The past tenses suggest that just as Bertha’s beauty and youth lie in the past, so too does Eckbert’s love for her. The juxtaposition of the claim for love and the fact that he acquired wealth through her suggests these were the two reasons for his courtship of her, and the reader is left free to speculate as to which was the most important. Then too, not having regretted the union is very tame praise indeed, falling well short of a claim of happiness, and is further weakened by the indication of unease as to the continuance of satisfaction (“bis jetzt”). The initial description of Eckbert strengthens the suspicion that the marriage is devoid of love and happiness. His face is pale and emaciated, and when he is alone “bemerkte man an ihm eine gewisse Verschlossenheit, eine stille zurückhaltende Melancholie” (6:126; a certain reserve became apparent in him, a quiet, restrained melancholy [1]). This last dissipates when he is in company, yet the narrator has claimed that both Eckbert and Bertha love solitude (“Sein Weib liebte die Einsamkeit eben so sehr” [His wife liked solitude as much as he did]). Furthermore, Eckbert is characterized by “Verschlossenheit” yet we meet him at a moment when he is seized by “einen unwiderstehlichen Trieb, sich ganz mitzuteilen, dem Freunde auch das Innerste aufzuschließen, damit er um so mehr unser Freund werde” (6:127; an irresistible urge to confide completely, to disclose its [his soul’s] inmost recesses to a friend, so that he may become an even closer friend [2]). Perhaps Eckbert is seeking in friendship the love that has escaped his marriage, but no sooner has he given away his secret than he is seized by suspicion of his friend’s reaction. Though this first confiding goes drastically awry, leading to the murder of Walther, Eckbert is seized by the urge to confide again, this time to Hugo, with the same results.

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This is the second context marked by the verb to seem, indicating the impossibility of knowing another person and also the mysteriousness of human motivation. Walther seems indifferent to Bertha’s illness – “schien sich nicht viel darum zu kümmern” (did not seem to be much concerned) – and his lukewarm reaction to the confidence is presented as a notion of Eckbert’s, based on a subjective measure of what would be the proper degree of warmth: “Es fiel ihm ein, daß Walther nicht so herzlich von ihm Abschied genommen hatte, als es nach einer solchen Vertraulichkeit wohl natürlich gewesen wäre” (6:140; It occurred to him that Walther had not said good night with the sincerity he would have thought natural after such intimacy [15]). So too after the confidence to Hugo: “Er glaubte ein hämisches Lächeln zu bemerken, es fiel ihm auf, daß er nur wenig mit ihm spreche, daß er mit den Anwesenden viel rede, und seiner gar nicht zu achten scheine” (6:144; He thought he noticed a malicious smile; he was struck by the fact that Hugo rarely spoke with him, but all the more with others, and, indeed, scarcely seemed to pay any attention to him [18]). The narrator’s remarks on the possible outcomes of confiding in a friend indicate that this see-sawing between trust and mistrust is not an isolated occurrence, but on the contrary a general trait of human relations: “In diesen Augenblicken geben sich die zarten Seelen einander zu erkennen, und zuweilen geschieht es wohl auch, daß einer vor der Bekanntschaft des andern zurück schreckt” (6:127; In such moments gentle souls may reveal themselves completely, and yet it can happen that the one recoils in fear from knowing the other [2]). Another instance of to seem pertains to Eckbert’s reaction: “Es schien aber seine Verdammnis zu sein, gerade in der Stunde des Vertrauens Argwohn zu schöpfen” (6:144; It seemed, however, that he was cursed with becoming suspicious exactly at the moment of greatest trust [18]). Is it fate, human nature or a peculiarity of Eckbert’s character or situation? Why this irresistible urge, especially in the face of the first disastrous experience? A clue is given by the motivation that drives him to frequent society after the death of Bertha and the murder of Walther: “Er wünschte durch irgend einen Freund die Leere in seiner Seele auszufüllen” (6:143; He longed for a friend to fill the void in his soul [17]). In the frame of Phantasus, the emptiness of the cosmos was given as a reason for inventing fairy tales as a way of peopling it; the sultan Ali had sought to fill the emptiness of his soul first by sensual pleasures, then by the enjoyment of power and of the fear he could instill; Eckbert too is driven by an increasingly desperate need to fill the void of his existence. In the face of this, the claim that solitude is a good to be desired begins to look rather questionable. This takes us to a consideration of the many faces of solitude, identified by the frame characters in Phantasus as the central motif of “Der blonde Eckbert” (6:242).

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We have already noted that Eckbert and Bertha supposedly love solitude, yet Eckbert is melancholy whenever he is alone. Later on we discover the cause of the melancholy and the solitude at once: “er war schon sonst immer schwermütig gewesen, weil ihn die seltsame Geschichte seiner Gattin beunruhigte, und er irgend einen unglücklichen Vorfall, der sich ereignen könnte, befürchtete” (6:142; He had always been melancholy … because his wife’s strange story had troubled him all along and he had feared that something unfortunate might occur [17]). Eckbert is ill at ease with the world and himself because pulled this way and that by two competing fears: the fear of betrayal by a friend who knows his secret drives him to solitude and reserve, while the fear of the void in his soul drives him to seek love and companionship. Bertha too has experienced different faces of solitude. On her journey away from her parents’ home, she first experiences solitude in the mountains as something to be feared (6:129). The solitude increases as she penetrates the wilder mountains; her situation there resembles one of Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings of a lone human confronted with the immensity of nature, a classic textbook example of the sublime (one might think, for instance, of Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer [Wanderer over the Sea of Fog]): “alles war mit einem neblichten Dufte überzogen, der Tag war grau und trübe, und keinen Baum, keine Wiese, selbst kein Gebüsch konnte mein Auge entdecken” (6:130; everything was covered with a veil of fog, the day was gray and gloomy, and I could not see a single tree or meadow, not even a bush [5]). Her reaction is not uplift, however, but only an intense longing for human company. The song of the magic bird, as is well known, presents the positive side of solitude, as a paradise away from the effects of time and the ills of society (“Waldeinsamkeit / Die mich erfreut, / So morgen wie heut / in ewger Zeit” [6:132; Alone in the wood, / I feel oh, so good, / Tomorrow, today, / For ever and aye; 7]). Since Bertha flourishes in this setting and feels no desire for change (6:135) until the old woman plants the seed for evil in her mind, we can assume that she shared the bird’s point of view while in the fairy tale paradise. After the death of Bertha and the murder of Walther, the “größte Einsamkeit” (total solitude) in which Eckbert lives has become the terrible condition in which one becomes aware of the void in one’s soul, and in which one begins to doubt the reality of one’s experiences. At the end, the realization of the terrible magnitude of his solitude is one of the two final blows that kills Eckbert: “Gott im Himmel! sagte Eckbert stille vor sich hin, – in welcher entsetzlichen Einsamkeit hab’ ich dann mein Leben hingebracht!” (6:145; “God in heaven!” Eckbert mumbled to himself. “In what dreadful solitude have I spent my life!” [20]).

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The shifting, uncertain nature of human relationships and human perception in the tale creates another form of cognitive insecurity engendering fear – a form that is entangled with, and complements, the fear generated by the marvellous. It is impossible to understand others, yet there is no comfort or safety in solitude, since one is then faced with the even more disturbing impossibility of making sense of one’s own perceptions and reactions; only outside of ordinary reality, in the straightforward world of fairy tale, is solitude an unquestioned good. The fear and darkness of this tale thus derive from its picture of the individual adrift in a world that is hostile and incomprehensible on every level: the supersensible cosmic one, the social one of human relations, and the inner one of the psyche. “Der getreue Eckart und der Tannenhäuser” (first published in 1799) displays both continuity and development compared to the earlier tales. In particular, Tieck’s technique for creating narrative ambiguity and thus uncertainty in the reader has evolved considerably. As with Abdallah and “Der blonde Eckbert,” the protagonist is insane by the end. Solitude is not a central theme, yet here too as in the previous tales, human relations are a shifting and insecure ground in which appearance may not correspond to reality. Friendship in particular (as in the earlier tales) may not truly exist, or at the least may be one-sided, and this problem is once again marked by the narrator’s use of the verb scheinen. Lastly, this tale too raises some doubts as to the justice, and even the very existence, of an intelligence ordering the cosmos, which here at the very least appears curiously impotent. At the same time, the erotic drive, presented as an uncanny force, plays a more central role than in the earlier tales, and even arguably than in “Der Runenberg,” which comes closest to it in this respect. Connected with this is a feature that sets this tale apart: its use of the topos of Gewalt der Musik (force of music) allied with demonic forces as a contributing factor to Schauer. Though isolated in Tieck’s fiction of the Romantic period, the theme of uncanny music will become quite prominent with other writers of the time, as we shall see in the chapters on Kleist, Hoffmann, and Das Gespensterbuch (The Book of Ghosts), so that in this sense too Tieck can be regarded as a pioneer. Differently from the previous tales, the marvellous here takes a mythic form, not only because it involves the gods of myth but also because it enters the tale already as myth, which further complicates its ontological status and fundamentally contributes to narrative ambiguity. The tale has two parts: the first relates the story of Eckart, the second that of Tannenhäuser. The Eckart part features only one marvellous element – music appearing as a lure for demonic forces – which comes to

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full fruition in the second part. The story of the mountain of Venus is introduced – already as a legend – in the Eckart section. It does not, at this point, exercise an attraction in itself, but only through its emissary, “Ein Spielmann von wunderseltner Art” (A minstrel of a wondrously rare kind). Whoever hears his music “wird […] mit offenbarer, doch uner­ klärlicher Gewalt erfaßt” (6:156–57; is seized by an evident but inexplicable force) and driven irresistibly on until the mountain of Venus opens before him. The description of the music’s effects on Eckart and his protegés, the duke’s sons, establishes a nexus of related motifs: music, nature, and erotic or Dionysian forces that are at once mythological beings and psychic drives. The music of the minstrel seems to awaken new life in nature: “höher schwillt der Töne Macht, / Und heller glänzt der Sonnen Licht, / Die Blumen scheinen trunken, / Ein Abendrot nieder gesunken, / Und zwischen Korn und Gräsern schweifen / Sanft irrend blau und goldne Streifen” (6:167; higher swells the power of the tones, / And brighter shines the sun’s light, / The flowers seem drunk, / A sunset has gone down, / And among corn and grasses wander / Gently straying blue and golden streaks). The listeners experience it as the voice of nature calling to them: “Wir wollen in die Berge, in die Felder, / Uns rufen die Quellen, es locken die Wälder” (We want to go into the mountains, into the fields, / the springs call us, the woods lure). Those swept away by this power of music lose conscious control of themselves so that they too become like an element of nature: the young dukes “toben wie die Wogen / Im wildempörten Meer” (6:168; rage like the waves in the wildly angry sea). Frank and Begemann both have pointed out the parallel to the cult of Dionysus, in particular to the bacchantic frenzy of the god’s devotees.39 The god Dionysus “maddened” his worshippers – or those he wished to punish – disactivating reason and unleashing irrational urges, particularly erotic ones, and this is precisely what happens here. This nexus is expanded in the second part of the tale, constituting the thematic core of the Tannenhäuser legend. Before turning to the Tannenhäuser section, another strand of the aesthetics of fear should be noted, namely, fear serving a cognitive function, here in the moral sense rather than the metaphysical one, as was the case with Jean Paul and Hoffmann.40 The feeling of fear, in two instances, serves literally to bring a character to reason, that is, to a recognition of truth and virtue. The duke had turned against his faithful vassal Eckart and killed the latter’s sons. When he gets lost in the forest during a storm,

39 See Begemann, “Eros und Gewissen,” 97; and Tieck, Schriften, 6:1279. 40 See chapter 1, sections 2 and 4.

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the wild (dynamically sublime) raging of natural elements suddenly brings him to an awareness of the power of God and so to consciousness of his sins and remorse for them.41 For his part, Eckart (in his role of guardian after the death of the duke) is at first also seized and carried along by the power of the minstrel’s music, until a sudden sensation of horror brings him to his senses: Ha! bringen nicht die Töne, So fragt er sich entzückt, Mir Weib und liebe Söhne, Und was mich sonst beglückt? Doch faßt ein heimlich Grauen Den Helden plötzlich an, Er darf nur um sich schauen Und fühlt sich bald ein Mann.42 Ha! don’t the tones, He asks himself in delight, Bring me back wife and dear sons, And what once made me happy? But a secret horror suddenly Seizes the hero, He only needs to look around And he soon feels like a man.

God, insofar as he makes his presence felt, speaks through the emotions of fear and horror, through which the characters come to recognize the demonic repercussions of allowing oneself to be governed by desire, and thus reassert the control of reason and virtue.43 This motif will recur in the Tannenhäuser section but with a very different outcome. There, Eckart, who throughout is identified with conscience and the self-denial of desire this requires, himself becomes the fearful object (ghost) that prompts the return to reason and virtue, but wholly fails in its intended effect in Tannenhäuser’s case.

41 Tieck, Schriften, 6:161ff. 42 Ibid., 6:168. 43 This is a dimension of fear that Eichendorff will develop more fully, for instance, in Das Marmorbild, partly modelled on Tieck’s “Tannenhäuser.” See Part III of this study.

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The nexus music–nature–demonized erotic urges is central to the tale of Tannenhäuser as told by himself in the second part. The legend of the “wundersamen Spielmann” – even without the actual music – exerts a pull on the child Tannenhäuser that manifests itself at first as a longing for union with nature: “Ich hörte als Knabe diese Erzählung oft und wurde nicht sonderlich davon gerührt, doch währte es nicht lange, so erinnerte mich die ganze Natur, jedweder Klang, jedwede Blume an die Sage von diesen herzergreifenden Tönen”44 (As a child I often heard this tale and was not particularly moved by it, but not long after all of nature, every sound, every flower reminded me of the legend of these heart-rending tones). This longing causes Tannenhäuser to wander alone in field and forest. It soon becomes evident, on an occasion when he gets lost and finds his way to a beautiful garden, that what he is seeking in nature is Frau Venus, that is, erotic passion: “Ein unnennbares Sehnen zu den Rosen ergriff mich, ich konnte mich nicht zurück halten, ich drängte mich mit Gewalt durch die eisernen Stäbe, und war nun im Garten. Alsbald fiel ich nieder, umfaßte mit meinen Armen die Gebüsche, küßte die Rosen auf ihren roten Mund, und ergoß mich in Tränen” (6:174–5; An unnamable longing for the roses seized me, I couldn’t hold back, I pressed myself with force through the iron bars and was in the garden. Immediately I fell down, embraced the bushes with my arms, kissed the roses on their red mouths and dissolved in tears). At this point, his desires appear to find a commensurable focus. The garden belongs to a family with a young daughter, Emma, with whom Tannenhäuser falls in love and who seems to him “die Heimat aller meiner Wünsche” (6:175; the homeland of all my desires). His longing is only briefly stilled, however, and the abovementioned nexus of ideas reappears in the period of his jealousy for the other young man who is courting Emma (we will return to this plot strand later, in another connection). Driven by jealousy, he once again falls prey to his former longing, expressed as “Sehnsucht nach der Ferne” (longing for faraway places), as desire for death and for pleasure at once, and it is here that the Mountain of Venus legend resurfaces as the possible goal of these undirected desires. Music now reappears in its original function as a lure from the Mountain of Venus. Tannenhäuser conjures up the devil, who teaches him a song that will lead him there unerringly: “das Lied, das ich mit lauter Stimme sang, führte mich über wunderbare Einöden fort, und alles übrige in mir und außer mir hatte ich vergessen; es trug mich wie auf großen Flügeln der Sehnsucht nach meiner Heimat” (6:179; the song, which I sang in a loud voice, led me away over wonderful

44 Tieck, Schriften, 6:173; also 6:174.

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deserts, and I forgot everything else in me and outside me; it carried me to my homeland as if on great wings of desire). Emma had only seemed the “Heimat” – note the reoccurrence of the same phrase – of his wishes. In reality, this is something much bigger and older than one innocent girl; its meaning becomes clear with Tannenhäuser’s description of the realm of Venus, hidden underground in the mine-like interior of a mountain.45 Venus’s realm is the hedonistic mythology of ancient Greece as conceived in Schiller’s poem “Die Götter Griechenlands” (“The Gods of Greece”), which is echoed here: “So kam mir das Gewimmel der frohen heidnischen Götter entgegen” (The swarm of the joyous pagan gods came towards me). They represent sensual pleasures of every kind: “Alle Freuden, die die Erde beut, genoß ich hier in ihrer vollsten Blüte” (I enjoyed here in their fullest flowering all the joys that the earth offers). Tannenhäuser’s first perception is of the music permeating this realm, which is different from any heard before; it is followed by exceptionally bright colours and free open space: “ich kam ins Freie, und wunderhelle Farben glänzten mich von allen Seiten an”46 (I came out into the open and wonderfully bright colours shone at me from all sides). As with Schiller, the Greek gods represent an enjoyment of sensual pleasures that is not only guilt-free but actually good because hallowed and shared by the gods. In the Christian era, these gods and the carefree sensuality they represent have been driven underground both literally and figuratively: “sie sind dorthin gebannt von der Gewalt des Allmächtigen, und ihr Dienst ist von der Erde vertilgt; nun wirken sie von dort in ihrer Heimlichkeit” (they are held captive there by the power of the Almighty, and their worship has been eradicated from the earth; now they operate from there in secrecy). They are branded as evil, and “heimlich,” hence uncanny. Once again, the erotic and nature are fused, again in the form of flowers: “in den Blumen brannte der Mädchen und der Lüste Reiz, in den Körpern der Weiber blühte der Zauber der Blumen”47 (the attraction of the girls and of desires burned in the flowers, the magic of the flowers blossomed in the bodies of the women). Flowers as symbols for women is a common, even trite device in Western literature, yet in the present context, given the allusion to Schiller and the fact that erotic desire from the start took the form of longing for oneness with nature, it

45 On the erotic dimension of the mine in Romantic literature, see Ziolkowski, German Romanticism and Its Institutions, 49ff. Once again, Eichendorff will follow Tieck’s lead on this treatment of the erotic drive and on the doubling of its object into innocent girl as first impulse, followed by the turning to Frau Venus, the real, much older and stronger embodiment of the drive. 46 Tieck, Schriften, 6:180. 47 Ibid., 6:180–1.

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is more than a poetic conceit. It suggests that the desire for sensual pleasures of all kinds, and particularly erotic passion, is a natural, necessary part of human nature.48 Yet it must be borne in mind that this complex of ideas is skilfully relativized, as it only appears in Tannenhäuser’s own account of his fortunes. He himself is of two minds whether it is natural (in the sense of healthy) or a sin, given that he leaves Venus’s realm and undertakes a pilgrimage to Rome to seek absolution from the pope. The consideration of narrative voices takes us to the question of ambiguity. This tale creates uncertainty as to whether any element of the marvellous was present at all to a much greater degree than either Abdallah or “Der blonde Eckbert.” Whereas in the latter at least the magic bird with its precious eggs must be taken as fact, here all elements of the marvellous are contained in Tannenhäuser’s own narrative, parts of which are demonstrably untrue, while others bear all the characteristics of hallucination. At the same time, the narrator’s curious reticence leaves much unexplained and so raises doubts as to his reliability, thus generating hesitation. As C.L. Nollendorfs argues, the text aims to create disquieting uncertainty for the reader by staging “an unsettling and mystifying invasion of the supernatural in the real world of our everyday lives. He [Tieck] is exploring the means to upset the comfortable equilibrium of his readers.”49 In this, she rightly sees an element of continuity with Tieck’s other fairy tales: “Typical of Tieck, it is again the confusion between the real and the unreal which is the central theme here.”50 Yet once again, Todorov’s model does not quite fit. The reader is offered not a choice between two explanations, natural and supernatural, but rather a choice between a supernatural but patently problematic explanation and a blank, a question mark with not so much as a hypothesis to address it. A blank, moreover, that raises further questions as to the causes of it all and as to the order and meaning of the cosmos. Then too, a number of the contradictions and hence the reader’s doubts pertain, not to the marvellous, but rather to the reliability of human relations, as was the case with “Der blonde Eckbert.” In the first paragraph of the Tannenhäuser section, after introducing the protagonist as loved by all on account of his beauty, the narrator announces his disappearance in these terms: “Plötzlich aber verschwand er, nachdem sich einige wunderbare Dinge mit ihm zugetragen hatten, und kein Mensch wußte zu sagen, wohin er gekommen sei. Seit der Zeit des 48 This is the central line of argument in Begemann’s article, which reads the tale as criticizing the repression of sensual desires by civilization. 49 Nollendorfs, “The Kiss of the Supernatural,” 163. 50 Ibid., 156.

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getreuen Eckart gab es vom Venusberge eine Sage im Lande, und manche sprachen, daß er dorthin gewandert und also auf ewig verloren sei”51 (Suddenly he disappeared after some marvellous things had happened to him, and no one knew and could say where he had gone to. Since the time of faithful Eckart there was a legend about the Mountain of Venus in the land, and many said that he had wandered there and therefore that he was eternally lost). Neither at this point nor at any other does the narrator offer any explanation, however tentative or hypothetical, as to why Tannenhäuser disappeared or where he went. The only explanation reported is that of superstition, which account is allowed to stand uncontradicted, and no alternative is offered to the reader. Then too, what are the unspecified “wunderbare Dinge” which happened to the protagonist, presumably causing his departure, and why does the narrator choose to be silent about them? Contradicting the narrator’s assertion is the fact that the protagonist’s friend Friedrich von Wolfsburg claims to have noticed nothing unusual about Tannenhäuser and to have been wholly surprised by his mysterious departure. Tannenhäuser himself relates events that qualify as “wunderbare Dinge”: his love for Emma, his jealousy and murder of his rival, Emma’s death from grief, the death of Tannenhäuser’s parents from grief over his wild behaviour, Tannenhäuser’s remorse over this, his conjuring of the devil, and his sojourn in the Mountain of Venus. Tannenhäuser’s claims that he conjured up and talked with the devil, and that, on returning to his parents after the murder of his rival, he saw the ghost of his mother sitting in the corner, then joined by the ghost of his father who died in his arms, have the character of hallucination. The murder of his rival and the death of Emma are clearly delusions, since the rival in question was the self-same Friedrich to whom Tannenhäuser relates his adventures, and who is now married to Emma, who in her turn is still alive, as Tannenhäuser sees for himself, to his avowed puzzlement. The protagonist’s narrative, which offers the supernatural explanation, is thus at least partly untrue. The reader is plunged into uncertainty chiefly by the impossibility of determining precisely where factual recollection ends and hallucination begins, because, as Helmut Arntzen points out, the one merges seamlessly into the other and it is impossible to determine at what stage mental illness set in.52 The narrator offers no alternative account of any “wunderbare Dinge” and is equivocal on another point as well. Tannenhäuser claims that his parents’ death drove him to despair and hence into the arms of the demonic. The narrator relates first Tannenhäuser’s disappearance, then his friend’s reaction to this

51 Tieck, Schriften, 6:171. 52 Arntzen, “Tiecks Märchenerzählungen,” 639.

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­ isappearance, and in the next sentence that “Tannenhäusers alter Vater d war gestorben” (Tannenhäuser’s old father had died) by the time the former reappeared in pilgrim’s garb. This gives the impression that the death followed the disappearance, which would expose another untrue element in the protagonist’s account, but there is only the narrative sequence to go by, and no mention is made of the mother. Thus the narrator again fails to provide any guidance in assessing the protagonist’s reliability. Furthermore, if the Mountain of Venus episode was the delusion of a madman, where did the mad Tannenhäuser spend several years, and is it probable that, if he was wandering around, no one caught sight of him? The ending poses the same problem even more sharply. Having been refused absolution by the pope, Tannenhäuser returns to Friedrich’s palace and murders the latter’s wife Emma, so that she may not disturb his return to Venus’s realm. He then goes to Friedrich’s bedroom, kisses him, and announces his intention to return to the Mountain of Venus. Friedrich, on finding his wife murdered, does not react to the discovery in any way, expressing instead an irresistible urge to find Tannenhäuser, which he associates with the latter’s kiss: “er erzählte, wie ihm der Pilgrim einen Kuß auf die Lippen gegeben habe, und wie dieser Kuß ihn brenne, bis er jenen wieder gefunden”53 (he told how the pilgrim had given him a kiss on the lips and how this kiss burned him, until he found the former again). Thereupon both disappear permanently and without a trace. Readers may choose to discount this supernatural motivation but are then left with no means to account for Friedrich’s behaviour, which is out of character and makes no sense in psychological or rational terms. Once again, the narrator offers no explanation, on the contrary describing Friedrich’s hasty departure as “unbegreiflich” (incomprehensible). Once again, only the superstitious explanation is given, even allowed to stand as the last word of the tale: “Die Leute sagten, wer einen Kuß von einem aus dem Berge bekommen, der könne der Lockung nicht widerstehn, die ihn auch mit Zauber-Gewalt in die unterirdischen Klüfte reiße” (6:182–3; People said, whoever received a kiss from someone from the mountain could not resist the lure which drew him also into the subterranean chasms with magic power). Uncertainty thus prevails, but it is not the hesitation between two plausible explanations; rather, it is the more radical confusion caused by the absence of any plausible account: on the one hand, an exhaustively loquacious protagonist with an unstable or disintegrating grasp on reality, on the other, an unaccountably reticent narrator. The supernatural account provided by the

53 Tieck, Schriften, 6:182.

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former is undermined by the unreliability of its provenance, but an alternative, natural account is not offered. As with “Der blonde Eckbert” (and to some extent with Abdallah, though there friendship was overlaid on the more unequal relationship of teacher and pupil), one central strand of the plot is the – putative? – friendship between two men. In “Der getreue Eckart und der Tannenhäuser,” the narrator introduces the friendship between the protagonist and Friedrich von Wolfsburg in these terms: “Einer von seinen Freunden, Friedrich von Wolfsburg, härmte sich von allen am meisten um den jungen Tannenhäuser. Sie waren mit einander erwachsen und ihre gegenseitige Freundschaft schien jedem ein Bedürfnis seines Lebens geworden zu sein” (6:171, emphasis added; One of his friends, Friedrich von Wolfsburg, sorrowed over the young Tannenhäuser more than the others. They had grown up together and their mutual friendship seemed to have become a need of life for each of them [emphasis added]). As in “Der blonde Eckbert,” the narrator signals that he is describing the outward appearance of a relationship, the implication being that it may not correspond to reality.54 Certainly it is to Friedrich that Tannenhäuser goes when he passes through on his way to Rome, and to Friedrich that he tells his tale. Yet his account of his youth includes no mention of a friendship that supposedly was to him “Lebensbedürfnis.” On the contrary, he claims to have led a solitary existence, drawn away from other boys by his mysterious longing: “Ich ward älter, indem ich mich stets von andern Knaben meines Alters entfernt hielt” (6:174; I grew older while I always kept at a distance from other boys of my age). Subsequently, the love for Emma had the same isolating effect: “Ich vergaß meiner gewohnten Freuden, ich vernachlässigte meine Gespielen” (6:175; I forgot my usual pleasures, I neglected my playmates). And the same is claimed of the time of his “Verwilderung” (growing wild): “Um die Zeit hatte ich keinen Freund, kein Mensch wollte sich meiner annehmen, weil mich alle verloren gaben” (6:176; At that time I had no friend, no person wanted to take care of me, because all gave me up for lost). It is immediately apparent that these statements are mutually exclusive, each implying this was the only time that Tannenhäuser had no friend, yet the fact remains that for no phase of his youth does he retain any memory of having a close friend. And he introduces his rival for Emma’s love, the selfsame Friedrich, who then becomes her husband, in a manner that implicitly denies any suggestion of friendship with himself: “Um die Zeit ward ein junger Ritter in der Familie bekannt, der auch

54 As mentioned earlier, in “Der blonde Eckbert” it was the love between Eckbert and Bertha that was thus opened to doubt. See above, pages 161–2.

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zugleich ein Freund meiner Eltern war” (6:175; At this time a young knight became acquainted with the family, who was also at the same time a friend of my parents). He claims to have hated his rival and not to have hidden his feelings (“Auch verbarg ich meinen Widerwillen nicht” [6:1756; Also I did not hide my dislike]). Yet Friedrich, in dismissing Tannenhäuser’s tale as “Einbildung” (delusion), claims to have noticed nothing: “nie haben wir gekämpft, oder uns gehaßt, wie du glaubst, doch verschwandest du noch vor unsrer Hochzeit aus der Gegend, auch hast du mir damals nie mit einem einzigen Worte gesagt, daß Emma dir lieb sei” (6:181; we never fought or hated each other, as you believe, but you disappeared from the area even before our wedding, also you then never told me with even a single word that you loved Emma). Tannenhäuser’s account is clearly partly delusion, yet the fact remains that all traces of a friendship with Friedrich have disappeared from his memory, raising a doubt as to its depth and importance, if indeed it was ever mutual in more than appearance. Furthermore, the love for Emma must have been true, otherwise why the mental disturbance, the insanity – if indeed it set in at that point – and the disappearance before the marriage? And if the fact of Tannenhäuser’s love and jealousy is true, how good a friend can Friedrich have been if he didn’t notice anything? Once again, human relationships prove to be a greater locus of uncertainty than even apparitions from the spirit-world, another dimension where perception may be inadequate or deceptive. Also, the disturbing possibility surfaces that each individual is isolated and untouched, even in the midst of friends. This tale evokes an even bleaker, darker view of the world than Abdallah or “Der blonde Eckbert,” since there is no suggestion of an initial guilt or misdeed to explain why Tannenhäuser should have incurred the fate of madness or seduction by demonic forces (or both). The absence or weakness of a counterforce to the source of evil emerges as a typical trait of Tieck’s fiction. In Abdallah, Nadir arrived too late and was too little involved to be an effective counterbalance to Omar. In “Der blonde Eckbert,” the old woman herself is the only larger-than-human entity involved, and it is by no means clear whether she is a representative of goodness and justice or a seducer and vengeful spirit. In the Tannenhäuser tale, Christianity offers itself as possible counterforce, but a peculiarly weak and ineffectual one. The traditional tale as Tieck found it involves a failure of Christianity, in the person of the pope, who proclaimed that Tannhäuser could no more be saved than the pope’s dry staff could sprout leaves, only to be himself condemned by God through just that miracle. In Tieck’s tale, Christianity has succeeded in banishing the demons to one spot in the mountains, but not in robbing them of the power to seduce and attract, not just the sinful or unwary, but anyone unfortunate enough

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to hear the music of the marvellous minstrel. The one powerful representative of goodness is faithful Eckart himself. In life, he succeeded in resisting the seduction of the music and in saving the young dukes from the demons by the power of his sword, though it cost him his life to do so. In death, he has, according to his ghost’s own words, been set as guard before the Mountain of Venus to keep others from perdition: “Ich bin der getreue Eckart, rief die übermenschliche Bildung, ich bin von Gottes Güte hieher zum Wächter gesetzt, um des Menschen bösen Fürwitz zurück zu halten” (6:179; I am faithful Eckart, called the superhuman figure, I have been placed here as watchman by God’s goodness, to restrain the evil curiosity of humans). Begemann reads the ghostly Eckart as an allegorical figure for the moral dictates of Christianity internalized and secularized in the form of conscience or the superego in Freudian terms.55 Whether as ghostly divine emissary or as moral function of the psyche, Eckart proves powerless and ineffectual: he cannot even delay let alone stop Tannenhäuser, who “drang hindurch” (forces his way through), apparently with the greatest of ease.56 Tieck seems to be taking up the legend of faithful Eckart as bulwark against evil only to undermine it. In life, Eckart’s loyalty to his lord earned him nothing but ingratitude, injury, and ultimately death; the reward for his heroic death in defence of his wards, in turn, is the dubious privilege of functioning as ghostly guardian to a gate of the underworld, a task both thankless and futile. Tannenhäuser began his account of his own life with his conviction that some individuals are predestined for damnation from the moment of birth and that nothing they can do will alter that curse: “Glaube mir, mein Teurer, daß manchem von uns ein böser Geist von seiner Geburt an mitgegeben wird, der ihn durch das Leben dahin ängstigt und ihn nicht ruhen läßt, bis er an das Ziel seiner schwarzen Bestimmung gelangt ist” (6:173; Believe me, my dear, that an evil spirit is assigned to many of us at birth, who frightens him throughout life and never lets him rest, until he arrives at his predetermined black fate). Abdallah expressed a similar conviction, but in his case fate functioned as an excuse to commit the crime that would obtain him his desires, on the grounds that he was fated to do so. Tannenhäuser, on the other hand, has committed no crime he could be wishing to excuse, unless we count his disappearance as one, or his entering the Mountain of Venus, which however was either “Einbildung” by Friedrich’s account, or the result of despair and madness by Tannenhäuser’s own. The fact that he was tormented from childhood by

55 See above, note 48. 56 Tieck, Schriften, 6:179.

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the longing that found its object in Venus’s realm does evoke the notion of predestination, be it supernatural or psychological. His downfall brings down with him two others, Emma and Friedrich, who have not merited their fate by any narrated wrongdoing. The kind of ending found in Shakespearean tragedy, involving a restoral of order and punishment of the unjust, which can at a pinch be argued for “Der blonde Eckbert,” is out of the question for “Der getreue Eckart und der Tannenhäuser.” This tale rather reflects the view articulated in the frame of Phantasus, of the world as frightening emptiness and chaos. The advances in Tieck’s aesthetics of fear achieved in “Der getreue Eckart und der Tannenhäuser” can be summarized as follows. (1) Tieck has refined and heightened narrative ambiguity on two levels. Uncertainty as to what happened and whether it is susceptible to natural explanation does not pertain merely to the marvellous elements or to the madness of the protagonist, but to the very events of the latter’s biography; also, the reader no longer has any real choice, given the absence of a natural explanation and the implausibility of the supernatural one. Also, the possibility of a psychological origin for marvellous phenomena first adumbrated in the Shakespeare essay has been greatly expanded: it no longer pertains just to ghostly apparitions as products of remorse (Abdallah, “Der blonde Eckbert”), but to the very source of the conflict, namely, the Mountain of Venus with its pagan gods as concretization of the appetitive drives, the repression of which has endangered mental health. (2) Fear as the reaction to doubts as to the nature of the cosmic order and as to the existence, purposiveness, and benevolence of the force governing it, is also intensified owing to the absence of wrongdoing on the protagonist’s part and to the unmotivated character of the catastrophe striking secondary characters as well. “Der Runenberg” (published 1804) shows elements of continuity with both “Der blonde Eckbert” and “Der getreue Eckart und der Tannenhäuser” in its treatment of the marvellous. It also reflects the comments found in the Phantasus frame, perhaps most directly of all the fairy tales. The sense of uncertainty and pervasive disquiet evoked by the text has several causes: (1) the portrayal of an experience of cognitive disorientation leading to madness; (2) a perspectival mode of narration that prevents certitude, not so much as to the events themselves but rather as to their meaning and ethical import; and (3) the view of the world and of human nature evoked: the disturbing possibility that humans are adrift in a hostile world of uncertain meaning and order, and the sense that the human mind itself is uncanny, a dark and unknown realm, conscious control of which is precarious at best.

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Reflecting the dual aesthetics of the sublime, the marvellous is a source of both fascination and horror for the protagonist, Christian. The fascination is so strong that it has taken possession of him – he experiences it as an unknown, external force – and driven him out of society and onto a pilgrimage to the mountains, before he ever encountered anything out of the ordinary: “es hat mich wie mit fremder Gewalt aus dem Kreise meiner Eltern und Verwandten hinweg genommen, mein Geist war seiner selbst nicht mächtig, wie ein Vogel, der in einem Netz gefangen ist und sich vergeblich sträubt, so verstrickt war meine Seele in seltsamen Vorstellungen und Wünschen”57 (It was as though some unknown power took me away from the circle of my parents and relatives; I was not master of myself; like a bird that has been caught in a net and flutters in vain, my soul was entangled in imaginings and desires [83]). This in itself is a remarkable variation on theories of the sublime, since the sublime force has already overwhelmed the subject before it even manifests as a phenomenon. Christian himself is able to identify the nature of his desire to some extent, as the longing for an experience of the marvellous, for contact with the spirit-world: [I]ch hörte einmal meinen alten Förster wundersame Dinge von diesem Berge erzählen […] ich erinnere mich, daß mir an jenem Abend grauenhaft zu Mute war. Ich möchte wohl einmal die Höhe besteigen, denn die Lichter sind dort am schönsten, das Gras muß dorten recht grün sein, die Welt umher recht seltsam, auch mag sichs wohl treffen, daß man noch manch Wunder aus der alten Zeit da oben fände. (6:189–90) I once heard the forester tell strange things about that mountain … I do remember that on the evening he told them to me I was full of dread. I’d like to climb that height, for there the light is more beautiful than elsewhere, the grass there must be green as an emerald, the world that lies about most strange, and one might also chance to find up there some wonder from times gone by. (85–6)

Certain features of the object of his longing should be noted: it is a desire for the strange (seltsam), transcending ordinary reality (forms of wunder- occur twice), but also a desire for the experience of pristine nature. Yet he is already aware that such an encounter will also be productive of horror. 57 Tieck, Schriften, 6:187. The English translations for “Der Runenberg” cited in the remainder of this chapter are from the collection translated by Frank Ryder and Robert Browning, German Literary Fairy Tales.

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On one level, this tale, like many a folk fairy tale, acts as a warning of what can happen when one is not careful what one wishes for. Beginning with his pulling out of the mandrake root, his encounter with the mysterious stranger, and the encounter with the Bergkönigin (queen of the mountain) on the Runenberg that these initiate, Christian is granted precisely what he sought, that is, an experience of the marvellous. This tale, like “Der blonde Eckbert,” depicts how the mixing of spheres or genres leads to an unhinging of the mental faculties and thereby prepares the ground for madness. When he awakens from sleep after his encounter with the Bergkönigin, Christian is confused, unable to collect his thoughts and memories. The very same phrases occur here with which Eckbert’s mental state just before his meeting with the old woman was described, with the mixing of the ordinary and the marvellous identified as the problem: Erstaunt und verwirrt wollte er sich sammeln und seine Erinnerungen anknüpfen, aber sein Gedächtnis war wie mit einem wüsten Nebel angefüllt, in welchem sich formlose Gestalten wild und unkenntlich durch einander bewegten. Sein ganzes voriges Leben lag wie in einer tiefen Ferne hinter ihm; das Seltsamste und das Gewöhnliche war so in einander vermischt, daß er es unmöglich sondern konnte. (6:193) Astounded and confused, he tried to collect his thoughts and recall what had happened, but his memory was as though filled with a murky fog in which unrecognizable amorphous shapes stirred in wild confusion. His whole former life seemed a great distance behind him; the strange and the ordinary were so inextricably mingled that he could not distinguish them. (88)

Once again, rational man’s inability to make sense of an irruption of the inexplicable and unknown into the accustomed world disrupts the workings of mental faculties, notably memory and rational thought, and lays the groundwork for insanity. Christian, unlike Eckbert, does not immediately succumb to it, because the mixing of the spheres is not kept up, and also because he rejects the experience, escaping back to ordinary human society. He rationalizes his vision as “ein Traum oder ein plötzlicher Wahnsinn” (6:193; a dream or sudden madness [88]), then immediately descends to the plain and embraces the very occupation he had refused when his father prompted him to take up his allotted place in society (his father’s own occupation of gardening). The passage in the frame of Phantasus, in which the observer, faced with the spectres that people even the most beautiful landscape, flees into “the tumult of the world” (6:112), might have been coined for just this episode. The fact that this encounter begins rather than ends the tale reflects “Der Runenberg”’s more complex

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treatment of the marvellous, which is not only an alien external force but also a reflection and just possibly even a projection of the state of Christian’s own psyche. “Der Runenberg” parallels “Der getreue Eckart und der Tannenhäuser” in that the supernatural beings are a concretization of erotic desires driven underground by civilization and Christianity. Though he could not name it, the longing or force that drove Christian away from his home and family was the same one that drove Tannenhäuser away from other youths – namely, erotic passion – and that led in both cases to the meeting with the goddess in the mountain. The two texts are linked by the same nexus of erotic desire, pagan deities, and pantheistically conceived nature. In both, transference of desire from the woman to nature occurs, though in opposite directions. Tannenhäuser first kisses the roses “on their red lips,” then believes he has found the “Heimat” of his desire in Emma, finally moving on to Venus herself. Christian’s desire is first aroused by the sight of the Bergkönigin’s nakedness, then transferred in her absence to the stones and metals he associates with her: “so muß ich mich wohl nächtlicher Weise aufmachen, um nur seinem [i.e. the gold’s] Liebesdrang genug zu tun, und dann fühle ich es innerlich jauchzen und frohlocken, wenn ich es mit meinen Fingern berühre, es wird vor Freude immer röter und herrlicher, schaut nur selbst die Glut der Entzückung an!” (6:200; I have to get up in the night and satisfy its urgent desire; then I feel myself inwardly shouting and exulting. When I touch it with my fingers, it grows redder and more splendid for joy. See for yourself its glow of rapture! [94]);58 he believes he has found his “Heimat” on the mountain, then loses sight of it in his cognitive confusion and escapes to the human girl, Elisabeth. “Der Runenberg” thus features the same doubling of the object of desire as did “Der getreue Eckart,” with Elisabeth corresponding to Emma and the Bergkönigin to Venus. This theme is explored more fully here, because the protagonist is allowed to experience life with both women. This adds to his state of uncertainty and so contributes to his eventual madness. Whereas in “Der getreue Eckart,” Tannenhäuser moves from Emma (the only seeming “Heimat” of erotic desire) to the goddess Venus (the larger-than-life, original incarnation of it), Christian moves from the goddess to the human girl, which causes him to see the 58 Norbert Mecklenburg comments: “Das Geld zieht als Substitut verdrängter, nicht domestizierbarer Triebziele deren Lustversprechen auf sich” (“‘Die Gesellschaft der verwilderten Steine,’” 70, emphasis in original; The money draws as substitute for repressed instinctual aims that cannot be domesticated their promise of pleasure to itself [emphasis in original]). There is an error in the translation of the Tieck passage: it – that is, the gold – shouts and exults, not Christian.

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c­ omparison as one of unrealizable ideal to inadequate earthly approximation: on their wedding night, he tells Elisabeth, “Nein, nicht jenes Bild bist du, welches mich einst im Traum entzückte und das ich niemals ganz vergessen kann, aber doch bin ich glücklich in deiner Nähe und selig in deinen Armen”59 (No, you are not that vision that once enraptured me in a dream and that I can never wholly forget; but still I am happy when I am near you and blessed in your arms [91]). The “doch” in particular smacks of an effort at self-persuasion and gives one little hope of a happy marriage. This interpretation of the doubling again increases the ambivalence of the marvellous, as compared to the more unequivocally demonic sphere of Venus in the earlier tale. This is also true of one final parallel between the two, in the function of the psychopomp, the mysterious figure who leads the protagonist to the mountain: the marvellous minstrel in “Der getreue Eckart,” the stranger appearing to Christian after the deracination of the mandrake in “Der Runenberg.” In the former, the minstrel who unleashes the wild drives in humans can be seen as positive only to the extent that such unleashing is good as a reaction to repression. In “Der Runenberg,” the mysterious stranger may be the emissary of the demonic sent to draw Christian into the abyss, but he may also be the answer to his need for higher insight, sending him to that revelation of the numinous forces inhabiting nature that he has been searching for. How one views him depends on one’s evaluation of the marvellous as a whole – a decision, however, that the text does not permit. Before pursuing the portrayal of the marvellous and the reader’s crisis of interpretation that this occasions, Christian’s own crisis of interpretation and its effect on his psyche should be briefly examined. Throughout the tale, Christian’s mental life is bedevilled by a painful vacillation of judgment, pertaining not merely to the sphere of the marvellous (associated with untamed nature and the realm of metals and stones), but also to that of human society, characterized by Christian morality and the domestication of nature (gardening). This adds a further dimension to cognitive disorientation causing psychic disintegration, one not yet present in “Der blonde Eckbert.” Christian is initially driven by a disgust for gardening to seek higher experience in the mountains, and he does indeed undergo such an experience, which corresponds exactly to descriptions of the sublime. The subsequent mental confusion, however, drives him to seek ordinary human society and to judge his feelings of the previous night “ruchlos und frevelhaft” (wicked and sacrilegious) as well as “gottlos” (godless), causing him consciously to seek refuge in brotherhood and piety (6:194). Correspondingly, he admires the piety

59 Tieck, Schriften, 6:196.

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of Elisabeth, the villagers, and their way of life; yet his praise of it includes an awareness of limitations that gives the reader pause: “Die engen Gärten, die kleinen Hütten mit ihren rauchenden Schornsteinen, die gerade abgeteilten Kornfelder erinnerten ihn an die Bedürftigkeit des armen Menschengeschlechts, an seine Abhängigkeit vom freundlichen Erdboden, dessen Milde es sich vertrauen muß” (6:193–4; The narrow gardens, the tiny cottages with their smoking chimneys, the neatly divided fields of grain – all reminded him of human needs, of man’s dependence upon the kindly soil, in whose generosity he must put his trust [89]). The world of agricultural society presents itself to Christian as one of order, peace, and piety, but also of narrowness, poverty, and fragility. His view of Elisabeth mutates: at first sight she strikes him as aetherial in her religious devotion (“ihr Antlitz war wie durchsichtig” [6:194; her face was as though transparent; 89]), inspiring him with peace and love; by their wedding night, as we have seen, he cannot block the conviction that she falls short of the ideal. Upon settling in the village, Christian successfully embraces gardening; after the visit of the stranger who entrusts him with a sum of gold, he is tormented by an increasing aversion to plants, not because he is contemptuous of them as earlier but because he sees and hears in them an unbearable reminder of pain and mortality: “in den Pflanzen, Kräutern, Blumen und Bäumen regt und bewegt sich schmerzhaft nur eine große Wunde, sie sind der Leichnam vormaliger herrlicher Steinwelten, sie bieten unserm Auge die schrecklichste Verwesung dar” (6:202; in the plants, herbs, flowers, and trees there moves and stirs in pain one great wound. They are the living corpses of earlier magnificent worlds of stone, they offer to our sight the most shocking putrefaction [96]). The contrast to the unchanging beauty of precious stones leads to the growing conviction that in abandoning the Runenberg he had turned his back on a higher realm of permanence and perfection, to which he must return. This decision is not quickly or lightly reached, however. For a lengthy period, Christian is literally torn apart by the two alternatives and their competing claims. He exhibits unmistakable symptoms of mental illness: sleeplessness, delusional talk, sleepwalking and bad dreams, and the renewed sense of being prey to an irresistible, unknown force: “ich verstehe mich selber nicht mehr, weder bei Tage noch in der Nacht läßt es mir Ruhe” (6:200; I don’t understand myself any more. I have no rest by day or night [94]). The reader is thus left in doubt whether the decision to return to the Runenberg is the product of insight or a final plunge into madness. Other narrative strands in the text offer no help with this decision, instead preserving ambiguity on several levels. In terms of ontological uncertainty surrounding the marvellous, “Der Runenberg” rates between “Der blonde Eckbert” and “Der getreue Eckart.” As in the latter but not the former, Tieck puts into practice his observation

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that Shakespeare was right to have the marvellous appear to only one character. Christian’s vision of the naked Bergkönigin could be a dream (indeed, he comes to regard it as such himself), and only Christian sees any cause for identifying the stranger (or strangers?), the Bergkönigin and the Waldweib (woman of the forest). On the other hand, “Der Runenberg” is closer to “Der blonde Eckbert” in that there is some external confirmation for the marvellous. The mysterious tablet with its jewelled inscription is seen and handled by Christian’s father, and this goes some way to confirm the presence of the marvellous; indeed, it also supports the identification Bergkönigin–Waldweib, since the tablet was given to Christian by the former and found again in the grass after the encounter with the latter. The events and their causes are not really in doubt; in fact, none of the characters doubt that numinous forces are at work in nature and that Christian is being lured by these. Uncertainty pertains primarily to the meaning and the moral import of this sphere. The mode of narration, which is more resolutely perspectival than in the earlier tales, makes a clear-cut decision as to the moral standing of the two spheres impossible: “Der Perspektive des Vaters wird die Perspektive Christians konfrontiert, und keiner wird eindeutig recht gegeben” (The perspective of the father is confronted with Christian’s perspective and neither is proved unequivocally right). Accordingly, the situations present entirely different aspects depending whose view is being reported.60 The characters representing society, Elisabeth and Christian’s father, represent piety and devotion to family. Elisabeth proves to be a devoted wife – except perhaps in that she remarries within two years of her husband’s disappearance, having been driven to it by economic distress – and Christian’s father is a caring and devoted parent. However, neither offers any particular proof of goodness, and neither proves to be a bulwark for virtue in the way that faithful Eckart was. What chiefly characterizes this sphere is instability, frailty, and helplessness rather than goodness. In two unsuccessful marriages, Elisabeth plays the role of passive observer or victim. She watches Christian’s mental deterioration with concern, grief, and fear, but the only action she takes is to confide in her father-in-law, and it is he who attempts to offer guidance and remonstrance. When her second husband takes to drink and becomes abusive, Elisabeth becomes a helpless victim: “so daß oft Elisabeth mit heißen Zähren ihr Elend beweinte”61 (so that Elizabeth in her misery often wept hot tears [99]). Christian’s father has failed from the first to exercise any influence or

60 Pikulik, Frühromantik, 267. 61 Tieck, Schriften, 6:206.

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control over his son: he cannot persuade him to become a gardener, and cannot steer him towards a sensible profession, and, faced with the onset of Christian’s mental illness, he can only advise more frequent attendance in church and greater love of flowers, neither of which has any effect. Christianity, represented by Christian’s father, Elisabeth, and the church, is as powerless to prevent seduction by the demonic – if indeed it is such – as was the ghost of faithful Eckart. Economic life is as unstable as personal relations. As Elisabeth’s fate shows, wealth is as quick to dissolve as to materialize; dependence on the soil brings misery when it is unfriendly as quickly and easily as wealth when it is friendly. The valuation of the mountain realm as demonic hails from this far from unequivocally positive sphere, specifically, from Christian’s father: “ist dieses verfluchte Metall nur zu unserm Unglück unter dieses Dach gebracht? Besinne dich, mein Lieber, so muß dir der böse Feind Blut und Leben verzehren” (6:200; Has this accursed metal been brought under our roof only for our misfortune? Bethink yourself, my boy, for in this way Satan is bound to consume you leg and limb [94]). This value judgment is presented in such a way that the reader cannot easily identify with it. On the one hand, Christian’s obsessive behaviour, particularly the stereotypical miser’s action of counting and recounting the gold coins, the thirst to earn more money at whatever cost to himself and his dependents, and his claim on his last reappearance that quartz and pebbles are precious jewels, all incline the reader to the interpretation of Christian’s father. On the other, the father’s anxious attachment to the plain and his equally anxious fear of mountains savour of neurosis: “laß uns gehen, daß wir die Schatten des Gebirges bald aus den Augen verlieren, mir ist immer noch weh ums Herz von den steilen wilden Gestalten, von dem gräßlichen Geklüft, von den schluchzenden Wasserbächen; laß uns das gute, fromme, ebene Land besuchen” (6:198; Let us go, so that we may soon lose sight of the shadows of these mountains; their steep, wild shapes, the horrible ravines, the sobbing streams always distress my soul. Let us return to the good, God-fearing flatland [92]). Likewise, a world view that equates moral uprightness with love of flowers is both too simplistic and too narrowminded for acceptance by the reader: “So ist sein verzaubertes Herz nicht menschlich mehr, sondern von kaltem Metall; wer keine Blume mehr liebt, dem ist alle Liebe und Gottesfurcht verloren” (6:201; Then his bewitched heart is no longer human, but cold metal; he who cannot love a flower, has lost all love and the fear of God [95]). Lastly, the father’s song in praise of flowers hails as their chief merit the very thing that drives Christian away from them, namely, their association with pain and death: “Das ist ihre höchste Freude, / Im Geliebten sich verzehren, / Sich im Tode zu verklären, / Zu vergehn in süßem Leide” (6:205; And this is their

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highest pleasure: / Love’s destruction their salvation, / Death for them transfiguration, / Vanishing their sweetest treasure [98]). Like Christian, he seems subconsciously aware of nature as suffering and divided against itself, and he is made anxious and fearful by nature’s desolation. The polar opposites thus converge, the difference residing in emotional reaction rather than judgment. Reflecting the assertion in the Shakespeare essay that the marvellous must remain distant and alien in order to generate fear, the mountain realm and its queen make only brief appearances. Their nature and moral import remain obscure, blurred by contradictory signals, as was the case with the old woman in “Der blonde Eckbert.” The Bergkönigin appears only once, in the ruins on the Runenberg. The only clues about her are her “überirdische Schönheit” (6:192; supernal beauty [87]), which is sensuous yet austere (“so streng ihr Gesicht” [6:191; so severe her features; 87]); her association with precious stones and metals, made evident by her surroundings (6:191; the room is “wunderlich verziert von mancherlei Gesteinen und Kristallen” [strangely adorned with various minerals and crystals; 86]); the references to crystal and gold in her song; and the tablet with its pattern of precious stones, which she gives to Christian. Another possible association is offered by Christian’s fear of approaching the mountain region again on his way to visit his father: “Sehe ich nicht schon Wälder wie schwarze Haare vor mir? Schauen nicht aus dem Bache die blitzenden Augen nach mir her? Schreiten die großen Glieder nicht aus den Bergen auf mich zu?” (6:197; Do I not already see the forest like a head of black hair before me? Do not shining eyes gaze up at me out of the stream? Do not great limbs stride toward me out of the mountain? [92]). There is a parallel here to the moment in the Phantasus poem when the landscape resolves itself into the face of the god Pan,62 suggesting that the Bergkönigin is a personification of nature as numinous force.63 What seems to find expression here is Christian’s bad conscience. On the 62 “Doch nahm der allergrößte Schreck / Mir plötzlich Stimm’ und Othem weg: / Was ich für Grott’ und Berg gehalten, / Für Wald und Flur und Felsgestalten, / Das war ein einzigs großes Haupt, / Statt Haar und Bart mit Wald umlaubt” (6:125; But the greatest fright of all / Suddenly took my voice and breath away: / What I had taken for cave and mountain, / For forest and meadow and cliff shapes, / It was a single large head, / Instead of hair and beard surrounded with forest). 63 In connection with this passage, Maria Tatar points out that the Bergkönigin is associated “with that part of nature untamed by man.” “Deracination,” 290. This supports the interpretation of scholars who see the sphere of the mountain as representing the positive values of poetry and harmony with nature, and hence the tale as a critique of society’s repression of emotion and alienation from nature. See, for instance, Thalmann, Das Märchen und die Moderne; Gille, “Der Berg und die Seele”; and Kreuzer, Märchenform.

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Runenberg he was vouchsafed a vision of the higher realm and a confrontation with the erotic drive in his own psyche; but in his inability to cope with cognitive disorientation, he chose to flee the former and repress the latter.64 His miser’s obsession with the gold can thus be read in two ways: as sign that demonic forces have taken possession of him, or as a perverse deviation of a drive that has been denied. The ambiguity is further heightened by the fact that the objects of allegiance (flowers or metals) are both realms of nature, both examples of beauty, opposed merely in that they represent transience versus permanence. This in turn reveals a reason for the assessment of Christian’s father: flowers are familiar and comfortable because they share with humans the experience of pain and death, stones and metals are alien because they do not. To complicate matters, though it is the realm of stones and metals, embodied in the jewelled tablet and the stranger’s gold, that seizes possession of Christian, finally drawing him fully into itself, it is a plant that sets him on his course towards madness and his dread of plants. On pulling out the mandrake root, he hears “ein dumpfes Winseln im Boden, das sich unterirdisch in klagenden Tönen fortzog”65 (a dull moaning, protracted subterraneously in piteous tones).66 This crucial detail militates in favour of Christian achieving some form of higher insight in madness. What makes him take refuge with the inorganic is the tragic insight that everything that lives must undergo pain and suffering, change, and death. We have already noted how events in human society underscore this truth: Elisabeth’s beauty fades, wealth dissipates, friends fall away. At one further remove, so to speak above the heads of the characters, this detail serves to transfer cognitive uncertainty to the reader: superstition has it that the pulling out of the mandrake root leads to madness, since it emits a cry that humans cannot bear; and superstition is proved exactly right by the events in the tale: not just Christian’s madness but everything else in the tale can be attributed to the root’s supernatural powers, since the stranger appears behind Christian at the very moment that he wishes to flee from 64 Rath reads Christian’s story as a test – the opportunity for self-recognition – repeatedly failed. Ludwig Tieck, 274, 279. 65 Tieck, Schriften, 6:186. 66 Ryder and Browning, Fairy Tales, 83. This is echoed and expanded in Christian’s subsequent horrified conviction that plants are the corpses of earlier stone worlds as well as an expression of injury and decay: quoted above, page 180. Tatar draws attention to this collusion of the opposing realms and to the underlying kinship signalled by language: “Despite the rigid dichotomy maintained throughout the text of ‘Der Runenberg’ between the vegetable and mineral realms, the syllables common to the Alrunenwurzel and Runenberg suggest that the two regions may conspire with each other in more than a purely linguistic sense.” “Deracination,” 286.

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the cry of pain unleashed by his act of deracination. Herein lies a further parallel to “Der getreue Eckart,” in which superstition literally retained the last word, and to the 1793 essay, in which Tieck praised Shakespeare for his use of native superstition. The theme of solitude, which had receded into the background in “Der getreue Eckart,” returns in “Der Runenberg” to the prominence it had in “Der blonde Eckbert,” its ambivalence mutating in the opposite direction. Only in the hunter’s song that Christian sings at the beginning does it feature as “schöne Einsamkeit”67 (lovely solitude [81]). In the action itself, it appears in the very first sentence of the tale in the role that points to its ultimate meaning and to the reason it causes fear: it forces reflection on the meaning of life. The opening image is of Christian, alone in the mountain forests, engaged in meditation over his fate (6:184). He can understand neither himself nor the voices of nature around him, becomes melancholy, and sings a song to cheer himself up – a kind of whistling in the dark that parallels the invention of fairy tales in the Phantasus frame. The attempt fails, the melancholy increases, and, again paralleling the frame passage, he is unable to bear the solitude and longs for human companionship: “es dünkte ihm so einsam und er sehnte sich nach Menschen” (6:185; Everything seemed to him so lonely and he longed for human companionship [82]). The Phantasus passage might have been penned specifically to describe the opening of “Der Runenberg.” When confronted by the stranger, Christian explains his haste: “wie ihm plötzlich die Einsamkeit so schrecklich vorgekommen sei, daß er sich habe retten wollen” (6:186; how the solitude had suddenly seemed so frightening that he had wanted to flee [83]). The stranger, in explaining this panic, describes solitude as severe: “Ihr seid noch jung, sagte der Fremde, und könnt wohl die Strenge der Einsamkeit noch nicht ertragen” (6:186; “You are still young,” the stranger said, “and probably cannot endure the rigors of solitude” [83]). Later, on his journey to visit his father, Christian is increasingly anxious as he approaches the mountains, and in this mood solitude takes on an even more frightening aspect: “ihm war, als sei er in einer feindseligen Einsamkeit verloren” (6:196; he felt as though he were lost in a hostile solitude [91]). As we have seen, it is the thought of the Bergkönigin that he is trying – fruitlessly – to keep at bay. Once again, solitude forces reflection, acknowledgment of one’s thoughts and impulses, decision. Twice before, in this situation, in the same landscape, Christian had made a panicky decision (the attempt to escape, the descent into the village after the vision on the Runenberg). He does not wish to reflect

67 Tieck, Schriften, 6:184.

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on, or possibly reconsider, the decision for Elisabeth and against the more ideal, superhuman beauty, and hence the solitude that prompts him to do so is experienced as inimical. The ending seems to confirm the stranger’s pronouncement in that an older Christian, in choosing the enduring world of stones and metals over the transience of organic life, is no longer afraid of solitude, and indeed can be said to have embraced it, since he has chosen to alienate himself from human society. This interpretation of solitude is in keeping with eighteenth-century aesthetics of the sublime: alone before the immensity of nature, the individual comes to a realization of his or her own insignificance and of enduring truths. The positive character of this sublime moment is undercut in two ways. First, it is relativized by the fact that it is a mad Christian, who cannot tell the difference between jewels and pebbles, who comes to embrace it. Second, the insight thus achieved is an insight into a rift running through nature and into humans’ alienation from nature. Thus neither for the character nor for the reader does insight provide uplift; rather, it contributes to the bleak view of the cosmos and underscores the unreliability of cognition. The last aspect of Tieck’s handling of the marvellous in “Der Runenberg” to be considered is the role of fear and horror. These have three functions, all prominent to some degree in the earlier tales: repulsion, attraction, and reaction to the chaos of the cosmos. We have seen how in “Der getreue Eckart” fear twice prompted a coming to oneself (the duke’s realization of his sins in the face of the wrath of god embodied in the storm, Eckart’s horror before the music of the marvellous minstrel enabling him to resist it). In “Der Runenberg” too, fear serves to keep Christian away from the marvellous. With Christian’s approach to the mountain sphere (6:197), however, the meaning of this reaction is ambiguous. It could represent a god-sent fear of the demonic, or it could signify a denial of one’s own urges that inhibits rather than fosters self-realization. As with Eckart, the horror and shuddering are provoked as much by the individual’s own erotic urges as by an external supernatural. The sensation of fear functions as an attraction as much as a deterrent – the allegory of Albernheit hanging on Schreck’s lips in the Phantasus poem comes to mind here. As mentioned earlier, the fact that the forester’s tales caused him horror is part of what draws Christian to the Runenberg. Similarly, Tannenhäuser, in describing the pleasures of Venus’s realm, comments: “ein Grauen, das so heimlich über die Blumenfelder schlich, erhöhte den entzückenden Rausch” (6:180; a horror that crept so secretly over the flowery meadows heightened the delightful intoxication). Lastly, as we have noted, humans, caught between the opposing principles of nature, fear either the organic or the inorganic realm, or indeed at times both. Christian experiences “Schauer,” “Furcht,” and “Angst” when he approaches the Bergkönigin’s

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realm, but equally and increasingly, he feels horror of the pain and death that he sees embodied in the plant world: “er fährt zusammen und scheint sich vor allen Pflanzen und Kräutern wie vor Gespenstern zu entsetzen” (6:201; he starts back and seems horrified in the presence of plants and herbs, as though they were ghosts [95]). Elisabeth’s choice of simile is significant if we remember the notion of the spectre as image for the terrible truth that one does not want to face – as for instance the necessity to suffer violence in Schiller’s essay “Über das Erhabene,”68 or the emptiness and chaos of the cosmos in the frame of Phantasus. Like everything else in this tale, fear thus also has an ambivalent character: it both pulls towards and pushes away from the spirit-realm; it is a symptom of a developing insight – either into one’s own psyche or the nature of the universe – yet it also seeks to keep full realization at bay. The passages in the frame of Phantasus reflecting on the marvellous, and on the difference between the horrific in life and in literature, were clearly intended to draw attention to the metaphysical dimension of the tales, to raise the spectre of the meaninglessness of the world, and to suggest literature as a way of coping with it. Through those passages, and through viewing the tales in light of them, we can get a clear picture of Tieck’s aesthetics of fear in the years 1812 to 1816. Yet if we keep in mind the extent to which the tales also exemplify the analysis of the 1793 essay on Shakespeare, we are justified in reading this aesthetics back into the period of the tales’ composition (1793–1804), the more so given the thematic continuity in the tales themselves. As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, Tieck’s theorizing operates with the established eighteenth-century concepts of the sublime and the marvellous, yet some of his concepts and, even more, his fictional practice move beyond eighteenth-­century aesthetics to postulate a world governed by inscrutable, morally ambivalent forces, and thus by ontological insecurity and fear, a world view that associates Tieck with other Romantic writers such as Kleist and Hoffmann.

68 See section 1 of the Introduction.

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3

Apel and Laun, Gespensterbuch

Gespensterbuch (Book of Ghosts) is a four-volume collection of tales spanning the spectrum of all subgenres of the marvellous (das Wunderbare), from adaptations of popular fairy tales or ballads, to satirical reworkings of French contes de fées, to horror tales exemplifying both the explained and the confirmed supernatural. It was written by August Apel (1771–1816) and Friedrich Laun (the pen name of Friedrich August Schulze, 1770– 1849) and published in Leipzig in 1810–11. Though its literary merit is slight and its authors’ connection to Romantic circles marginal,1 it is worth discussing in some detail, as it contributes to the present study in several respects. It belongs to the same thematic and conceptual world as the other works considered here and bears witness to the links between Schauerliteratur and canonical Romanticism. Its aesthetics of fear too grow out of the aesthetics of the sublime and can be described as a radicalization and specialization of the sublime. In its case too, the origin of fear is tied to the question of cognition, whereby it responds to Enlightened rationalism. The nature of this response, as with other Romantic authors, shows that the relationship should not be understood as one of simple, diametric opposition. Furthermore, Gespensterbuch presents a position on the marvellous that rejects the dichotomy of natural/supernatural more explicitly than did the subtler and more complex texts by canonical Romantics, thus clarifying how Todorov’s classification of genres is at odds with certain trends of thought in this epoch. By its difference from canonical Romantic works, it also highlights the characteristic that made (and still makes) these so disturbing: Gespensterbuch, having created the frisson of fear and horror by narrating inexplicable events, then offers

1 Apel was well acquainted with Fouqué, while Laun was a friend of Tieck and had met Hoffmann. See Ziemke, Johann August Apel, 23; and Krummbiegel, Friedrich Laun, 25.

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r­ eassurance and confirmation rather than destabilization of optimistic belief in the progress of scientific knowledge. Apel and Laun’s Gespensterbuch also affords opportunities to correlate theory with fictional practice. Apel not only formulated a programmatic position in the afterword to Volume 1 of the Gespensterbuch but also published an essay in which he defines “das schauerlich-Erhabene” and offers recommendations for the use of spirits in literature, the visual arts, and music.2 Furthermore, the tales themselves are a vehicle for theorizing, thanks to the model of frame and embedded narrative(s), the former often involving discussions of the marvellous that are then tested by the latter. The concept of the marvellous determines the scope of Apel and Laun’s collection, appearing in all its possible permutations: in comic and in fear-inspiring forms; confirmed, explained, or remaining in doubt. As with Tieck, fear is caused by the presence of something mysterious and inexplicable, most often conceived as a (possible) manifestation from a “Geisterreich” (spirit-world), the existence of which is never seriously questioned. As with Tieck, the root of the fear lies in the problem such manifestations pose for cognition, in that they conflict with established notions of philosophy and science. In a number of tales, however, the concept of the un- or super-natural is rejected as nonsensical, on the grounds that nothing can exist outside of nature. The dichotomy natural/ supernatural is thus replaced by one of explained/inexplicable. However, whereas Tieck’s works tend to subvert any kind of positive faith, Apel and Laun’s tales, while criticizing the shallow form of Enlightenment belief according to which manifestations that reason and science cannot explain do not truly exist but are the product of deluded imagination, yet reassure readers by the argument that the spirit-world is but a higher realm of nature, and as such susceptible of explanation by a more advanced and insightful science of the future. Apel and Laun also tend to reassurance insofar as the motivation behind interventions by emissaries of the spiritrealm is often less inscrutable, and more likely to conform to human notions of justice, than was the case in Tieck’s tales. More often than not, a kind of justice is to be discerned in fate’s decrees. In a number of tales, spirit manifestations castigate wrongdoing – for instance, they punish misdeeds such as murder, injustice, or infidelity, or they at least demonstrate to narrow-minded rationalists the error of their thinking. Several tales in which no previous wrongdoing exists involve an element of retribution in that the spirit-world is summoned by the characters themselves

2 Apel, “Über Musikalische Behandlung.” See also the discussion of this in chapter 1, section 3.

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– for instance, in a misguided wish to know the future – so that the tragic outcome can be said to be self-inflicted. But this difference is not absolute: there are also a few more radically disturbing tales in which “fate” persecutes individuals or families who have done nothing to deserve it and shows itself to be an ironist (in the manner of Greek tragedy), in that the attempts to avert it are precisely what bring it about.3 Apel’s essay “Über musikalische Behandlung der Geister” aimed to determine how emissaries of the spirit-world should be deployed in literature, the visual arts, and music in order to create in the recipients that “Empfindung des schauerlich Erhabenen und Grausenden”4 (sensation of the schauerlich sublime and horrific), which in his view is the only possible purpose for introducing such phenomena in the arts. This essay was discussed in detail in an earlier chapter.5 For convenience, the main points relevant to the interpretation of Gespensterbuch will be summarized here. At the very beginning of the essay, Apel makes clear he is concerned not with metaphysical truth (i.e., the actual existence or otherwise of spirits) but rather solely with aesthetic truth, that is, with how the introduction of spirits in the arts can be effective and convincing. Effective – it bears repeating – here means best calculated to evoke fear, Schauer, and horror. Apel divides spirits in two categories based on their behaviour towards humans. They can be active, that is, act in ways similar to those of humans but with greater powers, in order either to carry out fate’s decrees for given humans or to help these humans avoid their fate. Such spirits appear in anthropomorphic form (for instance, as genies or the gods of mythology); their appearance is described as “majestätisch” (majestic) or “prächtig” (magnificent), and they do not provoke Schauer. In the second category are spirits that do not take an active part in human life but simply announce the mysterious decrees of fate, by words, dark intimations, or their very presence (95). There are close parallels between Apel’s treatment of this second category of spirits and Tieck’s analysis of the marvellous in Shakespearean tragedy.6 These spirits, while not active, are effective (“wirkend”) in some incomprehensible way, and it is they that, better than anything else, can produce “das schauerlich Erhabene.” Because they are

3 My point here is in line with recent scholarship on the Schauerroman, which to some extent concedes the distinction between Schauerroman and Romantic literature on the basis of affirmation versus subversion of the Enlightened status quo, but warns that the difference is one of tendency or degree, with a current of subversion being present also in the more popular genre. See section 2 of the Introduction, page 48. 4 Apel, “Über Musikalische Behandlung,” 98. 5 See chapter 1, section 3. 6 See the discussion of this essay in the previous chapter, pages 126–33.

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emissaries from an alien, unknown world, they arouse that instinctive fear of the unknown to which Schiller and Jean Paul had also drawn attention – the feeling of helplessness before a force one is powerless to even identify, let alone resist. Also, they present the cognitive faculty with a contradiction in that they belong simultaneously to two mutually exclusive and incompatible worlds, between which, but belonging to neither, humans are poised.7 These two worlds are those of life and death, power/freedom and powerlessness, being/permanence and non-being: “durch sein Wissen des Schicksals [gehört der Geist] einer höhern [Sphäre], dem Quell des Lebens und freien Wirkens; durch seine Ohnmacht im Handeln, einer niedern, – dem Reiche des Todes” (96; through its knowledge of fate [the spirit belongs] to a higher [sphere], the source of life and free action; through its powerlessness to act, to a lower one, the kingdom of death). Because of the incompatibility of the two worlds that it joins in its manifestation, and because both spheres are alien to humans, the appearance of this kind of spirit is necessarily indefinite and ambiguous, and this is the third reason for the fear they inspire. With this, Apel indirectly characterizes the spirit-world in a manner similar to that of Jean Paul and Hoffmann: as unknown and at odds with human cognitive faculties, as higher and greater, yet at the same time as terrible because of its association with death. The notion of contradiction is Apel’s central point, and much of his essay is devoted to considering how it can best be presented in the various art forms. Apel insists that aesthetic truth demands that the indefinite, ambiguous, and contradictory be uppermost in the portrayal of the spirit, which must be endowed with the symbols of the two worlds. In literature, the contradiction can be captured by presenting “das Bedingte” (that which is determined [the sensation, “Empfindung”]) without “die Bedingung” (the condition [the form or spatial dimension; 101]). Different sense perceptions are to be placed in contradiction to each other. In the essay, the examples focus on the sense of sight only, as Apel seems to be conceiving spirit manifestations as necessarily something appearing to sight (“Für den äußern Sinn, oder wenn wir richtiger bestimmen wollen, für das Sehen […]” [100-1; For the external sense, or if we want to determine more correctly, for sight]). The absence of a spatial dimension cannot be complete; it can go only as far as the use of something “formlosen oder Unbestimmten der Form” (101; formless or indeterminate of form), such as the insubstantial ghosts from Ossian, through

7 Tieck too, it will be remembered, had associated the reaction of fear with a contradiction, which he conceived in terms of effects without discoverable causes.

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which one can see the stars. Some tales in Gespensterbuch, however, take the sensory contradiction one step further, pitting two senses against each other by means of manifestations presenting themselves to hearing but not to sight – a motif central to Kleist’s and Hoffmann’s conceptualization of das Schauerliche. The criteria we can expect to see reflected in the tales of Gespensterbuch can be summarized as follows: as with traditional theories of the sublime, fear is generated by a sense of helplessness before a superhuman, irresistible force, but Apel restricts that force’s possible sources to manifestations from the spirit-world; unlike eighteenth-century discourses on the sublime, the experience necessarily involves a challenge to cognition in that it presents the mind with an impenetrable mystery and an unresolvable contradiction; there is thus an element of uncertainty, but this is not due to hesitation between a natural and a supernatural explanation (since origin from the spirit-world is a necessary precondition); manifestations from the spirit-world are tied to the notion of an inscrutable and unavoidable fate determining human lives. Apel’s afterword to the first volume of Gespensterbuch deals mainly with the ontological status of the marvellous, and in so doing it takes up a polemical position towards Enlightenment. Apel first seemingly disclaims any intention on the authors’ part of taking a stance on the existence of “Gespenster.” Readers should approach the tales for the pure pleasure to be derived from reading, without seeing or expecting any application to real life (the volume serves “dem exoterischen Zweck der Unterhaltung”8 [the exoteric purpose of entertainment]), just as they read Ovid’s Metamorphoses merely for entertainment, without expecting any such transformations to occur in their own lives. Continuing the analogy to mythology, Apel argues that a collection of supernatural stories is not a statement for or against a belief in the supernatural, any more than a collection of myths represents an argument for or against polytheism. However, this somewhat disingenuous disclaimer is no sooner proffered than undermined. Apel takes the analogy to myth in another direction and, through it, elaborates an account of the marvellous and attributes a second, more serious purpose to the collection. He defines “das Wunderbare” as “das, dessen Grund wir in unsrer Bekanntschaft mit der Natur nicht auffinden” (that, the reason for which we do not discover in our acquaintance with nature), then goes on to contrast true with false Enlightenment: “wahre Aufklärung verdrängt den Wunderglauben, indem sie jene Bekanntschaft erweitert, und das Wunderbare begreifen lernt;

8 Apel and Laun, Gespensterbuch, 1:286.

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während die vermeinte, eingebildete Aufklärung die Thatsache selbst läugnet, weil sie das Wunderbare an ihr nicht begreifen kann, und es deshalb für absolut unbegreiflich zu halten pflegt” (1:285; true Enlightenment supersedes the belief in the marvellous, in that it expands that acquaintance, and learns to comprehend the marvellous; whereas the putative self-deluding Enlightenment denies the fact itself, because it cannot comprehend the marvellous in it, and therefore is used to consider it absolutely incomprehensible). The text asserts that phenomena that reason and science cannot explain, and that can thus be termed “wunderbar,” really do occur. Furthermore, the marvellous transgresses, not the laws of nature, but human acquaintance with nature; the point at issue is thus identified as the inadequacy of human perception and knowledge. Lastly, the afterword presents the dichotomy natural/supernatural as inappropriate: the cause of such phenomena is to be found in nature, and it is only a matter of time before natural science, which Apel asserts is still in its infancy (1:286), does discover this cause. “Wunderglaube” is thus both right and wrong: right, because it is more “enlightened” than false Enlightenment in that it asserts the existence of phenomena above and beyond the known laws of nature; but wrong in labelling these supernatural, since they do in fact have a cause in nature. By this move, the text simultaneously undermines and endorses rationalism. It undermines the prevailing view of the time, which it condemns as false Enlightenment, and holds out the chilling possibility that ghosts and spirits may really exist, yet it avoids radically challenging the readers’ world view by offering reassurance that everything that exists is ultimately capable of explanation. Through the analogy to myth, marvellous tales – notably those in Gespensterbuch – are assigned a hermeneutic value. Belief in the marvellous stands to the advanced natural science of the future as myth stands to religion: both are the dim light (“Dämmerung”) before the sunrise of true knowledge. In other words, tales of the “supernatural,” like myths, represent the partial, indirect awareness of a truth as captured by the imagination (i.e., through the medium of narrative) before it can be grasped by the immature rational faculty. Belief in the marvellous, like myth-based polytheism, is thus an early stage in the development of human cognition, from which it follows that the collecting and preserving of such tales represents a contribution to the history of science: “Eine Geschichte des Wunderglaubens wär also für die Naturerkenntnis dasselbe, was eine Geschichte der Religionen für die Theologie” (1:285– 6; a history of the belief in the marvellous would therefore be for ­cognition of nature the same thing that a history of religions is for theology), and hence “Wir [i.e., Apel and Laun] geben dir, als Materialien

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zu einer solchen Geschichte, die verschiedenartigen Erzeugnisse des Wunderglaubens” (1:287; We [i.e., Apel and Laun] give you, as materials for such a history, the varied products of belief in the marvellous). This is advanced as the “esoteric” purpose of the work. Discussions among characters in several tales take up and elaborate elements of the position articulated in the afterword. This claim of contributing to a history of belief in the marvellous, and so to the advancement of science, is echoed most explicitly in a tale of the explained supernatural, in which, in the best tradition of gothic novels, the “supernatural” is unmasked as the machinations of dishonest servants. Apel’s “Die schwarze Kammer” (“The Black Chamber”), like many other tales in Gespensterbuch, features a frame in which a group of friends discuss the existence of the marvellous, with one or more inset tales (here two) displaying it. The town doctor, who represents the position that science can explain very little, relates his experience with a mysterious black room, in which he was so frightened by the apparition of a ghostly woman (who left a very tangible lock of hair on his pillow) that he fell ill. Arriving late to the gathering, the lawyer narrates another man’s experience with that very room and that very “ghost,” then delivers the explanation: two servants at the castle were indulging in theft and an illicit love affair, making use of a secret panel behind the bedstead that connected the maid’s bedroom with the guest room. The newspaper the doctor now picks up contains a debunking of the parallel mystery that had originally sparked the discussion, that of the “graue Stube” (grey room). When the disgusted doctor declares that he wants to hear no more of ghost stories, his friends object that on the contrary, the right time for stories – or history – begins when belief departs: “Bewahre! – erwiderten wir andern beiden – Gerade wenn es mit den Gespenstern aus ist, geht das rechte Zeitalter für ihre Geschichte an. Kommt doch jede Geschichte erst hinter der Wirklichkeit, und der Leser dadurch, wenn das Glück gut ist, hinter die Wahrheit” (2:206; God forbid! – answered we others both – precisely when it is finished with ghosts, the right age for their history begins. For every story comes only after reality, and through this, if there is luck, the reader gets behind the truth). The tale could be regarded as a practical demonstration of the afterword’s claim that true Enlightenment replaces belief in the marvellous by uncovering in nature the source of seemingly “supernatural” phenomena. The reader is thus reassured that all horrific mysteries in the collection are capable of explanation, though not all are resolved within the text, given the inadequacy of current scientific knowledge (the doctor’s strictures in this respect are not invalidated by his discomfiture). A tale in the fourth volume, Apel’s “Zwei Neujahrsnächte” (“Two New Year’s Eves”), reiterates the expectation that science will eventually explain

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what is as yet deemed “wunderbar” and forcefully rejects the dichotomy natural/supernatural. A group of friends are gathered together to celebrate New Year’s Eve when the conversation turns to the curious phenomenon of seemingly innocuous words or wishes that prove to have been prophetic, often in a tragically ironic manner. One of those present narrates an instance of this, and another (Hermann) comments that a “natural explanation” is possible. Thereupon, Falk, a professor, objects that it is silly to speak of a natural explanation, since nature cannot be unnatural and nothing can happen outside of nature: “ich muß allemal lachen, wenn von natürlicher Erklärung die Rede ist. Als ob irgend etwas in der Natur unnatürlich zugehn könnte! Was geschieht ist allemal natürlich, sonst könnte es nicht geschehn” (4:16; I always have to laugh, when there is talk of a natural explanation. As if anything in nature could happen unnaturally! What happens is always natural, otherwise it could not happen). In answer, Hermann defines “unnatural” in the same way that the afterword defined “wunderbar”: as that “was wir nicht begreifen, wofür sich kein Erklärungsgrund auffinden läßt” (which we do not comprehend, for which no grounds of explanation can be discovered). Falk’s response again echoes the afterword, and his condemnation gains additional weight from the fact that he is himself a scholar.9 He asserts the inadequacy of current science yet voices a comfortable conviction that science will get there in the end. Current science in truth can explain very little, Falk argues; doctors for instance do not really understand how and why their cures work, but far from calling them “unnatural,” they say “die Natur habe das Beste gethan” (nature has done the best part) where they understand least (4:16). Falk also condemns the arrogance of those who maintain that what they cannot explain cannot therefore exist: “Ich weiß nichts anmaaßenderes, als den Schluß: das kann ich nicht begreifen, folglich kann es nicht seyn. Gleichwol ist dieser egoistische Satz die Basis aller Kritik über ähnliche Vorfälle” (4:24; I don’t know of anything more arrogant than the conclusion: I cannot understand this, consequently it cannot be. Nevertheless this egoistical sentence is the basis of all criticism on similar occurrences). In support of his objection, he cites examples of phenomena that were once considered impossible, “Wunder,” or “Märchen,” but that science has since explained so that they now count as ordinary natural phenomena (4:24–5). Falk wins the day in the field of rational disputation, yet the promise of rational explanation contains but does not dispel the horrific effect.

9 In “Die schwarze Kammer” also, the strictures against science were given additional weight by being placed in the mouth of the doctor, a practitioner of science.

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Falk’s reassurances can do little to counterbalance the horror of the fateful coincidences in the narrated episodes, nor does he get the last word. The entire second section of the tale (the second New Year’s Eve) is taken up by an instance of casual words coming literally and tragically true, no longer at the safe distance of storytelling, but irrupting into the reality of the frame. Falk himself in a poem had referred to the New Year’s midnight bells as death knells, and this happens literally when the baroness, hostess to the second New Year’s Eve festivity, dies in childbed at the very moment the bells toll midnight. In terms of the narrative’s world, the balance swings towards the Schauerlichen: the reality of terrible, inexplicable occurrences is confirmed by both frame discussions and narrated events, while to participants the conviction that the as yet inexplicable will one day be explained offers little comfort against the fear of the imminent unknown. Apel’s “Klara Mongomery,” a tale whose frame includes the most detailed discussion on the nature and status of the marvellous, also pursues the critique of false Enlightenment announced in the afterword, but it swings the balance towards reassurance. The frame narrative is at pains to present the marvellous – here in the form of a ghost known as the veiled bride – as incontrovertibly existent, while at the same time arguing that it should be regarded as an object of scientific study and even suggesting that one need not fear it. This position acquires additional weight from the fact that it is represented by a particularly positive figure, a priest who comes as close to true Enlightenment as is possible during the infancy of science. To begin with, two adherents of false Enlightenment – in this tale identified with the philosophy of the French Enlightenment – are forced to recognize their position as untenable and to admit the existence of the spirit-world. The narrator, an officer of the king’s guard on a visit to the village priest who helped him when he was injured, is convinced of the existence of the ghostly veiled bride by the evidence laid before him by the priest. In the embedded tale, the priest’s friend, the castle clerk Monthollon, is likewise forced to admit his error when he himself twice sees the ghost of the veiled bride. The village priest, who stands out by his tolerance, open mind, and good sense, attests at once to the existence of the spirit-world and to the impotence of false Enlightenment in its attempt to eradicate it. When asked why he discourages belief in the veiled bride among his parishioners even though he believes the ghost to exist, he replies that truth, like all products of nature (he uses the example of poisonous plants, which are medicinal if judiciously applied), can be harmful if misused and that it is to avert superstitious excesses that he refuses to encourage belief in the marvellous by placing his authority behind it: “Wollte ich aber, als Geistlicher, diesen Glauben in Schutz

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nehmen, wie bald würd’ er unter Leuten von mehr Einbildungskraft als Verstand, in den verderblichsten Aberglauben ausarten” (3:163; If I, as a clergyman, were to protect this belief, how quickly it would degenerate into the most destructive superstition with people of more imagination than understanding). Conversely, he can do no harm by combating it, since he is convinced he has no hope of eradicating it: “Durch meinen Widerspruch werde ich überhaupt niemand vom Geisterglauben abbringen. Dieser liegt zu tief in der menschlichen Natur und Eine Erfahrung schlägt alles Raisonnement dagegen nieder” (3:163; By my opposition I will not dissuade anyone at all from belief in ghosts. This lies too deep in human nature, and One Experience defeats all reasoning against it). In response to the narrator’s question as to how the evidence for the ghost can be reconciled with the laws of nature, the priest expounds the position of true Enlightenment. To the objection that one should not believe old wives’ tales (Ammenmärchen), he responds that ghostly apparitions and similar phenomena are proper objects not of belief or disbelief, but rather of scientific investigation: “Ich zeige Ihnen hier Monumente der Geschichte, deren Aechtheit freilich der Kritik zur Untersuchung überlassen bleibt, die aber vor dieser Untersuchung eben so wenig für unglaubwürdig als für glaubwürdig angesehn werden können” (3:161; I show you here monuments of history, whose authenticity admittedly is to be given over to the scrutiny of criticism, but which before this scrutiny cannot be regarded as either unworthy or worthy of belief). There is documentary evidence (“sichere historische Monumente”) for the sightings, whereas against them there is no solid evidence but only “unsichere, schwankende, veränderliche Meinungen” (uncertain, vacillating, changing opinions) and the ideas of philosophers who have no direct experience of this sphere, and whose systems and opinions change and are refuted all the time (3:162). He then develops a brief sketch of the realms of nature (rather similar to the thought of such Romantic thinkers as G.H. Schubert) that invalidates the concept of the supernatural. Nature consists of a hierarchy of realms: the mechanical is lowest, above it is the chemical, then the organic, and at the top is what humans call the spirit-world. Each higher realm has a correspondence in the one below it so that the careful and unbiassed observer should be able to extend his cognition by steady degrees: “So haben alle Wunder der Geisterwelt ihr Vorbild in der organischen Natur, so wie diese wiederum ihre analogen vorbildlichen Erscheinungen in der chemischen Reihe von Wirkungen findet” (3:231; Thus all marvels of the spirit-world have their model in organic nature, just as the latter in turn finds its analogous model apparitions in the chemical series of effects). The priest is convinced that a corresponding hierarchy of faculties must be inborn in the human mind, of which only

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the lowest, the mechanical, has so far been developed and applied to the study of nature. As a result, only false explanations, which are “nur Veränderung des Wortes” (3:229; only alteration of the word), only a “mechanisches Zergliedern und Zusammenstellen” (3:230; mechanical dissecting and assembling), have so far been attempted, and necessarily these can only come to grips with purely mechanical phenomena. By contrast, a true explanation, one that would promote true Enlightenment, would show that the contradiction between “supernatural” phenomena and the laws of nature is illusory by shedding light on their origin in one of the higher natural realms. The priest provides an example to show that there is a continuum where common prejudice sees a leap from the natural to the inexplicable: “was ist Prophezeihung anders als das Vorgefühl künftiger Veränderung, z.B. des Wetters, in einer höhern, geistigen Sphäre?” (3:231; what is prophecy other than a presentiment of future change, e.g., of the weather, in a higher, spiritual sphere?). No one would call a presentiment of weather change supernatural, though science cannot explain how it happens or why only some individuals have it, so there is no reason to deny the possibility of a corresponding faculty of the human psyche for less tangible change. In this, Apel is in agreement with contemporary theories of magnetism, which are predicated on the existence of just such faculties, which in turn are frightening only so long as they are denied and misunderstood. To lend weight to the priest’s philosophy, the ending of the tale shows him to be in possession of just this faculty to pre-intuit future change, which he uses to benefit the narrator. The priest had begged the officer to postpone his journey to Paris by a day or two, as this would be important for his safety. The latter complied, and afterwards discovered that the political party to which he adhered was toppled during those very two days and that imprisonment or even death would have been his fate had he arrived in the capital at that moment. “Klara Mongomery” thus offers insight into Gespensterbuch’s conceptualization of the marvellous in several ways. First, the marvellous is redefined and divested of one form of ambivalence, but retains another, sufficient to provide the pleasurable frisson expected by the readers. By relocating the marvellous within the sphere of nature and presenting it as a proper object of scientific investigation, the text divests it of its qualitative alienness, but not of its mystery: its origin is capable of explanation but as yet shrouded in darkness and likely to remain so for some time, given the ground science still has to cover. At the same time, the dimension of fear essential to das schauerlich Erhabene is developed and motivated. It has been confirmed that manifestations from a higher and as yet totally unknown spirit-world really do occur. Their effect fulfills Apel’s requirements

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of a threat to sensible nature and the individual’s utter helplessness before an alien, irresistible force. Seeing the ghost of the veiled bride is in itself fatal to many, though not all; foreknowledge of the future proves a highly ambivalent gift because of the insight it gives into the inevitability of fate: though occasionally beneficial, as with the priest’s warning to the narrator, it generally robs humans of happiness and peace, even after death: it was witnessing a vision of the future of the French monarchy that condemned the heroine of the inset tale to wander as a ghost until what she saw was fulfilled. Her ghost is a perfect example of Apel’s second category of spirits, as it is a harbinger of fate, at once powerful because of its knowledge of the future and powerless because it can announce but not alter this future. Laun’s “Die Verwandtschaft mit der Geisterwelt” (“Kinship with the Spirit World”) reveals a similar conception of the spirit-world and exemplifies the mixed reaction of uplift and fear implicit in the sublime, particularly in Apel’s neologism schauerlich Erhaben. As in Apel’s essay and in Jean Paul’s and Hoffmann’s theories of the romantic, the spirit-world here is ambivalent, at once desirable and frightening. As the priest in “Klara Mongomery” had argued, the spirit-world is not above or beyond nature, but part of the continuum of its ascending realms; it is a higher world, and one not necessarily frightful or inimical to humans. Central to the plot of “Die Verwandtschaft mit der Geisterwelt” is the notion that what does or does not appear “wunderbar” and impossible to humans depends on the degree of development of certain perceptive faculties. One of the two sisters who are the tale’s protagonists, Seraphine, turns out to be “[ein] Wunderkind, das in unmittelbarem Verkehr mit der Geisterwelt steht” (1:256; a wonder child, who is in immediate contact with the spirit-world). In her childhood, she appears to her family and teachers as mentally underdeveloped and apathetic because she is unable to learn the usual school subjects, takes no interest in the games and toys of normal childhood, and often sits immobile as if in a trance. It emerges, however, that she still has access to a higher world, which she is unwilling to relinquish and in comparison to which ordinary human pursuits seem dull and trivial. When she is older she claims that in childhood she was often called away to heaven to play with the angels, for which reason she could work up no interest in the games of earthly children.10 Seraphine is similar to the 10 There is a parallel here to Elfrida, the child blessed by the elves in Tieck’s fairy tale “Die Elfen” (1811; The Elves). In both, this confirms the ideal, prelapsarian nature of the non-human realm; in both, contact with the higher sphere is shown to be a mixed blessing in that it renders the privileged individual unfit for existence in human society. The parallel extends even to the allusive character of the names: Elfrida is the child who has

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artist protagonists of Romantic texts (for instance Hoffmann’s) in that she is most inept and uninterested in the accomplishments and occupations most valued by fashionable society, such as dancing, foreign languages, fine clothes, and social gatherings, and conversely passionately fond of and gifted in any activity connected with the supersensible and spiritual, such as astronomy, astrology, and especially music – anything, in other words, that reconnects her with that higher world from which family and teachers have constantly strived to separate her. This close kinship of music to the spirit-world, and the ambiguity that always attaches to that world, suggest a reason why music is so often associated with the Schauerlichen, not just in Gespensterbuch but in the works of Wackenroder, Tieck, Kleist, and Hoffmann. Seraphine’s description of being called to heaven to play with angels shows how the spirit-world must appear to the as yet unprejudiced child who has not been taught exclusive reliance on human reason and knowledge. As she grows up, Seraphine absorbs the rationalist world view to the extent that she begins to fear apparitions from the sphere in which she once felt at home. Revealingly, all of the manifestations that provoke fear in this tale display a high degree of ambiguity and involve some form of contradiction between sense impressions, as Apel’s essay had mandated. At a crucial moment in the tale, Seraphine feels and hears a presence ascending the stairs behind her, but she can see nothing when she turns around. She thinks it might be her mother’s ghost and is afraid. Sight and hearing again provide contradictory evidence at the moment when Seraphine’s ghost comes to take her sister Florentine: the servants hear a noise as if all the glass and porcelain in the house were breaking, yet they can see nothing. Contradiction, closely conforming to Apel’s example of an indistinct and formless form, is again at work in what presents itself to Florentine’s sight each time one of her sister’s prophecies is fulfilled: not a figure, but a sort of light or brightness. Laun, like Apel and like such Romantics as Hoffmann and Kleist, believes that the unknown and uncertain is more frightening than the most terrible apparition, and he takes the opportunity to draw the reader’s attention to this. Florentine relates to her friends how, after the death of her sister, she and her father were sitting quietly mourning the departed when they became frightened and disturbed by the spontaneous opening of the door and the appearance of “eine Art von Licht, oder Schimmer, oder irgend etwas anderes

commerce with elves, Seraphine is called to heaven to play with angels. As mentioned earlier, Laun was acquainted with Tieck, but given the proximity of publication dates, it would be difficult to establish the existence, and direction, of a possible influence.

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Blendendes”11 (a sort of light, or shimmer, or some other blinding something). She comments: “auch versichere ich euch, daß wenn, statt seiner der Schatten meiner geliebten Schwester hereingetreten wäre, ich ihn gewiß mit offenen Armen aufgenommen hätte. Denn nur das Räthselhafte und Unbestimmte dieser seltsamen Lufterscheinung war es, was mir Furcht und Schauder erregte” (1:269; I also assure you that, if instead of it the shadow of my beloved sister had stepped in, I would certainly have received it with open arms. For it was only the enigmatic and indeterminate [quality] of this strange airy apparition that caused me fear and shuddering). The truth of her assurances is confirmed at the end, when her sister’s ghost does indeed appear to all present, and Florentine rushes to take it in her arms with the joyous cry, “Willkommen” (1:278; welcome). Cognitive disorientation is created, not only by the unreliability of sense impression, but also by confrontation with the logically impossible and inexplicable: the spirit who comes to announce her family’s future to Seraphine is her own Doppelgänger instead of the expected and explicable (at least according to superstition) ghost of her mother. This increases the sense of fear and helplessness for Seraphine, yet, as it were over her head, readers can find reassurance in some such theory as that of heightened perception put forward by the priest in “Klara Mongomery,” the Doppelgänger as external concretization of an inner, subconscious foreknowledge. Like “Klara Mongomery,” this tale accords with Apel’s categorization of fear-inspiring manifestations of the spirit-world as harbingers of fate. Fate plays the role of an irresistible force that provides the threat to sensible nature and the sense of helplessness characteristic of the sublime. In “Die Verwandtschaft mit der Geisterwelt,” fate has decreed that all members of the family are to die within a few years of one another, all in their prime, all at nine o’clock, the last one, Florentine, three days before her wedding (it remains unclear whether she could have escaped death by staying single). Neither the individuals in question nor, as far as the tale reveals, their ancestors have done anything to merit this. This raises doubt as to the nature, intentions, and justice, and even the existence, of the numinous entity that governs fate, adding another dimension of ontological disorientation, one we have observed at work in Tieck’s theories and fairy tales. As with Apel’s essay, we can see in this a radicalization of the sublime, in that an element of mystery, of the completely inexplicable, is added to the overwhelming force, thus extending the defeat of the lower faculties to include reason.

11 Apel and Laun, Gespensterbuch, 1:268.

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Lastly, this tale illustrates the polemic against false Enlightenment identified in Apel’s afterword as one of the themes of the collection. The text leaves no room for doubt as to the presence of manifestations from the spirit-world. The ghost of Seraphine is seen by two friends as well as by Florentine; at that same moment the servants hear a noise the origin of which never emerges; and most importantly, Seraphine’s four prophecies (her own death on a particular day at nine o’clock, her father’s fall from favour at court, her father’s death at nine o’clock, Florentine’s death at the same hour three days before her wedding) are all fulfilled to the letter. The girls’ father for a long time refused to accept that Seraphine had any special faculties, and – true representative of false Enlightenment – he insisted that all unusual occurrences connected with his daughter and her prophecies for the family’s future were products of that “murderess,” the overactive imagination. He still clung stubbornly to this even after Seraphine’s death but finally confessed his error and his now complete belief in the accuracy of the prophecies after the second one came true (1:273). A brief analysis of Apel’s “Der Geisterruf” (“The Spirit Call”), a tale with some parallels to “Die Verwandtschaft mit der Geisterwelt,” will help elucidate the connection between music and the spirit-realm and hence between music and the Schauerlichen. As discussed in Part II, chapter 1, of this study, the view that music, of all the arts, is the closest to the spiritual realm due to its incorporeal and non-mimetic character was typical of Romantic thought. It is thus not surprising that music should often function in fiction of the period as a pathway for intercourse between the realms of spirit and of humans. Apel’s tale exemplifies this theme in a particularly explicit, straightforward manner. The protagonist of “Der Geisterruf,” Antonie, resembles Seraphine in her sensitivity and spirituality and hence in her closeness to the spirit-world. She is a gifted musician and plays the glass harmonica with exceptional skill. The choice of instrument is significant, since at the time the glass harmonica was thought to have an unearthly sound with a deep effect on the human nervous system. And indeed, Antonie’s friends discuss it in such terms, attributing to it something “höchst vortreffliches, und fast überirdisches” (3:296; most highly excellent, and almost unearthly); when Antonie plays the instrument, the sound “ist, so zu sagen, ganz entkörpert und scheint aus einer fremden Welt herüberzuklingen” (3:301; is, so to speak, wholly disembodied and seems to resound from a strange world). Even the preparations for playing, the girls argue, show the instrument’s affinity to the spiritrealm: “Man sollte die optischen Geistererscheinungen allemal mit Harmonikatönen einleiten […] Das Geflister des Schwamms auf den Glocken und das matte Blinkeln des Glases, wenn das Licht darauf spiegelt,

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alles ist wie Vorboten, daß nun etwas fremdartiges eintreten solle” (3:299; One should always introduce optic spirit apparitions with the sound of the harmonica … The whisper of the sponge on the bells and the dim blinking of the glass, when the light reflects on it, all are like harbingers that now something alien will arrive). They describe Antonie’s very personality as “ein lebendiger Harmonikaton” (3:295; a living tone of the harmonica). That they wish by this to indicate spirituality and otherworldliness becomes clear when they discuss – not without criticism – Antonie’s relationship to her first fiancé: “Sie liebten sich beide, ich möchte sagen, nicht wie Menschen, sondern wie Geister, und spannten gegenseitig ihr Gefühl und ihre Fantasie zu solcher Höhe […]” (3:297; They loved each other, I would like to say, not like human beings but like spirits, and they mutually stretched their feeling and their imagination to such a height). After the death of Antonie’s fiancé, it is said that whenever Antonie plays the harmonica, a shadow comes to her and sighs. On the evening on which her friends are discussing her, one of them, Julie, plays Antonie’s favourite chorale. When she stops, the harmonica briefly continues playing on its own. Julie believes she hears it play that very chorale, though the others do not recognize a distinct melody. An element of narrative ambiguity is thus introduced to increase the effect of uncertainty. It later emerges that, at that very moment, Antonie herself died in the act of playing that selfsame chorale. Her new fiancé, it is reported, stared in horror at the open door a few moments before her death, but he never reveals what he saw. Music’s role could be seen as attracting spirits from the other world or as predisposing the psyche to unusual experiences by its stimulation of the imagination and the emotions; either way, the occurrence of something extraordinary, as yet unexplainable by science, is undeniable. For the conceptual world of Gespensterbuch, the distinction is immaterial. For readers, the frisson of fear is created by the omissions and ambiguities in the narration (the different opinions as to what the harmonica played on its own, the fiancé’s silence as to what he saw) and by an element of contradiction in the data of sense perception. The phenomenon of the harmonica playing by itself pits hearing against sight which perceived no presence, and the sighing shadow represents another instance of a formless or indistinct form, similar to the ghosts in Ossian cited in Apel’s essay. Tieck (and, as we shall see in a later chapter, Hoffmann) more aptly identify this type of contradiction as an effect without discoverable cause.12

12 See chapter 2 for Tieck and chapter 5, section 3, for Hoffmann.

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As discussed earlier, Apel linked visitations from the spirit-world with the notion of fate. Spirits could be active agents of fate, or helpers of humans seeking to avoid their fate, or, more passively, they could be sent to warn humans of fate’s decrees.13 This same view is reflected in a number of tales in Gespensterbuch, in addition to “Die Verwandtschaft mit der Geisterwelt” and “Klara Mongomery.” In general, fate is the means by which the schauerlich Erhabene, to speak in Apel’s terms, is produced, since it creates the condition of helplessness and the threat to sensible nature. Even so, tales in Gespensterbuch are often less disturbing than those of canonical Romantics, in that the motivation for fate’s decrees is not always as inscrutable as was the case with “Verwandtschaft mit der Geisterwelt.” Fate can mete out a form of higher justice, pursuing by means of apparitions wrongdoers who escape human justice. This is the case with two tales by Laun, “Der Totenkopf” (“The Death’s Head”) and “Die Todtenbraut” (“The Dead Bride”). In both, emissaries from the spiritworld appear, not merely as harbingers, but as agents of fate, meting out punishment to moral evildoers. For the protagonists, the spirits are reminders of their own guilt and thus terrible – one might see a parallel here with the ghost of Banquo in Macbeth as discussed by Tieck. For the other characters and for readers, the effect of Schauer is created by contradiction in the form of conflicting sensory perceptions or effects without identifiable causes, as well as by an element of mystery and inexplicability preserved in the narration. In “Der Totenkopf,” a son disobeys his father’s wishes by refusing to take up the latter’s occupation, instead running away and becoming the leader of a troupe of acrobats. After his father’s death, the son decides to contest the will, which has disinherited him. At this point, chance, or fate, delivers into his hands his father’s skull for a ventriloquist act he is to perform; when he raises the skull, his father’s ghost appears to him and terrifies him into repentance. Fate is thus terrible only in its inexorability, since it unquestionably represents a form of higher justice. The atmosphere of fear and mystery is produced rather by the method of narration. Spectators of the conjuring trick (and beyond them, readers) are presented with an instance of effects without causes: they witness the conjuror’s terror and collapse but can see or hear nothing that might explain it. Only afterwards does the protagonist relate what he saw. There might thus be grounds for believing that the apparition was a delusion, a projection of the character’s guilt, yet some confirmation of the supernatural occurs in the parallel experience of another wrongdoer: the sexton who dug up

13 Apel, “Die Musikalische Behandlung,” 95–6.

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the skull is also terrified to the point of collapse by similar apparitions. Uncertainty – here very close to Todorov’s hesitation – is thus maintained to the end. “Die Todtenbraut” resembles “Der Totenkopf” in its use of spirits as agents of higher justice and in its exploitation of contradiction and unresolved mysteries to create fear and horror. A longer and more complex tale, it is noteworthy for its skilful use of multiple narrative layers to give more weight to the notion of fate and to increase the effect of uncertainty. It features an embedded tale within an embedded tale within a frame tale, the three linked through a common narrator who was an eyewitness in both embedded tales, as well as by repetition of the same basic plot. In the frame tale, a mysterious marquis entertains the company at a spa by telling the story of an acquaintance of his, an Italian duke who deserted his first fiancée for a German countess; within this embedded tale, the marquis, to warn the duke against infidelity, tells the tale of yet another unfaithful bridegroom punished by the ghostly bride. There is no instance of ghostly punishment of faithlessness on the frame level; instead, the narrator himself becomes an instance of the inexplicable, if not ghostly: he is arrested but mysteriously disappears at the moment of being led away. In the first embedded tale, the duke claims to have met the German countess in Paris, though she and her family insist she has never been there. It emerges that the woman he met in Paris has the same birthmark as his beloved’s dead twin sister, and on the wedding night his bride is seen in two places at once. He is then found dead in the bridal chamber, to which he had retired with her. As explanation, a local legend is offered according to which a ghostly bride who was unfaithful to her lover wanders the earth, taking on various appearances, to tempt men to unfaithfulness and to punish them by death if they fall. Shortly before the wedding, the marquis, who knows of the duke’s previous engagement, tries to frighten him by narrating a parallel story. At the engagement feast of Filippo, another unfaithful man who deserted his first fiancée in favour of a wealthier and more beautiful one, a mysterious masked woman appears, wearing the same clothes as the bride, and a scream is heard, at what is later discovered to have been the hour of death of the abandoned girl. On the way to the wedding and at the altar, the bridegroom sees a ghostly shape trying to force itself between him and his bride, and he falls dead during the ceremony. Fate seems once again to be functioning as a higher justice that ensures no wrong goes unpunished, except that in the first embed­ ded tale, the story of the duke, the ghostly bride in the shape of the dead twin sister appears before any wrong has been committed – in fact, this apparition seduces the duke into wrongdoing. One is reminded of the

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old woman in Tieck’s “Der blonde Eckbert.” Then too, the notion of justice is undermined by the frame tale, in which the marquis is able to escape prosecution for his – unrevealed – wrongdoings. Unlike with “Der Totenkopf,” the actual involvement of emissaries from the spirit-realm cannot be doubted in “Die Todtenbraut,” and Laun makes abundant use of the principle of contradiction to evoke disorientation and hence fear. In the first embedded tale, all of the wedding guests see the bride enter the bedchamber with the bridegroom and are astonished when she arrives moments later from quite another direction. Also, a number of people see ghostly apparitions around the church and hear the organ playing by itself. In the second embedded tale, all of the guests at the engagement party hear a scream for which no source can be found. “Die Todtenbraut” relies heavily on, and thus illustrates, the cognitive disorientation caused by both the unreliability of sensory perception and the challenge to logic of effects without causes, which was theorized by both Tieck and Apel. Apel’s “Zwei Neujahrsnächte” (discussed above), more than any other tale, focuses on the theme of fate, both as its plot and as the subject of conversation among the characters. Through the characters’ discussion of the un- or super-natural, and of the possibility of scientific explanations, the tale links the portrayal of fate with Gespensterbuch’s response to the Enlightenment in a tantalizingly ambiguous manner. At one level, the ethical ambiguity of fate, and the irony by which misguided attempts to avoid fate most often are the means of bringing it about, support Falk’s strictures on the paucity and inadequacy of human scientific knowledge and on the arrogance of dismissing as non-existent that which one cannot explain. At another level, the main events of the tale make none other than Falk the exemplum of his own theory, since it is his casual, innocent remarks that come fatefully and tragically true; this in turn relativizes any “wisdom” that has him as its source. The setting is a gathering of friends on New Year’s Eve. As the tale opens, the conversation turns to the possibility of wishes spoken on certain occasions proving prophetic. Falk refers to ancient beliefs in the special meaning of words spoken at certain times or places, recalling how in antiquity, and even today in such places as mining communities and remote mountain regions, “die Menschen hüten sich da mit der größten Vorsicht für Worten von böser Bedeutung, noch mehr aber, und ganz vorzüglich vor doppelsinningen, die vielleicht in guter Meinung ausgesprochen, von feindlichen Schicksalsdämonen im entgegengesetzten Sinne aufgefaßt, und in verderbliche Erfüllung gebracht werden könnten”14

14 Apel and Laun, Gespensterbuch, 4:9.

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(people there guard with the greatest of care against words of evil meaning, but even more and especially from ones with double meanings, that, perhaps spoken in good will, received in the opposite sense by hostile demons of fate, could be brought to destructive fulfillment). The frame narrative and the embedded episodes provide a series of examples of just such occurrences. For the most part, the terrible outcomes are undeserved, suggesting indeed “feindliche Schicksalsdämonen” (hostile demons of fate) rather than a just or benevolent divine providence. A woman, wishing to offer a living on her estate to a priest whom by chance she heard deliver a funeral sermon, formulates her offer as a wish to have no other than this priest speak her funeral oration, and finds her wish speedily and literally granted when she dies of a fever a few days later. Two “schwärmerische” (enthusiastic) young girls swear an oath that whichever dies first will appear to the other. The bell tolls midnight, and one of them intends to say that she will appear at this, her hour of birth, but by a slip of the tongue calls it her hour of death, and this proves prophetic not long after. The frame narrative presents fate in a manner reminiscent of Greek tragedy. A curse spoken by a grief-crazed father, whose son is being executed by the order of a brutal and tyrannical lord, takes effect to punish the wrongdoer and his descendants until the extinction of his dynasty. This could be regarded as a form of justice, in the spirit of the Old Testament god who visits the sins of the fathers onto generations of their children, but it also displays the irony characteristic of Greek tragedy in that some of the tyrant’s descendants bring their fate upon themselves through their efforts to avoid it. The curse decreed that the bell then being inaugurated would toll death for the lord and his descendants. One of them has all the bells in his domains removed, then conceives a morbid fear of fire, has the dinner bell reinstalled in his residence, and himself rings his own death knell on it. His daughter dreams that she will appear at the next New Year’s Eve as a bride, which she interprets as meaning a ghost. To avoid this outcome, she decides to visit her mother and so absent herself from the gathering on the fateful new year, but this does not avert her death in childbirth at midnight, nor the fulfillment of the dream’s prediction that she will be absent in body from the gathering but present as a spirit.15 With her death, Falk’s description (in his poem on New Year’s Eve) of the midnight bells of December 31 as death knells comes literally true. “Zwei Neujahrsnächte” thus comes closest to Tieck’s manner of 15 This exploration of the irony of fate provides a striking parallel to the workings of “der versteckte Poet” (the hidden poet) of human dreams and of the language of nature that the former parallels, as conceived in G.H. Schubert’s Die Symbolik des Traumes (1814; Symbolism of Dreams).

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arousing ontological insecurity via doubt as to the cosmic order and as to the nature and intentions of any numinous entity governing it: not only is there no discoverable justice or reason in the workings of fate, but its selection of victims and its fondness for ironic effects lend colour to Falk’s suggestion of “feindliche Schicksalsdämonen.” The order of the cosmos may have no rhyme or reason, that is, may be completely fortuitous; or it may even be directed by forces hostile to humans. Before concluding, Gespensterbuch’s contribution to an understanding of the epoch’s terminology for the aesthetics of fear should be briefly considered. The terms unheimlich, Schauer, and Schaudern (in their various grammatical forms), all occur. Unheimlich is generally used in its everyday meaning: the reaction to a manifestation of the marvellous. So for instance, in the afterword to the first volume, Apel urges the reader, just as he does not fear that his beloved will turn into a laurel bush when he reads the story of Daphne in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, so too to read “unsre Geschichten von alten Schlössern, Grabmälern, Wunderbildern, Schätzen, Todtenglocken, Vorzeichen, weißen Frauen, schwarzen Männern, grauen Zwergen, Leichentüchern u.s.w., ohne zu fürchten, daß dir [i.e. dem Leser] etwas unheimliches [sic] der Art im Leben begegne”16 (our stories of old castles, gravestones, miraculous images, treasures, death bells, omens, white women, black men, gray dwarves, shrouds etc., without fearing that you [i.e., the reader] may encounter in life something uncanny of the kind). The continuation of this sentence is of some interest because of its parallel to a detail in Hoffmann’s “Der Sandmann”: the reader should not fear that these tales will lead to actual uncanny experiences, “wenn auch eine alte Sage, die deine Wärterin dir erzählte, dadurch eine bedenk­ liche Bestätigung erhalten sollte” (1:284; even if an old legend that your nanny told you should receive disturbing confirmation by it). As we will discuss in Part II, this is just what happens in “Der Sandmann,” at least in Nathanael’s perception. It also brings up the theme of life imitating literature as a source of uncanny effects, which appears repeatedly in Hoffmann’s oeuvre. Since the second half of the sentence effectively undermines the reassurance held out by the first, one might be entitled to wonder if it is not, in fact, intended to conjure up the very disquiet it purports to banish, and is not, in fact, another technique to provoke fear. “Die Verwandtschaft mit der Geisterwelt” uses the term unheimlich in the same way as the afterword. In the conversation that opens the frame narrative, the protagonist Florentine and her two friends are discussing the fright the previous night’s thunderstorm caused them. One of the friends

16 Apel and Laun, Gespensterbuch, 1:284.

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states she had a fear that “es gehe gar nicht mit rechten Dingen zu” (there be something strange going on) and describes how she had the impression that something had opened her window and that she heard steps approaching her bed. To which the other replies, “ich mag niemanden sagen, wie oft ich schon dergleichen mit angehört habe. Nur vor meine Augen ist mir bis jetzt noch nichts Unheimliches gekommen” (1:244; I don’t want to tell anyone how often I have heard the like. But up to now nothing uncanny has come before my eyes). Schauern and Schaudern generally denote the reaction to anything inexplicable, particularly any – real or apparent – manifestation from the spirit-world, and thus conform to the epoch’s standard response to anything supersensible or sublime. Two instances of Schaudern are nevertheless worth considering because they suggest an additional dimension. Both involve a semi- or sub-conscious awareness of guilt, be it personal or dynastic. In “Zwei Neujahrsnächte,” various instances are related of members of the cursed family dying by the sound of a bell; one such involves a bride falling from a balcony, and it is her reaction of shuddering at the sound of the bell that causes her to fall: “Da ertönte die Trauerglocke, und indem das Fräulein sich dem herwinkenden Geliebten zuneigt, schaudert sie zusammen, und sinkt über das Gitter des Balkons in die Tiefe hinab” (4:63; Then the mourning bell sounded and, as the young lady bends towards the beloved who was waving to her, she shudders and sinks over the railing of the balcony down into the depths). In “Die Todtenbraut,” when the reactions to the scream with no visible source are described, a distinction is made between the simple fright of those who have no guilty knowledge and the shuddering of the faithless bridegroom: “Bei der Mittagstafel […] waren kaum die Ringe gewechselt worden, als ein durchdringender Schrei von allen Anwesenden mit Erschrecken, von dem Bräutigam mit Schaudern gehört wurde” (2:37; At the lunch table … the rings had barely been exchanged when a penetrating scream was heard by all present with fright, by the bridegroom with shuddering). One might justifiably call these precursors to Freud’s notion of the return of something repressed, or at least willfully put out of mind, thus distinguishing the Schauerliche from simple fear. The analysis of Apel and Laun’s texts has revealed substantial parallels with Tieck, on the theoretical and fictional levels. In summarizing the findings of this chapter, the hypothesis can be advanced that these are central features of the epoch’s aesthetics of fear, thus furnishing red threads that run through the present study: (1) ontological insecurity caused by doubts about the purposiveness and benevolence of the cosmic order and any numinous entities that may be governing it; (2) the linking of fear and shuddering to cognitive disorientation due to the undermining of human cognitive faculties (sense perception, categories of reason

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and the understanding); (3) mainly through 1 and 2, a polemical response to Enlightenment rationalism and empirical science that should not be reductively construed as simple rejection; (4) suggestions of a more speculative, organicist model of the universe that would include the realm of spirit and render the dichotomy natural/supernatural obsolete.

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4

Heinrich von Kleist

Heinrich von Kleist differs from the authors discussed in the preceding chapters in that he produced no theoretical contributions to the aesthetics of fear, neither in non-fictional texts nor built into his fiction. Furthermore, the marvellous and the fear-inducing form only a small part of his literary production. This is reflected in scholarship on him, which only rarely occupies itself with this aspect of his work. Yet Hoffmann regarded Kleist as a master of the Schauerlichen and more than once paid him the homage of emulation. Given the absence of theoretical statements from Kleist’s pen, the following analysis will orient itself by concepts and criteria derived from the discussion of contemporary authors in the preceding chapters, in order to see if new interpretative insights into Kleist’s texts can be gained through them, and to determine the extent of commonalities among Romantic authors. This frame of orientation will be supplemented by contemporary responses to Kleist’s texts, with the same objects in mind. The selection of texts for analysis is guided by the basic definitions for the aesthetics of fear quoted in the Introduction: “die Verbindung von Geheimnis und Gefahr” (the combination of mystery and danger) as determinant of “literarische Angst” (literary fear [Alewyn]); “an experience of frightening disorientation” (Johnson); uncertainty and suspense associated with an experience of liminality (Royle).1 In the preceding three chapters we have observed a tendency to associate Schauer with manifestations from the spirit-realm, that is, with the concept of the marvellous (Jean Paul, Wackenroder, Tieck, Apel, Hoffmann). This concept thus offers itself as a further point of orientation.

1 See section 2 of the Introduction, pages 36 and 43.

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Four of Kleist’s texts contain elements of the marvellous: Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, Michael Kohlhaas, “Das Bettelweib von Locarno” (“The Beggar Woman of Locarno”), and “Die heilige Cäcilie oder die Gewalt der Musik” (“St. Cecilia or the Power of Music”). In all four some phenomenon that is marvellous or potentially marvellous, or at least that defies explanation by any scientific or rational approach, intervenes to shape the course of events, and in all four this seems to represent some form of divine justice in that it brings about – at least apparently – some righting of a wrong or return to the proper order of things. The degree of certitude as to marvellous origin varies. At one end of the spectrum, Das Käthchen von Heilbronn features an unquestionable intervention by an obviously divine and beneficent supernatural being – the angel who brings the Count and Käthchen together in their dream vision and who saves the latter from the fire. At the other end, the extraordinary events in “Die heilige Cäcilie” are capable of “natural” explanation, though they remain mysterious and in defiance of reason. Regarding the question of justice – so typical of Kleist’s oeuvre as a whole – one finds a spectrum ranging from absolute certainty to complete ambiguity. In Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, the marvellous intervenes to cause the elevation of the protagonist to her rightful social status, her recognition by her biological father, and a reward for her virtue in marriage to the Count. In Michael Kohlhaas, the marvellous elements (the old gypsy woman’s paranormal knowledge and precognition of the future and her astonishing resemblance to Kohlhaas’s dead wife) play no role in the main action and intervene for the sole purpose – successfully accomplished – of administering just punishment to the Elector of Saxony, a character who would be inaccessible to the human judicial process. By contrast, the justice of the punishments meted out in “Die heilige Cäcilie” and “Das Bettelweib” continues to be hotly debated, and no consensus exists even on whether it is punishment at all. Das Käthchen von Heilbronn and Michael Kohlhaas can be dismissed from the present investigation: because the marvellous elements serve to reaffirm cosmic justice, they do not arouse frightening disorientation, ontological uncertainty, or a combination of danger and mystery, and they provoke fear and shuddering only momentarily or not at all. The following analysis thus concerns itself solely with “Das Bettelweib” and “Die heilige Cäcilie.” Two main questions need to be addressed, which should not be conflated as they sometimes are in Kleist scholarship: (1) How is an effect of fear and disquiet produced? And (2) for what purpose is it introduced? Application of Tieck’s and Apel’s theories suggests a further issue: the possible relevance of the notion of ontological disorientation. This involves three aspects: (1) the nature of reality,

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(2) techniques of evoking cognitive confusion, and (3) the nature of justice, be it human or divine. In Kleist scholarship opinions are divided as to whether “Das Bettelweib” is a straightforward “Schauermär”2 (horror tale) or a parody of conventional Schauerliteratur,3 and as to whether its meaning and effect lie in the confirmation of the inexplicable that defies reason or whether a more complex political, philosophical, or psychological dimension should be assigned to it. By contrast, such contemporary comments as are available to us are remarkably unanimous. Wilhelm Grimm, Franz Horn, and E.T.A. Hoffmann all read “Das Bettelweib” as a contribution to the genre of the horror or ghost story (“eine schauerliche Gespenstergeschichte”4 [a schauerlich ghost story]), but one that departs from the conventions of contemporary Schauerliteratur, above all by its simplicity of both content and tone.Wilhelm Grimm praises the simplicity of style (“Die Sage ist schlicht erzählt” [347; The legend is simply narrated]), which he sees as particularly suited to the genre: “ganz in dem eigentümlichen Tone vorgetragen, der einem solchen Stoffe zukommt” (347; wholly told in the particular tone that is proper to such material). With this, he seems to be dissociating the tale from the genre of horror fiction and to be aligning it with “true” oral popular tradition, as implied in his use of the term “Sage.” He prefers it to horror fiction in content as well as style. It does not offer the usual intricate web of portentous happenings, nor does it on the other hand display the rationalist determination to defeat credulity by assiduously explaining away this same elaborate apparatus: “Von jener erkünstelten Zusammenhäufung gespenstlicher Apparate und von jener alle Wirkung wieder aufhebenden, inkonsequenten Ungläubigkeit, die den Aberglauben zu beförden fürchtet, und in manchen beliebten und bekannten Gespenstergeschichten sich so possierlich ausnimmt, ist hier nicht die geringste Spur” (347; There is not the least trace here of that artificial accumulation of ghostly contrivances and of that inconsistent disbelief that destroys all effect again, that is afraid of promoting superstition and that makes such a comical impression in many popular and well-known ghost stories). Franz Horn likewise praises the tale’s simplicity, which distances it from the gothic genre “[in that] das Wunderbare, ganz gegen das Kostüm der meisten Romandichter, auf die einfachste und eben deshalb ergreifendste Weise in das Leben zerstörend eintritt”5 ([in that] the marvellous, wholly against the custom of most novelists, makes 2 Staiger, “Heinrich von Kleist ‘Das Bettelweib von Locarno,’“ 129. 3 Fischer, Ironische Metaphysik, 86. 4 Grimm, quoted in Sembdner, Lebensspuren, 347. 5 Horn, quoted in Sembdner, Lebensspuren, 635.

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a destructive incursion in life in the simplest and therefore the most poignant manner). E.T.A. Hoffmann also praises the simplicity of the tale, its style, and the lack of extraordinary and shocking horrors typical of the gothic, and in doing so gives clearer indications why he and his contemporaries should regard simplicity as so particularly effective in a ghost story. During a discussion on vampirism, Lothar, one of the Serapionsbrüder, remarks: Übrigens meine ich, daß die Fantasie durch sehr einfache Mittel aufgeregt werden könne, und daß das Grauenhafte oft mehr im Gedanken als in der Erscheinung beruhe. Kleists ‘Bettelweib von Lokarno’ trägt für mich wenigstens das Entsetzlichste in sich, was es geben mag, und doch, wie einfach ist die Erfindung! […] Er durfte keinen Vampir aus dem Grabe steigen lassen, ihm genügte ein altes Bettelweib.6 I believe that the imagination can be moved by very simple means, and that it is often more the idea of the thing itself which causes our fear. Kleist’s tale of the “Beggar Woman of Locarno” has in it, at least to me, the most frightening idea that I can think of, and yet how simple it is … He did not need to raise a vampire out of the grave, all he needed was an old woman.7

Since all three authors praise “Das Bettelweib” by contrasting it with contemporary horror fiction, a brief characterization of the genre will help us understand their comments. This is particularly relevant in the case of Hoffmann, an author of frightening tales for whom “Das Bettelweib” served as an admired model. As stated in the Introduction, the defining characteristic of horror fiction is the intention to arouse fear and terror and the use of the (seemingly) supernatural as a means to this end.8 It is further characterized by reliance on a stock set of morbid, horrific, and violent situations, motifs, and characters, which quickly became predictable. Hall lists spectres and other assorted wandering dead, evil monks, bandits, trap doors, magic mirrors, incantations, mysterious disappearances, and strange nocturnal occurrences and sounds, among others.9 These stock elements tend to function as distancing devices, and this has led modern scholars to regard 6 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:928. 7 Hoffmann, The Serapion Brethren, 2:304. 8 See the discussion of this genre in the Introduction, pages 44–9. 9 Hall, French and German Gothic Fiction, 14–15.

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the intention to reassure the reader and reaffirm the status quo (as opposed to an intention to subvert and criticize) as distinguishing between popular horror and Romantic fiction. All aspects of gothic fiction tend towards the extravagant and extraordinary as means to create an unmistakably fictional world. The settings tend to be ancient, often ruined castles with their paraphernalia of secret passages and dungeons, or monasteries (exotic in England or Protestant Germany), crypts and cemeteries, forests and caves; more often than not, the tales are set in a distant past, characterized as an age of barbarity and superstition and thus consciously distanced from the reader. Often the characters are noble and include a multitude of monks and other clergy and such exotic entities as secret societies or orders. These are often exceptionally good or exceptionally and intrinsically evil. The situations involve an abundance of torture, crime, and bloodshed, often woven into dynastic tales of feuds, usurpations, and vengeance (human and divine) carried over several generations, or elaborate plots and conspiracies. These are all removed from the reader’s ordinary world by their very nature, and over the history of the genre they became predictable, which would have tended to detract from their effect. The apparently supernatural is a frequent element in the mix, but it is often explained away in the end: as deliberately created by the machinations of a secret society or of a single charismatic villain; as a delusion created by wise educators to cure their pupils of an attraction to the otherworldly; or as a delusion of the guilty conscience or deranged imagination.10 Whether these explanations are convincing or not, they tend to reassure the reader by confirming the rationalist view of the universe as an ordered one in which the supernatural does not occur and in which right is clearly distinguishable from wrong. Occasionally, as Grimm suggested, such endings strained belief, destroyed the suspenseful effect, and came across as ridiculous. There was a subset of Geisterromane (ghost novels) in which truly supernatural phenomena occurred, but these too often tended to reassurance, since they too confirmed the established moral order: “[spirits were] largely concerned with the righting of past wrongs and the restitution of ‘the way things should be.’”11 Furthermore, here too, little uncertainty would occur, since the supernatural phenomena were presented as unquestionably existing, part of the characters’ world view and thus inspiring fear but not doubt (as for instance in Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, where the ghost is seen by many, has tangible requisites, 10 “For the most part the apparently supernatural in Gothic tales is indeed eventually explained in what purport to be clear, reasoned endings.” Ibid., 185, and passim for examples. 11 Ibid., 194.

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and is able to affect reality visibly, an example being the gigantic helmet that kills the villain’s son and is then found in the courtyard).12 With this in mind, let us return to the contemporary appraisals of “Das Bettelweib.” All three refer to the typical apparatus of the gothic as complicated and artificial and hence obviously fictional, improbable, and thus ineffectual, occasionally even unintentionally comic. It may cause suspense and possibly a thrill of fear at the moment of reading, but it is not referred back to the reader’s actual world and so does not cause lasting disquiet. In this context, the simplicity praised in “Das Bettelweib” refers to plausibility: there is no improbable accumulation of sins, conspiracies, and apparitions (Grimm); there is an ordinary beggar instead of an obviously fictional being such as a vampire (Hoffmann), and therefore the disturbing possibility that the narrated events might really have happened (Horn). Also, “die Sage ist schlicht erzählt, und gibt sich wie ein rätselhaftes Faktum, das man dahin gestellt sein läßt”13 (The legend is simply narrated and presents itself like a puzzling fact, that one leaves undecided). The latter comment points to a further aspect that, at least by implication, all three writers praise as contributing to the disturbing effect: the lack of a conclusive explanation. Hoffmann connects simplicity with the absence of evidence pointing to an explanation. In another conversation of the Serapionsbrüder (pertaining not to Kleist’s “Bettelweib” but to one of his own tales in which Hoffmann appropriates Kleist’s device of an invisible Spuk), Theodor – using virtually the same formulation as applied to “Das Bettelweib” – remarks: ich teile mit dir, Ottmar, das lebhafte Gefühl, daß gerade in der Einfachheit der Geschichte ihre tiefsten Schauer liegen. – Ich kann mir es denken, daß ich den plötzlichen Schreck irgendeiner grauenhaften Erscheinung wohl ertragen könnte, das unheimliche, den äußern Sinn in Anspruch nehmende Treiben eines unsichtbaren Wesens würde mich dagegen unfehlbar wahnsinning machen. Es ist das Gefühl der gänzlichen hülflosesten Ohnmacht, das den Geist zermalmen müßte.14

12 For German examples, see ibid., 194ff. 13 Grimm, quoted in Sembdner, Lebensspuren, 347. 14 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:327. The tale in question, usually referred to as “Spukgeschichte,” is worked into the frame narrative of Die Serapionsbrüder. It pays homage to Kleist’s “Bettelweib” in that the adult characters never see the ghost, but perceive only indirect evidence of its presence – if indeed it exists – in the form of a plate floating in the air without visible cause. Hoffmann also emulates “Das Bettelweib” through forms of Spuk that are heard but not seen in “Der unheimliche Gast” (The Uncanny Guest), “Das

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I share with you, Ottmar, your opinion that the very horror of the incident lies in its utter simpleness. I can imagine myself enduring, fairly well, the sudden alarm produced by some fearful apparition; but the weird actions of some invisible thing would infallibly drive me mad. The sense of the most utter, most helpless powerlessness must grind the spirit to dust.15

That is, the sense of helplessness, in Hoffmann’s own tale and in “Das Bettelweib,” derives from the fact that a ghost does not appear in it. There are clear parallels here with Apel’s theory of a contradiction presenting itself to the senses (in the evidence of sight and hearing, as with tales by Apel and Laun discussed in the previous chapter) and with Tieck’s notion of the contradiction posed for the understanding by effects without causes. In other words, the connection between simplicity and the lack of a conclusive explanation is that the paucity of information makes identification of the phenomenon impossible. Indeed, “Das Bettelweib” appears to be the archetypical example of this device for Hoffmann, one to which he returned again and again. Lothar’s explanation (quoted above) for the frightening effect of the inexplicable echoes theories of the sublime (Burke’s and Schiller’s, for instance). Fear of the unknown is particularly intense because, by offering the understanding no data to work on, it leaves all the wider scope for imagination to raise its own spectres. Consideration of “Das Bettelweib”’s reception by contemporaries and of the parallels it presents to Tieck’s and Apel’s theories has situated the crux of the tale in an inexplicable phenomenon that exceeds the safe confines of fiction and that tries to disquiet the reader by its plausibility. Still with reference to the findings of the preceding chapters, the following hypothesis can be put forward, to be proved by a close reading of Kleist’s tale: by thematizing a confrontation with something absolutely inexplicable, the text aims (1) to create cognitive disorientation; (2) to reveal the shortcomings of a world view based on the belief that empirical investigation and rational thought can explain everything; and (3) to raise doubt as to the goodness and justice of the cosmic order. As Rölleke noted,16 the tale begins like an aetiological legend: a present incontrovertible and easily verifiable fact, the ruined condition of the castle, which can be seen by any traveller over the Gotthard Pass, is ­explained by the narration of the events that brought it about. This Majorat” (The Primogeniture) and “Ein Fragment aus dem Leben dreier Freunde” (A Fragment from the Life of Three Friends), in which last “Das Bettelweib” is explicitly mentioned. 15 Hoffmann, The Serapion Brethren, 1:237. 16 Rölleke, “Der Hund,” 76.

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­ eginning in itself distinguishes “Das Bettelweib” from horror fiction by b its closer relationship to reality.17 Whereas horror fiction is evidently and self-avowedly wholly fictional, legend purports to have at least a kernel of truth, albeit distorted by the accretions of popular telling and retelling. In the present case, not only is the starting point presented as fact, but nothing in the tale, with the sole exception of the Spuk, would strain the capacity for belief of the most ardent rationalist: instead of horrific dynastic secrets and extraordinary evil, a beggar woman who seeks help and dies accidentally by slipping on a polished floor; a castle that cannot be sold because tales of a haunting play on the superstitious fear of the local populace and of potential buyers; instead of human or supernatural retribution for a series of crimes, a man who, worn down by economic misfortune, dies by his own actions in a moment of panic.18 Herein lies the plausibility that Grimm, Horn, and Hoffmann contrasted favourably with the artificial machinery of horror fiction and to which they ascribed the tale’s disturbing effect. Rationalists might even be expected to accept the occurrence of the very Spuk – or at least its outward manifestation – as credible, as “a rätselhaftes Faktum” (Grimm) the cause of which, in theory, might be “natural” and discoverable, though this does not happen in practice. Crucial in this respect is that the Spuk is not a terrible apparition, but a strange noise with no visible source. This plausibility and ordinariness make it possible for readers to imagine themselves in the situation of the protagonists and thus to experience frightening disorientation vicariously.

17 “Sagen haben im Gegensatz zum gleichsam ‘freischwebenden’ Märchen […] viel stärkeren ‘Sitz im Leben,’ und zwar eben durch solche Anknüpfungen an bestimmte vergangene oder noch heute sichtbare Phänomene” (Rölleke, Das große deutsche Sagenbuch, 11; Legends, by contrast with the quasi “free-floating” fairy tale … have a much stronger “seat in life,” that is, precisely through such connections to specific phenomena from the past or still visible today). 18 The only aspects that would indeed strain credibility are the numerous self-­ contradictions and breaks in logic, on which Kleist scholars have expended much ingenuity. Some of these have been plausibly explained. For instance, the beggar woman is placed in an elegant first-floor room because it is one that can be heated, and the marquis enters the room by habit because this is where he keeps his gun, yet by chance (zufällig) because it is coincidence that he needed to put away his gun on that very day. All might be explained, as Emil Staiger did, by “Kleists Nachlässigkeit bei allem, was keine Folge hat” (“Heinrich von Kleist,” 120; Kleist’s negligence in everything of no consequence), though this can neither be proved nor disproved. Be that as it may, it should be noted that these inconsistencies did not strike contemporary reviewers, nor do they strike modern readers on first or even second reading, or indeed until a minute analysis of the tale is undertaken. This tends to support Staiger’s view and at any rate means that the inconsistencies can be safely disregarded when considering the tale’s effect.

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In terms of the actual Spuk, Kleist is at pains to establish two things as incontrovertible: that it actually occurs and is not the product of imagination or delusion, and that it is absolutely inexplicable to the characters in the tale. The mysterious noises are experienced, first by a complete stranger (the Florentine knight who is considering buying the castle), who has no reason to associate anything unusual with the room; then by the marquis; then by the marquis, the marquise, and a servant; and finally by the marquis, the marquise, and – the clincher – by the dog, a creature with more acute senses and no superstitious imagination. This sequence of witnesses, particularly the fact that the first is a stranger and the last an animal, from the outset undermines any attempt to ascribe the Spuk to the marquis’s subconscious awareness of guilt. The text stresses that the phenomenon is inexplicable to the marquis, as to the others. Each time the marquis, or the couple, hear the noise, it is characterized by the epithet “unbegreiflich” (incomprehensible), or, on the second occasion, “unbegreiflich” and “gespensterartig” (ghostly). When it is first heard, many years have passed since the death of the beggar woman, so it is unlikely that either the marquis or the marquise remembers what to them would have been an unimportant incident. Another instance of repetition draws attention to the fact that it is the impossibility of knowing the cause – of finding and proving it – that is responsible for the couple’s terror and despair. The marquis spends the first night alone in the room in order to investigate: “[er] beschloß, die Sache in der nächsten Nacht selbst zu untersuchen”19 (he resolved … by investigating the matter himself on the following night [215]). On being told that the Spuk exists, the marquise recommends a second night spent in the room, this time by both of them, in order to “[die Sache] einer kaltblütigen Prüfung zu unterwerfen” (3:262; once again, in cold blood, … put it to the test [215]). Despite their terror, they jointly decide to spend yet a third night in the room, “um der Sache auf den Grund zu kommen” (3:263; to get to the bottom of the matter [216]). In other words, both (irrespective of good or ill behaviour towards the beggar) approach the problem in the manner of rational, modern persons who rely on the methods of empirical science, confident that properly conducted, dispassionate investigation will yield understanding of and a means of dealing with the world around them. The oft-discussed and admired escalation that Kleist achieves in the presentation of the encounters with 19 Kleist, Sämtliche Werke, 3:262. All translations of Kleist’s stories are cited from the collection translated by David Luke and Nigel Reeves (The Marquise of O and Other Stories). Note: Only the second version of “Die heilige Cäcilie” is translated; translations of the first version are my own.

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the Spuk serves to underscore both the correctness of the method and the urgency of the need to know; at the same time it draws the readers into the experience, convincing them of the stringency of the characters’ conclusions. The first time, the description is a post-factum report in the subjunctive; the second time, the events are described directly as the marquis experiences them, but in the past tense; the third time, they are narrated in the historical present, with greater wealth of detail. Much care is expended in bringing the dog’s reaction to life for the readers, the word order even re-creating its stages as it occurs: “mit dem ersten Schritt: tapp! tapp! erwacht der Hund, hebt sich plötzlich, die Ohren spitzend, vom Boden empor, und knurrend und bellend, grad’ als ob ein Mensch auf ihn eingeschritten käme, rückwärts gegen den Ofen weicht er aus” (3:263; the tap, tap of the advancing steps – and at the very first of these the dog, waking and starting to its feet with ears erect, began growling and barking exactly as if some person were walking towards it, and retreated backwards in the direction of the stove [216]). The phenomenon is devastatingly horrible and terrifying for the couple because its cause (in both a physical and a moral sense) is unknown, undiscoverable, and thus utterly incomprehensible. The obsessive desire to know is answered with each attempt at investigation by a repetition of “unbegreiflich.” The final and conclusive proof, both that the phenomenon exists and that the reason for its devastating effect is its incomprehensibility, is given by the behaviour of the dog. Whereas the marquis and marquise can hear something or someone moving and moaning but can see absolutely nothing, the dog behaves as if it can see a person coming towards it. This precludes the explanations of delusion and collective suggestion, or of something located in the walls or in another room, and goes far in confirming an actual and possibly dangerous presence against which the protagonists cannot defend themselves. This is one source for “das Gefühl der gänzlichen hülflosesten Ohnmacht” (the most utter, most helpless powerlessness), which Hoffmann identified as the effect of this type of Spuk. The other contributing factor – again intensified by the evidence of the dog – is the realization of the unreliability of human sense perception forced upon the couple by this experience. The dog’s reaction exposes the inadequacy of human sense perception, since it shows that a creature with more highly developed senses is able to see something or someone in the room. Kleist too, like Tieck and Apel, made use of a contradiction to create a feeling of disorientation and fear: once again the data given by the senses of sight and hearing is in conflict. In his tale, the resulting disorientation is heightened by the evidence of another creature, for whom the data of the two senses coincide. In Tieck’s Abdallah, the eponymous hero, on being told that his vivid experiences were a

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dream, cries out in anguish that he can never hope for certain knowledge of anything if he cannot trust the evidence of his senses. His statement is an apt description of the situation in Kleist’s “Das Bettelweib.” The outcome of the protagonists’ obsessive search for an explanation, and of their well-conducted experiment, is that knowledge is impossible because of the inadequacy of the human cognitive apparatus, and it is this that causes the marquise to flee in panic and that drives the marquis to suicide. Through the vivid descriptions of the protagonists’ experiences in the haunted room, readers are to some extent brought to identify with them and to experience their fear and shuddering vicariously. This is heightened by the fact that Western readers, in 1811 as much as in the twenty-first century, are children of the Enlightenment and likely to share the protagonists’ approach to the problem as well as their need for an explanation. Nevertheless, the readers’ experience differs from that of the characters in that they, unlike the latter, have not forgotten the death of the beggar woman and are able to note the correspondence (in both content and word choice) between her death and the auditory phenomenon. Does this mean the readers achieve a certainty as to the nature and origin of the phenomenon that is denied to the characters? The multiplicity of viewpoints in the scholarly literature shows that this is not the case. All opinions are represented: that a ghost is present, that the phenomenon is utterly inexplicable and defies reason, that it is a figment of the marquis’s subconscious. As we have seen, the text leaves no room for doubt that something is at work in the haunted room and that it is in some way associated with the beggar, since it replays the events of her death, but, because nothing ever becomes visible, it withholds final proof that the something is her ghost. Humans, the readers as much as the characters, rely on sight as their chief source of information on reality. An element of cognitive uncertainty is thus achieved on the meta-level as well, though it is less far-reaching. At the same time, thanks to the readers’ awareness of the association with the beggar, another form of uncertainty arises for them, of which the characters are unaware: the moral dimension. On the ethical plane, the question arises whether the presence of the Spuk associated with the beggar represents and serves to establish a higher form of justice than the human one in this tale (as in Michael Kohlhaas), or, conversely, raises the disturbing possibility that the order of the cosmos is determined by chance or by some inscrutable, even hostile numinous entity, along similar lines as in Tieck’s fairy tales. The fact that scholarly opinions are sharply divided on this point is significant and suggests that no easy or certain answer can be achieved. On the one side are scholars who maintain that through the haunting the marquis is justly punished

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for his misdeed.20 The actual misdeed is identified as the initial act of ordering the beggar to move behind the stove, which constituted a sinful lack of charity and compassion; or as the marquis’s failure to help the beggar or to retract his command after she has fallen.21 Others argue for systemic injustice rather than for individual guilt or personal wrongdoing: the economic disparity between the landowning classes and the rest, and the arbitrary exercise of power and privilege by the former, are being punished; thus the downfall of the marquis heralds the overthrow of his class.22 The tale, they continue, exposes the moral and practical bankruptcy of an entire political order; acts of individual compassion, such as the marquise’s harbouring of the beggar, cannot compensate for this, since those acts depend on the arbitrary will of the ruling class. On the other side, scholars have pointed out that the marquis’s command to the beggar is not born of deliberate cruelty; rather, it is an impulsive and thoughtless utterance that expresses momentary displeasure, as the word “unwillig” suggests (“Der Marchese, der, bei der Rückkehr von der Jagd, zufällig in das Zimmer trat […] befahl der Frau unwillig”23 [The marquis, by chance, on his return from hunting, entered this room … angrily ordered the woman24]), and there is no evidence in the text that the marquis is still in the room to witness the beggar’s fall and subsequent progress across the room.25 From this it follows that the punishment (self-inflicted death in a fit of panic and despair) grossly exceeds the crime. 26 Such an 20 Exponents of this view include Werlich (“Kleists ‘Bettelweib von Locarno’”), Hilliard (“‘Rittergeschichte’”), Landwehr (“The Balancing Scales of Justice”), and Landfester (“Das Bettelweib von Locarno”). 21 See Hilliard, “‘Rittergeschichte.’” An interesting variant of the individual guilt model is a recent article by Johannes Lehmann (“Geste ohne Mitleid”), which attributes the initial wrong to the marquise, arguing that she dispenses inappropriate charity (putting the beggar up in a showy room, covering the floor with straw ill-fitting to its elegance) out of a selfish desire to enact a show of charity for herself. The evidence for this seems to be questionable (the beggar, for instance, slips on the polished floor, not on the straw as Lehmann maintains), and it is difficult to see why the marquise would go to such trouble for the edification of herself alone. In any case, substituting the marquise for the marquis does not alter the argument for justice in any substantial way. 22 See Peter Horn, Heinrich von Kleists Erzählungen; Fischer, Ironische Metaphysik; and Schmidt, Heinrich von Kleist. 23 Kleist, Sämtliche Werke, 3:261. 24 Ibid., Marquise, 214. 25 See, for instance, Schröder, “Das Bettelweib von Locarno”; Schulz, “Das Bettelweib von Locarno”; and Kreft, “Kleists ‘Bettelweib von Locarno.’” 26 See, for instance, Staiger; Schröder; and Schulz. Kreft and Pastor and Leroy, “Die Brüchigkeit,” go further, arguing that the marquis is not guilty of anything and that the very question of guilt and retribution is not germane.

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i­mbalance tends to undermine rather than confirm a just world order guaranteed by a benevolent god. The notion that the evil of an entire class is being condemned, though unquestionably pertinent and convincing, does not reconfirm divine justice, since punishment is being visited on a comparatively harmless member of that class rather than on a perpetrator of deliberate evil. A number of scholars hence locate the tale’s horrific impact in its portrayal of an irrational, incomprehensible world order, one that fatally undermines the sway of reason.27 Staiger sees “Grauen” arising from the inexorability of the chain reaction started by a careless act: “Und weniger, daß ein Gespenst erscheint, als daß sich ein leichtes Vergehen im Geisterraum unverrückbar erhält und immerzu das Leben verstört […], dies läßt den Marchese verzweifeln und irre werden am Wesen und Sinn der Welt”28 (It is less the fact that a ghost appears, more rather that a minor wrongdoing maintains itself immovably in the spirit realm and continues to disrupt life … it is this that causes the marquis to despair and to lose faith in the essence and meaning of the world). Grawe asserts that the phenomenon is not capable of any rational explanation and concludes: “Der Spuk ist eine Chiffre für das Transrationale in der Welt”29 (The Spuk is a cipher for the transrational in the world), while Schröder argues that the god (if there is one) who presides over the world of this novella is far from loving and benevolent: “In beiden Novellen [i.e., ‘Bettelweib’ and ‘Heilige Cäcilie’] aber waltet eine undurchschaubare Macht ohne Vergessen, Vergebung und Gnade, eine Macht, die richtet, indem sie vernichtet” 30 (In both novellas [i.e., “Bettelweib” and “Heilige Cäcilie”] rules an inscrutable power without forgetting, forgiving or mercy, a power that judges by destroying). In my view, the last-mentioned position is the more convincing, particularly in view of the emphasis on the inexplicability of the phenomenon. To the arguments against just retribution can be added that the beggar woman dies not from violence but as the result of an accident. The marquis could not reasonably have been expected to foresee that the woman would injure herself if she rose from the straw; such an outcome was no more necessary than it was predictable, hence the very agency of the marquis is in doubt. Once she had fallen and injured her back, the marquis could not have prevented her death, either by rescinding his command or by helping her rise. The justice of the punishment is further undermined 27 See Staiger; Schröder; Grawe, Sprache im Prosawerk; Dyer, The Stories; Pastor and Leroy; and Kreft. 28 Staiger, “Heinrich von Kleist ‘Das Bettelweib von Locarno,’” 127. 29 Grawe, Sprache im Prosawerk, 94–5. 30 Schröder, “Das Bettelweib von Locarno,” 202.

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by the fact that it harms the innocent almost as severely as the guilty: the marquise, who was kind to the beggar, loses her husband, her home, and all her possessions. The very multiplicity of interpretations, each of which can be supported by textual evidence, suggests that the tale is intended to present a doubtful and ambiguous case, much like Tieck’s “Der blonde Eckbert.” Whatever conclusion one may reach, the fact that the reader is set wondering necessarily calls into question the rightness of the world order, the justice and goodness of its presiding divinity, and indeed the presence of such a divinity, since it is also by no means clear whether the events are the product of a controlling will, of the ghost’s own vengeful initiative, or of chance. A comparison with other genres underscores this point. In horror fiction, ghosts generally haunt in order to see the righting of a wrong inflicted on them or their family, and usually it is the murdered or otherwise violently dead who return as ghosts. In folk tales too, the reason for the haunting is generally evident and often found in a wrongful violent death.31 In Kleist’s “Das Bettelweib,” it is not only questionable whether a misdeed worthy of such terrible punishment has taken place, but the very occurrence of vengeance is in doubt. The noises of the beggar’s passage and demise are a far less clear accusation of a crime than such apparitions as Hamlet’s or Banquo’s ghost, or the spirit of the murdered prince of Otranto in Walpole’s novel. The wrongdoer, at any rate, never makes the connection, which deprives the punishment of a large portion of its meaning and efficacy. Since the victims of chance accident do not generally return as ghosts, the tale further creates uncertainty by not conforming to type. Thus, whereas horror fiction tends to reaffirm the rational world view and the Christian moral order and folk tales likewise affirm the former if not always the latter, Kleist’s tale exhibits a disturbing uncertainty on both the ontological and the ethical plane.

31 Rölleke comments: “[Es wird] den Sagenfiguren wie den Lesern und Hörern solcher Geschichten immer verdeutlicht, warum es zu Unglück oder Bestrafungen kommt. Solche Verdeutlichungen oder Begründungen resultieren auch aus der den Volkssagen charakteristischen Neigung zu Erklärungen aller Art” (Das große deutsche Sagenbuch, 10; It is always made clear to the legendary characters and to the readers and hearers of such tales why misfortune or punishments come about. Such clarifications or motivations result also from the tendency towards explanations of all kinds, which is characteristic of folk legends). Examples from this collection are #30, “Wie der Wiedergänger sich rächt” (“How the Revenant Revenges Itself”), in which a farm girl who died as a result of a cruel punishment inflicted by her employer comes back as a ghost to drive him and his family to ruin and death; and #80, “Der Uglei” (“Lake Uklei”), in which an unfaithful knight suffers at the hands of divine justice the very punishment he had called down on himself in his promise of marriage to a peasant girl whom he subsequently abandoned.

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Analysis of “Das Bettelweib” tends to confirm parallels with Tieck’s (and to some extent Apel and Laun’s) fiction. This text too uses elements of the marvellous to subvert certainties on the cognitive and moral planes. It does so by narrating a confrontation with the irreducibly unknown, by presenting human perception as inadequate, and by raising doubt as to the existence and the justice of a moral cosmic order. Taken at face value, “Die heilige Cäcilie oder Die Gewalt der Musik” seems to conform to the pattern of Michael Kohlhaas, or even Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, rather than to that of “Das Bettelweib.” A divine emissary intervenes in human affairs to prevent a crime and to restore the right order of things. And indeed the tale has been so read, by Wilhelm Grimm and by Kleist scholars as late as the 1960s.32 Yet taken as a straightforward legend, the tale is peculiarly dissatisfying, as Wilhelm Grimm himself noted: “[der Vortrag ist schwerfällig und gezwungen] in der Legende: Die heilige Cäcilie, oder die Gewalt der Musik, wo uns der wahre Ton überhaupt nicht getroffen scheint”33 (In the legend: Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music, [the narration is heavy-handed and forced], where the true tone does not seem to us to have been found at all successfully). One can interpret this, as Grimm does, as a failure on Kleist’s part to achieve his narrative object, or one can see it as a clue that the tale is not intended to ring true as a legend. Since the late 1960s, beginning with articles by Hoffmeister and Wittkowski, Kleist scholarship has shown that the latter is the more convincing explanation.34 If the tale is removed from the hagiographic genre, it enters the realm of the aesthetics of fear. Two extraordinary and terrible (fear-inspiring) events occur in it: (1) the conducting of the mass by someone who looks like Sister Antonia while the latter is lying helpless and unconscious in her bed, in the presence of a witness; and (2) the putative conversion and the madness of the brothers. To avoid confusion, it needs to be stressed that these two events are connected yet distinct, each posing its own separate puzzle. Admittedly, the first is the precondition for the second, but the effect of the second is independent of the explanation one chooses for the first. The striking down of the brothers, that is, is unquestionably

32 For Grimm’s reading, see Sembdner, Heinrich von Kleists Lebensspuren, 347; and Heinrich von Kleists Nachruhm, 626. For Kleist scholars, see for instance Scherer, “Die beiden Fassungen”; and Edel “Heinrich von Kleist.” 33 Grimm, quoted in Sembdner, Heinrich von Kleists Lebensspuren, 347. 34 See Wittkowski, “‘Die heilige Cäcilie’”; and Hoffmeister, “Die Doppeldeutigkeit.” For a more detailed discussion of this aspect, and of scholarship on it, see also my article, “Religious Conversion and the Dark Side of Music: Kleist’s ‘Die Heilige Cäcilie oder die Gewalt der Musik’ and Hoffmann’s ‘Das Sanctus.’”

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achieved by the power of music, regardless of who conducted the mass. Music here is an overwhelming, awe-inspiring, and destructive force in the face of which humans are insignificant and helpless. The coincidence with discourses of the sublime is immediately obvious, and indeed we have seen how these were applied to music in the late eighteenth century.35 Kleist’s use of the phrase “die Gewalt der Musik” is an obvious allusion to the topos.36 The hypothesis advanced in Part II, chapter 1, that the Romantic Schauerliche developed as a specialization and radicalization of the sublime, thus offers an approach to this aspect of the tale. My thesis is that Kleist draws on discourses on the sublimity of music but then radicalizes and ultimately undermines these, in that he intensifies the terror at the expense of the uplift or delight, actualizing the destructive capabilities of the overwhelming force rather than leaving them in potentiality; he allows no victory of a positively conceived absolute emerging out of destruction, and in particular he involves reason in the experience of defeat. The other dimension, the question of who conducted the mass, once the “miracle” explanation is dismissed, adds several elements to this transformation of the apparently sublime to the Schauerlichen, in ways somewhat similar to “Das Bettelweib.” Ontological disorientation arises through confrontation with an inexplicable occurrence for which science and reason can offer no plausible account. As with “Das Bettelweib” (and with Tieck), disorientation extends to the moral plane, since the outcome of the “miracle” is such as to lead the unprejudiced to question the justice of the divine intervention – if indeed there was one – the more so since the Church authorities whose position is strengthened by it turn out to be far from admirable morally. Scholarship on “Die heilige Cäcilie” has shown conclusively that there is no evidence for the claim that St. Cecilia conducted the mass and that the construction of this “miracle” puts the Catholic authorities in a very questionable light. I will summarize the evidence against the miracle and the resulting critique of the Church very briefly, since this aspect has been thoroughly explicated in scholarship. The narrator’s version of events during the mass offers no support for the theory that St. Cecilia conducted it. It merely attests to the occurrence of two circumstances that ought to be mutually exclusive: the nun sent to inquire after Antonia reports that she is lying helpless and unconscious, yet Antonia appears shortly after, “frisch und gesund”37 (fresh and well [219]), although pale, and conducts the mass. The explanation that St. Cecilia herself conducted it is imposed, 35 See chapter 1, section 3. 36 See also chapter 1, section 3, for references to scholarship on the subject. 37 Kleist, Sämtliche Werke, 3:290, 293.

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post factum and without direct knowledge, by the archbishop and the pope. The abbess, who was present, contradicts herself on this crucial point, saying first “daß schlechterdings niemand weiß, wer eigentlich das Werk [i.e. the ancient Italian Mass] […] ruhig auf dem Sitz der Orgel dirigiert habe” (that absolutely nobody knows who it really was who … sat calmly at the organ and conducted the work [228–9]), then shortly after that the archbishop has “bereits das Wort ausgesprochen, das ihn allein erklärt, nämlich, ‘daß die heilige Cäcilie selbst dieses zu gleicher Zeit schreckliche und herrliche Wunder vollbracht habe” (3:311, 313; already made the only comment that can explain it: namely that Saint Cecilia herself performed this miracle which was both so terrible and so glorious [229]).38 In support of this arbitrary exegesis she offers a written testimony, which is valueless since it was given by an unnamed person who was not present at the mass, as well as the nonsensical claim that Sister Antonia would have confirmed that she had not conducted the mass, had she not been first unconscious and then dead and hence unable to say anything at all. Overall, the abbess, who is the Church’s chief spokesperson, is presented in a quite negative light: her behaviour towards the mother of the stricken brothers shows her to be arrogant, unfeeling, and more like a secular political ruler than a spiritual leader.39 The other account on which the miracle thesis rests, Veit Gotthelf’s, is also vitiated by self-interest and obvious prevarications: he has converted back to Catholicism, has become a respected and well-to-do citizen, and wishes above all to avoid trouble for himself.40 Some scholars have therefore suggested that the “oder” (or) in the title should be read disjunctively (rather than as two ways 38 The first version of “Die heilige Cäcilie” was published in the Berliner Abendblätter (Berlin Evening Paper), 15–17 November 1810; the second, much expanded and reworked version appeared in the second volume of Kleist’s Erzählungen (Tales) in 1811. See the commentary in the Deutscher Klassiker edition, 3:880–1. This edition prints the two versions parallel on facing pages. In my discussion, I consider both versions and give page references to both. 39 On the occasion of her encounter with the mother of the iconoclastic brothers, the abbess is described as “eine edle Frau, von stillem königlichen Ansehn” (a noble lady of serene and regal appearance) and a “fürstlich[e] Dame” (3:309; princely lady [227–8]). Her account of the miracle, as mentioned earlier, is dictated by the archbishop’s decision, self-contradictory, and in part against her better knowledge. She refuses the woman clearer explanations on the grounds that the latter wouldn’t understand them (3:311). 40 For a detailed account of how the miracle reading is discredited through internal contradictions and the negative portrayal of the Catholic Church authorities, see Hoffmeister, “Die Doppeldeutigkeit”; Wittkowski, “‘Die heilige Cäcilie’”; Horn, Heinrich von Kleists Erzählungen; Heine “Kleist’s St. Cecilia”; Fischer, Ironische Metaphysik; Lubkoll, “Die Heilige Musik”; Stephens, “Stimmengewebe,” Heinrich von Kleist; and Schmidt, Heinrich von Kleist.

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of stating one and the same thing): it was either St. Cecilia or the power of music, with the second being the correct answer. This is true in its identification of the agent of conversion but also problematic in that it conflates the two distinct issues identified above: it was the power of music that struck down the brothers, irrespective of whether St. Cecilia was personally involved or not. The question of music’s sublimity and its effects will therefore be considered first, in its own right and without reference to the puzzle of the conductor. If Kleist followed the pattern of aesthetic discourses on the power and sublimity of music, he should present it as an ambivalent phenomenon, emanating from a higher sphere and thus causing exaltation and uplift, yet also overwhelming and potentially terrifying. In Sulzer’s view, the passion generated by music can be so extreme as to cause temporary insanity.41 Early Romantic aesthetics continue this dualism. In Wackenroder’s Berglinger novella and in his and Tieck’s contributions to the Phantasien über die Kunst, music evokes reactions ranging from religious ecstasy to terror.42 In Kleist’s “Die heilige Cäcilie,” the performance of the ancient Italian mass does indeed produce extreme reactions, but ones that don’t quite fit the expected pattern. Only the nuns seem privy to the experience of uplift: it affords them “himmlischer Trost” (heavenly consolation) and leads them “durch alle Himmel des Wohlklangs”43 (through all the heavens of harmony [220]), but even this is toned down in the second version. The first version creates the impression that the music provokes “himmlische[n] Trost,” since mention of it immediately follows Antonia’s assumption of the conductor’s role and is itself followed by the statement that the music transports the nuns to heaven; in the second version, another clause is inserted after the mention of “himmlische[n] Trost”: “sie stellten sich augenblicklich mit ihren Instrumenten an die Pulte” (they immediately sat down at their music stands with their instruments). It is thus the appearance of Antonia, rather than the music itself, which has not yet begun, that brings consolation. The majority of the congregation is deeply affected, but the description of their sublime experience is curiously truncated: “es regte sich, während 41 “Daß Menschen in schweren Anfällen des Wahnwitzes durch Musik etwas besänf­ tiget, gesunde Menschen aber in so heftige Leidenschaft können gesetzt werden, daß sie bis auf einen geringen Grad der Raserey kommen, kann gar nicht geläugnet werden” (“Musik” in Sulzer, Allgemeine Theorie der schönen Künste, 3:427; It cannot at all be denied that people in serious attacks of insanity can be calmed down somewhat through music, but that healthy people can be put in such intense passion that they come as far as a low level of raving). 42 See chapter 1, section 3, of this study. 43 Kleist, Sämtliche Werke, 3:292-3.

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der ganzen Darstellung, kein Odem in den Hallen und Bänken; besonders bei dem Salve regina und noch mehr bei dem Gloria in excelsis, war es, als ob die ganze Bevölkerung der Kirche tot sei” (3:292, 293; during the whole performance not a breath stirred from where the congregation stood and sat; especially at the Salve regina and even more at the Gloria in excelsis it was as if the entire assembly in the church had been struck dead [220]). This formulation allows us to postulate awe but offers no justification to assume uplift; “death-like” is at the very least a curious way of describing positive emotions. The higher, uplifting dimension thus has to be derived from the marriage of music and religion: music as divine emissary, bringing about conversion to the true religion. This is precisely the point at which the sublime self-destructs and turns into the Schauerlichen. The conversion – and consequently its agent, music – examined from the point of view of its effects (again without reference to the identity of the conductor), is terrible without being uplifting, thus calling into question the very existence of divine justice. A comparison with Tieck’s “Brief eines jungen deutschen Mahlers” (“Letter of a Young German Painter”), the prototype for the Romantic narrative of conversion through music, helps make this clear. Its protagonist, a Protestant, attends a High Mass in a Catholic church on the occasion of a festivity (“ein großes Fest”44 [a huge festival; 133]), attracted partly by the promise of sacred music (“eine lateinische Musik” [splendid Latin music]), partly by the presence of his beloved. His motivation is thus worldly, though not iconoclastic, as is the case in Kleist’s tale. Like the brothers in “Die heilige Cäcilie,” he is immediately overwhelmed by the power of the music, which Tieck, using the typical discourse of the sublime, likens to a great force of nature: “über uns hub die allmächtige Musik, in langsamen, vollen, gedehnten Zügen an, als wenn ein unsichtbarer Wind über unsern Häuptern wehte: sie wälzte sich in immer größeren Wogen fort, wie ein Meer, und die Töne zogen meine Seele ganz aus ihrem Körper heraus” (1:115; above us, the mighty music commenced in slow, full, extended strains, as if an invisible wind were blowing over our heads: like an ocean it rolled along in larger and larger waves and the sounds drew my soul completely out of its body [133–4]). “Gewalt,” it should not be forgotten, means violence as well as power, and the aspect of violence is clearly brought out in Tieck’s text: “und Posaunen, und ich weiß selbst nicht was für allmächtige Töne, schmetterten und dröhnten eine erhabene Andacht durch alles Gebein […] eine geheime, wunderbare Macht zog auch mich 44 Wackenroder, Sämtliche Werke, 1:115. Tieck’s contributions to the Phantasien are quoted from the historical-critical Wackenroder edition. English translations are from Hurst, Confessions.

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unwiderstehlich zu Boden, und ich hätte mich mit aller Gewalt nicht aufrecht erhalten können” (1:116; and trumpets and I myself know not what sort of all-powerful sounds roared and boomed an exalted devotion through everyone’s frame … a mysterious, wonderful force also drew me irresistibly to the ground and I could not have held myself erect with all my strength [134]). This violence by a higher power brings about a conversion to Catholicism, but one that occurs with deliberation and that brings about wholly positive, desirable results. The young painter feels peace and contentment (“ich fühle mein Herz froh und leicht” [my heart feels gay and carefree]) and a closer kinship to and better understanding of his art: “Die Kunst hat mich allmächtig hinübergezogen, und ich darf wohl sagen, daß ich nun erst die Kunst so recht verstehe und innerlich fasse” (1:116; Art drew me over almightily and I may truly say that I now for the first time rightly understand and inwardly comprehend art [134]). The contrast to the effect on the four iconoclastic brothers in Kleist’s “Die heilige Cäcilie” could hardly be starker, in terms both of their mental state and of the religion they espouse after “conversion.” The music brings about a complete upheaval of their beliefs and personality, in a manner that has to be called devastating. Hearing the mass provokes an instant and complete change of attitude towards Catholicism, which has to be regarded as a form of conversion: “der Prädikant, […] läßt sich, mit kreuzweis auf die Brust gelegten Händen, auf Knien nieder und murmelt, samt den Brüdern, die Stirn inbrünstig in den Staub herab gedrückt, die ganze Reihe noch kurz vorher von ihm verspotteter Gebete ab”45 (the preacher crossed his hands on his breast and sank down on his knees, whereupon he and his brothers, with their foreheads fervently pressed into the dust, recited in a murmur the entire series of the prayers he had mocked only a few moments earlier [223]). From their reported utterances once they are in the asylum, it would seem they believe themselves to have received some sort of illumination: “daß sie bloß in der Verherrlichung des Heilands begriffen wären, von dem sie, nach ihrem Vorgeben, besser als andre, einzusehen glaubten, daß er der wahrhhaftige Sohn des alleinigen Gottes sei” (3:295; they were merely adoring the Saviour, for … they claim to understand better than anyone else that He is the true Son of the One God [221]), but no formal, considered conversion takes place, which indeed is put beyond their power by their dubious mental state. The quality of the religion the brothers now espouse, which would seem to be Catholicism, must be judged by its fruits. The experience in the cathedral has transformed the brothers from

45 Kleist, Sämtliche Werke, 3:299.

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cheerful and boisterous young men into melancholics: according to Veit Gotthelf’s report, when asked what has happened to them, the brothers “schauen gedankenvoll auf den Boden nieder und wischen sich – ach! von Zeit zu Zeit, mit einem Ausdruck, der mir noch jetzt das Herz spaltet, die Tränen aus den Augen” (3:301; gazed pensively at the ground and, from time to time, alas! wiped tears from their eyes with [an] expression which it still breaks my heart to remember [224]). Back at the inn, they refuse food and sleep, only later accepting bread and water and allowing themselves only one hour of sleep (3:305). In their religious practice they have espoused an asceticism so extreme as to seem a perversion of monasticism – an “öde[s] und traurige[s] Klosterleben” (3:298; desolate and sad monastic life) in the terms of the first version. Witnesses are divided on whether the brothers lead a cheerful and contented life or one that is “öde,” “traurig,” and “gespensterartig” (ghostly). Their life consists of uninterrupted penance and prayer, more extreme than is demanded by even the strictest monastic orders: constant silence, some twenty hours a day spent in contemplation of a crucifix, a diet of bread and water. The experience has deprived them of both reason and freedom of will, plunging them into a condition that can only be regarded as mental illness.46 In preparing the second version, Kleist made certain changes to the text that highlight the abnormality of the brothers’ behaviour and mental state. The very excess of their reaction upon hearing the music and the instant transformation of their attitude towards Catholicism into its mirror opposite suggest the overthrow of reason. In the first version, the brothers behave like any other devout worshipper: “[daß sie] beim Beginnen der Musik, ganz still geworden, andächtig, Einer nach dem Andern, auf’s Knie gesunken wären, und, nach dem Beispiel der übrigen Gemeinde, zu Gott gebetet hätten”47 ([that] at the beginning of the music, they became

46 This point is disputed in scholarship on the tale. Neumann, “Eselsgeschrei,” and Heine argue that the brothers are declared mad as part of a politically motivated effort to marginalize and silence dissent. Wittkowski sees the serenity that the asylum attendants ascribe to the brothers, and the report that they die happily (Kleist, Sämtliche Werke, 3:313), as incompatible with madness (“‘Die heilige Cäcilie,’” 21, 23). Brown, in Heinrich von Kleist, goes so far as to claim that the effect of the music on the brothers was positive; and Allan, in The Stories of Kleist, sees their behaviour as a form of true ecstatic worship. This position does not seem tenable to me. Both a cheerful and a melancholy frame of mind are compatible with madness, and Puschmann rightly pointed out that the brothers’ life corresponds to contemporary accounts of certified madmen. Heinrich von Kleists Cäcilie-Erzählung, 75. Hamilton too notes that the “wretched condition of the brothers … Their sorry existence, wasting away as inmates in the asylum” undermines the attraction of conversion to Catholicism. Music, Madness and the Unworking of Language, 150. 47 Kleist, Sämtliche Werke, 3:300.

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wholly quiet, they sank devoutly, one after the other, to their knees, and prayed to God following the example of the rest of the congregation). The second version, by contrast, involves a showy demonstration of extreme repentance and Catholic piety: genuflection, pressing the forehead to the ground, reciting the entire canon of Catholic prayers (3:299).48 Their life thereafter is described in the first version in terms compatible with Catholic normality; in the second, the choice of words evokes a sphere beyond or outside the human: “dies geisterartige Leben” (3:295; this ghostly existence [221]) and “stille[s], gespensterartige[s] Treiben” (3:301; silent spectral doings [224]). In addition to the extreme fanaticism of their ascetic practices, their relationship to music – the agent of their conversion – is the chief proof that conversion has robbed them of their reason (the distinguishing feature of the human) and indeed of their very humanity. The brothers’ singing of the Gloria is a form of automatism and repetition compulsion. It starts every night at precisely midnight, with the brothers leaping to their feet as one, and the singing continues for precisely an hour. Since no Gloria composed any time from the Renaissance to Kleist’s own day lasts remotely that long, one is forced to conclude that the brothers repeat it over and over. Their singing is loud enough to threaten the windows and involves so much effort that they are streaming with sweat. Their rendition is not so much music as a grotesque parody and perversion of it. Their singing of the Gloria is described in the first version as “schauerlich and grausenhaft” (schauerlich and horrific) and “nicht ohne musikalischen Wohlklang, aber durch sein Geschrei gräßlich” (3:298; not without musical melodiousness, but dreadful through its screaming) – an oxymoron that Kleist would later drop. The second version goes much further: “[sie fangen] mit einer entsetzlichen und gräßlichen Stimme, das Gloria in excelsis zu intonieren an. So mögen sich Leoparden und Wölfe anhören lassen, wenn sie zur eisigen Winterzeit, das Firmament anbrüllen” (3:303; they began, in voices that filled us with horror and dread, to intone the Gloria in excelsis. It was a sound something like that of leopards and wolves howling at the sky in icy winter [225]), and again, “dieses schauderhafte und empörende Gebrüll, […] wie von den Lippen ewig verdammter Sünder, aus dem tiefsten Grund der flammenvollen Hölle, jammervoll um Erbarmung zu Gottes Ohren [heraufdringend]” (3:303; this ghastly and hideous ululation … as if from the lips of sinners damned eternally in the uttermost depths of burning hell, to God’s ears and implored his mercy [225]). The power of music, then, is so

48 The passage was quoted above, page 231.

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overwhelming as to provoke a trauma serious enough to reduce the brothers to the level of animals, or worse, automata.49 If we choose to believe, like the majority of scholars, that no divine intervention is involved, it appears that music itself is an inscrutable, likely numinous entity of terrible power, as well as morally neutral or ambiguous (as Littlejohns described music in Wackenroder’s thought).50 Music itself, like nature in Kant’s dynamic sublime, is a terrible force that does violence to the human subject, for no purpose, simply by its very nature. It brings on the brothers’ madness and destroys them as rational, human subjects. We are thus no longer dealing with an intensification of the sublime, in that the element of uplift has been excised; rather, the anti-rationalist tendency that I have suggested is typical of the Romantic aesthetics of fear makes its appearance: whereas in Kant’s account of the dynamic sublime the threat to physical existence leads to a realization of human reason’s absolute greatness and superiority over the forces of nature by its capacity to make free moral judgments, in “Die heilige Cäcilie” the encounter with the irresistible, trans-rational (Grawe’s formulation is very apt) force of music brings about the ultimate overthrow of reason that is madness.51 The destructive, trans-rational quality of music is heightened by its selfannihilation. Sister Antonia, the chief female musician, dies soon after the performance of the mass. If it was indeed she who conducted it, one must conclude that she has been worn out by the emotional and physical demands of her art.52 With the death of Sister Antonia, divine harmonious music is silenced, and replaced by its perversion in the animalesque, howling Gloria daily intoned by the converted brothers. Kleist, like Tieck, is raising the possibility of a universe governed by chance, one in which even the highest, most beautiful manifestations of spirit may prove either uplifting and consoling or randomly destructive. Several scholars (for instance, Hoffmeister and Wittkowski) have concluded from the debunking of the miracle that the text gives one a choice between a supernatural (St. Cecilia) and a natural (the power of music) explanation, and that eliminating the miracle at once eliminates all 49 See also Schmidt, Heinrich von Kleist, 281; Hammermeister, “Kunstfeindschaft,” 149; and Greiner, “‘Das ganze Schrecken der Tonkunst,’” 518. 50 See chapter 1, pages 94–102. 51 On the relationship of “Die heilige Cäcilie”’s portrayal of music to discourses of the sublime, see also Maier, “Cäcilia unter den Deutschen”; Greiner, “‘Das ganze Schrecken der Tonkunst’”; and Hammermeister, “Kunstfeindschaft.” 52 In this respect, the text parallels Wackenroder’s Berglinger novella, in which, as Puschmann pointed out, the title character died of a Nervenfieber (nervous fever) after conducting his greatest work. Heinrich von Kleists Cäcilie-Erzählung, 55f.; and also Hoffmann’s “Don Juan,” “Rat Krespel,” and “Das Sanctus.”

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elements of the mysterious and irrational. But this is far from the case. In the problem of who conducted the mass, this text too presents an unresolvable mystery, an element of the inexplicable. If one eliminates St. Cecilia, the only known agent who could have conducted the mass is Sister Antonia. Given her condition at the time, however, this would itself be an event so extraordinary as to border on the miraculous. It has been suggested that Antonia may not have been seriously ill and that the assurance of her unconscious state may be another of the abbess’s prevarications,53 but this is clearly not the case. The narrator relates how, before the performance, and thus before the possibility of a miracle could have occurred to anyone, the sister sent to inquire after Antonia’s condition reports – to the abbess, not to any party whom it might be desirable to hoodwink – that “die Schwester in gänzlich bewußtlosem Zustande darniederliege, und an ihre Direktionsführung […] auf keine Weise zu denken sei”54 (Sister Antonia was lying in a state of complete unconsciousness, and that there was absolutely no question of her being able to conduct [219]). The nuns’ astonishment upon the appearance of the conductor (“Auf die erstaunte Frage der Nonnen” [When the nuns asked her in amazement; 219]) confirms the truth of this.55 A recovery, just minutes later, so complete that Antonia appears “frisch und gesund” (fresh and well) would indeed be extraordinary in the literal sense of the word. Alternatively, Wittkowski suggests an out-of-body experience,56 such as that of the Count vom Strahl in Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, whereby, by some phenomenon of magnetism, Antonia’s spirit conducts the mass while her body lies unconscious in the cell. This is plausible, but hardly what most people then or now would consider natural. In Kleist’s time, magnetism was regarded as a dark and mysterious force, operating on the borders between the natural world and the spirit-realm,57 and the fact that the phenomenon occurs just at the moment when it is needed is in itself near miraculous. Lastly, a change made from the first to the second version heightens the aura of mystery surrounding the conductor. The 53 See for instance Peter Horn. Beginning with Hoffmeister and Wittkowski (“Die heilige Cäcilie”), most scholars have assumed that Antonia conducted the mass. 54 Kleist, Sämtliche Werke, 3:291. 55 These formulations are the same in both versions. Kleist, Sämtliche Werke, 3:290–2, version 1, and 291-3, version 2. 56 Wittkowski, “Die heilige Cäcilie,” 28. 57 C.A.F. Kluge, in the Vorbericht (Preface) of his Versuch einer Darstellung des animalischen Magnetismus als Heilmittel (1815; Attempt at a Representation of Animal Magnetism as a Cure), for instance, warns that he will be dealing with phenomena “die schon an das Geisterreich grenzen” (xiv; that already border on the spirit realm). For further discussion of this, see chapter 7 of the present study.

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nuns now ask “Antonia” not only “wie sie sich plötzlich so erholt habe”58 (how she had recovered so suddenly [219]), but also “wo sie herkomme” (3:293; where she had come from [219]). In the first version they receive the practical and unremarkable answer “daß keine Zeit sei, zu schwatzen” (3:292; that there be no time to chatter); in the second, the evasive reply, “gleichviel, Freundinnen, gleichviel” (3:293; Never mind that, sisters, it is of no consequence! [219]), suggests that there is something to conceal. The text, therefore, gives us a choice not between a supernatural (and improbable) explanation and a natural and ordinary one, but rather between one that is supernatural and one that, if not supernatural, nevertheless contravenes the known laws of nature (in terms of what is possible for the human organism) and that transcends the boundaries of human knowledge and ratiocination. An element of the inexplicable and near supernatural also attaches to the conversion of the brothers, though it is clear, as shown above, that this was brought about by the power of music. Kleist added some details to the second version that are inexplicable by science or reason and that so strain belief in coincidence as once again to raise the possibility of the miraculous. Whereas in the first version the brothers kneel one after the other, in the second they take their hats off “in gleichzeitiger Bewegung” (with a simultaneous movement); at the inn (and presumably on all subsequent occasions), they rise “in gleichzeitiger Bewegung” to intone the Gloria, and all four die at once, immediately after having performed their Gloria one final time. The disjunctive reading of the title’s “oder” is thus after all called into question: if no divine intervention is involved, how is one to explain that the power of music affected the four brothers so precisely simultaneously and in exactly the same way, over a period of years? An element of cognitive uncertainty is thereby reintroduced in this, the seemingly more straightforward of the tale’s two extraordinary events: the one supernatural explanation is easily discredited, yet no fully satisfactory alternative presents itself. The choice between natural and trans-rational explanations can thus not be made conclusively, since either plot details or the lack of credibility of witnesses tend to undermine both alternatives to a greater or lesser extent. An examination of the question of justice, to which we now turn, adds yet another dimension of uncertainty. Compared to that of the marquis in “Das Bettelweib,” the wrongdoing intended by the four brothers is clearer-cut and further aggravated by being deliberate and planned. They gather together a large group of men

58 Kleist, Sämtliche Werke, 3:292-3.

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and enter the church in time for High Mass with the intention of disrupting the service, breaking the glass windows, and – improbably – destroying the cathedral completely (3:288, 289). Yet here too impulsiveness functions as a mitigating circumstance, and not the only one: the brothers are “erhitzt” (inflamed) by “Schwärmerei, Jugend und dem Beispiel der Niederländer” (misguided enthusiasm, youth, and the example of the Dutch Protestants [217]; this formulation is the same in both versions [3:286, 287]). It would seem, however, that God, if he was indeed involved, disregarded all such extenuating considerations in meting out punishment. The text presents a disturbing contradiction as to the meaning of the brothers’ condition: in their spoken utterances, the brothers present themselves as recipients of a higher, religious insight, yet their singing is so horrible and tortured as to suggest to its hearers the torment of the damned. Doubt thus arises as to the justice of the visitation: Has there been illumination followed by a life of atonement and prayer, to be followed by salvation? Or is the punishment monstrously excessive in that, by depriving the sinners of reason and free will, it has placed expiation beyond their reach and condemned them to senseless, brutish suffering? A conversion accompanied by madness is immediately vitiated and selfdefeating; the brothers’ attempts at atonement are further called into question by their very excess and are possibly the product of delusion rather than insight. Everything pertaining to the “miracle” is double-edged, at once affirming and denying: conversion or delusion; expiation leading to salvation or a foretaste of eventual damnation; proof of Catholicism’s superiority or a display of the church’s clever and unscrupulous opportunism. Not only music as an autonomous entity, but religion too, is open to doubt on both the ontological and moral planes. For those who assume an intervention by St. Cecilia, the infliction of madness on the brothers is “dieses zu gleicher Zeit schreckliche und herr­ liche Wunder” (3:313; this miracle which was both so terrible and so glorious [229]), the justice of the punishment being guaranteed by its provenance directly from God, acting through the medium of the saint. Once the intervention of St. Cecilia is recognized for what it is – an unsupported fabrication by the archbishop – it becomes difficult to detect any element of “Herrlichkeit” (glory) in the brothers’ condition, and the event that led to it becomes solely “schrecklich.” We have seen how, in “Das Bettelweib,” an almost certainly supernatural phenomenon, described as “unbegreiflich” and “gespensterartig,” is at the root of the schauerlich effect. In “Die heilige Cäcilie” too, a phenomenon described as “gespensterartig” (3:301) causes disquiet, indeed horror, for both characters and readers: the behaviour of the “converted” brothers, described by more

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than one witness as “schauderhaft.”59 In the eighteenth century (and perhaps at all times), the impenetrable unreason of madness was regarded with horror, as a challenge to the rational order and to the conception of the human being as a rational animal. The brothers themselves can thus be described as a form of Spuk that unsettles the rationalist world view and calls into question that which the text seemingly affirms, namely, the justice and goodness of the established, predominant religion. This sheds light not only on how a schauerlich effect arises but also on Kleist’s probable intention in introducing it in this tale: it raises the attack on Catholicism from mere exposure of the failings of the human institution that is the Church, to an ontological questioning of the justice and goodness, even the very existence, of the divine being and the ethical system of values that being guarantees. The discussion of “Das Bettelweib von Locarno” and “Die heilige Cäcilie” has revealed considerable commonalities between the two in terms of aims and techniques. In both, a sense of frightening disorientation and uncertainty is created by the undermining, even subversion, of ontological and moral certainties. This happens first of all through the confrontation with an absolutely inexplicable phenomenon, one best understood not by applying the dichotomy natural versus supernatural, but rather that of capable of explanation versus transcending exegetical capabilities of science and reason, or trans-rational. Both tales to some extent depend on the creation of cognitive uncertainty, “Das Bettelweib” by exposing the unreliability or insufficiency of sense perceptions, and “Die heilige Cäcilie” by showing the unreliability of witness reports and hence the impossibility of establishing truth in human affairs. This uncertainty, however, plays a larger role in the former than in the latter tale. With regard to moral questions, both use a situation created by the irruption of the inexplicable to criticize a human institution (the socio-political order and the mentality of Enlightenment rationalism in “Das Bettelweib,” the Catholic Church in “Die heilige Cäcilie”); but both go beyond this, casting doubt on the meaning and benevolence of the very order of the universe and on the existence as well as the justice of its presiding deity. At a further remove, we can confirm the presence of commonalities with other authors of the period. Kleist shares with Tieck and Apel and Laun the technique of arousing cognitive disorientation through a form of contradiction, as well as by withholding conclusive explanations. He 59 The mother quickly leaves the asylum because she cannot bear “den schauderhaften Anblick dieser Unglücklichen” (3:297; the terrible sight of her unfortunate sons [222]). Veit Gotthelf describes their singing as “dieses schauderhafte und empörende Gebrüll” (3:305; this ghastly and hideous ululation [225]).

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parallels both in the role played by the (potentially) marvellous and by the recasting of the dichotomy in terms of human cognition, as indicated above. He is comparable to Tieck, but more radical than Apel and Laun, in raising doubts as to the nature of reality, and he goes further than both in questioning the nature of justice (both human and divine). In short, it can be argued that Kleist develops, and takes to more radical conclusions, themes and techniques pioneered by Tieck. As will be shown in Part II, all of the findings summarized here are applicable to Hoffmann as well, who can be said to represent a more extensive and more selfconscious stage of development in the Romantic aesthetics of fear.

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5

Definitions and Theories

From the survey of the contemporary reception (Introduction, section 1), it emerged that what was experienced as disturbing or even offensive in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s works was his tendency to undermine ontological and moral certainties. Ontological disorientation can be traced to open endings, to narrative techniques and situations that create cognitive confusion, and to doubts as to the nature of the universe; the moral aspect overlaps with this and pertains to the ways in which the tales provoke doubts as to the goodness of humans, the existence of moral freedom, and the justice of fate. Part I of the present study showed how all of the above recur frequently in the theoretical reflections and the fiction of Tieck, Kleist, and Apel and Laun. These findings establish the context for examining Hoffmann’s aesthetics of fear, which is the subject of Part II. The purposes of the present chapter are (1) to outline Hoffmann’s own attempts at definitions of the fear-inducing in literature; (2) to ask how far these correspond with Tieck’s and Apel’s theories, and with the perceptions of his reviewers and critics, and how far they surpass or expand these; (3) to explore how his ideas are reflected in his fiction; and, finally, (4) to suggest what Hoffmann is criticizing by means of the fear-inducing and Schauerlichen. As was suggested in chapter 1, section 4 (devoted to Hoffmann’s Beethoven review), Hoffmann’s aesthetics of fear are rooted in but develop away from eighteenth-century discourses of sublimity; they depart from these in that they tend to be subversive rather than affirmative (e.g., of beliefs in human moral freedom, superiority to nature, and ability to comprehend the workings of the universe), and also in that they display an anti-rationalist tendency. His conceptualization of the fear-inducing in literature presents both a cognitive and a polemical aspect. Following Jean Paul, Hoffmann sees fear as a conduit and a corollary of glimpses

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into the infinite (the Geisterreich). This is the notion developed in connection with Beethoven’s music, one that retains the mixed emotions of the sublime. On the polemical side, Hoffmann uses fear-inducing or disturbing phenomena to engage with contemporary discourses and to criticize Enlightenment (rationalist) attitudes, but also to “correct” the views of earlier Romantics and to question disturbing potentialities of science, both empiricist and Romantic. The question of Hoffmann’s engagement in intellectual and cultural debate via the Schauerlichen will be the primary focus in the next two chapters: the chapter on music will deal mainly with the cognitive aspect (glimpses into the infinite), the one on science with the polemical one. The present chapter focuses mainly on the first three of the above four aims – on how Hoffmann conceptualizes the fear-­ inducing and Schauerliche, on his techniques for creating uncertainty and fear, and on his reflections as to why these are effective. Hoffmann did not write any essay on the fear-inducing in literature (by whatever name), nor did he discuss the phenomenon in his journals or correspondence. Perhaps for this reason, scholarship has largely overlooked that his oeuvre abounds with theoretical reflections on the nature and definition of fear as a literary phenomenon, on the range of effects that generate it, on how and why they do so, and on how fear should be deployed and what its function may be. Like Tieck and Apel and Laun, Hoffmann used the device of the frame conversation as a vehicle for such poetological discussions, both the large-scale frame of the collection Die Serapionsbrüder (The Serapion Brethren) and the frames of individual tales (within and outside that collection). Preceding, and I will argue, grounding these reflections is his one lengthier and more systematic exposition: his theory of the romantic in music, developed in the context of his analysis of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, and more generally of Beethoven’s greatness and romanticism. That Hoffmann reuses a central formulation from that review in a defence of the horrific in literature (in the final book of Die Serapionsbrüder) shows that this theory is still in force for him, that he has extended it from music to literature, and possibly even that he regards himself as performing for literature what Beethoven has done for music. The notion in question, appearing first before most of his fictional works, then again in one of the latest (1810, 1821), thus spans the dozen or so years of his literary career. Accordingly, the first section of this chapter briefly summarizes the results of the analysis of the Beethoven review (presented in detail in chapter 1, section 4) and then considers its application to literature in the context of Die Serapionsbrüder. Though it can be argued that a conscious aesthetics of fear underpins all of Hoffmann’s works, it should

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be noted that it does not take the form of a cohesive theory.1 It is rather a conglomerate of disparate reflections, dealing with different aspects and dimensions from a variety of different perspectives. This very diversity shows that Hoffmann did not see das Schauerliche as derived from any single source, nor did he offer any single, universally applicable definition. Nevertheless, there is a common element present in all of his reflections and examples: all involve some kind of challenge to human reason. This includes, but is by no means limited to, intellectual uncertainty similar to the hesitation between a natural and a supernatural explanation that defines Todorov’s fantastic, which more appropriately for the period can be expressed as an opposition of the explicable and the inexplicable, as was the case with Apel and Laun. The spectrum of challenges to reason explored in Hoffmann’s work can be roughly summed up in the following categories. As with Tieck and Apel, there is cognitive confusion caused by a contradiction in sense perceptions or a contradiction between sense perception and the dictates of reason and experience: something manifests itself to one sense but not to another or does not manifest at all to the senses yet effects change in the sensible world; something is seemingly impossible yet exists. On occasion, this can go as far as the blurring or outright destruction of categories by which the mind processes information. As with Tieck and Apel, the marvellous constitutes a challenge to a narrowly rationalist world view that denies the existence of the inexplicable and supersensible and hence militates for a re-­ evaluation of humanity’s relationship to nature. Hoffmann follows Tieck in experimenting with the disquieting (for characters even destructive) effect of blurring the boundaries between reality and fantasy. Lastly, reason is invited to extend its critical function to aspects of social and cultural reality taken for granted by the status quo: it is confronted by phenomena that are disturbing because they exist yet are in some sense unnatural, illogical, monstrous, absurd, or untimely.

1 The same caveat applies to terminology. Hoffmann uses the terms schauerlich, unheimlich, and to some extent even grauenhaft or graulich, fairly interchangeably, with no consistent differentiation to be discovered. As a result, though I render his unheimlich as uncanny, in my discussion I continue to use schauerlich as the overall concept.

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1. The Role of Fear in Hoffmann’s Concept of the Romantic: From the Beethoven Review to Die Serapionsbrüder Hoffmann’s concept of the romantic and of the role of fear in it, as outlined in his review of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, was discussed at length in chapter 1, section 4. For convenience, the main findings of that section are briefly restated here. As a second step, this section will show their transfer to the realm of literature. Hoffmann follows Jean Paul in defining the romantic as that which opens vistas onto the infinite, conceived as a spirit-realm (Geisterreich), which is unattainable, dark, and incomprehensible and hence the object of both longing and fear. He goes further than Jean Paul in his insistence that romantic art forms must leave behind the world of the senses and of reason, since only in this way can a world that has nothing in common with these be imagined. Hoffmann’s order of preference for the three romantic composers Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven reveals a coupling of greatness (or degree of romanticism) with abstractness, darkness, terror, and fear; that is, the greater the music, the more abstract and fear-inducing it is. The reason for this lies in the cognitive role assigned to fear: the greater the degree of fear and terror, the deeper and more intense the intimations of the infinite experienced by the listener. This is the context and meaning of the formulation by which Hoffmann sums up Beethoven’s achievement, and which he will adapt to Schauerliteratur in Die Serapionsbrüder: “Beethovens Musik bewegt die Hebel des Schauers, der Furcht, des Entsetzens, des Schmerzes, und erweckt jene unendliche Sehnsucht, die das Wesen der Romantik ist”2 (Beethoven’s music sets in motion the machinery of awe, of fear, of terror, of pain, and awakens that infinite yearning which is the essence of romanticism3). The previous paragraph identifies what Beethoven achieves by these means: “So öffnet auch Beethovens Instrumentalmusik das Reich des Ungeheuren und Unermeßlichen” (in a similar way Beethoven’s instrumental music unveils before us the realm of the mighty and the immeasurable). This point is central to the present argument and therefore bears restating: Beethoven’s music opens vistas into the spirit-world, which is characterized negatively as the sphere of that which the human mind cannot grasp; it does this by arousing the negative emotions of Schauer, fear, horror, and pain. I argue that the introduction of these particular 2 Hoffmann, Werke, SM:26. English translations of Hoffmann’s works are cited from various sources depending on the work, with subsequent references using the same translation source first cited. 3 Hoffmann, Musical Writings, 238.

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emotions closes the gap between romantic music and the themes and topoi of Schauerliteratur, specifically, Hoffmann’s own use of these. Hoffmann himself closes this gap when he applies the formulation just quoted to literature in Volume 4 of Die Serapionsbrüder. In the frame conversation between “Der Zusammenhang der Dinge” (“The Mutual Interdependence of Things”) and “Die Königsbraut” (“The King’s Bethrothed”) the Serapionsbrüder discuss the merits of Walter Scott and Lord Byron, and from there arrive at the question whether vampirism is a suitable subject for literary treatment, or should rather be avoided because it is not just intensely horrific (“furchtbar Grauenhaft”), but threatens to tip into the revolting (“scheußlich Widerwärtig”). Cyprian, who is in favour of its admission (and indeed immediately puts his views into practice by relating a tale of necrophagia), argues that, if properly handled, such subject matter can create a tale that “die tiefen Schauer jenes geheimnisvollen Grauens erregt, das in unserer eigenen Brust wohnt, und berührt von den elektrischen Schlägen einer dunkeln Geisterwelt den Sinn erschüttert, ohne ihn zu verstören” (SB:927; provokes the deep Schauer of that secret horror that lives in our own breast and that, touched by the electric shocks of a dark spirit world, agitates our sense without disrupting it). This conception of the proper effect of literature, too, has its roots in discourses of the sublime: “erschüttern” was one of the recognized aims of the sublime style, and Grauen, usually in a formulation such as “angenehmes Grauen” (pleasurable horror), which captures the mixed nature of the response, was its trademark or defining response. At the same time, the passage reveals how Hoffmann, through his reception of Jean Paul and of Romantic authors like Tieck and Kleist, has reshaped the concept. The horror is now linked (in a here unspecified way) with the spirit-world and involves an element of mystery reflecting the inscrutable nature of that realm. The notion of an electric shock suggests that it is properly speaking the contact with the spirit-world that provokes the intended “Erschütterung,” just as Jean Paul argued in his Vorschule der Ästhetik that glimpses into the spirit-realm are always accompanied by fear. The claim that this horror is innate to the human breast strengthens the connection to Jean Paul, who derived the romantic’s link to the abstract from the fact that, with Christianity’s destruction of the sensual world, the spirit descended into its own inner darkness and saw spirits, and who stated that faced with darkness or any unknown, the human spirit is more prone to fear than to hope.4 In other words, subject matter such as vampirism is legitimate because it awakens the innate horror that reminds

4 See chapter 1, section 2.

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humans of the spirit-world, functioning as a conduit by which glimpses of that world can be obtained – the same achievement Hoffmann had attributed to Beethoven’s music in 1810. And indeed, Cyprian’s argument culminates in the reprise of the formulation earlier applied to Beethoven: “Warum sollte es dem Dichter nicht vergönnt sein, die Hebel der Furcht, des Grauens, des Entsetzens zu bewegen?” (SB:927; Why should the poet not be allowed to set in motion the machinery of fear, of horror, of terror?). Beethoven is not mentioned here, but Theodor shores up Cyprian’s apologia for the horrific by citing equally weighty authorities from the world of literature. Shakespeare and Tieck are proof that these “Hebel” (machinery) are indeed good means of achieving the aim of literature, “das menschliche Gemüt in seinem tiefsten Innern zu bewegen” (SB:928; to move the human heart to its very core). As a specific literary example, Theodor mentions Tieck’s “Liebeszauber” (“The Love Potion”). The choice is anything but random and enables Hoffmann to introduce another function of the Schauerlichen beyond that of affording intimations of transcendence: Theodor proceeds to summarize Tieck’s own defence of the Schauerlich in literature as placed in the mouth of Manfred in the frame of Phantasus, and occurring there immediately after the reading of “Liebeszauber.” As mentioned in the discussion of that passage, Tieck raised the possibility of employing the Schauerliche as a means of commenting on the monstrous in human society – in other words, of deploying literary spectres as a metaphor for the horrors and injustices of real life.5 Literature then becomes a means of criticizing these “spectres,” made bearable for readers because they are passed through the prism of poetic art, and thus veiled and mitigated. Hoffmann deliberately recalls this possibility in defending such subject matter as he himself so frequently adopted: human cruelty, tyranny, and misery are “die echten Gespenstergeschichten” (the true ghost stories), and in fairy tales such as Tieck’s “kann ja dieses Elend der Welt nur wie von muntern Farben gebrochen hineinspielen” (SB:928; this desolation of the world can look in only playfully, as if reflected in many bright colours) so that even a weak eye can tolerate it. Section 7 of the present chapter will ­explore Hoffmann’s own realization of this possibility. The evocation of Tieck is followed by that of Kleist, whose “Bettelweib von Locarno” (“The Beggar Woman of Locarno”) is cited as a masterly example of how literature can

5 See chapter 2, pages 137–8.

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best create this kind of horror.6 To elucidate the connection between the Schauerlichen and the spirit-realm – a connection that remains obscure in the passage quoted above – we next consider Hoffmann’s conception of the marvellous (das Wunderbare) as it emerges in the frame discussion of “Das öde Haus.” 2. Hoffmann’s Concept of the Marvellous a n d I t s R e l at i o n s h i p to “ S c h au e r ” ( “ D a s ö d e H au s ” ) In a letter to Kunz (8 March 1818), Hoffmann dismissed his own “Das öde Haus” (“The Desolate House”) as the worst tale in Volume II of Nachtstücke (Night Pieces).7 Perhaps following Hoffmann’s lead, scholars have paid scant attention to this tale, yet it is remarkably informative for an investigation of its author’s aesthetics of fear. For one thing, Hoffmann rehearses here the technique he would employ to such good effect in Die Serapionsbrüder: in the frame, some friends discuss poetological questions – here, the relationship of the marvellous to ordinary reality and, indirectly, to the Schauerlichen – and in so doing provide the terms of reference by which the embedded narrative is to be understood. Furthermore, this tale exhibits very close parallels to “Der Sandmann” (“The Sandman”), so that comparison of the two sheds light on what Hoffmann regarded as the sources of the schauerlich effects.8 Lastly, it shows particularly clearly the commonalities in the thought of Hoffmann and Apel. At the beginning of “Das öde Haus,” two friends, Lelio and Franz, offer a definition of the marvellous (das Wunderbare), which they oppose to the ordinary and everyday (das gewöhnliche Leben). The third member of the group, Theodor, who is the protagonist of the embedded narrative, then corrects these definitions. His friends, Theodor claims, have equated two  concepts that need to be distinguished: das Wunderbare and das 6 The main concern in the discussion of the Serapionsbrüder is the proper handling, with proper “poetic tact,” of horrific subject matter such as vampirism. This aspect will be considered in section 6 of this chapter, and Hoffmann’s comments on Kleist and what he learned from the example of “Das Bettelweib” in section 3. 7 “Im zweiten Theil der Nachtstücke empfehle ich Ihnen das Majorat und das Gelübde, das öde Haus taugt nichts und das steinerne Herz ist so – so!” (Briefwechsel, 2:160; In the second part of the Night Pieces I recommend to you The Primogeniture and The Vow, The Desolate House is not worth anything and The Stone Heart is – so so!). 8 For a comparison of the two tales see also the commentary in the Deutscher Klassiker edition: E.T.A. Hoffmann, Nachtstücke. Klein Zaches. Prinzessin Brambilla. Werke 1816–1820, ed. H. Steinecke and G. Allroggen, vol. 3 of Sämtliche Werke, ed. Steinecke et al. (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker, 1985), 1007–8.

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Wunderliche (the bizarre). In introducing his story, he brings in a further term, das Schauerliche, by which he predetermines the effect the subsequent narrative is to have. The two definitions of das Wunderbare closely parallel Apel’s.9 Franz equates it with das Exzentrische (the eccentric) and defines both as “[das] zu dem wir in unserm gewöhnlichen Leben keine Gleichung finden”10 (that for which we find no equivalent in our ordinary life). Theodor modifies this to: “wunderbar [heißt] dasjenige, was man für unmöglich, für unbegreiflich hält, was die bekannten Kräfte der Natur zu übersteigen, oder wie ich hinzufüge, ihrem gewöhnlichen Gange entgegen zu sein scheint” (NS:460; marvellous is that which one considers impossible, incomprehensible, which seems to surpass the known forces of nature, or as I add, which seems to be against its ordinary course).11 Both the similarities to and the differences from Apel are revealing. To begin with, the rejection of an equation of the marvellous with the supernatural is implied in all definitions: the phenomena in question transcend those laws or forces of nature that are known to humans, not all laws and forces of nature per se, and they only “seem” to run counter to the usual course of nature. This implies that, however one may describe the famed duality and ambiguity of Hoffmann’s tales, however crucial hesitation between two alternatives may be to the schauerlich effect, the opposition at work is not between a natural and a supernatural explanation. We shall return to this point shortly. Furthermore, as with Apel, the formulation in terms of what is deemed incomprehensible and contradictory to the known laws of nature presents the problem as one of human perception and mode of cognition; it does not pertain to the external world as such. While Hoffmann’s position largely coincides with Apel’s, there are small but significant differences. One such is the absence of the qualifier yet. In Hoffmann’s text, readers are not reassured that science will eventually discover the relevant laws or that Enlightenment will eventually triumph. Hoffmann’s marvellous has the potential to be more deeply unsettling because readers are denied the reassurance that all is or will be commensurable with reason and science even if they cannot see how. This in turn suggests that fear of the unknown plays an even larger role in his oeuvre than in Gespensterbuch.

  9 See chapter 1, section 3, and chapter 3. 10 Hoffmann, Werke, NS:459. 11 Compare to the frame discussions in Apel’s “Zwei Neujahrsnächte” (“Two New Year’s Eves”) and “Klara Mongomery,” in all of which the marvellous is defined as that for which science and reason as yet offer no explanation. See Part I, chapter 3, pages 145–96 and 197–200.

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That to which the marvellous is opposed is also not identical. Apel’s tales oppose that for which an explanation has not yet been found in the laws of nature (das Wunderbare) to that for which such an explanation has already been found (the ordinary and natural). Hoffmann’s characters, however, oppose the marvellous not so much to the known or rationally explicable as to the ordinary and commonplace, and this ordinary sphere itself bears negative associations (unlike true Enlightenment for Apel): “Was ist denn aber gewöhnliches Leben? – Ach, das Drehen in dem engen Kreise, an den unsere Nase überall stößt, und doch will man wohl Courbetten versuchen im taktmäßigen Paßgang des Alltagsgeschäfts” (NS:459-60; But what then is ordinary life: – Ah, the turning around in the narrow circle against which our nose bumps everywhere, and yet one wants to try courbettes in the rhythmic amble of everyday business).12 This assigns to the marvellous more positive connotations than was the case in Gespensterbuch; it also paves the way for the opposition of viewpoints that both “Das öde Haus” and “Der Sandmann” foreground: that of the poetic and the prosaic. So far, the marvellous would seem to be attractive and desirable, not fear-inducing. And indeed, the concept Schauerlich only becomes attached to it indirectly, by way of a form of ambiguity. As already mentioned, Theodor distinguishes das Wunderbare from das Wunderliche. “Wunderlich” are “alle Äußerungen der Erkenntnis und des Begehrens […], die sich durch keinen vernünftigen Grund rechtfertigen lassen” (NS:460; all expressions of cognition and volition … that cannot be justified by any reasonable ground), and thus more properly deserve Franz’s epithet of eccentric. Yet no sooner has Theodor separated the two concepts than he partly undercuts his assertion by bringing them closer together again. They are not always separate phenomena of equal rank; often the one is a symptom or manifestation of the other: “Aber gewiß ist es, daß das anscheinend Wunderliche aus dem Wunderbaren sproßt, und daß wir nur 12 A similar definition, with equally negative connotations attached to the ordinary, is found in “Die Leiden des Hundes Berganza” (The Sufferings of the Dog Berganza). The travelling enthusiast finds the fact that Berganza has been alive for several hundred years “wunderbar” in the sense of inexplicable by science and reason, and therefore disturbing. Berganza scorns the distinction and the importance it assigns to human perception and reason, which are not only limited but also blinded by self-interest: “bist du auch einer von denen, die es für gar nicht wunderbar halten, daß die Kirschen blühen und nachher zu Früchten reifen, weil sie diese dann essen können, die aber alles für unwahr halten, wovon ihnen bis dato die leibliche Überzeugung abgeht?” (FS:91; Or are you, too, one of those who, because they can eat the cherries, fail to see the miracle in the blossoming of cherry trees and the subsequent ripening of fruit? One of those who hold everything untrue until they have physical proof of it? [Fantasy Pieces, 75–6]).

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oft den wunderbaren Stamm nicht sehen, aus dem die wunderlichen Zweige mit Blättern und Blüten hervorsprossen” (NS:460; But it is certain that the seemingly bizarre sprouts from the marvellous, and that we often do not see the marvellous trunk, from which the bizarre branches sprout with leaves and buds). What was “schauerlich” about the experience he is about to narrate is the way das Wunderliche (i.e., the merely eccentric and irrational) and das Wunderbare (i.e., the inexplicable and seemingly impossible – we might call it trans-rational) intermingled in it: “In dem Abenteuer, das ich euch mitteilen will, mischt sich beides, das Wunderliche und Wunderbare, auf, wie mich dünkt, recht schauerliche Weise” (NS:460; In the adventure that I want to share with you both, the bizarre and the marvellous mingle in a way that seems to me schauerlich). This is not an unimportant passing remark, but rather a crucial indication of the tale’s strategy and intention, which is repeated and confirmed at the end: “[Die Freunde] gaben ihm recht, daß sich darin das Wunderliche mit dem Wunderbaren auf seltsame grauliche Weise mische” (NS:488; [The friends] agreed with him, that in it the bizarre mingled with the marvellous in a strange, horrid way). Taken together, these remarks suggest a close link between cognitive uncertainty and schauerlich experiences. Theodor would appear to associate the experience he is about to narrate with an instance of inadequate perception, a failure to recognize a cause behind the effects that attracted him. Since it is the mixing of the two categories that he describes as schauerlich, we might advance the hypothesis that a source of this sensation lies in the helplessness aroused by the inability to assign phenomena reliably to the one or the other category and to order them in a logical sequence of cause and effect. Indeed, only on this level can his hearers share Theodor’s disturbing experience: the narrated events are at one remove from them so that an effort of imaginative identification is required in order to participate in Theodor’s reactions to these; whereas the cognitive process of interpreting and categorizing must be undertaken by the listeners (and by the readers of “Das öde Haus”) in the same way as by the protagonist-narrator. In this respect, Hoffmann’s thinking parallels, or perhaps builds on and develops, Tieck’s notion that uncertainty caused by some such contradiction as effects without traceable causes is essential to the cognitive confusion that leads to suspension of disbelief and, in the case of tragedy, to fear.13 To test this thesis, we must turn to another aspect of the friends’ discussion and to the embedded tale itself. 13 See chapter 2. It is possible, but not provable, that Hoffmann is actually taking up Tieck’s thought. There is evidence that he read Phantasus but none that he read the essay on Shakespeare and the marvellous. It is, however, also possible that Hoffmann derived the idea from a reading of Tieck’s fairy tales themselves, as well as from Kleist’s “Bettelweib.”

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The terminological determinations just discussed arose from the discussion of a sixth sense, defined as “die Sehergabe […] das Wunderbare zu schauen” (NS:459; the prophetic gift … of seeing the marvellous), which only a few select individuals possess. Herein lies another similarity to Gespensterbuch and another reason why the dichotomy natural/supernatural is inappropriate. The conversation touches on the notion (developed more clearly and fully in Die Serapionsbrüder) that one spirit presides over all of nature and is responsible for all phenomena. There was a time when humans possessed insight into the workings of this spirit and its manifestations; but they lost it as a consequence of the fall: “das ist ja eben die entsetzlichste Folge unserer Entartung nach dem Sündenfall, daß diese Erkenntnis uns fehlt!” (NS:459; that is precisely the most horrifying consequence of our degeneration after the fall, that we lack this cognition). This is the first inkling of the historical dimension to Hoffmann’s theorizing on fear (developed most fully in “Die Automate” [“The Automata”] and “Der unheimliche Gast” [“The Uncanny Guest”]). It bears a certain resemblance to the notion voiced by the village priest in Apel’s “Klara Mongomery,” that to each realm of nature corresponds a faculty in the human mind. The difference is that whereas Apel presented the faculty for the spirit-realm as undeveloped, Hoffmann’s text claims it was lost as punishment for sin and thus presumably irrecoverable. A similar world view obtains here as in Gespensterbuch: there is nothing beyond nature; within it is a continuum of realms, of which the highest is the spirit-realm; all natural realms are governed by laws, which could be penetrated by the appropriate faculties; humans, however, cannot yet (Apel) or can no longer (Hoffmann) accomplish this act of perception and thus wrongly label what they cannot explain as impossible, supernatural, marvellous. Furthermore, similarly to Gespensterbuch but more radically, the gift of the sixth sense proves to be a very mixed blessing for the select few who still have it. This is suggested by the irony of the statement that this sixth sense achieves more than the other five put together: “[ein sechster Sinn] der als schalkhafter Stellvertreter nicht allein alles, sondern viel mehr ausrichtet, als alle übrige Sinne zusammengenommen” (NS:459; [a sixth sense] that, as ironical substitute, accomplishes not only everything, but rather much more than all other senses put together). That this sense accomplishes more than “everything” suggests that it may do more that’s good, particularly in view of the fact that, like Goethe’s Mephisto and like Schubert’s “versteckter Poet” (hidden poet),14 it is a Schalk, an ironist. 14 G.H. Schubert’s notion of the language of dream as the “versteckte Poet” in the human psyche is grounded in his theory of the disruption of language as a consequence of the end of the golden age in which humans lived in harmony with nature. In the state of alienation, the once comprehensible language of nature has become hieroglyphic,

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This could be taken in two ways: it perceives more than is there, or it perceives more than it is safe and healthy for the individual to know.15 The embedded narrative will show that both interpretations apply. Theodor’s friends have the first meaning in mind: like Schubert’s “versteckter Poet,” the dream faculty, this sixth sense brings together antipodes and produces eccentric combinations no one else would think of.16 By this point, the description is no longer universal; rather, it is specific to the behaviour of Theodor, the protagonist, whose “Sehergabe” takes the form of the determined pursuit of the eccentric: “[ihm ist] jene Sehergabe, von der wir sprechen, ganz vorzüglich eigen […]. Daher kommt es, daß er oft unbekannten Menschen, die irgend etwas Verwunderliches in Gang, Kleidung, Ton, Blick haben, tagelang nachläuft” (NS:460; [he has] that prophetic gift of which we speak to a particularly great degree … Hence he often pursues unknown individuals, who have something peculiar in their walk, dress, tone, or look, for days). The reason for this behaviour lies in Theodor’s conviction that the eccentric is often a symptom of the marvellous, the real object of his longing. The unfolding of the embedded narrative shows that as Theodor achieves the desired contact with the marvellous, he finds himself in the position of the sorcerer’s apprentice, unable to control the potentially destructive forces he has unleashed. A closer look at this aspect of the plot will reveal two other constituent elements of the Schauerlichen that Hoffmann shared with Apel: the mixed

accessible only in dreams, prophecies, and poetry. Heinz Schott explains that according to Schubert, humans once possessed an organ for the language of nature (“Der versteckte Poet in uns,” 233), which is still partly present as a Restorgan (vestigial organ) active in dreams, functioning as a hidden poet precisely because it is ironic, presenting the original meaning in mirror opposites, reversals, and incongruous combinations: “Der versteckte Poet ist die abgespaltene Natur in uns, die sich nicht zum Schweigen bringen läßt und sich im ‘Ton der Ironie’ über uns lustig macht” (234; The hidden poet is the split off nature in us, which does not let itself be silenced and makes fun of us in the “tone of irony”). This is significant because Hoffmann’s own theory of the golden age and its end is based on and responds to Schubert’s, as will be discussed in section 4 of this chapter and in the chapter devoted to science. For Schubert’s theory of the language of dreams, see Die Symbolik des Traumes (The Symbolism of Dreams), esp. chapter 4; for a clear and concise account of Schubert’s theory of language, see Schott’s article. 15 Rupert Gaderer describes Theodor as a “Grenzgänger […] zwischen Wahnsinn und Vernunft” (Poetik der Technik, 69-70; border crosser … between madness and reason), which aptly captures this ambiguity. 16 Hoffmann, Werke, NS:460. This hypothesis should be taken with a grain of salt, however, as it is possible that Hoffmann’s own irony here undercuts that of his characters: it is Lelio and Franz who make these suggestions, and they are engaged in gently making fun of Theodor; arguably, the latter’s narrative then shows that it may not be he who sees too much, but they who see too little.

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emotions it arouses, and the role played by fear of the unknown, both derived from the sublime but intensified here. Theodor’s sixth sense for the eccentric and his determination to explore it and uncover its marvellous roots indeed lead him to an experience that can rightly be called marvellous, in the sense that it cannot be explained by reason or science. It is at once poetic (in that it lifts him beyond the narrow circle of ordinary bourgeois existence) and terrible (in that it threatens to destroy his physical and mental health). Theodor is attracted by the eccentricities of a building and its caretaker: a shabby, desolate house on an elegant, fashionable street; the appearance of a beautiful woman in a house reputedly inhabited only by an old man; unexplained noises suggesting the possibility of ghostly haunting; the equivocal behaviour of the caretaker suggesting there is something to hide. Theodor rightly senses a mystery behind all this, and his attempts to penetrate it result – in a way that is never explained – in the establishment of a magnetic rapport between him and the insane countess who is confined in the house (and possibly also her niece Edmonde). This rapport, involving a passion for the beautiful woman glimpsed in the house and in the mirror Theodor uses to watch the house, is at first exalting but ultimately nearly destroys his health and sanity. Several points of importance for our investigation emerge. First, Theodor’s involvement with the marvellous exhibits that duality of spiritual uplift (the spur to his poetic imagination provided by the initial eccentricities; the exaltation of his obsession with the beautiful woman) and threat to physical nature that are part of contemporary definitions of the sublime and that Apel identified as the components of das Schauerlich-Erhabene. Second, the fact that magnetism is revealed to be the source of the seemingly supernatural phenomena confirms the inappropriateness of the dichotomy natural/supernatural. As will be seen in chapter 7, magnetism was believed to be a science, one that exploited forces of nature that were very little understood and that transcended the ordinary powers of organic beings; it was thus thought to border on the spirit-realm or even to open the gates to it.17 Its manifestations in the tale are thus natural phenomena but marvellous insofar as they transcend the laws of nature known to science. This is particularly true for “Das öde Haus,” where, unlike in such tales as “Der Magnetiseur” (“The Magnetiseur”) and “Der unheimliche Gast,” the source of and reason for the magnetic rapport remain uncertain. Third, the fact that the cause of the fantastic events is unequivocally established excludes the

17 On this see Kluge’s remark, quoted above in chapter 4, n57. The frame conversations of the Serapionsbrüder repeatedly take up this train of thought.

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possibility of a Todorovian hesitation between a “natural” explanation and one that is trans-rational (to avoid the inappropriate term supernatural), as it would seem to obtain in such tales as “Der Sandmann,” and points instead to fear of the unknown as source of the schauerlich effect. Like “Der Sandmann,” “Das öde Haus” opposes a poetic interpretation that assumes the involvement of unknown forces from the spirit-realm in human affairs, and a prosaic one that assumes that everything that happens is ordinary and capable of rational explanation. Whereas in “Der Sandmann” both explanations remain possible to the end, in “Das öde Haus” the prosaic explanation and the poetic one that involves the traditional supernatural are quickly discredited. The assumption that the appearance of the house and any movements within it are due to its use as a baking and storage facility by the next-door pastry shop is refuted by the baker himself, and the suggestion that the appearance of the woman in the window was a painting is also eventually disproved by Theodor’s encounter with the mad countess. Also, as in “Der Sandmann,” the prosaic view is further undermined by the fact that the protagonist’s conversion to it precipitates new manifestations of the inexplicable: when Theodor, embarrassed by ridicule from bourgeois passersby into setting aside his obsession with the house and the vision of a woman in it, puts his little mirror “zum prosaischen Hausbedarf” (NS:473; to prosaic household use), he sees the woman’s image in it independent of any actual physical proximity between them. Similarly, in “Der Sandmann,” Nathanael’s self-admonition to heed Clara’s warnings and stop placing fantastic constructions on the ordinary causes him to buy the spyglass from Coppola and so precipitates his involvement with the automaton Olimpia. On the other hand, the poetic explanation for the mysterious noises in the desolate house that assumes the presence of ghosts or other spectral manifestations is likewise disproved by Theodor’s encounter with the mad countess. There can thus be little doubt that magnetism is at the root of the mysterious phenomena. Many of Theodor’s symptoms are those associated with magnetism in the scientific literature on it and in Hoffmann’s other tales. The doctor is able to participate in the mysterious connection, and to see Edmonde in the mirror, by placing himself in magnetic rapport with Theodor. He then diagnoses an assault by a “fremde[n] psychische[n] Prinzip” (alien psychic principle [Hoffmann’s frequent term for dominance by a magnetiseur]).18 The actual encounter with the mad countess destroys Theodor’s attraction to the desolate house and to the beautiful Edmonde, but a sensation of oppression that

18 This aspect of the tale will be discussed in more detail in chapter 7.

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only leaves him on the countess’s death indicates that a rapport continues to obtain between them. Since magnetism was considered a science in Hoffmann’s time, at least by some, and since no one assumed that it involved “supernatural” forces, it could be argued that this outcome fits into the category of the explained supernatural. Unlike in the gothic novel and in Gespensterbuch, however, resolution does not bring about dissipation of the disquieting effect. This is because the explanation ultimately explains nothing and so in no way unravels the mystery or resolves uncertainty. Who established the magnetic rapport, and why? How was this done in the absence of physical contact between the parties involved? Did the magnetic rapport link Theodor to both the mad Angelika and her niece Edmonde or only to Angelika? And if the latter (since Edmonde experienced no symptoms of such a rapport), why did Theodor see Edmonde in the mirror? The main source of uncertainty and fear is the first question, which relates to the agent behind it all. The suggestion of involvement by an unknown force – one possibly endowed with consciousness, volition, and a malevolent intention – is voiced not by a potentially paranoid Theodor but by a representative of science, the doctor to whom Theodor appeals for treatment. The doctor concludes that his patient has been “auf unerhörte Weise psychisch angegriffen” (psychically attacked in an unheard-of way) by “irgendeine[m] bösen Prinzip” (some evil principle) – whether external or internal to Theodor’s psyche he is unable to discover.19 This evil principle, if indeed it exists, does not manifest itself to the senses except by its effects. Fear of the unknown thus comes into play: the imagination has free rein to endow the unidentifiable enemy with all possible horrors and powers and thus to intensify the sense of physical threat and the feeling of helplessness. The tale offers our first example from Hoffmann’s oeuvre of Schauer occasioned by perceptible effects without discoverable causes – a frequent phenomenon both in his tales and in his theoretical reflections, a notion he shared with Tieck and that he saw as masterfully embodied in Kleist’s “Bettelweib.” The analysis of the tale’s denouement makes it possible to explain why specifically the mingling of the eccentric and the marvellous should be schauerlich: malevolent emissaries of the spirit-realm could be using the 19 Gaderer argues that it is the mad countess Angelika herself who establishes the rapport (Poetik der Technik, 102) and who unloads her electric surcharge on him, disrupting his electric equilibrium (105). This is indeed plausible, but it answers only one of the questions I have posed here. It is also not confirmed by the text, thus remaining only a possibility, and in any case it does not occur to Theodor at the time and so does not bear on the source of his anxiety.

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former (in itself harmless) to lure the unwary into their sphere, where terror and potential destruction await them. This notion is expressed more clearly and openly in a later tale involving magnetism, “Der unheimliche Gast,” which opens with a discussion of ghost stories and the delightful horror they evoke. The character most distinguished by insight, Dagobert, to some extent approves of yet also warns against the pleasurable frisson occasioned by the fear of ghosts because of what it could lead to: “‘Es bleibt,’ erwiderte Dagobert, ‘sind nur die Umstände darnach, niemals bei jenen angenehmen träumerischen Schauern, die der erste Anfall herbeiführt. Ihnen folgt bald Todesangst, haarsträubendes Entsetzen und so scheint jenes angenehme Gefühl nur die Verlockung zu sein, mit der uns die unheimliche Geisterwelt bestrickt”20 (that sense of awesomeness – which is at first so thoroughly blended up with the dreamily pleasurable – it by no means remains at that stage. Soon there supervenes a deadly fear – a horror which makes the hair stand on end; so that the said pleasurable feeling at the commencement would seem to be the fascination of temptation with which the Spirit World lures us on and ensnares us [75]). To summarize, examination of “Das öde Haus” has revealed several constituent elements of Hoffmann’s conception of the Schauerlichen, ones that largely coincide with Apel’s (and to some extent Tieck’s) but with small though decisive differences that render it more radically disturbing: an imperfect or disrupted relationship between humans and nature, leading to incomplete or unreliable perception, resulting in cognitive uncertainty; marvellous phenomena that, like the sublime, have a double effect of spiritual uplift and terror before a threat to physical nature; the intensification of this double experience through the spur that fear of the unknown gives to the imagination; a link (via the possibility of unknown, possibly malevolent psychic forces) to the realm of spirits, to which connection both the attraction and the terror are functionally linked. 3 . C o n t r a d i c t i o n a n d C o g n i t i v e D i s o r i e n tat i o n : E f f e c t s w i t h o u t C au s e s ( “ S p u k g e s c h i c h t e , ” “Der unheimliche Gast,” “Ein Fragment au s d e m L e b e n d r e i e r F r e u n d e ” ) Cognitive disorientation arising from a contradiction in the data presented to sense perception emerged as a red thread through the material considered in Part I of the present study. In their theoretical reflections both

20 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:606.

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Tieck and Apel assigned it a central role in generating fear. Apel formulated it as a conflict in the perceptions of sight (e.g., a transparent human form). For Tieck the contradiction affected the categories of the understanding as well as sense perceptions, as for instance with effects without traceable causes. Tieck, Apel, Laun, and Kleist all made use of such contradictions in their tales, the latter’s “Das Bettelweib von Locarno” being the most striking implementation of this. E.T.A. Hoffmann participated in this trend and indeed carried it a good deal further, on the theoretical and narrative planes. In the spirit of Kleist’s “Bettelweib,” invisible Spuk was Hoffmann’s preferred, though not sole, means of creating the intended contradiction. Through discussions among frame characters, Hoffmann draws attention to the phenomenon and its frightening effects, speculates on why it is so effective, and brings into sharp focus the challenge to reason involved. Whereas theories of the sublime insisted on the need for the safety of the observer, Hoffmann attempts as far as possible to remove the barrier between fact and fiction, reader and text, and to draw the reader into the experience of disorientation – one way in which the Romantic Schauerliche constitutes a radicalization of the eighteenthcentury sublime. Three strategies can be recognized here: the stress placed on plausibility, the locating of the Schauerlichen in thought processes more than in external phenomena, and the breaking down of the barriers between fact and fiction within the texts themselves. In three separate instances, characters in Hoffmann’s tales describe invisible Spuk – specifically conceptualized as an effect without identifiable cause – as the most terrifying form of the Schauerlichen. In Volume I of Die Serapionsbrüder, Cyprian relates the story of a family of his acquaintance: the adult family members refused to believe that a ghostly white woman was haunting the youngest daughter but were then driven to illness, madness, or death by the sight of a plate floating in mid-air as if carried by an invisible hand. Cyprian described the tale as “den wackersten Spuk […], den es jemals gegeben” (SB:321; the best Spuk … there has ever been). Similarly, in “Der unheimliche Gast,” Dagobert warns against overindulgence in the pleasant frisson of Spukgeschichten (ghost stories) because of the deadly fear and hair-raising horror to which it can lead,21 offering as an example of such reactions the terror caused by strange sounds “deren Ursache uns durchaus unerforschlich ist, und die in uns ein tiefes Grauen erregen” (SB:606; the cause of which is completely undiscoverable to us, and which arouse a deep horror in us). Finally and most revealingly, in the frame of Die Serapionsbrüder, Lothar asserts: “Kleists ‘Bettelweib von

21 This passage is quoted in full above, page 258.

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Locarno’ trägt für mich wenigstens das Entsetzlichste in sich, was es geben mag” (SB:928; Kleist’s “Beggar Woman of Locarno” carries, at least for me, the most horrific [thing] that there is). Indeed, much of the exploration of the nature and causes of this type of schauerlich effect revolves around how and why Kleist’s tale is so effective. Hoffmann not only placed direct praise of “Das Bettelweib von Locarno” in the mouth of the Serapionsbrüder but also repeatedly paid it the compliment of emulation. Hoffmann’s own narratives of invisible Spuk – in “Spukgeschichte,” “Der unheimliche Gast,” “Ein Fragment aus dem Leben dreier Freunde” (“A Fragment from the Life of Three Friends”) – all can be said to stand under the sign of Kleist’s “Bettelweib.” It is therefore best to begin discussion of this motif with the Serapionsbrüder’s comments on Kleist’s tale.22 Lothar praises “Das Bettelweib” for the simplicity of its plot and its lack of extravagant topoi of the horrific. The reason Lothar gives for his view is particularly revealing as to Hoffmann’s concept of the Schauerlichen. The imagination plays the central role in creating a sense of horror, from which it follows that those narratives are most effective that merely stimulate the imagination and let it do the rest: “Übrigens meine ich, daß die Phantasie durch sehr einfache Mittel aufgeregt werden könne und daß das Grauenhafte oft mehr im Gedanken als in der Erscheinung beruhe” (SB:928; On the whole, I believe that the imagination can be moved by very simple means, and that it is often more the idea of the thing than the thing itself which causes our fear” [2:304]). We can recognize in this a reason why Hoffmann’s fear-inducing effects rely so heavily on fear of the unknown: the more mysterious and alien the phenomenon, the less it offers for knowledge and experience to process, the more is left for imagination to work upon.23 Lothar’s insistence on the simplicity and ordinariness of the effects also provides a glimpse of another criterion, one that is not openly voiced here but that is articulated elsewhere in the collection. Readers will only be truly frightened if they cannot keep the narrated horrors at a safe distance, if they are tricked, at least temporarily, into thinking similar events could happen in real life, even to themselves. An ordinary setting and characters and a plausible plot are thus more likely to be effective than the distant and exotic locations of the gothic novel or

22 For a more detailed discussion of Hoffmann’s interpretation of “Bettelweib,” see also the analysis of that tale in chapter 4. 23 It is helpful to remember Jean Paul’s assertion (demonstrably familiar to Hoffmann given his reliance on the Vorschule’s account of the romantic) that, faced with the darkness of the unknown, imagination is more apt to fear than to hope. See chapter 1, section 2.

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the macabre and violent excesses of its plots.24 In short, Hoffmann attributes the success of Kleist’s tale to two of the above-mentioned strategies for involving the reader: the situation is as plausible and ordinary as possible, and the work of generating fear is left as much as possible to mental processes that the reader cannot help sharing with the characters. The very same points are made in the Serapionsbrüder’s discussion of Cyprian’s “Spukgeschichte.” According to Ottmar, the story’s simplicity and its distance from the topoi of Schauerliteratur are largely responsible for the discomfort felt by all. What the tale acquires through these traits, thereby distinguishing it from gothic fiction, is plausibility: “Nun ist aber auch die Geschichte mit dem Teller so ohne alle Staffierung gewöhnlicher Spukgeschichten […] und das Ganze so ungesucht, so einfach, daß gerade in der Wahrscheinlichkeit die das Unwahrscheinlichste dadurch erhält, für mich das Grauenhafte liegt”25 (Then the incident of the plate differs so completely from anything in the ordinary mise en scene of supernatural stories … the thing so simple, that it is exactly in the very probability which the improbability of it thereby acquires that the gruesomeness of it lies for me [1:237]). We might add that Hoffmann is at pains to increase this plausibility and dismantle the reader’s safe distance from the events by presenting the narrative as a true story, experienced by persons known to Cyprian and partly witnessed by himself, rather than as one of the club members’ poetic creations. The Serapionsbrüder, existing in a middle ground between the narrated tales and the reader, are made to share the characters’ uncertainty as to the validity of their ontological categories; by experiencing the blurring of boundaries between narrative levels, they serve as conduit for passing the experience of cognitive disorientation on to the reader. As the comments of the Serapionsbrüder highlight, the experience of cognitive disorientation to be thus mediated to the reader is grounded in the challenge posed to reason and a rationalist world view by effects without identifiable causes. When Lothar attempts to dismiss the “Spukgeschichte” as childish, Ottmar protests that, though belief in ghosts may be ludicrous and childish, this narrative confronts one with an undeniable and horrible fact, one that can neither be argued away nor

24 Horst Conrad in Die literarische Angst develops this argument in some detail, claiming that the gothic novel deliberately maintains the distance in order to keep the horror as delightful, whereas Hoffmann intensifies the fear and disquiet past the point of comfort by systematically dismantling the reader’s safe distance. This notion is a first step towards the radicalization of the terror aspect of the sublime through the removal of the observer’s safety. See Conrad on the gothic novel (30) and on Hoffmann (69ff.). 25 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:327.

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explained: something happened that evening in Adelgunde’s family that cost one person her life and another her sanity. He concedes that the cause of the plate’s floating may not have been a ghost, but he also insists that whatever it was, even if a “natural” phenomenon, it was a form of Spuk: “Doch, nehmen wir an, daß Adelgundens Einbildung Vater, Mutter, Schwester, mit fortriß, daß der Teller nur innerhalb ihres Gehirns umherschwebte, wäre diese Einbildung […] nicht eben der entsetzlichste Spuk den es geben könnte?” (SB:327; But if one were to assume that Adelgunda’s imagination carried away, by its influence, those of her father, mother and sister – that it was only within her brain that the plate moved about – would not this vision of the imagination … be the most terrible supernatural event imaginable? [1:237]). Once again we see the distinction between natural and supernatural not so much refuted as dismissed as irrelevant. Once again too, the notion recurs of Spuk as metaphor for something that has been ignored or repressed because it is too monstrous or terrifying to contemplate. Here, the spectre forcing itself upon the reader’s attention is the inscrutability and possible irrationality of the human psyche itself, the possibility that its workings are as unknown and impervious to reason – and as threatening to physical existence – as any manifestation from the spirit-realm. Ottmar’s comment again highlights the role played by imagination, here with a different twist: imagination may create its own horrors even without outward stimulus to work upon and so be the author of the Schauerlichen in a more literal and complete sense. Such internalization of the terrible and overwhelming force, it may be mentioned in passing, constitutes another way in which the Romantic Schauerliche represents a specialization of the sublime. 26 Ultimately, whether the cause of the plate floating is psychic or supernatural is less important than the fact that this cause remains invisible and thus undiscoverable. That is, its devastating effect lies in the fact that it is an effect without a cause and hence a defeat for the cognitive faculties: in itself trivial and harmless, it is something for which no possible explanation – other than the unacceptable superstitious one – presents itself, so that what destroys the health and sanity of the “rational” family members is confrontation with the failure of their mental categories to process an ­observed phenomenon. Their definition of reality is found 26 Monika Schmitz-Emans comments: “Hoffmann erkennt, Freud antizipierend, selbst sehr wohl, daß gerade das Fremdeste oftmals zugleich das Bekannteste ist, daß die wahren Abgründe ‘innen’ liegen und nicht ‘außen’” (“Der durchbrochene Rahmen,” 81; Hoffmann himself, anticipating Freud, recognizes very clearly that the most strange is often the most familiar, that the true abysses lie ‘inside’ and not ‘outside’”). This is an aspect explored by psychoanalytic approaches to the uncanny.

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to be inadequate, out of alignment with actual observed phenomena, a situation with which they are not able to cope. This is confirmed by the fact that the one person whose notion of reality accommodates the marvellous – the pious governess who falls to her knees and prays – emerges unharmed from the experience. The club members’ conversation about “Spukgeschichte” elucidates this aspect in that it enlarges on the significance of the invisible in more detail than the one about Kleist’s “Bettelweib.” Theodor remarks that effects (in the form of sense perceptions) without identifiable causes (in the form of a visible source for sensory stimuli) are far more terrifying, indeed souldestroying, than the most grisly spectral apparition.27 It should be noted that he regards this as true even where the sound or activity in question does not of itself give reason to assume actual physical danger. Theodor remembers being particularly terrified when he heard of an old musician being driven to the brink of insanity by an invisible something or someone playing his piano at night. An effect, he elaborates, could be seen as well as heard: the musician could see the keys being depressed and the strings vibrating. No plausible cause for the movement, however, could be discerned: “[er sah] aber nicht den leisesten Schimmer einer Gestalt” (SB:327; but [he saw] never any form of a player [1:238]). Let us consider why such a phenomenon should be disturbing enough to drive the musician almost to insanity. What presents itself to sense perception here constitutes no threat to physical nature, nor is there any rational justification to assume that a presence that plays beautiful music, and that returns night after night without carrying out any attack, intends physical harm to the musician. Any fear of harm by a malevolent being is thus supplied entirely by the imagination, which is spurred into activity by the paucity of data. Yet given the non-threatening nature of the phenomenon, even the work of imagination does not seem sufficient to explain “das Gefühl der gänzlichen hülflosesten Ohnmacht” (SB:327; The sense of the most utter, most helpless powerlessness [1:237]), to which Theodor attributes the soul-destroying effect. It is here, as with “Spukgeschichte,” that cognitive (and consequently ontological) uncertainty comes into play. The first component of it is the realization that one’s sensory and mental apparatus is inadequate to deal with the phenomenon: humans depend primarily on sight and so have virtually no hope of gaining knowledge of an entity that does not manifest to sight. It is from this that fear of a possible physical threat derives its force, since one would be most powerless to defend oneself against an invisible enemy. The second component is that the visible activities of an

27 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:327. The passage in question was quoted above, page 217.

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invisible being involve an unresolvable contradiction, either between different sensory perceptions or between these and the dictates of reason.28 The instances narrated in the “Spukgeschichte” and the subsequent conversation involve contradictions in visual perceptions (a floating plate is visible but no figure carrying it, the keys of the piano are seen moving but no mover can be seen), or between the perceptions of hearing and those of sight (one can hear the piano playing but cannot see a player). The contradictions continue at the level of mental processing of sensory data. Reason tells us that what the senses are perceiving is impossible: inanimate objects cannot move themselves. To put it more generally, empirical philosophy and science necessarily assume a logical progression from cause to effect (or, in the process of investigation, they work backwards from effect to cause), so that an effect with no discoverable cause is a logical contradiction. In such a case, humans are forced to doubt the adequacy and reliability of their cognitive faculties. Hoffmann thus agrees with Apel on some of the basic building blocks of the Schauerlichen (the feeling of helplessness, the element of sensory contradiction, the horror of the unknown fuelled by imagination), but Hoffmann differs from Apel and aligns with Tieck in that he assigns a crucial role to logical contradiction perceived by reflection rather than the senses. It is significant in this respect that one of the primary intentions of the “Spukgeschichte” in itself is to critique contemporary science for its devastating combination of ignorance and arrogance: it is the unpleasantly overconfident doctor, who laughs at Adelgunde’s affliction and claims that nothing could be easier to cure, who precipitates the family’s catastrophe by recommending the pious deception of putting the clocks back to dissociate the supposed delusion from the hour of nine o’clock.29 “Der unheimliche Gast” features three instances of effects without causes. The conversation of the Serapionsbrüder locates the genesis of the tale in the exploration of another situation that Hoffmann regarded as quintessentially schauerlich: the eruption of the apparently supernatural, impossible, and horrific from its safe confinement in literature into the actual lives of the readers or listeners (this category will be explored later in this chapter). The ultimate source of the schauerlich phenomena in this tale is, as so often, magnetism, understood as a means of gaining insight into the secret workings of nature. The episodes of invisible Spuk 28 Apel regarded such a contradiction, presented immediately to the senses, as the key constitutive element of das Schauerlich-Erhabene in literature. See chapter 1, section 4, and chapter 3, section 1. 29 This aspect of Spukgeschichte as an instance of Hoffmann’s use of the Schauerlichen to critique modern science will be discussed in more detail in chapter 7.

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are used to link the theoretical reflections on the nature and origin of the Schauerlichen (here given a historical or rather mythical dimension, to be discussed shortly) with the actual narrative of the activities of an evil magnetiseur. They proceed from the more general and unexplained to the more specific and are eventually traced back to the activities of the villain. The first mention of the horror aroused by sounds of untraceable origin follows immediately on Dagobert’s warning (quoted earlier) of how enjoyable tremors caused by ghost stories told in the cozy safety of the fireside can lead to the destructive terror of a real encounter with something horrific. The subsequent development of the tale offers a sort of practical demonstration. Dagobert relates an experience he had at an inn, where he was terrified all through the night by the sound of a drop falling with a metallic ring, as if into a bucket. The sound was innocuous enough of itself, but the impossibility of tracing the cause, even when standing right at its seeming point of origin, caused him such intense terror as almost to rob him of his senses. The authenticity of the experience is confirmed and the pitch of terror heightened by the fact that his dog was also frightened and unsettled – both the detail and its function are borrowed from Hoffmann’s model, Kleist’s “Bettelweib von Locarno.” Once again, the phenomenon itself does not constitute a physical threat, so its terror must reside in the contradictions it presents to the mind: contradiction in the data presented to two senses (Dagobert hears a drop falling but sees nothing), and the logical contradiction of an effect without discoverable cause. This story prompts Angelika to recount another instance of an effect without a cause, namely, a feeling of unmotivated fear. She occasionally wakes up in a state of intense fear, inexplicable because she cannot recall any dream, indeed feels she is coming out of a particularly profound and undisturbed sleep. As we later discover, this is an effect of the magnetic operations to which she is already being subjected from a distance. The third instance, recounted by Moritz, introduces the very person of the magnetiseur, Count S___i, though this only becomes clear later. The source and manifestation of the invisible Spuk here echo Kleist’s “Bettelweib” most closely, to the point of almost verbatim quotation. Moritz’s friend Bogislav killed the Sicilian count who had tried to rob him of his fiancée, and ever since he has been tormented by repetitions of the dying moans of his victim. Moritz then witnesses this phenomenon directly: “mich, wie ihn, faßte das Entsetzen, denn ein lang ausgehaltener herzzerschneidender Jammerton ließ sich, wie vom Gange herkommend, vernehmen. Dann war es, als raffe sich jemand, ächzend und stöhnend, mühsam vom Boden empor, und nahe sich schweren, unsichern Trittes” (SB:610; I, as well as he, was seized with the wildest horror; for there came to our hearing a long-sustained,

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heart-breaking wail of sorrow, as if proceeding from the stair outside. Then it was as if someone raised himself, groaning and sighing, with difficulty from the ground, and was coming towards us with heavy, uncertain steps [2:78]).30 In this third and most frightening instance, the sense of helplessness is strengthened by the possibility of direct physical threat (here, supernatural vengeance for an act of violence). One might think that Hoffmann is borrowing from Kleist also the possibility of a guilty conscience as partial explanation of the phenomenon, and of supernatural retribution as ultimate cause, but this is not the case: Bogislav feels no guilt, since he regards his persecutor as demonic, and is right not to feel any, since Count S___i is indeed evil and is in any case not dead. As suggested in the previous chapter, one is thus justified in concluding that Hoffmann attributes the schauerlich effect – in his own as well as in Kleist’s tale – to the activities of an invisible presence in and of itself, without reference to a moral dimension. It is at this climactic moment that Hoffmann, who generally is not content with only one source of fear, provides an object lesson for Dagobert’s warning about the destructive effects of indulging in “angeneh­ me Schauer” by breaking through the boundaries between fiction and reality on three narrative levels at once, using the frame characters as a conduit to transfer this experience to his readers as far as is possible. Just as Moritz mentions hearing a loud crash, that reality parallels fiction and the door of the room in which the conversation is taking place flies open with a crash. The safe distance between narrative and audience that had been progressively diminishing now disappears altogether, so that all present are temporarily paralyzed with horror and fear. The effect is then virtuosically doubled: at one and the same moment, the door of the garden room in which the Serapionsbrüder are gathered to listen to Ottmar’s tale also flies open with a crash, and an apparently sinister figure enters there too. It is on this level that Dagobert’s warning finds confirmation: Theodor, who is just recovering from an illness, is nearly frightened into a relapse.31 30 Compare with Kleist’s formulation: “indem etwas, das dem Blick unsichtbar ge­wesen, mit einem Geräusch, als ob es auf Stroh gelegen, im Zimmerwinkel aufgestanden, mit vernehmlichen Schritten, langsam und gebrechlich, quer über das Zimmer gegangen, und hinter dem Ofen, unter Stöhnen und Ächzen, niedergesunken sei” (Sämtliche Werke, 3:261–2; for something that had been invisible to the eye had risen to its feet in the corner with a noise as if it had been lying on straw, and had then with audible steps, slowly and feebly, crossed the room from one side to the other and collapsed, moaning and gasping, behind the stove” [The Marquise of O, 214–15]). 31 This aspect of “Der unheimliche Gast” will be discussed in more detail in section 6 of this chapter.

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“Ein Fragment aus dem Leben dreier Freunde” also contains an instance of invisible Spuk closely patterned after Kleist’s “Bettelweib,” as well as an overt mention of that tale. A young man, Alexander, has inherited his aunt’s apartment. At night, as he lies in bed in the room in which her portrait hangs, he is badly frightened by the activities of an invisible presence: “[da] fing es an, in dem Zimmer mit leisen abgemessenen Tritten auf und ab zu wandeln, und bei jedem Tritt ließ sich ein ängstliches Seufzen und Stöhnen hören, das steigend und steigend den herzzerschneidenden Lauten eines von der Todesnot bedrängten Wesens zu gleichen begann”32 (measured footfalls began to walk up and down the room, and at every step came the sounds of sobbing and sighing, growing louder and louder, till they were like the heart-breaking cries of some creature in deadly pain or peril [1:78]). Here too, a dog is present to confirm that the phenomenon is not to be attributed to overactive human imagination. Alexander has done no wrong to his aunt, so the moral dimension again does not apply. This episode differs from the others (Hoffmann’s as well as Kleist’s) in that it culminates in an actual apparition of a visible, though faint and indistinct, form. In keeping with the comic tone of the tale, the horrific effect of this spectral phenomenon is mitigated, first by the visible presence that provides an explanation of sorts, then by the humorous activities of the ghost: it opens a cupboard and helps itself to a glass of bitters. This outcome confirms ex negativo the comments of the Serapionsbrüder – that the audible activities of an invisible presence are far more frightening than a horrific apparition – and hence the role of contradiction: the absence or unreliability of sensory data is what creates disorientation and the feeling of helplessness, for it disrupts the very process by which humans interact with the external world. Hoffmann deliberately drew attention to the associations with Kleist’s “Bettelweib” through a mention of the tale, but with a surprising twist: it was not the deceased aunt who was likened to the beggar woman, but her still living housekeeper, described as “ein kleines gespenstisches Wesen” (a little spectral-looking creature), who brings Alexander his meals, “ohne ein Wort zu reden seufzend und auf zu weiten Pantoffeln schlarrend, wie das Bettelweib von Locarno” (SB:105; without a word, sighing, and scuffling along on slippers too large for her feet, like the beggar wife of Locarno [1:74]). Since the allusion precedes the spectral phenomenon, it can be said to deliberately prepare the reader for the occurrence of a similar form of haunting. It thus reduces the surprise effect yet at the same time contributes to the sense of discomfort generated by the aunt’s

32 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:111.

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apartment by its blurring of the boundary between the spectral and the ordinary (a housekeeper who is alive yet ghostly). As will be discussed in section 7 of this chapter, housekeeper and ghost together constitute the Spuk in the tale, Spuk here to be understood as something that should not be (because it is unnatural, inappropriate and untimely), yet is, so that the Schauerliche becomes a means of social criticism. On the level of the tale’s meaning, the challenge to reason posed by unreliable sense perception paves the way for a challenge to reason of a different kind, to apply its critical powers to the customs and institutions of ordinary life that it wrongly has taken for granted. 4 . T h e S e l f - E m a n c i pat i o n o f R e a s o n a n d t h e E m e r g e n c e o f t h e S c h au e r l i c h e n : H o f f m a n n ’ s V e r s i o n o f t h e G o l d e n A g e M y t h ( “ D i e A u to m at e , ” “Der unheimliche Gast”) As discussed in the Introduction to the present study, several scholars see the emergence of the uncanny as a corollary to the dominant discourses of the Enlightenment, the uncanny being the expression of the irrational Other repressed by the Enlightenment. Hoffmann himself is a precursor of this theory. In two tales, “Die Automate” and “Der unheimliche Gast,” he experiments with a version of this line of thinking, according to which the Schauerliche as a psychological phenomenon resulted from humans’ self-alienation from nature, which in turn was the outcome of the development of self-consciousness and rational thought. There are two stages to this: humans’ self-emancipation ended their harmony with Nature and rendered her language incomprehensible; this in turn rendered such utterances and any natural phenomena not explainable by empiricist science frightening, precisely because inexplicable. Hoffmann formulates his theory as a version of the golden age myth and its accompanying triadic model of history, familiar to him primarily through the works of Novalis and Gotthilf Heinrich Schubert. His version is thus simultaneously a response to and critique of certain aspects of Romantic aesthetics and science, a dimension that will be discussed in chapter 7. The focus in the present chapter is on how the golden age myth contributes to Hoffmann’s aesthetics of fear. There are significant parallels between the tales in question. Both involve magnetism, notably a rapport established at a distance without the consent or knowledge of at least one participant; both involve an evil or at least deeply ambivalent scientist or magnetiseur; both include some form of discussion between characters regarding the nature of the Schauerlichen.

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As mentioned earlier, the idea is briefly introduced in “Das öde Haus,” where Lelio laments that insight (“Erkenntnis”) into the secret workings of nature (here called the spirit that controls both nature and the human mind; we might liken it to Schelling’s notion of natura naturans) is lost to humans as “entsetzlichste Folge unserer Entartung nach dem Sündenfall” (NS:459; [the] most horrifying consequence of our degeneration after the fall). In both “Die Automate” and “Der unheimliche Gast,” this notion is developed more fully by means of the golden age myth and with specific reference to Schubert’s Ansichten von der Nachtseite der Naturwissenschaft (Views on the Dark Side of Natural Science). In “Die Automate,” the role of music before and after the “fall” is the focus of a conversation between two friends, Ferdinand and Ludwig. In his attempt to explain his aversion to mechanical music, Ludwig expounds the following theory. The golden age was an epoch in the mythic past, during which humans lived in harmony with nature, allowing her to guide and control them, as an infant with its mother: “[der Mensch lebte] in der ersten heiligen Harmonie mit der Natur, efüllt von dem göttlichen Instinkt der Weissagung und Dichtkunst, als der Geist des Menschen nicht die Natur, sondern diese den Geist des Menschen erfaßte, und die Mutter das wunderbare Wesen, das sie geboren, noch aus der Tiefe ihres Daseins nährte” (SB:349; mankind as yet was dwelling in its pristine holy harmony with nature, richly endowed with a heavenly instinct of prophecy and poetry; while, as yet, Mother Nature continued to nourish from the fount of her own life, the wondrous being to whom she had given birth). At this time, natural sounds were music to the human ear – music here being a language capable of communicating meaning, albeit not on a rational discursive level: “da umfing sie den Menschen […] mit heiliger Musik, und wundervolle Laute verkündeten die Geheimnisse ihres ewigen Treibens” (SB:349; she encompassed him with a holy music … and wondrous tones spake of the mysteries of her unceasing activity [1:253]). That the harmony is functioning on an intuitive, unconscious level rather than a rational one is evident first from the statement that Nature “comprehended” the human spirit, but the reverse was not the case, and also from the character of music itself. In the fallen age, echoes of Nature’s language, her holy music, are still heard, for instance in the “Teufelsstimme auf Ceylon” (voice of the demon on Ceylon) described by Schubert, but now they are experienced as terrible and terrifying because of their similarity to human lament: “die eine so tiefe Wirkung auf das menschliche Gemüt äußert, daß selbst die ruhigsten Beobachter sich eines tiefen Entsetzens, eines zerschneidenden Mitleids mit jenen den menschlichen Jammer so entsetzlich nachahmenden Naturtönen nicht erwehren können” (SB:349; which so powerfully

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affects the human system, that even the least impressionable persons, when they hear those tones of nature imitating, in such a terrible manner, the expression of human sorrow and suffering, are struck with painful compassion and profound terror [1:253]). Turning to human music, Ludwig attributes the greatest emotional impact to instruments that most closely imitate natural sounds – for instance, the glass harmonica – and speculates that the most perfect instruments would be ones capable of luring sounds directly from nature herself (perhaps a much larger, more perfect form of the wind harp; SB:350–51). A few points raised by this theory need to be underscored. First, whether the sounds of nature are perceived as divine music or as a terrifying lament depends entirely on whether the perceiver is living in a state of harmony with or alienation from nature. Second, the sphere of sounds is still one of the chief avenues of communication – perhaps the only one – left open between humans and that realm of nature which Hoffmann (like Jean Paul, Apel, and other contemporaries) calls Geisterreich or Geisterwelt (spirit-realm or spirit-world). From this follows music’s particular capacity to be experienced as either divine and uplifting or disquieting and terrible (a dimension to be explored in the next chapter). In both these respects, a parallel to Apel and Laun’s Gespensterbuch can be noted. Third, the time of naive harmony is presented as a higher state than the epoch of the human mind’s maturity, and as an object of nostalgia. So far, no overt link is established between this nostalgia and the terror inspired by unexplained atmospheric sounds, but this step is taken with the twist that “Der unheimliche Gast” gives the myth. “Der unheimliche Gast” begins with a scenario familiar from gothic literature: a cozy group gathers around the fire during a stormy night, enjoys warming drinks (punch and tea are both in evidence), and begins to discuss ghost stories and the phenomenon of Schauern. Here, the connection between emissaries of the spirit-world – the spectral beings of folklore – and Nature in the sense of natura naturans is made explicit. The colonel’s wife, who is the party’s hostess, asks why there is an inimical relationship between humans and spirits: “[sollte ich auch glauben], daß es einer unbekannten Geisterwelt erlaubt sei, in vernehmbaren Tönen, ja in Visionen sich uns zu offenbaren, so sehe ich doch nicht ein, warum die Natur die Vasallen jenes geheimnisvollen Reichs so feindselig uns gegenübergestellt haben sollte, daß sie nur Grauen, zerstörendes Entsetzen über uns zu bringen vermögen” (SB:602; [If I were to believe] that it is permitted that an unknown sprit-world should reveal its existence to us by means of sounds and sights, … I am unable to comprehend why that mysterious realm and its denizens, should stand in such a relation to us

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that they bring merely paralyzing fear and horror upon us [2:72]33). Dagobert, the most acute and perceptive of her guests, offers her an answer that involves two dimensions, one pertaining to the constitution of the human psyche, the other mythical-historical. The condition of Schauern in general and of fear of spirits in particular, is, according to Dagobert, inherent in the human psyche (“tief in der menschlichen Natur begründet”). He rejects the popular Enlightenment notion advanced by the colonel’s wife, that such fear is artificially produced by the old wives’ tales with which nannies entertain children, arguing instead that such tales would not appeal to children as strongly as they do if they did not resonate with tendencies – “strings” – already present in the children’s psyche. As in the earlier tale, this suggests an original kinship between humans and the spirit-world. With humanity’s self-alienation from nature (and consequently from the spirit-realm that is part of nature), a disharmony developed within the human being such that spirit was now imprisoned in a constricting and alienating form: “Die Schauer der Furcht, des Entsetzens mögen nur herrühren von dem Drange des irdischen Organismus. Es ist das Weh des eingekerkerten Geistes, das sich darin ausspricht” (SB:602; The awe and the fear are merely the modes in which the spirit imprisoned within our bodies expresses its sorrow thereat [2:72]). Not surprisingly, the colonel’s wife is puzzled by Dagobert’s rather cryptic utterance, and she requests an explanation with the question quoted above. To clarify how this inner conflict arose, Dagobert brings in the golden age myth: vielleicht liegt darin die Strafe der Mutter, deren Pflege, deren Zucht wir entartete Kinder entflohen. Ich meine, daß in jener goldnen Zeit, als unser Geschlecht noch im innigsten Einklange mit der ganzen Natur lebte, kein Grauen, kein Entsetzen uns verstörte, eben weil es in dem tiefsten Frieden, in der seligsten Harmonie alles Seins keinen Feind gab, der dergleichen über uns bringen konnte. (SB:602) [Perhaps] it is the punishment inflicted on us by that mother from whose care and discipline we have run away. I mean, that in that golden age when our race was living in the most perfect union with all nature, no dread or terror disturbed us, for the simple reason that in the profound peace and perfect harmony of all created things, there was nothing hostile that could cause us any such emotion. (2:72) 33 The translation omits an element of the original, namely the agency of nature. It should read: why nature has placed the denizens of that mysterious realm in such a hostile relation to us.

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As in “Die Automate,” the reaction to the spirit-world depends on whether one is in a state of harmony with or alienation from it. The same spirits were once perceived as friends but have now become foes. The notion of punishment by “Mother Nature” introduces a new aspect: the emancipation of the human mind was not a positive or necessary development (as G.H. Schubert presented it), but rather a misdeed, a fall from grace resulting in “Entartung” of the human species – a degeneration presumably manifested in the constriction of the spirit and the loss of that higher faculty of perception, the sixth sense discussed by the frame characters in “Das öde Haus.” Evidence of the punishment inflicted on her rebellious child by “Mother Nature” is the fact that the voice of nature is more horrifying than even spectral apparitions: “wie kommt es denn, daß alle Naturlaute, deren Ursprung wir genau anzugeben wissen, uns wie der schneidendste Jammer tönen und unsere Brust mit dem tiefsten Entsetzen erfüllen” (SB:602; why is it that all the real nature-tones – of whose origin … we can give the most complete account – sound to us like the most piercing sorrow, and fill our hearts with the profoundest dread? [2:72]). As example of this, Dagobert mentions that self-same “Teufelsstimme auf Ceylon,” again with specific reference to Schubert (SB:603). This leads his friend Moritz to describe a similar atmospheric phenomenon he witnessed in Spain, from where the conversation by degrees arrives at the instances of invisible Spuk discussed in the previous section. Dagobert’s historical myth thus describes a disruption of humanity’s relationship with its environment and explains an imperfection in the human psyche in terms of original sin or a fall from grace. Certain paths of cognition are now closed to humans because of the original act of selfalienation; the voices of nature are now frightening and disturbing both because they can no longer be placed and understood (hence arousing fear of the unknown) and because they awaken obscure echoes of a once more perfect state – more perfect in terms of inner plenitude and balance and of consonance with the external world. From this flows a sense of loss, accompanied by painful nostalgia. Unexplained natural phenomena and invisible Spuk are indications that faculties of perception have indeed been lost and that reliance on reason and the material senses indeed constitutes a lower, uncomfortable and precarious state. One could conclude that the temporal dimension provided by the golden age myth is what drives the critique of rationalism delivered by instances of the Schauerlichen rooted in cognitive uncertainty. As will be shown in chapter 7, Hoffmann’s version of the myth simultaneously critiques Schubert’s and Novalis’s versions as it is far more pessimistic. There is no evidence of the third stage, the return of the golden age on a higher plane, from which

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perspective alienation from nature and incomprehension of her language acquired a positive function as having been a necessary stage, the onesided development of a faculty that would later be incorporated into a higher synthesis. The absence of the third stage determines a wholly negative valuation of the one-sided development of rationality: the emotive and intuitive faculties of the psyche have not been temporarily set aside, but rather culpably lost. 5. Cognitive Uncertainty: The Blurring of B o u n da r i e s ( “ D i e A u to m at e , ” “ D e r S a n d m a n n ” ) As shown in the previous sections, Hoffmann, like Tieck and Apel, regarded some form of inherent contradiction as a root cause of the Schauerlichen. The contradiction could be located in the psyche of the perceiver or in a phenomenon combining two incompatible realms and thus blurring the boundaries between them. This theory too is explored through the vehicle of a conversation between characters within a tale, addressing the self-same type of contradiction that Apel raised in connection with spirits: anything that blurs the boundaries between life and death is schauerlich. Ludwig, one of the main characters in “Die Automate,” makes this point in connection with automata and wax figures: “Mir sind,” sagte Ludwig, “alle solche Figuren, die dem Menschen nicht sowohl nachgebildet sind, als das Menschliche nachäffen, diese wahren Standbilder eines lebendigen Todes oder eines toten Lebens, im höchsten Grade zuwider. Schon in früher Jugend lief ich weinend davon, als man mich in ein Wachsfigurenkabinett führte, und noch kann ich kein solches Kabinett betreten, ohne von einem unheimlichen grauenhaften Gefühl ergriffen zu werden. Mit Macbeths Worten möchte ich rufen: ‘Was starrst du mich an mit Augen ohne Sehkraft?’ wenn ich die stieren, toten, gläsernen Blicke all der Potentaten, berühmten Helden und Mörder und Spitzbuben auf mich gerichtet sehe […] Vollends sind mir die durch die Mechanik nachgeahmten menschlichen Bewegungen toter Figuren sehr fatal.” (SB:330-1) “All such figures of that description,” said Lewis, “which can scarcely be said to counterfeit humanity so much as to travesty it – mere images of living death or inanimate life are in the highest degree hateful to me. When I was a little boy, I ran away crying from a waxwork exhibition I was taken to, and even to this day I never can enter a place of the sort without a horrible, eerie, shuddery feeling. When I see the staring, lifeless, glassy eyes of all the potentates, celebrated heroes, thieves, murderers and so on, fixed upon me, I feel disposed to cry with

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Macbeth ‘Thou hast no speculation in those eyes / Which thou dost glare with’ … and what I most of all detest is anything in the shape of imitation of the motions of Human Beings by machinery.” (1:240)

This passage resorts strikingly to words referring to death and life, often in oxymoronic combination. Unlike Apel, however, Hoffmann posits no necessary link between this oxymoron and the spirit-realm, but finds examples in the comparatively ordinary sphere of human mechanical invention. This seems to heighten the potential for the schauerlich effect, not only because of the possibility of complications due to humans’ imperfect control of science, in the vein of Shelley’s Frankenstein, but also because the mechanical, being inanimate and inorganic, presents a more extreme contrast to life than a spectre, which by definition partakes of spirit, consciousness, and animation of sorts. The passage also suggests a significance to eyes, especially staring eyes, different from that proposed by Freud. The eyes function as pars pro toto to show what is wrong with the automaton or wax figure as such. Such a figure is inanimate and inorganic yet imitates the functions and characteristics of life: the eyes stare (life, activity of perceiving), yet they cannot see, because they are dead, made of glass. The eye is the presumed mirror of the soul and also the chief organ of perception, and hence the principal means by which humans interact with the external world. As discussed in section 3, it is centrally involved in the experience of cognitive disorientation arising from the absence or unreliability of sensory data. “Die Automate” addresses a problematic interchange between inner and outer in the opposite direction, that is, the eye as conduit by which inward life is reflected to the outside. The resultant disquiet acquires particular intensity and poignancy because of the fear and horror that the realm of death inevitably inspires.34 After visiting Professor X’s gallery of musical automata, Ludwig reiterates his earlier objections. This passage is especially worthy of note because it closely prefigures the Olimpia subplot in “Der Sandmann” and so militates on the side of Jentsch against Freud’s contention that Olimpia is irrelevant to the tale’s uncanny effect.35 Against Jentsch’s reading, however, 34 In this respect, Hoffmann parallels Freud’s essay “Das Unheimliche”: “Im allerhöchsten Grade unheimlich erscheint vielen Menschen, was mit dem Tod, mit Leichen und mit der Wiederkehr der Toten, mit Geistern und Gespenstern, zusammenhängt” (254; Many people experience the feeling [of the uncanny] in the highest degree in relation to death and dead bodies, to the return of the dead, and to spirits and ghosts” [The Standard Edition, 241]). 35 On intellectual uncertainty in “Der Sandmann,” see Jentsch: “Einer der sichersten Kunstgriffe, leicht unheimliche Wirkungen durch Erzählungen hervorzurufen, beruht nun darauf, dass man den Leser im Ungewissen darüber lässt, ob er in einer bestimmten

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it should be noted that disquiet arises less from intellectual uncertainty as to whether she is human than from her automaton characteristics in and of themselves. Ludwig finds automata all the more horrifying when they are in any way conjoined with humans: “Schon die Verbindung des Menschen mit toten, das Menschliche in Bildung und Bewegung nachäffenden Figuren zu gleichem Tun und Treiben hat für mich etwas Drückendes, Unheimliches, ja Entsetzliches” (The fact of any human being’s doing anything in association with those lifeless figures which counterfeit the appearance and movements of humanity has always, to me, something fearful, unnatural, I may say terrible, about it). As an example, he creates a word picture of a human dancing with an automaton, which will find exact realization in “Der Sandmann”: Ich kann mir es denken, daß es möglich sein müßte, Figuren vermöge eines im Innern verborgenen Getriebes gar künstlich und behende tanzen zu lassen, auch müßten diese mit Menschen gemeinschaftlich einen Tanz aufführen […] so daß der lebendige Tänzer die tote hölzerne Tänzerin faßte und sich mit ihr schwenkte, würdest du den Anblick ohne inneres Grauen eine Minute lang ertragen?36 I suppose it would be possible, by means of certain mechanical arrangements inside them, to construct automatons which should dance, and then to set them to dance with human beings … so that we should have a living man putting his

Figur eine Person oder etwa einen Automaten vor sich habe” (“Zur Psychologie des Unheimlichen,” 203; One of the surest tricks to create slightly uncanny effects through tales lies in this, that one leaves the reader in uncertainty whether in a given character he has a person or perhaps an automaton before him). For Freud’s objection to doubt about Olimpia’s nature as source of the uncanny effect, see 238; later, Freud claims that the reader cannot doubt that Coppelius, Coppola, and the sandman are one and the same, for which reason, “[e]ine intellektuelle Unsicherheit leistet uns also nichts für das Verständnis dieser unheimlichen Wirkung” (“Das Unheimliche,” 242-3; the theory of intellectual uncertainty is thus incapable of explaining that impression” [The Standard Edition, 230–1]). This position has often – rightly – been criticized in scholarship on the tale, for instance, by Ellison: “The theme of intellectual uncertainty, which looms large in Hoffmann’s ‘Der Sandmann,’ whether Freud likes it or not, is a stumbling block for the psychoanalyst who attempts to deny its significance. Freud states that this theme, which in his view belongs to Jentsch but in fact belongs to Hoffmann, and before him to the textual uncanny in its multiple historical apparitions” does not play a role; but this is only because “Freud hides it from us, and he does this because there is so much intellectual uncertainty in ‘Der Sandmann’ and in the uncanny that his own efforts at analytical mastery and control will have been undermined, from the beginning” Ethics and Aesthetics, 62. 36 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:346.

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arms about a lifeless partner of wood, and whirling round and round with her … Could you look at such a sight, for an instant, without horror? (1:251–2)

Such conjunction would be particularly uncanny because the contrast between life and death, or between unequivocal life and equivocal hybrid, would be most strongly perceived when the two are present side by side and actually interacting. One is reminded of Apel’s requirement that the contradiction be presented immediately to the senses. Clearly, Hoffmann regarded the Olimpia subplot as a key source of the tale’s uncanny effect. Clearly too, intellectual uncertainty as to her ontological status is a secondary or contributing factor, since there is no doubt as to the automaton’s nature in Ludwig’s word picture. Olimpia strikes those who come close to her as uncanny in the manner indicated in “Die Automate,” and for the reasons indicated there, but from the opposite perspective. Since she is presumed to be Spalanzani’s daughter, those who encounter her assume her to be a living human being, and they are disturbed by her death-like or machine-like attributes. Once again, the faculty of sight features as the chief distinguishing element. When Nathanael first sees her through the window in the house opposite his, he is struck by the beauty of her figure but disturbed by her eyes: “überhaupt hatten ihre Augen etwas Starres, beinahe möcht ich sagen, keine Sehkraft, es war mir so, als schliefe sie mit offnen Augen. Mir wurde ganz unheimlich” (NS:342; indeed there was something lifeless about her eyes, as though they lacked the power of sight; she seemed to be asleep with her eyes open. I had a rather uncanny feeling37). A Freudian reading would associate this with the sandman experience and with castration fear. The association with the sandman motif may well intensify the effect, but oddly enough this does not occur to Nathanael until much later, when Olimpia’s eyes are actually thrown at him. On the other hand, the almost verbatim parallel to “Die Automate” militates in favour of the blurring of the borders between life and death as chief cause of the uncanny sensation. This is borne out when Nathanael has the same reaction to some others of Olimpia’s characteristics. At the ball, though he is already deeply infatuated with her, he is horrified by the – literally – inhuman temperature of her body: “Eiskalt war Olimpias Hand, er fühlte sich durchbebt von grausigem Todesfrost” (NS:354; Olimpia’s hand was ice-cold: a shudder went through him like a hideous, deadly frost [109]). The same happens with her lips, and this time the death association is articulated by means of a parallel to folk beliefs in revenants,

37 Hoffmann, The Golden Pot, 97.

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the very embodiment of a porosity in the border between life and death: “eiskalte Lippen begegneten seinen glühenden! – So wie, als er Olimpias kalte Hand berührte, fühlte er sich von innerem Grausen erfaßt, die Legende von der toten Braut ging ihm plötzlich durch den Sinn” (NS:355; his burning lips met ice-cold ones! Just as he had done on touching Olimpia’s cold hand, he felt himself gripped by inward horror, and the legend of the dead bride suddenly flashed through his mind [110]).38 As suggested by the word painting presented in “Die Automate,” the effect is reinforced, for both Nathanael and the reader, by the close contact of the automaton with a living human being, reflected in the juxtaposition of the adjectives “eiskalt” and “glühend.” Similarly, Sigmund and the other young men watching Olimpia find her uncanny because of her closeness to the realm of the inanimate. They see farther than Nathanael and so recognize these attributes as belonging to the realm of machines rather than that of spirits. Sigmund too first mentions her eyes, the absence of the faculty of sight, as a detraction from her beauty: “Sie könnte für schön gelten, wenn ihr Blick nicht so ganz ohne Lebensstrahl, ich möchte sagen, ohne Sehkraft wäre” (She would be beautiful, but that her eyes seem to have no ray of life; they almost seem to lack the power of sight). Her movements seem to him produced by some kind of windable mechanism, her dancing and singing have the clockwork precision of a machine, and he finds these attributes “unangenehm” (disagreeable). He identifies the overall impression as “unheimlich,” specifically because she seems to be something inanimate imitating life: “Uns ist diese Olimpia ganz unheimlich geworden, wir mochten nichts mit ihr zu schaffen haben, es war uns, als tue sie nur so wie ein lebendiges Wesen und doch habe es mit ihr eine eigne Bewandtnis” (NS:356; Olimpia gave us a very weird feeling; we wanted nothing to do with her; we felt that she was only pretending to be a living being, and that there was something very strange about her [111]).39 Detlef Kremer, in discussing the uncanny connotations of Olimpia as the dark counterpart to the light Clara, draws a parallel with another uncanny personification of erotic desire – Eichendorff’s 38 The tale of the “Totenbraut” (“The Dead Bride”) is included in Apel and Laun’s Gespensterbuch, which Hoffmann may have known. One might also think of Goethe’s “Die Braut von Korinth” (1797; “The Bride of Corinth”). 39 The reaction of a contemporary reader bears out Hoffmann’s own notion that Olimpia herself, with her paradoxical combination of the human and the inanimate, was regarded as intensely uncanny. J.H. Voss wrote to Christian von Truchseß: “Die Liebesglut, welche aus dem todtstarren Auge der Olympia [sic] durch den verteufelten Tubus in Nathanaels Seele dringt, hat für mich etwas Fürchterliches, und in der Olympia finde ich das Maß alles Unheimlichen übervoll gemessen” (Mitteilungen über Göthe und Schiller, 97; The fire of love which penetrates out of the deadly fixed eye of Olimpia through the

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Venus figure, which represents “das erotisch lockende Phantom seines [i.e., the poet-­protagonist’s] eigenen Ich”40 (the erotically alluring phantom of [the poet-protagonist’s] own ego). That parallel resonates also in an aspect Kremer did not mention: as we shall see in a later chapter, Venus too is uncanny because she makes porous the boundaries between organic and inorganic, life and death. In terms of Olimpia’s function in the architecture of the tale as a whole, however, Jentsch was right in pointing to intellectual uncertainty, though the reader’s doubts pertain, not just to Olimpia’s nature, but to the events of the entire plot. Her presence contributes to the central ambiguity of the text – that is, whether Nathanael is indeed being persecuted by dark forces or is the victim of mental illness. At a minimum, one conclusion is inescapable: Spalanzani’s and Coppola’s intention to deceive cuts across this either/or alternative, as there is no doubt that Nathanael is at the very least the victim of a human fraud. Spalanzani is well pleased with Nathanael’s infatuation with his “daughter” and fosters it as much as he can. Furthermore, the role played by Coppola’s spyglass could be taken to confirm either the critique of science41 or the possibility that supernatural forces are at work, since it is only through the spyglass that Olimpia’s eyes seem to acquire the faculty of sight: “wie er immer schärfer und schärfer durch das Glas hinschaute, war es, als gingen in Olimpias Augen feuchte Mondesstrahlen auf. Es schien, als wenn nun erst die Sehkraft entzündet würde”42 (As he peered ever more intently through the glass, however, he thought he saw moist moonbeams shining from Olimpia’s eyes. It was as though her power of vision were only now being awakened [106]). Furthermore, the irony that Nathanael sees a soulmate in an actual automaton shortly after rejecting a real, thinking girl as a “lebloses, verdammtes Automat” (NS:348; accursed lifeless automaton [103]) supports the mental illness thesis. There can be little doubt about the narcissism that requires of the beloved that she be no more than a mirror in which the lover can admire his self (“du tiefes Gemüt, in dem sich mein ganzes Sein spiegelt” [NS:355; You profound spirit, reflecting devilish tube into Nathanael’s soul has something terrible for me, and in Olimpia I find the fullest and overfull measure of everything uncanny). See Introduction, pages 8–9 and n11. Also quoted in commentary to Nachtstücke, DKV, 3:962. 40 Kremer, Romantische Metamorphosen, 183. 41 Gaderer considers Coppola a charlatan and explains that the poor quality of glasses around 1800, due to errors in the material or the manufacture, often led to deformation rather than improvement of vision. For this reason, he adds referring to Grimm and Adelung’s dictionaries, the phrase to sell someone glasses was a way to say to cheat or deceive. Poetik der Technik, 88–9). 42 Hoffmann, Werke, NS:352.

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my whole existence; 110]) – a function accomplished best by someone or something devoid of independent thoughts or feelings and incapable of other reactions than complete, apparently attentive stillness punctuated by the exclamation “Ach.” This episode strongly suggests that Nathanael tends to experience the outside world as a projection of his inner self; if this succeeds so admirably with his love fantasies, might it not be equally true of his anxieties?43 The Olimpia subplot, in short, adds another motif that is in and of itself uncanny and that further contributes to the effect of the whole by increasing and complicating readers’ uncertainty as to how they are to interpret the events before them. Indeed, it makes opting for a simple, one-sided explanation all but impossible: whether one believes in demonic beings or not, something is not as it should be, is indeed monstrous, in a society in which an automaton can be mistaken for a real girl (and not just by a narcissistic poet) and in which representatives of Enlightenment thinking can cling so stubbornly and anxiously to their dogmatic rationalism as to blind themselves to instances of persecution by – at the very least – evil human beings. 6. The Blurring of Boundaries between Reality and Fiction: Removing the Safety of the Observer (“Der unheimliche Gast,” “ D a s ö d e H au s , ” “ D e r S a n d m a n n , ” “ D i e R äu b e r ” ) The irruption of the fantastic into the everyday is the feature most characteristic of Hoffmann, one that, as other scholars have noted, distinguishes him most strongly from the genre of gothic fiction,44 in which the supernatural and horrific is kept safely at bay by means of settings that are temporally, geographically, and culturally remote. As the examples of 43 Vietta, in his article “Romantikparodie und Realitätsbegriff im Erzählwerk E.T.A. Hoffmanns,” discusses this aspect in detail, in terms of both Nathanael’s narcissism and his pride in representing the poetic viewpoint, suggesting that his troubles are to some extent a matter of projection, and that in this respect Hoffmann is criticizing a position of Romanticism (albeit in exaggerated form; 580ff). He also points out, however, that Nathanael is truly being persecuted by outside forces as well (581f.). Kremer too sees in Nathanael’s standpoint a criticism of mediocre poets who lose the necessary balance between sobriety and enthusiasm and hence fall prey to their own phantasies. Romantische Metamorphosen, 143. 44 See, for instance, Conrad: “Hoffmann verlegt die Schreckensorte nicht mehr in das zeitliche und örtliche Niemandsland des Schauerromans, sondern er unternimmt den Versuch zur Integration der schrecklichen Handlung in die Erfahrungswelt seiner Leser” (Die literarische Angst, 69; Hoffmann no longer transposes the places of terror in the temporal and spatial no man’s land of the horror novel, but rather undertakes the experiment of integrating the terrible action in the world of his readers’ experience).

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critiques and parodies have shown, this irruption is a feature of Hoffmann’s fiction that disturbed and irritated contemporaries. It even distances him from such Romantic tales as Tieck’s “Der blonde Eckbert” (“Blond Eckbert”), “Der Tannenhäuser,” or “Der Runenberg” (“The Runenberg”), where encounters with ambiguous figures endowed with more than human powers take place in dense forests remote from human habitation, or deep below the earth’s surface. Hoffmann consciously developed the technique of letting the marvellous irrupt into the sphere of ordinary human society; he was aware of its novelty, and he meant for the impact of his tales to hinge on it, as evident in his description of “Der goldne Topf” (“The Golden Pot”) in a letter to Kunz (4 March 1814): “Die Idee so das ganz Fabulose, dem aber wie ich glaube, die tiefere Deutung gehöriges Gewicht giebt, in das gewöhnliche Leben keck eintreten zu lassen ist allerdings gewagt und so viel wie ich weiß von einem teutschen Autor in diesem Maaß noch nicht benutzt worden”45 (The idea of letting the completely fabulaic, to which, as I believe, the more in-depth interpretation gives due weight, step boldly into ordinary life, is admittedly daring and as far as I know has never been used by a German author to this extent). His basic techniques are well known and have been much discussed: the location of his tales in contemporary urban settings, especially in cities familiar to his readers and evoked by precise topographical details; the presence of ordinary bourgeois characters (privy councillors, clerks, students, lawyers, pretty and vain bourgeois girls, and so on); everyday objects (household items such as coffee pots or the famous pot, especially in its original form, optical devices such as mirrors and binoculars); ordinary persons suddenly developing an apparently supernatural or fantastic alter ego, and so on. Occasionally these plot elements are accompanied by theoretical reflections on how the blurring of boundaries gives rise to fear and horror. An obvious and virtuosic instance of this already mentioned (in section 3 of this chapter) is the threefold crash heralding the irruption of an “uncanny guest” on three narrative levels at once in “Der unheimliche Gast.” Indeed, the whole tale avowedly developed as an exercise in just this technique. In the subsequent frame discussion, Cyprian explains that a true case provided the seed for “Der unheimliche Gast” and that what attracted both him and Ottmar, the author of the tale, was the fact that the suddenly arriving guest was instantly recognized by all as uncanny in spite of his seeming ordinariness, precisely because their imaginations had been excited and thus prepared for this reaction by a conversation on ghosts and spirits.

45 Hoffmann, Briefwechsel, 1:445.

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In other words, what interested the fictional author was an instance of how the horrific jumps over from the fictional to the real sphere and the degree to which the sudden removal of categoric barriers – the safety of the observer required by all theorists of the sublime – contributes to the intensity of the horror: In einem stillen gemütlichen Familienkreis trat, als eben allerlei Gespenstergeschichten aufgetischt wurden, plötzlich ein Fremder, der allen unheimlich und grauenhaft erschien, seiner scheinbaren Flachheit und Alltäglichkeit unerachtet. […] Diese Begebenheit erzählte ich nun damals Ottmarn, und nichts wirkte auf ihn mehr, als der Moment, wie der Fremde plötzlich gespenstisch hineintritt und mit dem jähen Schreck, zu dem das aufgeregte Gemüt geneigt, die Ahnung des feindlichen Prinzips alle ergreift.46 Into a quiet happy group of friends, just when supernatural matters were forming the subject of conversation, there suddenly came a stranger, who struck every one as being uncanny and terrifying, notwithstanding his apparent everydayness and seeming belonging to the common level … I told this at the time to Ottmar, and nothing made a greater impression on him than the moment when the stranger made his spectral entry, and the sense of the propinquity of the hostile Spiritual Principle seized upon every one present with a sudden terror.47

Through this explanation, Hoffmann blurs the boundaries between embedded fiction and narrated reality on the level of the Serapionsbrüder. The same idea constituted a major theme one level further, within Ottmar’s tale, when in the opening conversation, Dagobert warns his friends against indulging in the pleasant frisson provoked by ghost stories, because it may open the door for the actual irruption into life of terrifying manifestations from the spirit-world. Needless to say, just that happens very shortly after. The irruption is engineered with the utmost éclat: just as Moritz, in his narration of his friend Bogislav’s experience, relates how sounds of ghostly lament in the hallway were followed by a loud crash, in the narrated reality of the tale the speaker is interrupted by the door of the room in which they are gathered flying open with a loud crash. The sudden collapse of the boundaries between narrated (and therefore safely removed) past and present reality could not be more pointedly highlighted than by this simultaneous crash. Hoffmann exploits this experience of horror even more fully by adding a third, simultaneous crash on yet another narrative

46 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:640–1. 47 Hoffmann, The Serapion Brethren, 2:100.

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level: in the frame of Die Serapionsbrüder, just as Ottmar reads the words describing the double crash, the door of the garden room in which the Serapionsbrüder are gathered also crashes open to the horror of all present.48 On this level, the situation is quickly defused, as the mysterious figure who enters is recognized as the missing club member Cyprian. Yet the possibility of a horrific outcome is underscored by the unpleasant effect on the nerves of the convalescent Theodor: “Auf Theodor, der von seiner Krankheit her noch sehr reizbar, hatte der Scherz des Freundes in der Tat mehr gewirkt als dienlich. Er war totenbleich und man gewahrte, daß er sich einige Gewalt antun mußte, um heiter zu scheinen”49 (Theodore, who was still easily excited after his recent illness, had been affected by Cyprian’s proceedings rather more than was desirable. He was deadly pale, and it was evident that he had to put some constraint on himself to appear at his ease [2:79]). This illustrates Dagobert’s warning (within the tale “Der unheimliche Gast”) about how narrated horror can suddenly become devastatingly real. Cyprian condemns his own action: “Ich handelte gegen meinen eignen Grundsatz, welcher total verbietet, dergleichen Scherz zu treiben, da es sich oft schon begeben, daß der fürchterliche Ernst der Geisterwelt eingriff in diesen Scherz und das Entsetzliche gebar” (SB:612; I was acting contrarily to my own fundamental principle, which totally prohibits the perpetration of jokes of this description, because it has often happened that the terrible serious reality of the spirit-world has come gripping in into jokes of this kind, resulting in very terrific things [2:79]). In short, Hoffmann is exploring yet another possibility for producing disquiet and undermining certainty through the removal of barriers. Here, the barrier shown to be porous is the very one on which the readers’ comfort and security at the moment of reading depends, that between fiction and reality, between the readers’ or

48 The commentary in the Deutscher Klassiker edition points to the multiplicity of uncanny effects in the tale and to the intensification resulting from it, but only the triple crash is discussed specifically. See Serapionsbrüder (DKV, 4:1500). In her article devoted to the function of frames and the breaking through of frames in Hoffmann’s oeuvre, SchmitzEmans also draws attention to the carefully calculated effect of this triple alignment of narrative levels (“Der durchbrochene Rahmen,” 74–5), and notes that, here and in general, this contributes to “einer Verunsicherung des Lesers, der es hier nie mit klar umgrenzten und abgeschlossenen Ebenen poetischer Realität zu tun hat” (76; a destabilization of the reader, who is never dealing with clearly delimited and closed-off levels of poetic reality). See also Conrad, Die literarische Angst, 72–3. 49 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:612.

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listeners’ own lives and the entertainment they are indulging in.50 In other words, Hoffmann is attempting to remove, insofar as that is possible in a literary text, the very safety of the perceiver that discourses on the sublime mandated as essential to the experience of sublimity. In this sense too, the Romantic Schauerliche represents a radicalization of the earlier aesthetics of fear. This type of motif, which we could call life imitating fiction, plays a subordinate but significant role in both “Der Sandmann” and “Das öde Haus” and forms the very basis and central theme of “Die Räuber” (“The Robbers”), a tale largely ignored by Hoffmann scholarship. “Der Sandmann” and “Das öde Haus” share the motif of horrific tales (involving harm to the eyes) by means of which nannies frighten their charges into going to bed. In both, the story leads to trauma in childhood and comes back to haunt the protagonist in adulthood. In “Das öde Haus,” the motif is less developed than in “Der Sandmann”; it plays only a secondary role, serving to confirm the protagonist’s susceptibility to magnetic influence and to the marvellous in general and to draw him further into its coils.51 Theodor’s nanny frightened him into abandoning games before the mirror and going to bed by telling him that “wenn Kinder nachts in den Spiegel blickten, gucke ein fremdes, garstiges Gesicht heraus, und der Kinder Augen blieben dann erstarrt stehen”52 (if children look into the mirror at night, a strange, beastly face looks out, and the children’s eyes are frozen into immobility). Theodor’s reaction reminds us of Dagobert’s claim that children are drawn to horrific stories because fascination with the dark side is deeply rooted in the human psyche.53 He is terrified yet at the same time intrigued enough to wish to see the alien face: “Mir war das ganz entsetzlich graulich, aber in vollem Grausen konnt ich doch oft nicht unterlassen, wenigstens nach dem Spiegel hinzublinzeln, weil ich neugierig war auf das fremde Gesicht” (NS:471; I was horribly horrified, but even in the midst of horror I often could not refrain from at least peering towards the mirror because I was curious about the strange face). As with Nathanael in “Der Sandmann,” when Theodor actually sees 50 Conrad also points this out, claiming that Hoffmann by these means spoils the readers’ enjoyment of fear. Die literarische Angst, 72–3. This, however, goes too far, since readers, at least some readers, enjoyed and to this day continue to enjoy his tales. 51 Kremer also notes the parallels between the two tales, but regards “Das öde Haus” as an inferior, because more unequivocal, rehearsal of the same ideas more skilfully ­handled in “Der Sandmann.” In discussing the effect of the nurse’s tale, he merely points to “die narzißtische und ödipale Dimension des Blicks in den Spiegel” (Romantische Metamorphosen, 164; the narcissistic and oedipal dimension of looking into the mirror). 52 Hoffmann, Werke, NS:471. 53 See above, section 4, page 271.

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a face in the mirror, the shock brings on a serious and drawn-out illness. Whether the trauma is due solely to fear of the alien dangerous being, or is reinforced by the shock of seeing the stuff of fairy tale suddenly enter real life, with this episode an uncertainty as to the boundaries of the real and the marvellous has entered his psyche, which in turn determines his later susceptibility to such liminal experiences: “noch jetzt ist es mir, als hätten jene Augen mich wirklich angefunkelt” (NS:471; even now I have the feeling that those eyes really did shine at me). In his adult encounter with the deserted house, the fairy tale once again, and more lastingly, seems to come to life. He again becomes obsessed with a mirror that shows him something that is not there (the face of a beautiful woman in the window of the deserted house); when he looks in the mirror, the fixity threatened in the nanny’s story seems to take hold of him: “Mir war es, als lähme eine Art Starrsucht nicht sowohl mein ganzes Regen und Bewegen als vielmehr nur meinen Blick, den ich nun niemals mehr würde abwenden können von dem Spiegel” (NS:471; I had the feeling, as if a sort of catalepsy paralyzed not so much all my motions as rather only my gaze, which I would never again be able to turn away from the mirror). At that moment, his childhood experience comes to mind and provokes a sensation of chilly fear; yet just as in the original experience, the fear and horror are strangely mixed with fascination, even pleasure (in this latter experience, it is the electric warmth characteristic of the magnetic state). The frame conversation with his friends established Theodor as someone attracted by eccentricity, hoping it might lead to glimpses into the sphere of the marvellous. It thus seems reasonable to assume that the recollection of his childhood glimpse into an alien world would heighten his desire to pursue this new possibility of exaltation via a mirror. And indeed, the results are similar, again involving the same mixed emotion (typical of the aesthetics of terror), followed by physical illness. The complex of ideas at work here emerges more clearly in connection with “Der Sandmann,” where it is developed in greater detail. Once again we see that coupling of terror and curiosity, which, in its combination of threat to sensible nature (injury to the eyes) and spur to the imagination, betrays its connection to earlier aesthetics of terror. Once again, the notion is raised that the mysterious and horrific resonates with a corresponding faculty of the human soul: “Der Sandmann hatte mich auf die Bahn des Wunderbaren, Abenteuerlichen gebracht, das so schon leicht im kindlichen Gemüt sich einnistet” (The Sandman had aroused my interest in the marvellous and extraordinary, an interest that readily takes root in a child’s mind). Nathanael cannot get enough of what terrifies him (“Nichts war mir lieber, als schauerliche Geschichten von Kobolden, Hexen, Däumlingen u. s. w. zu hören oder zu lesen” [NS:333; I liked

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nothing better than hearing or reading horrific stories about goblins, witches, dwarfs and so forth54]), and of all such, his favourite is the one that sends him crying and trembling to bed and that torments him for entire nights: the story of the sandman. It spurs his imagination and drives him to investigate the sandman’s connection with his father for himself, which in turn results in mistreatment by Coppelius followed by a long illness. The root of his terror lies in the merging of reality and fantasy that the young Nathanael sees embodied in the sandman. For the child, there can be no doubt that the sandman really exists, since his mother’s statement “der Sandmann kommt, ich merk es schon” (NS:332; The Sandman is coming, I can tell [86]) is invariably followed by the sound of someone clattering up the stairs with a heavy step. This confirmation involves the revocation of recently acquired knowledge: as Nathanael himself explains, he was already old enough to know that the sandman story with its extravagant details could not be true; that is to say, he was old enough to distinguish reality from fiction. Arguably, then, his terror is due to the calling into question of newly established categorical distinctions: Schon alt genug war ich geworden, um einzusehen, daß das mit dem Sandmann und seinem Kindernest im Halbmonde, so wie es mir die Wartefrau erzählt hatte, wohl nicht ganz seine Richtigkeit haben könne; indessen blieb mir der Sandmann ein fürchterliches Gespenst, und Grauen – Entsetzen ergriff mich, wenn ich ihn nicht allein die Treppe heraufkommen, sondern auch meines Vaters Stubentür heftig aufreißen und hineintreten hörte. (NS:333)55 Soon I grew old enough to realize that the nurse’s tale of the Sandman and his children’s nest in the crescent moon could not be exactly true; yet the Sandman remained for me a fearsome spectre, and terror, indeed horror, would seize upon me when I heard him not only coming upstairs but also pulling open the door of my father’s room and entering. (87)

His developing faculty of reason tells the child such nonsense cannot be true, while the evidence of his senses presents him with the inescapable fact of a mysterious being entering the house and conducting business with his father. This inner conflict between reason and imagination allied with the evidence provided by his senses forms the crux of his obsession with the sandman-Coppelius, of his adult dilemma and eventual mental

54 Hoffmann, The Golden Pot, 87. 55 This parallels Freud’s second definition, which derives the uncanny from the reality-testing occasioned by anything that seems to reconfirm surpassed primitive beliefs.

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collapse.56 The conflict arises from the fact that what he is told, which he at least half-recognizes to be a fairy tale in view of its improbability, steps into the family’s actual life in very tangible form. In this sense, the situation parallels that of “Der unheimliche Gast” and corresponds to the comments of the Serapionsbrüder following that tale. One could indeed go further and argue that the barrier becomes intrinsically porous for Nathanael when the reality of the sandman loses its improbability once he is identified as Coppelius. The lawyer has been long established for the children as horrible, evil, and cruel, so that the theft of children’s eyes no longer seems so absurd. And indeed, life begins to imitate fiction exactly at that point, since Coppelius actually threatens to take out Nathanael’s eyes. The instability of cognitive categories thus becomes a fact of life for Nathanael, leading to the vacillations that determine his adult life. The next stage of his mental collapse is also triggered by an instance of life imitating fiction, this time in his adult life. In the poem Nathanael composed during his visit home, Coppelius touches Clara’s eyes and causes them to leap “wie blutige Funken”57 (like bloody sparks) in Nathanael’s chest. When Nathanael later comes upon Coppola and Spalanzani quarrelling over the automaton, Spalanzani throws Olimpia’s eyes, bloody from the professor’s own injuries, at Nathanael’s chest, immediately bringing on the first outbreak of violent insanity. There is a correspondence of cause and effect: Nathanael’s mental illness is delusional, that is, characterized by a disrupted relationship between the inner and outer worlds; it is precisely the ability to distinguish between the two and keep them separate that is undermined by the barrier between life and fiction becoming porous. The tale in which the merging of reality and fiction as cause of the Schauerlichen is most extensively developed is “Die Räuber,” an adaptation of Schiller’s drama by the same title. Here, life imitates literature, not just by coincidental parallel, but literally, out of a compulsion born of the recognition of that similarity. The plot constitutes a fairly straightforward reversal of Schiller’s: much the same events, but with the positive and negative characters and actions inverted. Karl is an evil, immoral and thoroughly ignoble bandit; Amalia clings with horrible perversity to her

56 Apter also relates Nathanael’s mental illness to his insecure grasp of the boundaries between external and internal, and frames this observation in terms of Freud’s notion of reality-testing: Freud’s interpretation is limited among other reasons because it ignores “the terror within the ambiguity itself. Nathanael’s real tragedy is that he cannot test reality, and he cannot test it because his perceptions constantly slide from meaning to meaning and from affect to affect.” Fantasy Literature, 39. 57 Hoffmann, Werke, NS:347.

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infatuation with him; the devoted servant Daniel’s loyalty is wicked because applied to an unworthy subject. Franz is noble and good, albeit misguided in his obsession with Amalia, and, finally, Count Maximilian is truly admirable and in no way mistaken in his judgment of his sons. The intent may have been parodistic, since the mental state of several at least of the major characters is unmistakably pathological.58 Nevertheless, reading the tale as parody is not particularly rewarding, since it would amount to little more than the notion that Schiller’s play is implausible, as in real life only the more or less certifiably crazy would behave as his characters do. Nor is such a reading particularly convincing, since the effect is not comical: the count dies prematurely of grief, and Amalia truly becomes insane, a condition Hoffmann regarded with horror. We shall come closer to the tale’s probable intention if we focus on Hoffmann’s major addition, a frame narrative. Two friends, Willibald and Hartmann, journey through Bohemia on their way to Italy; they are attacked by robbers, received as guests on the estate of a count, and suddenly realize that they “mit beiden Füßen recht in der Mitte der Schillerschen ‘Räuber’ stehen”59 (stand with both feet right in the middle of Schiller’s ‘Robbers’). These new characters function partly as identification figures through which to guide the readers’ responses: they make the parallel to Schiller’s drama explicit, and react first with amusement, then with discomfort, and finally with Schauer, as life more and more follows the same course as fiction. They also act as catalysts to a mixture existing only in potentiality – that is, they cause life’s imitation of fiction by bringing the inherent parallel to the attention of the “actors.” From that moment on, the imagined world begins to function as the lever by which the real one is moved, and it does so through its effect on the imagination and selfperception of the main characters. Both Franz and Amalia see in the parallel to Schiller’s play evidence of an inescapable fate that persecutes them. Franz now describes himself as an unfortunate “den ein schwarzes Verhängnis erfaßt [hat]” (SW:415; who has been seized by a black fate) and asserts that by revealing the parallel to Schiller’s play, Willibald and Hartmann have handed him the key to the mystery of that fate. Amalia too refers to the parallel as “verhängnisvoll” (fateful). Both seem to

58 Peter Cersowsky argues that all the characters suffer from pathological mental conditions (“Räuber über Räuber”), recognizably corresponding to states diagnosed in Reil’s Rhapsodieen. This may be an overstatement, since it involves stretched and unconvincing argumentation in some instances, yet it has some truth in the case of Karl, Amalia, Franz, and, to a much lesser extent, Willibald. Cersowsky, however, does not see Hoffmann’s intention as parodistic, given the latter’s admiration of Schiller. 59 Hoffmann, Werke, SW:411.

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­ elcome this irruption of “fate” as an opportunity to push an unpleasant w situation to a crisis. Franz had, up to the arrival of the guests, sought to conquer his passion for Amalia; only now does he attempt to force his lovemaking on her, justifying himself with the cry “Ich bin Franz! Ich will es sein! Ich muss es sein!” (SW:415; I am Franz! I want to be! I have to be!). Amalia feels liberated to transgress the boundaries of upbringing and social dictates: she throws herself in the arms of Willibald, a virtual stranger, bestowing passionate kisses on him and offering marriage should Karl be dead, in exchange for help in escaping from the castle. When this fails, she escapes with Daniel’s help, shoots Franz, and joins the band of robbers. Obviously, she believes herself to be following the destiny predetermined for her by her fictional alter ego. When the shock of Karl’s death drives her insane, the identification becomes complete. When, years later, she encounters Willibald in Töplitz, she asserts that she is Amalia, Countess von Moor, and that Karl did not really murder her but rather seemingly wounded her with a theatre dagger. The notion of life imitating literature is played out literally in “Die Räuber.” The making explicit of the parallel compels certain individuals to act in the manner predetermined by fiction, then causes the most psychically vulnerable to lose all sense of a distinction between reality and fiction; this in turn causes the former to replicate the latter. The reactions of Willibald and Hartmann are determined by the degree to which the merging of reality and fiction occurs for them as well. Initially, as long as they saw themselves as spectators or at least as no more than the “zufälliger Chorus” (accidental chorus) of the play for which the main characters are assembled in the castle, they reacted with amusement: “Es freut mich sehr die Begebenheit endlich einmal in der wirklichen Welt anzutreffen” (SW:411; I am very glad to find the event at last in the real world); they laughed, expressed curiosity as to the outcome, and treated it as a game: “[sie] wetteiferten in allerlei, jenes große, aber entsetzliche Trauerspiel parodierenden Ideen” (SW:412; they competed in all kinds of ideas that parodied that great but horrific tragedy). Once they find themselves increasingly drawn into the action, once they begin to fear that an inscrutable fate is at work that could have the power to determine their own lives as well, the merely strange becomes schauerlich for them: “Das unheimlich Seltsame häuft sich zu sehr und es will mich bedünken, daß wir dem Räderwerk, das hier ein besonderes böses Verhängnis zu treiben scheint, zu nahe kommen und, von dem Schwungrad ergriffen, unaufhaltsam hineingeschleudert werden könnten ins Verderben” (SW:418; The uncannily strange is piling up too much and it seems to me that we are coming too close to the wheelwork which a particularly evil fate seems to be driving here, and that we could be seized by the flywheel

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and unstoppably thrown into destruction). The same progression is at work here as in “Der unheimliche Gast” and “Das öde Haus.” The enjoyment of the eccentric is the bait with which unknown powers draw in the unwary. This enjoyment then turns to horror when the eccentric becomes the marvellous (that is, events for which no explanation can be discovered), when a sense of physical threat is added to the stimulus the unknown gives to the imagination, and, most importantly, when the safety of the spectator that (as Hoffmann confirms here) is a precondition for aesthetic enjoyment is removed as the boundaries between reality and theatre become porous. In this tale the element of the unknown and inexplicable is not in any sense supernatural, but simply the coincidence in names, situations, and finally behaviour between a work of fiction and the lives of “real” people. Hoffmann again uses the frame narrative, albeit here the narrator’s voice rather than the characters’ conversation, to pinpoint the source of schauerlich effects he is experimenting with. The choice of words for the tale’s conclusion (drawn from the theatrical sphere) locates the cause of Willibald’s and Hartmann’s retrospective Schauer in the merging of the real and the fictional: “Willibald und Hartmann, gedenken aber noch jetzt, sind sie am späten Abend traulich beisammen, oft jenes entsetzlichen Trauerspiels in Böhmen, dessen ersten Akt ein seltsames Verhängnis sie mitspielen ließ, und in ihrem innersten Gemüt erbeben dann tiefe Schauer” (SW:440; Willibald and Hartmann even now, if they are cozily together late in the evening, recollect that horrific tragedy in Bohemia, in the first act of which a strange fate caused them to play a part, and deep Schauer tremble in their innermost spirit). 7. “Spuk” as Metaphor for the Ghostliness o f   R e a l i t y ( “ E i n F r a g m e n t au s d e m L e b e n dreier Freunde”) In the course of this study I have repeatedly referred to the fact that, in most of the texts so far discussed, the schauerlich phenomena are inextricably connected with the ordinary world of human society, are indeed often a symptom of something not as it should be, something somehow monstrous in the “real” and everyday.60 That is, the juxtaposition of the ordinary yet inappropriate with Spuk in the conventional sense serves to reveal that some aspects of human society and behaviour are themselves a form of Spuk and should rightly be regarded as schauerlich. The 60 Pikulik, in “‘daß nichts wunderlicher und toller sei,’“ also notes Hoffmann’s tendency to Verfremdung of the normal and everyday by presenting it as the locus for extraordinary events. He sees in this one way to realize Novalis’s romanticizing of the world.

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exploration of the monstrous quality of ordinary bourgeois society by means of the Schauerlichen, while hardly ever absent, generally plays a subordinate role in the tales, yet it is introduced at the very beginning of Die Serapionsbrüder. In the opening scene of the collection, the four friends Lothar, Theodor, Cyprian, and Ottmar, together for the first time in twelve years, try to take up their friendship where they left off and converse as if no time had elapsed. To their increasing annoyance, this proves impossible. After Lothar has given vent to his anger and disappointment, Cyprian suggests that there is nothing wrong with the change that has occurred, that on the contrary success in carrying on as if nothing had changed would have exposed them as “eingefleischte Philister” (Philistines incarnate). This remark, and the anecdote with which Cyprian illustrates it, spark off the critique of philistinism (that is, of bourgeois attitudes and mode of life) that forms a central theme of this first section. Two students of Kantian philosophy were separated in the middle of a dispute and did not see each other again for twenty years. They then meet by chance on the street in Berlin, take up their dispute exactly at the point where they left off, walk up and down arguing for two or three hours, part on the decision to call on Kant as arbiter – oblivious to the fact that they are in Berlin and not Königsberg and that Kant has been dead for many years – and never see each other again. Cyprian comments: “Diese Geschichte […] trägt für mich wenigstens beinahe etwas Schauerliches in sich. Ohne einiges Entsetzen kann ich nicht diesen tiefen gespenstischen Philistrismus anschauen”61 (This story, at least for me, has something almost schauerlich about it … I cannot contemplate this deeply ghostly philistinism without some horror). He follows this up with another example, this one of an acquaintance who, on seeing him for the first time in several years, asks him to powder his hair and put on a grey hat again, otherwise he will be unable to recognize the same old Cyprian. What philistine characteristics are to be identified in these examples? First and foremost, the inability to accept or even recognize change, but beyond this (or rather, implied in this) the tendency to maintain habits, ideas, and forms of intercourse after they have lost their timeliness and meaning, and the inability to penetrate past appearance to essence. If we look at Cyprian’s choice of words, we note the use of schauerlich to describe something that inspires disquiet, almost horror, not because it is in any way supernatural or inexplicable but simply because it is untimely and inappropriate, or monstrous in its unfittingness and lack of reason. Furthermore, what can the term

61 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:16.

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gespenstisch mean in a context that does not involve any form of spirit or ghost? I would tentatively advance the definition “lacking in real, substantial existence,” an appearance without true essence or substance behind it, a form of Spuk in the sense of something that ought not to exist yet seems to do so. This dimension of Hoffmann’s aesthetics of fear has been rather aptly described by the East German writer Franz Fühmann.62 According to him, Hoffmann was a realist, though his oeuvre teems with spectres, because these spectres are real and not illusory; that is, they are derived from everyday reality: spectres are literature’s way of expressing dark and uncomfortable aspects of everyday reality, to show where everyday reality becomes spectral, “gespenstig” – and here the coincidence of Fühmann’s terminology with Hoffmann’s own should be particularly noted. Fühmann further defines a spectre (Gespenst) as something that displays a divergence of appearance and reality (Schein and Sein), which he then subdivides into four categories: (1) the horrific, which presents itself in an unassuming guise; (2) the revenant or the return of the old and obsolete, by which he means something that has lost its function and so has no rational cause to exist, yet continues to do so and gives birth to new spectres; (3) the subordination of humans to monetary value and to possessions in general, to the point that these now possess their possessor instead of the other way around; (4) the new – bourgeois and capitalist – world order’s willingness to accept the surrogate for the real thing. Fühmann’s conceptualization of the Schauerlichen should not be imposed on Hoffmann’s tales as exegetical method, for this would obscure Hoffmann’s own theoretical reflections as well as other, often more primary themes in many of the tales. It does, however, help sharpen our awareness of one recurring dimension of the spectral in Hoffmann’s oeuvre, and, I would argue, it significantly furthers our understanding of such tales as “Das Majorat” (“The Primogeniture”) and “Ein Fragment aus dem Leben dreier Freunde.” It must be noted, however, that even here the fit is only partial because Fühmann brackets out the literal marvellous in favour of the metaphorical. What Fühmann’s theory contributes is chiefly the identification of certain categories of the nonsupernatural spectral. In what follows, “Ein Fragment aus dem Leben dreier Freunde” will be briefly analyzed as an example of how Hoffmann uses the concept of the Schauerlichen, and the activities of an actual ghost, 62 Fühmann addresses this in two of his essays: “Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann: Rede in der Akademie der Künste der DDR” (Essays, Gespräche, Aufsätze, 216–38); and “Fräulein Veronika Paulmann aus der Pirnaer Vorstadt oder Etwas über das Schauerliche bei E.T.A. Hoffmann” (328–77).

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as Verfremdungseffekt (alienating effect), in order to problematize certain aspects of bourgeois society. The word unheimlich recurs insistently in the first few pages of “Ein Fragment aus dem Leben dreier Freunde,” but not primarily in connection with the ghost of Alexander’s maiden aunt, which is introduced fairly late in the friends’ conversation. To begin with, the aunt’s apartment, which has been left unchanged for Alexander, strikes the latter as a “recht unheimlichen Aufenthalt”63 (exceedingly uncanny place to be in [1:75]). Initially this has nothing to do with a ghost, but rather with the fact that everything is still ordered exactly as it was when the aunt was alive, including her nightgown and slippers laid out ready for use, so that the apartment seems somehow frozen in time, its occupants as if “verhext” (under some spell of enchantment) like “eine Art Merlin” (SB:105; a species of Merlin [1:74]). This effect is compounded by the fact that everything in the apartment reflects the life of an elderly spinster, not of a young man, so that said young man feels literally and quite rightly out of place. This inappropriateness is vividly captured in the image of the housekeeper’s horror at the prospect of Alexander occupying the deceased aunt’s virginal bed: “[Jungfer Anne] zitterte und bebte, sie glaubte, nun würde das Entsetzliche geschehen, nämlich ich würde sie fortschicken, und ohne Umstände das jungfräuliche Bett einnehmen” (SB:111; [Mistress Anne] was all in a tremble; she thought I would tell her to go, and proceed coolly to desecrate the maidenly couch by sleeping in it [1:78]64). Two categories apply here: untimeliness and the notion of something unfitting or inappropriate. Furthermore, women, particularly unmarried women and brides (as the insistence on the aunt’s virginity suggests), are repeatedly associated with the Schauerlichen. Very early in the conversation, Alexander describes the elderly, unmarried housekeeper as “ein kleines gespen­ stisches Wesen” (SB:105; a little spectral-looking creature [1:74]) and compares her to Kleist’s Bettelweib. His description of the uncanny apartment culminates in his horror at a portrait of his aunt: [W]as aber für mich wenigstens das Unheimliche und Grauliche vollendet, ist, daß in eben demselben Zimmer das lebensgroße Bild der Tante hängt, wie sie sich vor fünfunddreißig bis vierzig Jahren in vollem Brautschmuck malen ließ und daß, wie mir die Jungfer Anne unter vielen Tränen erzählt hat, sie in eben diesem vollständigen Brautschmuck begraben worden ist. (SB:106)

63 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:106. 64 The translation omits a phrase: “she thought, now the horrible thing would happen.”

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[W]hat for me, at all events, fills up the measure of eeriness, in this same room there is a life-size portrait of her, taken some thirty-five or forty years ago, in her wedding-dress; in which wedding-dress, as Mistress Anne tells me with many tears, just as it is shown in the picture, she was buried. (1:75)

The effect of this picture is so strong that by association he begins to find all brides uncanny: “die alte bräutliche Tante wirkt so spukhaft auf mich ein, daß ich unwillkürlich mit dem Worte Braut ein unheimliches, grauliches freudestörendes Wesen verbinde” (SB:109, emphasis in original; the old bridely aunt has such a ghostly, haunting effect upon me, that I can’t help associating all sorts of eery, uncanny, shuddery feelings with the very word “bride” [1:77]). He also finds the spectacle of a thirty-twoyear-old woman (the daughter of the executor of his aunt’s will) behaving like a naive young girl of sixteen unheimlich. His friend Marzell agrees with this and refers to the woman’s naïveté as unheimlich (SB:109). The key concept underlying these examples, evident also in the case of the Kantian philosophers, is the notion of untimeliness, the carrying over of what was appropriate for one stage of life into another, where it is meaningless or grotesque. Both the aunt and the thirty-two-year-old innocent are caught in a time warp, maintaining a mode of behaviour or a garb that has become grotesque because it has lost its function. At the root of their behaviour is the refusal to accept change, also present in the anecdote about the Kantian philosophers. Both instances, however, point to a deeper ill, one that is indirectly addressed by the third member of the group, Severin: the fact that women’s only means of attaining a fulfilled and “successful” life is through marriage, that their entire youth is devoted to preparation for and pursuit of that goal, a fixation that is extremely difficult to shed once the right moment is past. As Alexander explains, the aunt (a precursor to Dickens’s Miss Havisham) spent her life in defiance of the passage of time, in ritual re-creation of a past moment. Abandoned by her bridegroom on her wedding day, she is unable to overcome her grief, and for the rest of her life she holds a mourning ritual on each anniversary of that day. She dresses herself in her bridal finery, has the wedding breakfast laid out, and spends the day sighing and lamenting. Her wish to be buried in her wedding dress captures for eternity the truth of a failed and embittered life. The tale thus presents the institution of marriage as monstrous and schauerlich,65 because of the subjugation it inflicts on human beings and the possibilities for distortion 65 So also Conrad: “Das Grauen vor der bürgerlichen Konventionsehe ist die alleinige Kategorie des Gespenstischen, mit deren Hilfe die epische Integration so unterschiedlichen Einzelgeschichten erreicht wird” (Die literarische Angst, 87; The horror of the

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and emptiness it creates for lives that fail to conform to the pattern it imposes. The housekeeper is “spectral” and schauerlich for much the same reason: also unmarried, she has led a joyless existence in the service of an embittered woman, helping her each year to re-enact the ritual of the failed wedding, so that she too is frozen outside time, the visible embodiment of a life deprived of meaningful substance. One could go so far as to say that the housekeeper, like the post-mortem manifestation of Kleist’s beggar, is a walking indictment of the injustices of the class system: both have been victimized and reduced to their present state by the actions of a social superior. The reason for the failure of the aunt’s wedding brings to the fore another flaw in the institution of marriage, one that resonates with Fühmann’s third category, the subordination of humans to monetary value and to possessions in general. The intended bridegroom would have married the aunt solely for her money but repented at the last moment and returned to the girl he loved. The enslavement to possessions brings together the three strands of what is schauerlich: the haunting by the aunt’s ghost, the effect of the apartment on Alexander, and the disquieting associations of brides. Alexander does not vacate the apartment, despite its disturbing atmosphere, because it has literally begun to take possession of him. It does so because his inheritance appeals to a trait in his personality that his friends have long identified as a failing, his love of comfort (Behaglichkeit). He regards the changes that come over him as evidence that the aunt’s spirit is taking possession of him: “wißt ihr wohl, daß es mir scheint, als wäre die Luft in meiner Wohnung so von dem Geist und Wesen der alten Jungfer imprägniert, daß man nur ein paarmal vierundzwangig Stunden drin gewesen sein darf, um selbst etwas davon wegzubekommen?”66 (Do you know … that the very atmosphere of that old house of mine seems to be so thoroughly impregnated with the essence and spirit of the old lady, that one has only to be in it for a day or two to find one’s self imbibing it [1:76]). He begins to reflect on how pleasant it is to possess more than the bare necessities; he enjoys spending hours counting and examining linen or pots and pans; he develops an unexpected aptitude for performing small domestic chores. At such times he feels the presence of the aunt’s spirit and can almost see her ghostly

bourgeois marriage of convention is the sole category of the ghostly with the help of which the narrative integration of such different individual stories is achieved). 66 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:108.

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hand passing him another pot. A young man invaded by the spirit of an old maid – is this ghostly possession, or is it a not wholly conscious ­recognition that his comfort will be greatly enhanced by all of these worldly goods? And is the phenomenon schauerlich because it involves the possibly supernatural, because of its inappropriateness for his gender and time of life, or because the very fact of a human dominated by possessions is a reversal of how things should be and thus itself a form of Spuk? Ultimately the disquieting theme of the tale is the transformation of the free spirit Alexander into a philistine, accomplished by the love of comfort and possessions in concert with the ghost of the aunt, and achieved by means of marriage, understood as the state of settling down comfortably and acquiring material possessions. Alexander’s relationship with his wife-to-be, Pauline, develops under the twin stars of comfort and material possessions. Pauline would seem to be at least as materialistically inclined as Alexander. When she first enters the scene, she is shedding tears over a letter she has just received, which the friends surmise may bring her bad news of her lover. Instead, as it later emerges, the cause of her tears was the news that her new hat, ordered especially from Paris, would not be ready in time for that evening’s social gathering. Though she is supposedly in love with Marzell, Alexander wins her favour by means of little gifts calculated to please a young bourgeois girl; as a result, they soon reach that state of “behagliche Vertraulichkeit” (SB:142; comfortable familiarity) that according to Alexander is suitable for a declaration of love. When his friends see him a year after the marriage, Alexander has become one of Hoffmann’s typical philistines: dressed in the latest fashion, sleek and well-fed to the point of plumpness, he radiates self-satisfaction whenever he thinks of his comfortable home, his wealth, his pretty wife. The aunt’s ghost, for its part, contributed to the achieving of this happy end by the degree and frequency of its visitations. When Alexander begins to court Pauline, the haunting grows less frequent, and the ghost grows quieter the more Alexander turns his thoughts to his beloved. When the marriage ceremony is accomplished, in the same room and doubling the aunt’s failed wedding in all particulars, the ghost disappears for good, leaving behind a sensation of warmth and well-being. This outcome reveals the ghost’s purpose: the hope of achieving vicarious fulfillment of the aunt’s frustrated ambition through her nephew. What does it say about the aunt that she regards the achievement of a marriage, any marriage, as a righting of her wrongs? It could be argued that it was the loss of the status and dignity of a married woman, rather than the loss of a loved partner, that the aunt mourned. Similarly, the humorous and apparently happy ending is a little disquieting when one thinks how ready both partners were to

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mistake shared comfort for love, and in Pauline’s case, to exchange one possible husband for another.67 In short, marriage itself is the chief source of the Schauerlichen in this tale. It involves a divergence of appearance and reality in Fühmann’s sense because it purports to be one thing (the fulfillment of love) yet is another (the pursuit of status, possessions, and material comfort). It brings about a host of further perversions and anomalies: obsession with material possessions to the point that freedom and peace of mind are willingly sacrificed; the ruthless instrumentalization of other human beings for the sake of acquiring wealth and status, carried on by the aunt’s bridegroom, Pauline, and the aunt, which is to say by both men and women; a variety of anomalous and untimely behaviours born of misguided hope, of disappointment, or of necessity. The supernatural is present in the tale but in a subordinate role, as symptom and contributing factor. The aunt was a relict or spectre – in the sense of unreal being – even while alive, in her compulsive re-enactment of an event long past and in her inability to change with the times and live in the present. Her haunting as a ghost is merely a continuation of her condition into the next form of existence. Likewise, the fact that it is the living housekeeper rather than the dead aunt who is compared to Kleist’s ghostly beggar emphasizes that there is no essential difference between the live elderly spinster frozen in a futile perpetuation of the past and the actual ghost of her dead counterpart. 8 . T o wa r d s a P o e t i c s o f t h e S c h au e r l i c h e n In section 1 of this chapter I discussed Hoffmann’s reprise, in Cyprian’s apologia of the horrific in literature, of the formulation by which he praised Beethoven as the most romantic composer. I argued that Hoffmann is coopting the authority of Beethoven to formulate a defence of his own aesthetics of fear: through horrific subject matter, the poet can achieve the aim of good literature, which is to move and shake (erschüttern) the reader, and of romantic literature in particular, which is to arouse intimations of transcendence through glimpses into the spirit-realm. In that same conversation in the Serapionsbrüder, Hoffmann further develops what can be termed a poetics of the Schauerlichen, in that he has the club members discuss the conditions and techniques that would make such subject matter legitimate and effective. 67 The willingness to accept one bridegroom in place of another, shared here by the aunt and Pauline, is a far from infrequent trait among bourgeois girls in Hoffmann’s works, the best-known example being Veronika in Der goldne Topf. Fühmann’s notion of the acceptance of surrogates as a form of Spuk fits very well here.

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The Serapionsbrüder qualified their acceptance of horrific material with the stipulation that it be properly handled, which is to say, with appropriate “poetic tact”: “[es] kann aus dieser Idee ein Stoff hervorgehen, der von einem fantasiereichen Dichter, dem poetischer Takt nicht fehlt, behandelt, die tiefen Schauer jenes geheimnisvollen Grauens erregt […] Eben der richtige poetische Takt des Dichters wird es hindern, daß das Grauenhafte nicht ausarte ins Widerwärtige und Ekelhafte” (SB:927; it is capable of providing material, when dealt with by a writer of imagination possessed of some poetical tact, which has the power of stirring within us that profound sense of awe … A due amount of poetic tact on the author’s part will prevent the horror of the subject from going so far as to be loathsome [2:303]). Repeatedly, the Serapionsbrüder and the characters in frames within tales insist that the horror evoked must not go so far as to be psychologically damaging. In “Der unheimliche Gast,” Dagobert differentiated the pleasant frisson caused by safely distanced ghost tales from the “Todesangst” (deadly fear) or “haarsträubendes Entsetzen” (hair-raising horror) caused by immediate, well-founded fear of ghosts, which is to be avoided at all costs. Cyprian too aimed at the sort of horror that disturbs but does not destroy (“den Sinn erschüttert, ohne ihn zu verstören” [SB:927; agitates our sense without disrupting it]). Similarly, in an earlier conversation (preceding “Die Brautwahl” [“Albertine’s Wooers”]), Ottmar condemns contemporary representations of the devil, in which the horrific is so extreme that it “zerreißt das Gemüt” (tears the spirit apart), whereupon Lothar draws attention to Fouqué’s “Eine Geschichte vom Galgenmännchen” (“Story of the Hangman”), which he regards as successful precisely because, “trotz alles Unheimlichen, das in der Geschichte gar reichlich vorhanden, ist die Spannung, die sie im Gemüt erzeugt, nichts weniger als verstörend” (SB:530; despite all the uncanny elements abundantly present in the story, the tension created in the spirit is anything but disruptive). In other words, the affect aroused by literature (or music) must be contained within certain bounds. Earlier in the conversation before “Die Brautwahl,” another distinction was drawn: the horrific element must originate in the sphere of the fantastic and should not reflect too directly the baseness, cruelty, and evil of the ordinary world, which saddens and depresses rather than uplifts the spirit (and thus nullifies the element of the delightful). Lothar has just read a brief tale involving witchcraft and the devil masquerading as a citizen of Berlin. Ottmar condemns it, complaining that it has “etwas ganz Ungemütliches, Unbehagliches” (SB:526; something quite unhomely and uncomfortable) that he finds decidedly unpleasant. Lothar explains this reaction in terms of insufficient distance from the destructive horrors of real life: the appearance of the devil remains purely fantastic, and hence the suspense it

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produces is not unpleasant, whereas “Anders verhält es sich mit den leidigen Hexengeschichten. Hier tritt das wirkliche Leben ein mit allen seinen Schrecken” (SB:526; It is quite otherwise with tiresome stories about witches. Here real life enters with all its terrors). That is, one is reminded of the all too real burnings at the stake. How is one to reconcile this with the claim that Hoffmann removes the safety of temporally and geographically remote settings favoured by gothic fiction, that he deliberately allows the fantastic to irrupt into everyday bourgeois existence? Partly, what operates here are certain limits set on subject matter: the frightening and horrific may irrupt into ordinary life, but not their more extreme cousins, “das Entsetzliche” (the horrifying), “das scheußlich Widerwärtige” (the hideously repulsive), and “das Ekelhafte” (SB:927; the revolting). Then too, it is rather the fantastic horrific that is allowed to disturb the reader’s spirit, not, as just quoted, the all too real and historically documented. Nevertheless, prohibitions as to subject matter play only a very limited role; after all, the subjects thus labelled as excessive and distasteful, witchcraft and vampirism, do occur in Hoffmann’s own tales, albeit only to a very limited extent (one tale and one anecdote in which witchcraft is central, only one tale about vampirism). The decisive question is how the material is handled – more specifically, is it with or without that poetic tact required by Cyprian? Three elements seem to constitute poetic tact. There is, first and rather nebulously, the aesthetic quality of the portrayal, the successful mixing of colours at which Tieck and Kleist excelled (SB:928–9). More precisely, the degree to which horrific details are painstakingly described or left up to the imagination plays a decisive role. The Serapionsbrüder agree that as much as possible should be left to the imagination. As noted earlier, Lothar points out that the horrific resides more in the imagination than in actual phenomena and that imagination needs very little to set it going (SB:928). Kleist’s “Bettelweib” is cited as a particularly masterly example of this. Later, Theodor contrasts Cyprian’s tale of vampirism favourably with an earlier version, precisely in terms of whether the more grisly and macabre details are described or left up to the imagination: Und doch […] hat unser Freund gar manches verschleiert, und ist über anderes so schnell hinweggeschlüpft, daß es nur eine vorübergehende schreckhaft schauerliche Ahnung erregt […] Ich erinnere mich nun wirklich, die gräßlich gespenstische Geschichte in einem alten Buche gelesen zu haben. Alles darin war aber mit weitschweifiger Genauigkeit erzählt, und es wurden vorzüglich die Abscheulichkeiten der Alten recht con amore auseinandergesetzt, so daß das Ganze einen überaus widerwärtigen Eindrück zurückließ. (SB:941, emphasis in original)

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And yet … our friend has discreetly thrown a veil over a great many things, and has passed so rapidly over others, that his story has merely caused us a passing feeling of the eery and shuddery … I remember very well having read this story in an old book, where everything was told with the most prolix enumeration of all the details and the old woman’s atrocities in particular were set forth in all their minutiae, truly con amore, so that the whole affair produced … a most repulsive impression. (2:314)

The requirement of leaving as much as possible to the imagination has a double reason. First, it is a more effective way of evoking Schauer because of the efficacy of fear of the unknown and because it avoids falling into the ludicrous, as revolting descriptions of aberrations too often do (SB:927). Second, it avoids arousing destructively negative forms of affect. The third crucial element of poetic tact identified by the Serapionsbrüder is irony and humour, which function as counterweights and as means of filtering or distancing. This emerges most clearly in the conversation discussed earlier, on the use of the devil or witchcraft in literature. Lothar explains that through the element of irony, even the terrifying evil principle can be mitigated so as to arouse delightful horror rather than horror pure and simple: “selbst das unheimliche Spukhafte, das sonst dem ‘furchtbar verneinenden Prinzip der Schöpfung’ beiwohnt, kann, durch den komischen Kontrast in dem es erscheint, nur jenes seltsame Gefühl hervorbringen, das, eine eigentümliche Mischung des Grauenhaften und Ironischen, uns auf gar nicht unangenehme Weise spannt” (SB:526; even the uncannily haunting, which normally accompanies the “frightfully negating principle of creation,” can arouse, because of the comic contrast in which it appears, only that strange feeling that is a peculiar mixture of the horrific and the ironic, and which causes us a far from unpleasant tension). Ottmar later elaborates on this point. The devil in earlier German literature had “eine wunderbare Beimischung des Burlesken” (a marvellous admixture of the burlesque) that leavened the otherwise destructively frightening, “durch die das eigentlich sinnverstörende Grauen, das Entsetzen, das die Seele zermalmt, aufgelöst, verquickt wird” (SB:530; through which the horror that disrupts the senses, the revulsion that destroys the soul, are dissolved and loosened). It is this happy mixture of the horrific with the comical and “Gemütlichen” (cozy) that Fouqué’s “Galgenmännchen” achieved. Once again, praise of predecessors or contemporaries offers a clear indication of what Hoffmann intended to achieve in his own works: to arouse powerful emotions in his readers so as to enable them to experience some sense of the spiritual and infinite, and to undermine safety and comfort by calling the nature of reality or

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human perception of it into question, yet to keep such experiences within pleasurable bounds by means of humour and a “tasteful” selection of descriptive detail. In view of these aims, the accusations by contemporaries (quoted in section 1 of the Introduction) that Hoffmann outraged the moral dignity of humans, or that he shocked and misled readers out of malicious pleasure at their discomfiture, are wide of the mark. One can only conclude that Hoffmann was ahead of his time, not only in his questioning of the intellectual status quo and in his techniques for arousing disquiet but also in his estimation of what readers would consider tasteful, or indeed bearable.68 Hoffmann did not articulate a cohesive theory of the uses of fear in literature, nor can a precise system be detected in his theoretical reflections on the subject, yet certain tendencies do emerge. On the mechanical level, one can note the consistent use of the frame conversation as a vehicle for theoretical discussion, both small-scale within individual tales and on a larger scale with Die Serapionsbrüder. In terms of content, Hoffmann’s poetics of fear can be summed up by reference to the sublime. What those poetics share with the sublime is the intimation of a force infinitely greater than humanity, the double nature of the phenomenon (combining terrible destructive power and greatness of some sort), which hence provokes a double reaction of fear and stimulation of a mental faculty. At the same time, the fear-inducing as conceived by Hoffmann (encompassing the various terms schauerlich, unheimlich, entsetzlich, and grauenhaft) differs from the sublime (1) by an element of mystery, of the unknown, that presents a threat to reason and science; (2) by an element of cognitive uncertainty resulting either from the unreliability (or absence) of sensory data or from a blurring of boundaries; and (3) by the substitution of an external Other (a Geisterreich) for human reason as the absolutely great, which occasions uplift. Common to all three distinctions is the challenge they pose to reason. The role of the unknown and inexplicable and the element of cognitive uncertainty result in the pole of fear predominating over that of spiritual elevation. Only in connection with music does the human mind rise above its physical limitations and fear of destruction to achieve any sort of transcendence; otherwise, intimations of a higher sphere tend to be crushing rather than uplifting. Hoffmann also develops the potentiality of the Schauerlichen, already present in Tieck and Kleist 68 One might add that, given that most tales in Die Serapionsbrüder were previously published, and given Hoffmann’s practice of taking up and answering reviewers’ objections in the frame conversations, such accusations were what prompted the apologia of the horrific with its co-opting of authoritative predecessors.

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and occasionally in Schauerliteratur, to serve as a symptom and metaphor for social ills or intellectual and cultural positions to be critiqued and re-evaluated. The next two chapters will explore these cognitive and polemical dimensions of Hoffmann’s poetics of fear, using music and science as examples.

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6

Tales of Music and Musicians

If one attempts to assemble the image of music that emerges from Hoffmann’s oeuvre as a whole, one is immediately struck by a contradiction between the lofty claims made for music’s greatness and power and the fate of musicians in his fiction. Numerous passages, scattered throughout both the fictional works and the critical writings, assert music’s otherworldly provenance and uplifting effect. Yet the musicians in the fictional works almost invariably lead tormented lives and fall victim to, or narrowly escape, premature death or even damnation. One might classify these characters as follows. (1) Musicians who have become entangled or allied with the demonic, in some cases to the point that they use music as a means to seduction and crime; examples include the stranger in Chrysostomus’s tale (“Johannes Kreislers Lehrbrief” [“Johannes Kreisler’s Certificate of Apprenticeship”]), Giulietta in “Die Geschichte vom verlornen Spiegelbilde” (“The Story of the Lost Mirror Image”), and Heinrich von Ofterdingen in “Der Kampf der Sänger” (“The Singers’ Contest”). (2) Musicians who go mad or are terrified of doing so; Johannes Kreisler is the chief example, and one may tentatively add the eccentric in “Ritter Gluck,” with the qualification that he may be a revenant of the composer and not a mad musician at all. (3) Musicians who die young, in a somewhat mysterious way but apparently consumed by their art; these are usually female singers, such as Antonia in “Rat Krespel” (“Councillor Krespel”), the singer who performs Donna Anna in “Don Juan,” and Zelima-Julia in “Das Sanctus” (“The Sanctus”). Paradoxically, the only musicians who are able to lead balanced and successful lives are those who have degraded music as a means to fame and self-aggrandizement: Meister Klingsohr and the various (mostly Italian) virtuosi (e.g., Angela in “Rat Krespel,” Teresina and Lauretta in “Die Fermate” [“An Interrupted Cadence”]).1 Insofar

1 Bettina in “Das Sanctus” partly fits this category, but her place in the scheme is less clear-cut than that of most others, as will be shown later.

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as it addresses this paradox, scholarship has tended to explain it in terms of the tension existing between, on the one hand, the divine essence of music and the high aspirations of musicians, and on the other, the petty miseries of life, the incomprehension with which musicians are met by society, and the degrading, painful misuse to which they are forced to put their art in order to make a living. Without a doubt this is an important element, one that goes a long way towards explaining threatening or actual madness, notably Johannes Kreisler’s and that of the musician in “Ritter Gluck” (if indeed he is a mad musician). But this explanation does not account for the forms madness takes (for instance, an obsession with Gluck, or Krespel’s mania for cutting up violins, if we wish to count eccentricity in this category), nor for musicians’ predisposition for encounters with demonic or at least liminal forces, nor for music’s connection with the anomalous and the unexplainable. One may come closer to solving the paradox by taking into consideration Hoffmann’s definition of the romantic, his conceptualization of the nature and effect of music, and his portrayal of the spirit-realm (Geisterreich) from which music hails and to which it temporarily lifts the musician or listener. In other words, the means of bringing together the two terms of the paradox lies in the theory of romantic music Hoffmann developed in his apologia for Beethoven (1810, predating most of his fictional works). As I argued in chapter 5, section 5, Hoffmann in his programmatic statements on music closes the gap between the Schauer provoked by the sublimity of music (a common eighteenth-century position) and that provoked by the horrific and trans-rational elements of Schauerliteratur, and he does so already in the work that first presents his music aesthetics. He does so, for instance, when he uses terms such as schauerlich and unheimlich to describe certain musical effects, at the same time as he describes the listener’s experience of a symphony by Mozart or Beethoven in terms of a journey into the spirit-world, where one becomes spectator to the activities of “Schatten” (shadows) or “Geister” (spirits). In that same chapter I went further and suggested that Hoffmann, in adapting his formulation of Beethoven’s use of the horrific to justify an author’s use of such horrific subject matter as vampirism, presents music and Schauerliteratur as engaged in the same endeavour, namely, opening vistas into the higher, abstract realm of spirits, which is the defining characteristic of romanticism for both Jean Paul and Hoffmann. Further evidence for this notion is found in two remarks on another composer Hoffmann greatly admired, J.S. Bach. In the Kreisleriana, the music of Bach is – it would seem – described as sublime: “Es gibt Augenblicke – vorzüglich wenn ich viel in des großen Sebastian Bachs Werken gelesen – in denen mir die musikalischen Zahlenverhältnisse, ja die mystischen Regeln des Kontrapunkts ein inneres Grauen erwecken. – Musik! – mit geheimnisvollem Schauer, ja mit Grausen

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nenne ich dich! – Dich! In Tönen ausgesprochenen Sanskritta der Natur!”2 (There are moments, especially when I have deeply studied the works of the great Sebastian Bach, at which the numerical proportions of music and the mystical rules of counterpoint arouse in me a profound horror. Music! It is with secret trepidation, even with dread, that I utter your name! Sanskrit of nature, translated into sound!3). In “Die Fermate,” the young musician-protagonist seems to experience the same Schauer of awe, except here the reaction is likened to that evoked by ghost stories: “Ganz wunderbar wurde mir dann oft zumute, mancher Satz vorzüglich von dem alten Sebastian Bach glich beinahe einer geisterhaften graulichen Erzählung und mich erfaßten die Schauer, denen man sich so gern hingibt in der fantastischen Jugendzeit” (SB:59; I often fell into a marvellous state of mind, many a movement, especially by the old Sebastian Bach, was almost similar to a ghostly horrific tale, and I was seized by the Schauer to which one gives oneself up so gladly in the fantastic time of youth). As with my previous example, two utterances couple music at the highest pinnacle of artistic achievement with Schauerliteratur. What do the music of Bach and a good ghost story have in common? My thesis, restated and expanded: they are both instances of romantic art, because they afford the recipient a glimpse into that spirit-world that is now alien and frightening but that was once humanity’s home in the golden age, and for that reason is also the object of nostalgia and longing. To put Freud’s famous formulation to somewhat improper use (divested of the psychoanalytic concept of repression), music is uncanny because it is a manifestation of a spirit-world that is at once alien and familiar, or formerly familiar but now estranged through a process of alienation. I am referring here to Hoffmann’s version of the Romantic myth of the golden age, as put forward in “Die Automate” (“The Automata”) and “Der unheimliche Gast” (“The Uncanny Guest”).4 Reference to that myth allows us to add a few more pieces to the puzzle: the spirit-world has been wrongly labelled by Enlightenment man as supernatural, when it is really part of nature and was thus familiar and comprehensible to humans when they lived in harmony with nature. The same applies to nature’s language (always a central element to the myth, with Novalis, G.H. Schubert, or Hoffmann), which also was once a means of mutual understanding and has now become incomprehensible and frightening. Time and again, throughout his ­oeuvre, Hoffmann refers to music as a language of nature or of the spirit-realm. 2 Hoffmann, Werke, FS:50. 3 Hoffmann, Musical Writings, 105. 4 See my discussion of these in chapter 5, section 4.

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A further reminder of findings from Part I, chapter 1, will help fill out the context for my reading of the music tales. Hoffmann builds on and radicalizes the ideas of his precursors, notably Jean Paul (his Vorschule der Ästhetik) and Wackenroder’s contributions to the Herzensergießungen eines kunstliebenden Klosterbruders and the Phantasien über die Kunst. Hoffmann’s definition of the romantic and his conception of the spirit-world are both based on Jean Paul’s. Jean Paul derived the romantic from Christianity’s destruction of the material world and hence from literature’s descent into the night of spirit (both internal and external), of abstract infinity; he presented the spirit-realm as dark, incommensurable, and irreducibly unknown, describable only negatively by what it is not (“das Ungeheure und Unermeßliche” [the mighty and immeasurable]); any glimpse into this realm is necessarily accompanied by fear, which acquires a cognitive function in that, in the age of rationalism and mechanistic science, fear is the only evidence that spirits exist.5 Hoffmann adopted all of these ideas but went further in that he excluded any admixture of the material world, any element of mimesis, from romantic arts. Jean Paul’s rehabilitation of superstition and his linking of it with romanticism in a symbiotic relationship could be regarded as a precursor for Hoffmann’s comparison of Bach and ghost stories, but here the connection cannot definitely be established. Wackenroder provided a model for the conception of music as an inscrutable, overwhelmingly powerful entity that is morally neutral or even ambiguous (in Littlejohns’s admirable formulation) and that exists autonomously though it works through the musician. From this followed that the musician is liable to find himself in the role of the sorcerer’s apprentice who has unleashed destructive forces he cannot control, or to be consumed by the demands of his art and by the conflicting demands of art and society. Lastly, Wackenroder delivers a model for the portrayal of the symphony as a drama pitting a human against supersensible forces. Hoffmann expands on all of these possibilities, developing them into plots for a number of tales. He goes further in that he increases the destructive potential of music, often turning its numinous dimension towards the demonic; that is, he derives the horror element from entanglement with evil beings. In short, music in Hoffmann’s oeuvre, by its very nature and by its connection to the spirit-realm whose character it reflects, contains an element of darkness, an ambivalence more profound than can be accounted for by the notion of the sublime, and it is this (or alternatively the clash with society) that occasions the misfortunes of fictional musicians.

5 See chapter 1, section 2.

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1 . M u s i c a n d t h e L a n g ua g e o f N at u r e Throughout Hoffmann’s writings on music (the tales as well as the critical essays), formulations abound that describe music as a language of nature or of the spirit-world (the two are inextricably linked), and thus a means of access to that spirit-world, which is frequently also described as romantic realm. This elevation arouses a panoply of intense emotions (along the lines of Wackenroder’s description of a symphony and Hoffmann’s own description of Beethoven’s Fifth) and offers comfort and reprieve from the miseries of daily life, but it also causes terror and crushing awe. It is striking that an ominous note, a reminder of the potentially dangerous autonomy of music, is often present even in the most celebratory formulations. A few passages will serve as examples of this nexus of ideas, before we turn to an exploration of entire tales. The tale or rather the dialogue on opera in lightly fictionalized form, “Der Dichter und der Komponist” (“The Poet and the Composer”), continues the homage to Beethoven and takes up again the language used to describe him in the review of the Fifth Symphony, in order to describe the nature and effects of music. A composer, tellingly named Ludwig, defines the essence of music for his friend Ferdinand: “Ist nicht die Musik die geheimnisvolle Sprache eines fernen Geisterreichs, deren wunderbare Akzente in unserm Innern widerklingen, und ein höheres, intensives Leben erwecken? Alle Leidenschaften kämpfen schimmernd und glanzvoll gerüstet miteinander, und gehen unter in einer unaussprechlichen Sehnsucht, die unsere Brust erfüllt” (SB:83; Is not music the mysterious language of a distant spirit-realm, its wonderful accents resounding in our souls and awakening a higher, intenser awareness? All the emotions vie with each other in dazzling array, and then sink back in an inexpressible longing that fills our breast [196]). Several points should be noted here. First, music is a language of the spirit-world, a language that is mysterious and marvellous (wunderbar), and we have seen in connection with “Das öde Haus” that marvellous means appearing to violate the known laws of nature.6 In other words, music is a symbolic language, one that is somehow comprehended yet bypasses rational thought. The same notion was present in the passage quoted above that expressed awe for counterpoint and referred to music as “Sanskritta der Natur.” Second, the passage re-evokes the notion of symphonic music as drama – specifically, the description of Beethoven’s symphony, in which all emotions are aroused, placed in conflict, and ultimately subsumed in that longing for

6 See chapter 5, section 2.

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the infinite which points to the predominant character of the piece. It will be remembered from the discussion in chapter 1, section 4, that longing, as Dahlhaus pointed out, replaces the recognition of reason’s own absolute greatness that was the third moment in Kant’s and Schiller’s theories of the sublime. In the context of Hoffmann’s thought, longing is a reminder that the spirit-world was once and should now be humanity’s home, but has become alien, both incomprehensible and inaccessible. At the opening of the tale, the state of mind of the composer Ludwig attests to the uplifting and comforting effect of music, yet this effect is accompanied by a reminder of music’s potential dangers. Ludwig has just completed a symphony, which he hopes will have a similar effect as those of Beethoven: es sollte das Werk, wie Beethovens Kompositionen der Art, in göttlicher Sprache von den herrlichen Wundern des fernen, romantischen Landes reden, in dem wir in unaussprechlicher Sehnsucht untergehend leben; ja es sollte selbst, wie eines jener Wunder, in das beengte dürftige Leben treten, und mit holden Sirenenstimmen die sich willig Hingebenden hinauslocken. (SB:76–77) [T]he work sought, like Beethoven’s compositions of that type, to speak in heavenly language of the glorious wonders of that far, romantic realm in which we swoon away in inexpressible yearning; indeed it sought, like one of those wonders, itself to penetrate our narrow, paltry lives, and with sublime siren voices tempt forth its willing victims. (190)

Once again, Hoffmann is redeploying language and ideas from the Beethoven review in order to state that music functions as a conduit to the higher realm; here (and indeed often in the tales), the term romantic applies to the realm instead of the music and thus becomes roughly synonymous with the terms infinite and super-sensible, besides carrying the association of fantastic. Beethoven, the ultimate authority in matters symphonic, serves as confirmation of Ludwig’s status as composer, which is important because he is to be Hoffmann’s mouthpiece in the discussion of opera. This passage addresses music’s uplifting effect, its ability to raise the composer above the miseries of daily life. In the tale, it has just achieved this to a quite remarkable degree: Ludwig composed his symphony while a battle raged in his city, on the very street where he lives, and he is still sitting rapt, wholly unaware of the grenades exploding around him. Yet the voices that have achieved this miracle, and that speak through Beethoven’s instrumental music, are not those of angels, but of sirens, and Hoffmann can hardly have been oblivious of the connotations of these beings, or of the verb “locken” he uses to describe their activities.

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A passage from the Kreislerianum “Gedanken über den hohen Wert der Musik” (“Thoughts about the Great Value of Music”) contributes details on the cognitive aspect of music and on its relationship to the language of nature: Sie [i.e. musicians] meinen nämlich, die Kunst ließe dem Menschen sein höheres Prinzip ahnen und führe ihn aus dem törichten Tun und Treiben des gemeinen Lebens in den Isistempel, wo die Natur in heiligen, nie gehörten und doch verständlichen Lauten mit ihm spräche. […] sie nennen sie [i.e. music] die romantischste aller Künste, da ihr Vorwurf nur das Unendliche sei; die geheimnisvolle, in Tönen ausgesprochene Sanskritta der Natur, die die Brust des Menschen mit unendlicher Sehnsucht erfülle, und nur in ihr verstehe er das hohe Lied der – Bäume, der Blumen, der Tiere, der Steine, der Gewässer! (FS:39) They [i.e., musicians] think, for instance, that art allows men to sense their higher destiny, and that it will lead them from the futile hurly-burly of everyday life into the Temple of Isis, where nature will speak to them in sacred sounds … They call it [i.e., music] the most romantic of all the arts since its only subject-matter is infinity; the mysterious Sanskrit of nature, translated into sound that fills the human breast with infinite yearning; and only through it can they perceive the sublime song of – trees, flowers, animals, stones, water! (94)

The passage then goes on to compare the intricacies of counterpoint to the patterns of moss, herbs, and flowers. We need not dwell on the ideas and images common to this text and “Der Dichter und der Komponist.” The claim for the supremacy of instrumental music based on its abstractness and relationship to the infinite, already staked in the Beethoven review, was discussed in that context.7 Noteworthy here is the veiled reference to humanity’s former association with the ideal realm, the “higher principle” that is all too often forgotten, buried under the activities of life in society, described here much more negatively than in “Der Dichter und der Komponist”: not just “dürftig” but “gemein” and “töricht.” The key idea in the passage is the relationship established between the language of nature and that of music and the role the allusion to the Temple of Isis plays in it. The allusion is to a topos popular in the eighteenth century, based on an inscription on the Temple of Isis identifying the goddess as all that is, was, and will be, and knowledge of her (i.e., of ultimate truths) as unattainable, symbolized by the – impossible or prohibited – raising of her veil. More specifically, Hoffmann’s allusion is to Novalis’s Lehrlinge zu Sais, where the

7 See chapter 1, section 5.

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apprentices are engaged in studying the language of nature inscribed in just such phenomena as stones and mosses. Music thus becomes an interpretation or symbolic restatement of nature. It would be justified to see in this a parallel to Wackenroder’s “Von zwei wunderbaren Sprachen” (“Of Two Marvellous Languages”; Herzensergießungen), which links nature and art as the two marvellous languages that can express the divine in symbolic terms, nature being the language spoken by god, art that spoken by god’s elect among humans. Since penetrating the Temple of Isis is an image for attaining ultimate knowledge of nature, music here is claimed to offer actual knowledge of the spirit-realm, and to do so by replicating – and in a mysterious, non-rational way making intelligible – the language of nature. The notion of music as interpreter of nature’s language appears wholly positive here, yet it will play a central role in two tales (to be considered later in this chapter) in which it becomes a means for demonic seduction and even crime. The Kreislerianum “Ombra adorata,” while praising music’s comforting and uplifting effect, sounds veiled warnings as to the dangers inherent in its autonomy, power, and greatness. Johannes Kreisler, at the very moment of giving thanks for the divine power with which music transports him away from “der niederdrückenden Qual des Irdischen” (the oppressive torment of his earthly existence) associates the musician with another literary apprentice, not Novalis’s who found the key to nature’s secrets, but Goethe’s sorcerer’s apprentice, who unleashed forces he could not control and that threatened to destroy him: Ja, eine göttliche Kraft durchdringt ihn, und mit kindlichem frommen Gemüte sich dem hingebend, was der Geist in ihm erregt, vermag er die Sprache jenes unbekannten romantischen Geisterreichs zu reden, und er ruft, unbewußt, wie der Lehrling, der in des Meisters Zauberbuch mit lauter Stimme gelesen, alle die herrlichen Erscheinungen aus seinen Innern hervor.(FS:33) Indeed, he is suffused by a divine power, and by abandoning himself with a childlike and pious mind to whatever influence the spirit arouses within him, he is able to speak the language of that unknown, romantic spirit-realm. Without realising it, like the apprentice who reads aloud from his master’s book of spells, he summons all the wonderful images from within his heart. (88)

It was suggested earlier that Hoffmann develops the image of the sorcerer’s apprentice implicit in Wackenroder’s description of a symphony as the journey of a hubristic soul from innocence to destruction. The same idea recurs more clearly later in this Kreislerianum, when Kreisler expresses thankfulness that Beethoven’s music was not played at this particular

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concert, as its very greatness and power can crush rather than uplift if heard at a moment of weakness or depression: Was wäre aus mir geworden, wenn, beinahe erdrückt von all dem irdischen Elend, das rastlos auf mich einstürmte seit kurzer Zeit, nun Beethovens gewaltiger Geist auf mich zugeschritten wäre und mich wie mit metallnen, glühenden Armen umfaßt und fortgerissen hätte in das Reich des Ungeheuern, des Unermeßlichen, das sich seinen donnernden Tönen erschließt? (FS:33–4) What would have become of me if, almost overwhelmed by all the earthly misery continuously seething around me in recent times, Beethoven’s mighty spirit had confronted me, and seized me as if with arms of red-hot metal, and carried me off to the realm of the mighty and the immeasurable that is revealed by his thunderous sounds? (88)8

The tale fragment “Die Automate,” written early in 1814 and later incorporated into Die Serapionsbrüder, is properly speaking not a musician tale, since Ludwig (the same character from “Der Dichter und Der Komponist”) is only a spectator who fulfills the role of faithful friend. It also leaves the ultimate significance of all motifs hanging in the balance. Yet it contributes to the present investigation, since it brings together all of the elements raised thus far and helps elucidate their relationship by sketching in the background. As discussed in the previous chapter, it is one of two tales that present Hoffmann’s version of the golden age myth, linking it specifically to the schauerlich effect of natural sounds on alienated, “degenerate” (entartet) humans. It also expands on the relationship of music to the sounds of nature, grounding it in that same myth. Lastly, it is our first instance of another curious coupling, of music with another phenomenon that promises access to the spirit-realm and that is as ambiguous in its character and effects as music, if not more so: magnetism.9 Hoffmann offered “Die Automate” to Rochlitz for the AMZ (Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung; General Music Journal), presenting it as an essay on the merits of mechanical musical devices in general and musical automata in particular.10 Accordingly, it proceeds from an exploration of the schauerlich

  8 Once again, the reprise of formulations from the review of the Fifth Symphony reminds us of the continuity in Hoffmann’s ideas and of how present that particular text, with its formulation of a theory of the romantic in music, and of the cognitive role of fear and Schauer, continues to be in his mind.  9 On the parallels, indeed the mutual reinforcing, of music and magnetism, see Katherine Weder, “Zum Rapport von Musik und Mesmerismus.” 10 Letter to Rochlitz of 16 January 1814. Hoffmann, Briefwechsel, 1:436.

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effect of automata as such to the two protagonists’ impassioned rejection of musical ones. The composer Ludwig argues that the essence of music is found in its spiritual dimension, which only a human performer can feel and reproduce; the least skilled human musician will therefore produce infinitely better music than the most sophisticated machine. This spiritual dimension, the function of music, is articulated in the by now familiar terms of arousing intimations of the infinite, the sphere of spirit: “in uns die unbekannten unaussprechlichen Gefühle erregen, welche mit nichts Irdischem hienieden verwandt, die Ahndungen eines fernen Geisterreichs und unsers höhern Seins in demselben hervorrufen”11 (awaken that inexpressible feeling, akin to nothing else on earth, the sense of a distant spirit world, and of our own higher life therein [1:252]). It can do this because it is the language of nature, as the version of the golden age myth that Ludwig now introduces proposes: in the time of humans’ harmony with nature, she surrounded her children with “heiliger Musik” (holy music), which was her way of revealing her workings: “wundervolle Laute verkündeten die Geheimnisse ihres ewigen Treibens” (SB:349; wondrous tones spake of the mysteries of her unceasing activity [1:253]).12 The legend of the music of the spheres is a reference to this original state. With humanity’s self-alienation, this music disappeared, but not completely. The link between the voice of nature and human music is underscored when Ludwig translates atmospheric sounds into human notation: “Oft konnte ich genau das tiefe F mit der anschlagenden Quinte C unterscheiden, oft erklang sogar die kleine Terz ES , so daß der schneidende Septimenakkord in den Tönen der tiefsten Klage meine Brust mit einer das Innerste durchdringenden Wehmut, ja mit Entsetzen erfüllte” (SB:349-50, emphasis in original; I often distinguished, quite clearly, the low F, and the fifth above it (the C), and not seldom the minor third above, E flat, was perceptible as well; and then this tremendous chord of the seventh, so woeful and so solemn, produced on one the effect of the most intense sorrow, and even of terror [1:254]).13 As discussed earlier, in the state of alienation, such instances of nature’s voice as the one heard by Ludwig or the “Luftmusik oder Teufelsstimme auf Ceylon” (music of

11 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:347. 12 For a detailed account of Hoffmann’s golden age myth, including more extensive quotation of the passage in question, see chapter 5, section 4. 13 Haimberger discusses Hoffmann’s response to seventh chords and points out that he often associated them with uncanny effects. Vom Musiker zum Dichter, 100ff. See also Keil, “Dissonanz und Verstimmung,” esp. 127.

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the air or voice of the demon) reported by G.H. Schubert14 have become schauerlich. They evoke feelings of pity and horror, and it is always the quality of lament and pain in the sound that causes this reaction. Mother Nature’s voice has become incomprehensible and frightening because in what sounds like her lament, humans unconsciously experience a reminder of their guilt for the disruption of harmony. Novalis’s version of the myth, with the function it assigns the poet of interpreting the language of nature and thus restoring the golden age, echoed in the description of music quoted above, grounds the rejection of mechanical music and Ludwig’s claim that the best musical instruments are those which most successfully imitate natural sounds: “ich halte aber den musikalischen Ton für desto vollkommner, je näher er den geheimnisvollen Lauten der Natur verwandt ist, die noch nicht ganz von der Erde gewichen”15 (musical sound would be the nearer to perfection the more closely it approximated to such of the mysterious tones of nature as are not wholly dissociated from this earth [1:253]). He urges that skilled mechanics devote their efforts to perfecting musical instruments or to creating new ones that draw out the music existing everywhere in nature – either by getting musical sound out of unusual materials such as metals, marble, or glass (the glass harmonica being one such experiment, of which he heartily approves) or by inducing nature herself to “play” by such means as the Aeolian harp. In other words, Ludwig is putting forth a theory, explored in more detail in the Kreislerianum “Johannes Kreislers Lehrbrief,” that the goal of human music is to reproduce or recapture as much as possible the natural music that is the language of nature, thus affording glimpses into the spirit-realm. In so doing, Hoffmann is adapting Novalis’s version of the golden age myth, with music taking the place of Poesie, but with this crucial divergence: in Hoffmann’s version (in this tale and in all others that feature it), there is no suggestion that the golden age, the state of harmony with nature, can thereby be restored. On the contrary, the intimations are always only momentary, the prevailing and defining emotion being infinite, unstillable longing, as we have seen in connection with the Beethoven review. This version of the myth, which sees the relationship between humans and nature as irreparably disrupted and derives the response to music from nostalgia for the original state mingled with subconscious remorse and fear of what is now the unknown, explains why music such as Beethoven’s, which most successfully evokes the emotions of fear, terror, pain, and longing, should be hailed as the 14 Cited in “Die Automate” and “Der unheimliche Gast.” See the discussion in the previous chapter, section 4. 15 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:348–9.

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greatest. The notion that the breach cannot be healed opens up the possibility that attempts to force nature to yield up her secrets – that is, attempts to interpret her voice – could go drastically wrong and lead to entanglement with the demonic. This avenue is explored in such texts as “Johannes Kreislers Lehrbrief” and “Der Kampf der Sänger.”16 The plot of “Die Automate” joins music and magnetism in some sort of cooperation, the nature and intent of which remains mysterious, as does the role played by automata, which seems to amount to a form of obfuscation. While spending a night at an inn, Ferdinand hears from the next room a beautiful female voice singing a simple, moving aria (“Mio ben ricordati,” text by Metastasio). He then dreams of a beautiful girl who is his soul’s beloved. When in the morning he fleetingly sees the singer from next door, he realizes at once that she is the girl in his dream and that he has never seen her before. He falls deeply in love with her but makes no attempt to trace her, preferring to retain her as an unreachable ideal. He then sees her once more, again by pure chance, at the moment of her marriage to someone else. From her reaction it is evident that she too is deeply moved by his presence. The friends Ludwig and Ferdinand can only explain this mysterious connection as some kind of psychic rapport such as magnetism was believed to establish.17 Here that rapport would seem to have been created, or at least activated, by music (the girl’s aria). Ferdinand had never spoken of this adventure to anyone, yet the automaton known as “der weise Türke” (the wise Turk), which answers questions put to it by visitors (rather, whatever unidentified being speaks through it does so), knows of it and is able to predict the unhappy 16 I am suggesting that this theory shapes a number of Hoffmann’s texts on music, both fictional and critical, and spans all phases of his work, but I do not mean to claim that it is a fully fledged system applying to all of his oeuvre. It is an experiment, one of several, and it does not fit all texts. One text that definitely does not fit with this theory is the essay on sacred music. It too features a triadic model of music history, but very differently conceived, presenting the early modern Italian era as the first golden age, characterized by innocence and untroubled religious faith, and musically by consonance, and contemporary sacred music with its deployment of operatic effects as the fallen age. The essay also deviates from Hoffmann’s norm in that it derives music from religion. Yet at least in the version inserted in Die Serapionsbrüder, Hoffmann at once presents and undercuts this version of the golden age myth, as both Cyprian and Theodor keep introducing examples of contemporary music that rivals the greatness of the early Italians. One might argue that Hoffmann’s real love of extant music undercuts his attempts at systematization, even Beethoven here refusing to run true to pattern, producing a mass that reflects the stage of childlike innocence and faith instead of fear and terror. 17 Hoffmann would be familiar with this notion from Kluge’s treatise on animal magnetism Versuch einer Darstellung des animalischen Magnetismus als Heilmittel, which contains a detailed discussion on rapports at a distance.

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­ utcome. To add to the mystery, at the moment when the automaton o speaks the prediction, not only Ferdinand but also Ludwig, who has not yet been told of his friend’s love, think they hear strains from “Mio ben ricordati” softly echoing in the air. At the centre of the mystery is Professor X, an ironist, part sage, part magician or mechanic, and one of many ambivalent figures who straddle the border between the ordinary and the fantastic world, such as Lindhorst, Drosselmeyer, and Meister Abraham. Since the tale is unfinished, we never discover whether Professor X is beneficent like those men or an evil genius like Coppelius-Coppola or Dappertutto. What is certain is that he links the three central themes: he is a serious and knowledgeable natural scientist; he experiments in the creation of musical instruments of the kind Ludwig would like to see created – significantly, his laboratory is a garden where beautiful musical sounds emerge from the bushes and grasses; and he has a collection of musical automata with which he mocks the two friends and prevents them from prying into his secrets. He is also connected with Ferdinand’s love in some seemingly supernatural way: when Ferdinand sees his beloved in a village church where her marriage is being celebrated, Professor X is present, yet he never left the city where he resides. As the tale stands, all three themes arouse fear and disquiet because they are linked to an unresolved mystery that seems to call the laws of nature into question, and even more because they transgress or break down a barrier between worlds: music and magnetism are at once attractive and disquieting because they offer glimpses of the spirit-realm, whereas automata are horrifying in a purely negative way because they violate the boundary between life and death, or organic and inorganic.18 Furthermore, the automaton, or rather the psychic principle at work behind it, is deeply disturbing because it is guilty of violating and manipulating the innermost private sanctuary of another person’s psyche, a theme that comes to the fore in the tales concerned with magnetism and that will be discussed in the next chapter. Hoffmann’s irony further complicates matters and would seem to undercut the theory of music being put forward, thus bringing into play another device discussed in the previous chapter: narrative ambiguity that mediates, for readers, the characters’ disorientation. Ludwig’s remarks on good and bad forms of mechanical innovation in music are ironically undercut by events at the very moment of their utterance. The friends have not grasped that Professor X was mocking them and fobbing them off with his musical automata and have failed to discover any inkling of

18 For this latter aspect, see the previous chapter, section 5.

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his more serious interests. Just as they are roundly condemning “Machinenmusik” (mechanical music), first a female voice singing “Mio ben ricordati” and then other beautiful unidentified musical sounds emerge from the professor’s garden. Presumably, they are mechanically produced, but whether in the good or the bad way it is impossible to say: “Er [Professor X] schritt langsam und abgemessen den Mittelgang auf und nieder, aber in seiner Bewegung wurde alles um ihn her rege und lebendig, und überall flimmerten kristallne Klänge aus den dunklen Büschen und Bäumen empor und strömten vereinigt im wundervollen Konzert wie Feuerflammen durch die Luft” (SB:351–2; He [Professor X] walked up and down the central alley, with slow and measured steps; and, as he passed along, everything around him seemed to waken into life and movement. In every direction crystal tones came scintillating out of the dark bushes and trees, and streaming through the air like flame, united in a wondrous concert [1:255]). The musical automata too had been set in motion by the professor’s brushing them in passing. Disorientation is particularly strong in this tale fragment, in which all themes and plot strands run aground without resolution, yet it is characteristic of Hoffmann’s treatment of the topic: irony and lack of resolution accompany it in other tales in which the disturbing, potentially demonic associations of music come to the fore. 2. Music and the Demonic As we have seen, Hoffmann adopted the first two stages of the Romantic three-stage model of history, the original naive golden age and the fallen age of alienation from nature, but rejected the third, the return of a more perfect golden age. The ambiguous, disturbing character of the art that interprets the language of nature, and hence the dangers facing its practitioners, result from that rejection. They form part of Hoffmann’s response to Novalis. Nowhere is this more evident, in terms of homage to but also distance from Novalis, than in the Kreislerianum that concludes the second cycle, “Johannes Kreislers Lehrbrief.” The notion of apprenticeship in itself is an allusion to Novalis’s Lehrlinge zu Sais (Apprentices at Sais), and it is doubly present: the story of young Chrysostomus’s musical education is to serve as exemplum and inspiration for the apprentice now being sent on his way as a journeyman, Johannes Kreisler. Also drawn from the Lehrlinge is the central notion in the certificate of apprenticeship, namely, that the secrets of the spirit-realm are inscribed in hieroglyphic script on natural objects, and that the true artist is he who can intuit the meaning of this symbolic language of nature. The language too consciously

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echoes Novalis.19 It would not be too fanciful to see in the structure of the “Lehrbrief” a reference to Novalis’s Heinrich von Ofterdingen as well as to the Lehrlinge: the text as a whole addresses the Bildungsweg (educational path) of an artist, and in it are embedded tales that prefigure its ultimate outcome and that serve as encouragement to the protagonist. Hoffmann has complicated this mirroring structure by encapsulating the embedded tales into each other, whereas in Ofterdingen they are parallel but distinct. To explain the nature of music, warn about the trials and self-doubt of the learning process, and offer reassurance as to eventual success, the master tells his departing apprentice the story of the apprenticeship of the musician Chrysostomus; that apprenticeship, in turn, hinges on learning to interpret the hieroglyphic language inscribed in the veining and mosses on a particular stone, which in its turn is the living record of another embedded marvellous tale about music as a language of nature and the musician who interprets it. My argument is that while apparently echoing Novalis’s work, Hoffmann’s “Lehrbrief” introduces an ominous undercurrent or subtext that undermines and reverses it, by erasing the promise of the return of the golden age and by sowing unease as to the ethical standing of artistic production (we might regard this as an instance of the attack on morality that outraged contemporary critics). Chrysostomus, “der stille freundliche Jüngling” (FS:322; the quiet, good-natured young man [160]), is at once example and proponent of the theory that music is an interpretation or transcription of nature’s language (his tale is reported in the first person, in his own words). The awakening of his inclination to music is brought about by his fascination for the moss-covered stone and the legend attached to it. His understanding of music and the flowering of his compositional ability both hinge on his ability to read, or see, the stories and messages inscribed by the mosses on the stone. Curiously, however, the stone, a natural object, serves not so much as a voice of nature, but primarily as means of contact to an earlier musician, the young lady of the manor who was initiated into the secrets of music at that spot. Nature has preserved her songs in the mosses, and Chrysostomus, in suitably contemplative moments, can read them, or rather hear them: Unbekannte Gesänge, die ich nie gehört, durchströmten mein Inneres, und es war mir dann, […] ebenjene Gesänge, die mich wie Geisterstimmen umtönten, 19 Hoffmann elsewhere pays direct homage to Novalis’s works, and mentions the Lehrlinge specifically, for instance, in the Kreislerianum “Der Musikfeind” (The Music-Hater) belonging to the same cycle as the “Lehrbrief,” in which Kreisler compares the protagonist to the apprentice who seemed clumsy but found the marvellous stone (FS:313).

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wären in den Moosen des Steins, wie in geheimen wundervollen Zeichen, aufbewahrt, und wenn man sie recht mit voller Liebe anschaue, müßten die Lieder des Fräuleins in den leuchtenden Tönen ihrer anmutigen Stimme hervorgehen. (FS:324) Nameless melodies that I had never heard before teemed in my head. At such times I felt … preserved in the mysterious symbols of the moss, [were] these melodies that echoed around me like spirit-voices; I felt that if one contemplated these symbols in a spirit of sincere love, the young girl’s songs would issue forth with the graceful plangency of her own voice. (162)

Like Novalis’s apprentice, Chrysostomus at first despairs of his ability to capture and understand the music of nature and is drawn even further from it by formal instruction in music, but eventually understanding and comfort come to him in a dream – another echo of Novalis’s thought20 – in which love, nature, and art come together in revelation: Der Traum erschloß mir sein schimmerndes, herrliches Reich und ich wurde getröstet. Ich sah den Stein – seine roten Adern gingen auf wie dunkle Nelken, deren Düfte sichtbarlich in hellen tönenden Strahlen emporfuhren. In den langen anschwellenden Tönen der Nachtigall verdichteten sich die Strahlen zur Gestalt eines wundervollen Weibes, aber die Gestalt war wieder himmlische, ­herrliche Musik!21 But the dream revealed to me its realm of shimmering splendours and I was comforted. I gazed at the rock; its red veins twisted upwards like dark carnations whose fragrance rose visibly into the air in an aura of bright sound. In the long swelling phrases of the nightingale the aura took on the form of a mysterious female apparition, but then again it was the apparition of heavenly music! (163)

The dead musician’s legacy has been inscribed and preserved by nature itself (as moss, as veining in stone, and as nightingale) and is resurrected as the embodiment of music and as a muse for those who can read these, thus fulfilling the function of Mathilde in Novalis’s novel. The synesthesia, it should be noted, is a trademark of Hoffmann’s own descriptions of 20 Heinrich von Ofterdingen’s first intimations of his calling as poet, his need to travel and gather experiences, and his future love for Mathilde come in a dream. Even more relevant here, in the Märchen “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthchen” (“Hyacinth and Rose Blossom”), the protagonist enters the temple of Isis and sees beneath her veil in a dream, the only mode allowed by the goddess for such revelation. 21 Hoffmann, Werke, FS:325.

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moments of artistic insight. 22 However, this apotheosis on which Chrysostomus’s story concludes does not deliver as much as it seems to, nor as much as the author of the “Lehrbrief” derives from it. It is a dream, not a completed and written composition, and it does not show, though neither does it preclude, that the dreamer was henceforth successful in translating the language of nature into art music. The certificate of apprenticeship chooses so to read it, and by way of interpretation charts the becoming of the true musician as the sure and untroubled unfolding of a predestined course that Novalis portrayed for his poet-prophets, consisting of the insight into nature, then the learning of the technical aspects of the art, followed by deeper insight and finally the blossoming of the true artist: Die hörbaren Laute der Natur, […] sind dem Musiker erst einzelne ausgehaltene Akkorde, dann Melodien mit harmonischer Begleitung. Mit der Erkenntnis steigt der innere Wille, und mag der Musiker sich dann nicht zu der ihn umgebenden Natur verhalten, wie der Magnetiseur zur Somnambule, indem sein ­lebhaftes Wollen die Frage ist, welche die Natur nie unbeantwortet läßt? – Je lebhafter, je durchdringender die Erkenntnis wird, desto höher steht der Musiker als Komponist, und die Fähigkeit, jene Anregungen wie mit einer besonderen geistigen Kraft festzuhalten und festzubannen in Zeichen und Schrift, ist die Kunst des Komponierens. (FS:326) The audible sounds of nature … are perceived by the musician first as individual chords and then as melodies with harmonic accompaniment. As recognition grows, so does his personal will, and may not the musician then behave towards the natural world surrounding him like the mesmerist towards his patient, since his active will is the question which nature never leaves unanswered? The keener and more penetrating his recognition becomes, the higher the musician stands as a composer, and the art of composing consists in his ability to seize upon his inspirations with special mental powers and to conjure them into signs and symbols. (164)

Such optimism is most un-Hoffmannesque. None of Hoffmann’s artistprotagonists are granted such an untroubled journey to their predestination, not even the most blessed of these, the poet and Atlantis inhabitant Anselmus. Nor does nature in any of Hoffmann’s tales answer all the questions put to her by the magnetiseur. This paralleling of music to

22 Examples abound, for instance, in Der goldne Topf (The Golden Pot), in Anselmus’s encounter with the snakes in the elder tree and in Lindhorst’s garden.

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magnetism (already noted in “Die Automate,” where it functioned as means of hurtful intrusion into the privacy of another’s psyche) – the other sphere in Hoffmann’s oeuvre that is most often the source of schauerlich phenomena – should alert the reader that all is not what it seems. Hoffmann’s magnetiseurs frequently resort to association with the demonic in order to wrest from nature those answers she does not willingly give, and generally wittingly or unwittingly harm their somnambulists and sometimes even themselves. This same paralleling of music and magnetism occurs in “Rat Krespel” in a description of the mysterious aura surrounding the ancient Italian violin with which Antonia identifies, an instrument that does not give up its secrets and whose association with Antonia, as we shall see, remains as mysterious as it is troubling. And so, this analogy, placed in the context of magnetism in Hoffmann’s oeuvre as a whole, turns out to have exactly the same import as the analogy to the sorcerer’s apprentice quoted earlier in this chapter. Both appear in a seemingly positive utterance that they then subtly undermine. Furthermore, the claim that the musician successfully translates the secrets of nature into art music is no sooner made than retracted. The artificial notation of music does not correspond accurately to nature’s hieroglyphs, and only an intimation of the message can be transmitted, not its substance: “die Musik bleibt allgemeine Sprache der Natur, in wunderbaren, geheimnisvollen Anklängen spricht sie zu uns, vergeblich ringen wir danach, diese in Zeichen festzubannen, und jenes künstliche Anreihen der Hieroglyphe erhält uns nur die Andeutung dessen, was wir erlauscht” (FS:326; music is a universal language of nature; it speaks to us in magical and mysterious resonances; we strive in vain to conjure these into symbols, and any artificial arrangement of hieroglyphs provides us with only a vague approximation of what we have distantly heard [164–5]). These claims are even more drastically undercut by the context in which they appear and by the source of the music that nature preserved and passed on to Chrysostomus. The master who imparts this teaching and the apprentice who is to benefit from it are one and the same person, Johannes Kreisler. Not only does Kreisler’s tumultuous and tormented personality accord ill with the assurance of the above account, but the form of the letter raises the issue of split personality and thereby casts doubt on the sanity and reliability of its contents. Admittedly, the ironic play with the notion of split personality militates against its existence as a medical condition, but the ending of the letter implies that one personality must die for the other to prosper and progress on its way, and the personality being eliminated (and thus presumably found wanting) is none other than the master who offered the unproblematic reading of Chrysostomus’s story. The embedded tale within the embedded tale, the

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only narrative level that portrays a fully fledged musician able to interpret the secrets of nature, thematizes the ethical ambiguity or neutrality of music already familiar from Wackenroder’s oeuvre and thus arouses a deeper and more ominous unease. This part of the text too alludes to Novalis, this time to Heinrich von Ofterdingen, or more precisely to the Atlantis Märchen. A stranger arrives at a nobleman’s court. His music, like that of the Atlantis youth, speaks of unknown lands and reveals the secrets of nature in songs that appear not merely otherworldly but also divine: wenn der Fremde […] von den vielen fernen unbekannten Ländern und sonderbaren Menschen und Tieren erzähle, die ihm auf seinen weiten Wanderung bekannt worden, und dann seine Sprache in ein wunderbares Tönen verhalle, in dem er ohne Worte unbekannte, geheimnisvolle Dinge verständlich ausspreche. […] Sang nun der Fremde vollends zu seiner Laute in unbekannter Sprache allerlei wunderbar tönende Lieder, so wurden alle, die ihn hörten, wie von überirdischer Macht ergriffen, und es hieß: das könne kein Mensch, das müsse ein Engel sein, der die Töne aus dem himmlischen Konzert der Cherubim und Seraphim auf die Erde gebracht. (FS:322) whenever the stranger … spoke of the many distant and unknown lands and strange men and beasts he had become acquainted with during his far-flung travels. At such times his speech faded into an incantatory drone, in which he wordlessly rendered obscure and mysterious things comprehensible … And when the stranger sang to his lute all sorts of amazing songs in unknown languages, all those who heard him were transfixed as if by some supernatural power, and they said he could not be a man but must be an angel, who had brought to earth music from the heavenly concert of cherubim and seraphim. (161)

This passage closely echoes the Atlantis Märchen both in content and in language: Die Stimme war außerordentlich schön, und der Gesang trug ein fremdes, wunderbares Gepräge. Er handelte von dem Ursprunge der Welt, von der Entstehung der Gestirne, der Pflanzen, Tiere und Menschen, von der allmächtigen Sympathie der Natur […] Ein solcher Gesang war nie vernommen worden, und alle glaubten, ein himmlisches Wesen sei unter ihnen erschienen.23 23 Novalis, Schriften, 1:225. The description also echoes the Kreislerianum, “Gedanken über den hohen Wert der Musik,” with its reference to the temple of Isis, and hence its claim that music is the language that uncovers the deepest secrets of nature. See above, page 308.

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His voice was exceptionally beautiful, and his song had a strange and wondrous stamp. It dealt with the origin of the earth and the stars, the rise of plants, animals, and man; with the all-powerful sympathy of nature … Such a song had never been heard, and all believed that a heavenly being had appeared among them.24

In other words, the stranger has achieved true mastery of music and is able to wield it as a tool to discover the secrets of nature and to mediate that insight for others, to transmit cognition in a language that bypasses human verbal and conceptual processes. This corresponds to the definition of instrumental music and to the justification for identifying it as the highest and most romantic art form, put forward at the start of the Beethoven review. The stranger thus resembles the youth in the Atlantis Märchen by this mastery, as well as Klingsohr in the novel as a whole, with whom he shares the function of teacher. Yet those who see and hear him are not just enchanted in both senses of the word – they are shaken by “inneres Grauen” (inner horror) and “eiskalte Schauer” (ice-cold shivers).25 This could simply mean that, like Beethoven’s symphony, he takes his hearers to a sphere that is completely unknown, unlike ordinary reality, and frightening for that reason. Alternatively, it could be the symptom of an unconscious presentiment that the stranger has dealings with demonic powers. As events later show, humans lack the knowledge of the spirit-world that would enable them to distinguish the angelic from the demonic. Whereas Novalis’s Klingsohr instructs Heinrich, the youth who will usher in the new golden age by his art, Hoffmann’s stranger takes as his pupil the nobleman’s young daughter. He does indeed turn her into a true musician, but he also seduces her, using music to win her love. They meet at night at Chrysostomus’s rock, and the music they produce together sounds “so seltsam, so schauerlich” (FS:323; so strange and ghostly [161]) that no one dares go near them. One day both disappear, blood is seen seeping from under the rock, and the young lady is found murdered and buried under it, together with the stranger’s broken lute. The blood has left an intricate pattern in the rock, and the mosses that are Chrysostomus’s inspiration grow from this and retrace the pattern of the spilt blood. This ending remains shrouded in mystery: Why did the stranger murder the girl? What is the significance of the broken instrument? Did the stranger have superhuman powers, as the fact that he single-handedly buried the girl under a rock that later several men can hardly shift

24 Novalis, Henry von Ofterdingen, 48. 25 Hoffmann, Werke, FS:322.

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s­ uggests? Again, comparison to Novalis adds to the disturbing implications. The lady is both musician and muse, the latter being the role shared with the princess in the Atlantis Märchen and with Mathilde in the novel. Like Mathilde, she must die to serve as guide to a male musician (here, Chrysostomus many years later), but Hoffmann brings to the fore the instrumentalization and violation of a human being implicit in this constellation by making her the victim of violence. Then too, the broken lute could be read as an expression of frustration and despair on the stranger’s part, a giving up of music as well as destruction of the muse who has perhaps failed to help him achieve his aspirations. The relationship of male musician to female muse would thus be doubly vitiated: as reification and hence degradation of a human being, and as futile because unable to produce the intended knowledge of ultimate truths. Johannes Kreisler the master interprets the story as “dämonischer Mißbrauch der Musik aber dann Aufschwung zum Höheren, Verklärung in Ton und Gesang” (FS:327; demonic misuse of music, but finally … the ascent to higher things and … transfiguration through music and song [165]). That is, the stranger who killed the girl could not kill her music; nature preserved it and passed it on to another musician. But this interpretation, besides being undermined by its provenance (the personality being eliminated), implicitly concedes that music is capable of demonic misuse without damage to its greatness, and is thus at best ethically neutral. It also fails to explain away the disturbing elements. These extend beyond the fact that moral evil and mastery of music can coexist in one individual, indeed seem to be mutually supporting, to the sources of musical inspiration and the role of nature itself. The murder is not coincidental but rather essential to the girl’s and the rock’s function as Chrysostomus’s muse. Nature’s hieroglyphs, from which Chrysostomus draws inspiration, are the direct inscription of the crime: the mosses grew from the spilt blood; had her blood not been shed, the young lady’s songs could not have reached Chrysostomus. What, then, are the secrets that his music makes accessible to others? What he has read in nature’s hieroglyphs would seem to be a record of human evil or despair rather than the essence of nature itself. Admittedly, the stranger’s music hailed from the spirit-world and revealed the wonders of nature to others, and this knowledge was passed on to the young lady, but this merely intensifies the moral ambiguity or neutrality of music. It also highlights the impossibility of healing humanity’s alienation from nature: whether the stranger was demonic or a seeker after ultimate knowledge who fell prey to madness or despair, his attainment of forbidden knowledge emerges as dependent on involvement with overwhelming forces that are either inimical or

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indifferent to human welfare.26 Chrysostomus’s music represents “Verklärung” by its artistic quality and transcendence in that it “translates” the language of nature and offers evidence of intercourse with the spiritworld, but given the nature of the intercourse in question, it is also a record of the cost of such transcendence. The basic situation of the Chrysostomus story and the Novalis allusions quoted above recur with variations in “Der Kampf der Sänger,” a tale that might reasonably be called an anti-Ofterdingen. In its portrayal of good and evil art, it takes back Novalis’s promise of a new golden age brought about by the poet’s work of translation and mediation and makes explicit the coupling of music with the demonic that remained ambiguous in “Johannes Kreislers Lehrbrief.” In “Kampf der Sänger,” the art of Ofterdingen and Klingsohr does indeed achieve transcendence and reveal the secrets of the cosmos to its audience, but this is only possible through alliance with the devil, who appears in his own person in the tale. The analogy of Faust is thus added to that of the sorcerer’s apprentice. Like Novalis’s novel, “Kampf der Sänger” features a Heinrich von Ofterdingen, a Klingsohr, and a Mathilde, but Klingsohr is a black magician in league with the devil as well as a great Meistersinger, while both Heinrich von Ofterdingen and Mathilde prove easy prey for demonic temptation, which in both cases operates through music, as it did in Chrysostomus’s tale. Heinrich von Ofterdingen initially seems to qualify for the role of true romantic composer, as his songs derive from and generate that longing that Hoffmann defined as the essence of the romantic and the predominant mood of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony: “er wußte, selbst ganz aufgelöst in schmerzlichem Sehnen, in jedes Brust die tiefste Wehmut zu entzünden”27 (himself dissolved in painful longing, he

26 Barbara di Noi also sees Hoffmann’s difference from the early Romantics in his development of the dark aspects of music: “Als prinzipiellen Unterschied zwischen Hoffmanns Stellung und derjenigen der Frühromantik (Novalis, Friedrich Schlegel) könnte man die Steigerung der nihilistischen Instanzen betrachten, als deren Folge das Nichts auch den letzten Keim eines metaphysischen Sinns durchdringt” (“Romantische Allegorie,” 102; One could regard the escalation of nihilistic instances as the principal difference between Hoffmann’s position and that of early Romanticism (Novalis, Friedrich Schlegel), as a consequence of which Nothingness penetrates even the last germ of metaphysical sense). However, she attributes to Hoffmann too negative a view of modern music, for instance, when she reads the stranger in Chrysostomus’s tale as an embodiment of the demonic power of modern music (107), or when, in her reading of “Die Automate,” she equates the mechanical music of automata with instrumental music as such (110ff.), disregarding the fact that Ludwig explicitly opposes the two. 27 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:280.

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knew how to light the deepest melancholy in everyone’s breast). By contrast, Wolfframb von Eschinbach’s songs express the idyllic condition of attunement to nature, with no hint of transcendence, aligning him with the review’s description of Haydn. His songs are characterized by “Anmut und Klarheit” (grace and clarity) and express “liebliches Glocken- und Schalmeiengetön” (pleasant sound of bells and pipes), “wilde Wasserfälle” (wild waterfalls), or the “glänzenden Wogen eines schönen Stroms” (SB:280; shining waves of a beautiful river). This prefigures the resignation and self-confinement to the purely human and pious that he will later recommend to Heinrich. Already at the beginning of the tale, Heinrich has fallen prey to the “Zerrissenheit” (inner turmoil) to which those who long for transcendence while aware of the constrictions of earthly life are prone: “Aber oft schnitten grelle häßliche Töne dazwischen, die mochten wohl aus dem wunden zerrissenen Gemüt kommen” (SB:280; but often shrill ugly tones cut in, that may have come from the wounded, torn spirit). His self-doubt and melancholy are the result of unrequited love for Mathilde. In this vulnerable state of mind, he is approached by a demonic being, who seduces him into despising the art he has honoured up to then, gives him a book of Klingsohr’s songs, and sends him to seek instruction from that master. The art employed by the demon is a dark counterpart of the fusion of poetry and music that represents the highest art: “Der Schwarze begann nun in ganz absonderlichen Reden, die beinahe anzuhören wie fremde seltsame Lieder, die wahre Kunst des Gesanges zu preisen” (SB:287; The Black One now started to praise the true art of song in very peculiar speeches, which almost sounded like alien strange songs). The devil himself here fulfills the function of the mysterious stranger in Novalis’s “Hyazinth und Rosenblüthchen” and in Heinrich von Ofterdingen: he prompts the journey that leads to instruction in the art of Poesie at Klingsohr’s hands in two out of the three texts, and to insight into the secrets of nature in all three. Having enjoyed Klingsohr’s teaching, Heinrich returns to the court of Thüringen in time to participate in a singing contest. At this point “Kampf der Sänger” replays the crucial scene of the Atlantis Märchen, already echoed by “Johannes Kreislers Lehrbrief.” Heinrich, like the Atlantis youth, wins the contest and his lady, as well as the admiration of all, by a song of unearthly beauty and otherworldly provenance that reveals the secrets of nature. The Atlantis youth sings of the origin of the world and its various realms, including the stars, and of the past and future golden age; Hoffmann’s Heinrich reveals the secrets of a mysterious supernatural power, calls on the stars, and evokes the music of the spheres. The wording with which the song’s effect is described echoes not only the Atlantis Märchen but Chrysostomus’s tale, with the crucial difference that what was

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clearly divine in Novalis’s tale becomes ambivalent in Chrysostomus’s, then unequivocally demonic in “Kampf der Sänger”: [Heinrich] begann ein Lied, dessen Weise so ganz anders als alles, was die andern gesungen, so unerhört war, daß alle in die größte Verwunderung, ja zuletzt in das höchste Erstaunen gerieten. Es war als schlüge er mit seinen gewaltigen Tönen an die dunklen Pforten eines fremden verhängnisvollen Reichs und ­beschwöre die Geheimnisse der unbekannten dort hausenden Macht herauf. (SB:292) [Heinrich] began a song, the melody of which was so wholly different from everything the others had sung, so unheard of, that everyone fell into the greatest amazement, even at last in the highest astonishment. It was as if with his forceful tones he knocked on the dark gates of an alien, fateful realm and conjured up the secrets of the unknown power that dwelt there. Ein solcher Gesang war nie vernommen worden, und alle glaubten, ein himmlisches Wesen sei unter ihnen erschienen.28 [S]o wurden alle, die ihn hörten, wie von überirdischer Macht ergriffen, und es hieß: das könne kein Mensch, das müsse ein Engel sein, der die Töne aus dem himmlischen Konzert der Cherubim und Seraphim auf die Erde gebracht.29

Like that of the stranger in the “Lehrbrief,” Heinrich’s art causes Schauer, as well as enthusiastic admiration. The initial enthusiasm expressed by the other Meistersinger later turns to condemnation of Heinrich’s songs as pagan, morally offensive, and overly ornamented; even his friend Wolfframb regards them as an expression of hubris. However, the reader should be cautious about espousing the characters’ point of view, since it is largely driven by anger at Heinrich’s openly expressed contempt for them. The passage quoted above displays considerable similarity to other descriptions by Hoffmann of glimpses into the spirit-realm afforded by music, notably to the “Reich des Ungeheuren und Unermeßlichen” (the realm of the mighty and the immeasurable) with its fearful shades revealed by Beethoven. Elsewhere as here, the world of spirits always arouses fear and Schauer because it is dark and unknown (at least after humanity’s self-alienation from nature), and the potential for destruction at the hands of these powers is always present (here evoked by “verhängnisvoll”). 28 Novalis, Schriften, 1:225. 29 Hoffmann, Werke, FS:322. The passages from Novalis and from Chrysostomus’s tale were quoted above. For the full wording and the translation see page 320.

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As the tale unfolds, what in other of Hoffmann’s texts remained potentiality becomes clearly defined evil: it is the devil Nasias who sings of the workings of the cosmos and the music of the spheres, Heinrich later repeating the same lesson. Hoffmann’s response to Novalis could hardly be clearer: his Heinrich too penetrates and reveals the secrets of nature, thereby displaying the highest mastery of art (Wolfframb greets him as “der erste Meister des Gesanges” [the first master of song] on earth [SB:293]); but such transcendence can only be achieved at the price of alliance with the demonic. Once again, the point is reinforced by a parallel or coupling of music with another dark pursuit that wrests her secrets from nature against her will. In “Die Automate” and the Kreisleriana, this was magnetism; here, in keeping with the medieval setting, it is astrology and black magic. Klingsohr, as indeed he was in Hoffmann’s source,30 is an astrologer and magician who commands the services of evil spirits – hence the analogy to Faust. The landgrave, in his rejection of Heinrich’s art, articulates the element of violation and hence of arrogance implicit in such endeavours: “Ihr sprecht von hohen Dingen, von den Geheimnissen der Natur, aber nicht, wie sie, süße Ahnungen des höhern Lebens, in der Brust des Menschen aufgehen, sondern wie sie der kecke Astrolog begreifen und messen will mit Zirkel und Maßstab”31 (You speak of elevated things, of the secrets of nature, but not as they emerge in the human breast as sweet presentiments of the higher life, but rather as the bold astrologer wants to comprehend and measure them with compass and scales). Such artificially contrived insight is unnatural, Wolfframb warns his friend: “solch ein Gesang könne nicht herausströmen aus dem rein menschlichen Gemüt, sondern müsse das Erzeugnis fremder Kräfte sein, so wie der Negromant die heimische Erde düngt mit allerlei magischen Mitteln, daß sie die fremde Pflanze des fernsten Landes hervorzutreiben vermag” (SB:293; such a song could not stream forth out of the purely human spirit, but rather had to be the product of alien forces, just as the necromancer fertilizes the native soil with all sorts of magic means so that the alien plant of the most distant land may sprout). He who seeks alliance with alien powers in order to penetrate that realm that is now closed to humans and properly only intuited, be he magnetiseur, necromancer, or musician, renders himself liable to physical or spiritual destruction by an overwhelm30 Johann Christoph Wagenseil’s De sacri Romani imperii libera civitate Noribergensi commentatio (Altdorf, 1697), specifically the appendix “Von der Meister-Singer Holdseliger Kunst Anfang, Fortübung, Nutzbarkeiten und Lehr-Sätzen” (“Concerning the Beginning, Practice, Uses and Teachings of The Master Singers’ Fair Art”). 31 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:295.

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ing force. If Klingsohr is Faust, then Heinrich von Ofterdingen is the sorcerer’s apprentice, lacking the strength and knowledge to control the powers he has conjured up. His songs cannot win the contest against the pious Wolfframb; indeed, he is only saved from death and damnation by the latter’s art.32 In Heinrich’s own recognition of his condition we can read an indication that the demonic here is a metaphor for a topos we have seen repeatedly in the works of Wackenroder and of Hoffmann himself: possession by music, conceived as an impersonal, morally neutral, overwhelming force. As he immerses himself in Klingsohr’s works, Heinrich feels “nach und nach mich wie verknüpft mit unbekannten Mächten, die oft statt meiner aus mir heraus sangen und doch war und blieb ich der Sänger”33 (gradually as if linked with unknown powers, that often sang out of me in my stead, and yet I was and remained the singer). “Kampf der Sänger” further reverses Heinrich von Ofterdingen and parallels “Johannes Kreislers Lehrbrief” in its portrayal of the relationship between artist and muse. In Novalis’s novel, love for Mathilde brings about the flowering of poetic talent in Heinrich, a process that is completed rather than interrupted by her death. In “Kampf der Sänger,” unrequited love for Mathilde derails a previously established artist: Heinrich was already an accomplished poet on his arrival at the Wartburg; the torment of love is responsible for introducing the “grelle häßliche Töne” (shrill ugly tones) that disrupt the harmony of his songs. It might seem as if Wolfframb, for whom Mathilde is indeed the beneficent inspirational muse whose ideal enables him to win the contests against Heinrich and the devil Nasias himself, provides a counter-example. This, however, is refuted by Wolfframb’s reflections: “[Wolfframb] fühlte wieder recht lebhaft, daß er selbst es ja auch nicht würde haben ertragen können, wenn er sich hoffnungslos um Mathildens Gunst beworben” ([Wolfframb] felt very vividly that he himself also would not have been able to bear it, if he had courted Mathilde’s favour hopelessly), and in Wolfframb’s own words: “Also nur die Macht eines feindlichen Verhängnisses, das mich so gut als ihn hätte treffen können, drückt ihn zu Boden” (SB:290; Therefore only the power of a hostile fate, which could have hit me as easily as him, presses him to the ground). Whereas in Novalis’s novel the unfolding of the predestined poet’s art is depicted as a sure, unwavering, one might almost say natural process, to which every encounter and chance event 32 For a more detailed discussion of “Kampf der Sänger”’s relationship to Novalis’s Heinrich von Ofterdingen, and of the ambiguity undercutting its seemingly straightforward moral stance, see my article, “Variations on a Romantic Theme: The Education of the Artist in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Der Kampf der Sänger and Der Feind.” 33 Hoffmann, Werke, SB:296 (emphasis in original).

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contributes, in Hoffmann’s tale the creativity of even the mature poet is fragile and uncertain, vulnerable to every blow of fate, and dependent on the favour of a muse who proves to be an imperfect, fallible human girl, herself in need of guidance and salvation. Heinrich, like the stranger in Chrysostomus’s tale, seduces a woman by his song, instructs her in music, then brings about her downfall – here spiritual rather than physical, and only temporary, thanks to Wolfframb’s intervention. Mathilde does not die as a result of her misguided passion for Heinrich, but she is misled into pride and contempt (“höhnende[n] Stolz”), begins to write songs in Heinrich’s manner, and willfully discards her femininity (“Alles vernachlässigend, was zur Zierde holder Frauen dient, sich alles weiblichen Wesens entschlagend” [Neglecting everything that serves as ornament of lovely women, renouncing all womanly essence]), and thus becomes “ein unheimliche[s] Zwitterwesen, von den Frauen gehaßt, von den Männern verlacht”(SB:295; an uncanny hermaphrodite, hated by the women, mocked by the men). It might be noted in passing that “unheimlich” once again pertains to a blurring or transgressing of borders, in this case of gender. “Kampf der Sänger” can be regarded as a more direct and explicit – one might be tempted to say less subtle – version of the response to Novalis articulated in “Johannes Kreislers Lehrbrief.” Hoffmann adopts and reiterates Novalis’s linking of art and transcendence, more obviously in “Kampf der Sänger” through the redeployment of Novalis’s characters and of Minnesang with its marriage of music and poetry. But he unequivocally revokes the promise of a return of the golden age to be ushered in by the poet’s mediation of such transcendence. He does so, not only by the outcome of the plot and the fate of the characters, but also by placing music itself in an ambiguous light. The idyll at the Wartburg, if it is one,34 depends on Christian piety, a willing resignation of transcendence, and a self-limiting of song to such subjects as are accessible to a “rein menschliche[n] Gemüt”; love proves a questionable good, as liable to produce perversion as inspiration of art, and is dependent for its effect on the whims of a fallible human; the poet who aspires to transcendence can only achieve it at the price of his moral integrity and the salvation of his soul. On one level, Hoffmann thus reverses Novalis’s model by quite literally demonizing it. Beyond this, the tale again capitalizes and expands on Wackenroder’s portrayal of music as a numinous but ambiguous and dangerous entity, because of its terrifying sublimity as a great otherworldly

34 In my article (see n32), I suggest that the idyll may be deliberately unconvincing, undercut by irony and the distancing effect of the historically remote setting.

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force that humans are too limited to understand or control, and because of its compatibility with moral evil. 3. Music and Madness The dangers that beset the musician bent on interpreting the language of nature and achieving transcendence include not only moral perdition and death, but also – a spectre insistently evoked – madness. Hoffmann’s exploration of the interconnectedness of madness and transcendence through music forms part of his response to the early Romantic theory of Poesie discussed in the previous section and continues the same themes. It also reveals that Hoffmann’s discourse on music derives from and resembles, but at the same time grows away from, the aesthetics of the sublime. The departure in question has two main aspects. First, the exaltation experienced by the musician does not derive from recognition of the absolute greatness of a human faculty, but rather from a momentary experience of an external, transcendent Other, the spirit-realm.35 Second, as with the sublime, the dimension of fear and unpleasure arises from recognition of the inadequacy of human faculties to grasp the overwhelming greatness of the phenomenon, now more radically so because reason is included in the defeat. To this is added a further source of fear, horror, or disquiet, in the form of something completely inexplicable and mysterious, or of something alien originating in the realm of spirits, or possibly of human aberration and wrongdoing. The exclusion of reason from the experience of transcendence through art is most evident and central here, but it does not necessarily amount to a critique of reason. Rather, the coupling of artistic achievement and madness forms part of Hoffmann’s response to the early Romantic theory of Poesie, since transcendence is accompanied by, and even achieved at the cost of, the destruction of that rationality without which existence as a human becomes impossible. As suggested in the previous section, Hoffmann distances himself from the Romantic theory of Poesie because he sees it, not as false or problematic in itself, but rather as impossible: the return of the golden age it posits is unattainable, and the condition of humanity’s alienation from nature is irreversible. The satire of bourgeois philistinism so often associated with music and madness shows this particularly clearly: mental illness results from the impossibility of existing simultaneously in society and in the transcendent realm of music.

35 This aspect of Hoffmann’s thought was discussed in detail in connection with his review of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. See chapter 1, section 5.

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The argument just outlined can best be illustrated by contrasting a selection of Hoffmann’s tales to an earlier text related to them. In the letter to Friedrich Rochlitz that accompanied the submission of “Ritter Gluck” (12 January 1809), Hoffmann refers to a text that appeared in the AMZ, Rochlitz’s own “Der Besuch im Irrenhause”36 (“The Visit to the Madhouse”): “Aehnliche Sachen habe ich ehmahls in oben erwähnten Zeitung wirklich gefunden z.B. die höchst interessanten Nachrichten von einem Wahnsinnigen, der auf eine wunderbare Art auf dem Clavier zu fantasiren pflegte”37 (I have earlier actually found similar things in the above-mentioned paper, for instance the most interesting news of a madman who used to phantasize on the piano in a marvellous way). I suggest that Hoffmann’s “Ritter Gluck,” “Der Freund” (The Friend), and “Kreislers musikalisch-poetischer Klub” (“Kreisler’s Musico-Poetic Club”) stand in a similar relationship to Rochlitz’s “Der Besuch im Irrenhause” as “Johannes Kreislers Lehrbrief” and “Der Kampf der Sänger” did to Novalis’s Atlantis Märchen, though without the same degree of intertextual dialogue that existed with Novalis, present here only in the case of “Ritter Gluck” if at all. Rather, Rochlitz’s text provides a particularly useful foil: Hoffmann sets about undermining the optimistic belief in the consonance of music, rationality, and religion that grounds Rochlitz’s account of a mad musician. It should be noted at the outset that there is actually only one unequivocal case of a mad musician in Hoffmann’s fiction, in the fragment “Der Freund,” which was not published in Hoffmann’s lifetime and likely was intended to form part of the projected Kreisler-novel Lichte Stunden eines wahnsinnigen Musikers (Lucid Hours of a Mad Musician). In none of the published pieces of his biography is Kreisler insane, though he is sometimes close to it, and always deeply troubled and at odds with his environment. Hoffmann likely originally intended him to end in madness (witness the fragment and the title of the projected novel), but seems to have changed his mind by the time of writing Kater Murr (Tom Cat Murr).38 On the whole, the dog Berganza’s explanation, that he is called mad by philistines who wish to condemn his refusal to share their values, 36 Rochlitz, “Der Besuch im Irrenhause,” Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, nos. 39–42, 27 June–18 July 1804. 37 Hoffmann, Briefwechsel, 1:261. The claim of “Aehnlichkeit” does not confirm that Hoffmann’s protagonist is also a madman, but means merely that his text too relates an encounter with an extraordinary character who is a musician. Clearly, the motivation for the reference is the intended compliment to Rochlitz. 38 The Kreisler of Kater Murr himself refers to a past, particularly dark and tormented phase of his life, through which Rätin Benzon helped him, and the narrator refers back to the Kreisleriana and explains that in that unhappy time Kreisler burned all his compositions, but that he is happily over that and now not only preserves them but has them performed.

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seems to hold true.39 The title character of “Ritter Gluck,” on the other hand, may be a mad musician, but he may equally well be Gluck as a revenant. Such uncertainty adds to the disquieting effect of the texts; it also precludes the reader’s withdrawal to the safe distance of detached superior observer, as of a doctor or visitor to an asylum. In all these cases, music is implicated in the mental turmoil in a way that confirms its doubleedged character as described in the previous sections of this chapter. In this respect, a stark contrast obtains to the effects of music in Rochlitz’s “Besuch im Irrenhause.” Rochlitz’s text presents itself as a case study and is narrated from the detached and superior, albeit sympathetic, standpoint of a sane and healthy man analyzing the mad and sick, which Hoffmann’s texts never allow the reader or narrator to maintain. Rochlitz’s narrative aims to trace and explain Karl’s illness in all its particulars, with the result that there is no mystery and very little uncertainty in the text. Music plays a central role in Karl’s mental life, and in this he is akin to many of Hoffmann’s characters. Music is in no way responsible for his mental degeneration, but on the contrary brings him unmixed happiness at all stages and helps him achieve a form of balance in his spiritual life. The causes of Karl’s illness are unequivocally social: he was an unwanted and neglected child, denied a proper education and an engaging occupation and left for the most part in solitude and idleness.40 The awakening of a necessarily unfulfilled erotic passion completed the destabilization of mental faculties that were already weak and unfocused. Given such a psychological state, the intense emotional experiences afforded by participation in church services and by the enjoyment of music could not be integrated into a stable world view and became a form of religious mania, an idée fixe. It was not these experiences, however, that tipped him into madness – on the contrary, they repeatedly kept him from melancholy and suicide – but rather his misery at being unloved and unwanted, exacerbated by love for his mother’s protegée and by the trauma of having his attempt to visit her foiled by the father he fears. His life in the asylum, it should be noted, is by no means unhappy: “Er führete ein zufriedenes Leben”41 (he led a contented 39 Wolfgang Rüdiger highlights the social dimension of madness: neither Johannes Kreisler nor Ritter Gluck are truly mad, but merely eccentric, their eccentricity is the product of social repression, and the label “mad” is the philistines’ way of chastising nonconformist behaviour. Musik und Wirklichkeit, 22ff. 40 Rüdiger also draws attention to this, identifying sozialpsychologischen Gründe (sociopsychological causes) for the illness, rather than a putative “obsessiven Charakter der musikalischen Äußerungen” (Musik und Wirklichkeit, 21; obsessive character of musical expressions). 41 Rochlitz, Auswahl, 6:48.

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life), as the narrator has the opportunity to observe. Nor is his madness without method or a form of rationality, albeit extra-logical; his illness consists mainly in his extreme reserve and mistrust towards all adults and in his exclusive preoccupation with religion and music (“Außer der Musik interessirte ihn nichts, als das Lesen der Bibel” [6:48; Beyond music nothing interested him except the reading of the Bible]). Karl’s first encounter with music (Haydn’s Worte Christi am Kreuz [Words of Christ on the Cross])42 is connected with his first attendance at a church service and so with the awakening of his religious faith. From the very first moment, he has no doubt as to the meaning and provenance of music: “Mein Gott rief mir zu von seinem heiligen Himmel!” (6:20; My God called to me from his holy heaven!), or, in the narrator’s words: “in demselben Augenblicke wurde sein Geist, auf Fittigen der Begeisterung, zu himmlischer Freude erhoben” (6:46; in that same moment his spirit was raised to heavenly joy on wings of enthusiasm). From then on, Karl has an unshakable faith in God’s love and mercy and in the goodness and order of his design for the universe; equally, he is convinced that music is “die Sprache, in welcher Gott die Menschen rufe, in welcher alles Gute von guten Seelen ausgesprochen werden könne, in welcher alle reine Herzen einander verständen, die allein auf das Himmlische gerichtet sey” (6:47; the language in which God calls humans, in which everything good can be expressed by good souls, in which all pure hearts understand each other, which alone is directed to what is heavenly), or “die Rede der Engel […] und aller seeligen Geister” (6:51; the speech of angels … and all blessed spirits). The differences from Hoffmann are significant. Not only is this version of music as the language of spirit or of the absolute unequivocally and unproblematically Christian, but it posits an undisturbed, consonant relationship based on perfect understanding between humans and heaven and among all good humans. Music is a language that can be and is understood and that speaks of an unbroken bond. For the madman Karl, the harmony of music reflects the harmony of an untroubled and essentially good world order. Accordingly, his spirits are always raised to the greatest joy and devotion by music (he is “entzückt und wie in seeliger Verklärung” [6:7; enchanted and as if in blessed transfiguration]; he is happy and excited [6:9, 10], or he feels heavenly joy [6:46]). His engagement with music is irrational in that he rejects musical instruction and most ordered compositions as artificial and takes pleasure almost exclusively in his own playing. From some reading in the

42 Thus the title as given by Rochlitz; properly Die Sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlzösers am Kreuze [The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross].

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principles of harmony, he develops his own system of symbolic meanings for the basic elements of music. This has its own form of order and rationality, though the narrator insists that it lacks all logical connection and hence departs from the rationality of sane human society. The basic triad represents the Trinity; the tonic is the Father; the third in its double nature (minor and major) symbolizes the dual nature of the Son and his purity in both forms (“[die Terz] kann in zweyerley Gestalt vernommen werden und lautet in beyden wohl: so hat Gottes Sohn eine zweyfache Natur” [6:52]); the fifth represents the Holy Spirit. Thus far, Karl’s system is focused on consonance; by means of the seventh, which represents the created world in its relationship to God, dissonance is introduced, but only to be quickly resolved in universal harmony. The minor seventh represents the world in its proceeding away from and need to return to God: dieses [i.e. den kleinen Septimenaccord] muß zurückgehen und sich neigen, nämlich gegen den, von welchem er entsprungen ist; oder auch, er soll ausgedehnet werden und vermittelst der großen Septime (dieses schneidenden Intervalls, das auf das Leiden und schmerzliche Ringen des Menschen auf Erden hinweiset) übergehen in die vollkommenste Uebereinstimmung, in die Octav. (6:53) this, [i.e., the minor seventh chord] must go back and bow, namely before the one from which it originates; or else it should be extended and, by means of the major seventh (that cutting interval that points to the suffering and painful struggle of humans on earth), pass over into perfect harmony, into the octave.

His phantasizing on the piano, to which Hoffmann referred in his letter, consists in the playing of various chords, by preference fully consonant ones, which cause him the “Entzückung” (rapture) referred to earlier. Viewed in the context of his speculation, Karl’s playing is thus contemplation of the essence of God and the meaning of creation, a form of religious worship.43 Certain differences from what we have already seen of Hoffmann’s portrayal of music emerge. Most notable among these is the secure linking of music and the Christian God, which unfailingly results in the joyful upward motion of the soul as a response to music – an elevation that 43 Rüdiger also draws attention to this religious dimension, aptly terming it a “psychologische Kontamination von Musik und Göttlichkeit” (Musik und Wirklichkeit, 20; a psychological contamination of music and divinity) and drawing a parallel between it and the Kunstreligion of Wackenroder’s and Tieck’s Herzensergießungen and Phantasien.

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characterized Wackenroder’s Berglinger and is most strikingly embodied in the liberation of the naked saint in his Märchen, but that hardly ever occurs in unmixed form in Hoffmann’s writings. Only rarely, and then in connection with church music, is Hoffmann’s spirit-realm associated with the Christian heaven, and only rarely and fleetingly do Hoffmann’s characters experience consolation and religious uplift on hearing music. Furthermore, Hoffmann’s musicians too assign symbolic meaning to basic chords and intervals, but the resulting images are not religious, but on the contrary remain firmly in the intramusical realm, or at best venture into the sphere of the fantastic (the descriptions of Haydn’s, Mozart’s, and Beethoven’s music are a case in point). Then too, the consonance perceived by Karl extends beyond music and religion to include a concept of an ordered cosmos, a concept that departs from ordinary human discursive logical rationality but that nevertheless has its own order and method, ones comprehensible by other, “sane” humans. As we shall see, in Hoffmann’s tales music contributes to the disruption – even destruction – of ordinary rationality, but does not replace it with a substitute form, however a-logical, instead permitting terrifying glimpses into the irrational depths of the psyche. Finally, it need hardly be reiterated that except in the case of the golden age of Italian devotional music, Hoffmann’s emphasis is on dissonance, not consonance, both in the music itself and in the lives of his musicians. All of these characteristics are already evident in Hoffmann’s first musical tale, the one he associated with Rochlitz’s “Besuch im Irrenhause,” “Ritter Gluck.” “Ritter Gluck,” like “Die Automate,” has a dual purpose. When Hoffmann writes to Rochlitz, “Die Tendenz des beygelegten Aufsatzes werden Ew. WohlGeb. gewiß nicht verkennen”44 (Your Honour will certainly not mistake the tendency of the accompanying essay), he is referring to the satiric attack on Berlin performances of Gluck’s works and on the Antigluckisten, notably J.N. Forkel, author of Über die Musik des Ritters Christoph von Gluck (On the Music of the Knight Christoph von Gluck), which the tale wittily delivers.45 This satire, however, is embedded in a narrative, the schauerlich effect of which hinges largely – but by no means solely – on the impossibility of deciding whether the eccentric musician who calls himself Ritter Gluck is a madman suffering from an idée fixe or the revenant of the composer. Over the years, scholars have expended much effort and many ingenious arguments in an attempt to prove the one or the other 44 Hoffmann, Briefwechsel, 1:261. 45 On Hoffmann’s tale as satire of the attacks by Forkel and other Antigluckisten, see Oesterle, “Dissonanz und Effekt,” 65ff; and R. Schmidt, “Klassische, romantische und postmoderne,” 35ff.

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alternative – an endeavour that runs contrary to the intention of the text, which lays multiple obstacles in the path of that decision, as Karoli rightly argued.46 The disturbing effect of the tale, however, does not depend solely on the impossibility of resolving the mystery and answering all questions about the title character, whatever explanation one chooses. Equally disquieting is the problematic relationship it portrays between musical inspiration, the musician, and society. Whether he be a revenant or a madman, “Ritter Gluck” is a soul in torment, a condition for which not only the incomprehension of society but also the very nature of artistic inspiration is responsible. Rochlitz’s Karl found solace and a guarantee of order and harmony in music, and through it he partook of a belief system (Christianity) shared with his society, albeit in more extreme form. By contrast, the self-expression of Hoffmann’s Gluck takes a much more radically visionary, chaotic, and a-rational form, one that necessarily distances him from others and suggests an intrinsic connection between music and madness. As is typical of Hoffmann’s narrative ambiguity, neither possible explanation of the protagonist’s identity is fully satisfying. If we assume that he is the ghost of Gluck, we are faced with the irony that he is apparently unaware of being a ghost, as he insists that he is condemned to haunt the streets of Berlin “wie ein abgeschiedner Geist”47 (like a departed spirit48). It is also peculiar that he does not merely repeat the actions of his past life but continues to add new experiences to his existence. Most strikingly, he changes and improves Gluck’s compositions, a fact that is improbable in terms of ghost lore and that by its futility points to a disturbed, dysfunctional relationship between humanity and the spirit-world. The fact that the revenant (if it is one) is there at all is a reminder that, in Hoffmann’s conception, the spirit-realm is fundamentally inscrutable, its order, if there is one, alien to human rationality: What force has condemned Gluck’s soul to the peculiarly sadistic punishment of haunting the one place where 46 “Alle diese Deutungen führten jedoch zu einem unbefriedigenden Teilergebnis, da ihr Ziel, eine klare, eindeutige Lösung zu finden, den Intentionen Hoffmanns augenscheinlich widerspricht. Die Gestalt des ‘Ritter Gluck’ (und damit der Sinn des ganzen Stücks) ist von Hoffmann bewußt nicht eindeutig gegeben” (Karoli, “’Ritter Gluck,’” 344, emphasis in original; All these interpretations however led to an unsatisfactory partial result because their goal of finding a clear, unequivocal solution obviously runs counter to Hoffmann’s intentions. The figure of ‘Ritter Gluck’ [and with that the sense of the entire piece] was intentionally not given unequivocally by Hoffmann [emphasis in original]). For a critical discussion of previous scholarship on “Ritter Gluck,” see R. Schmidt, “Klassische, romantische und postmoderne.” 47 Hoffmann, Werke, FS:20. 48 Hoffmann, Fantasy Pieces, 10.

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his works are performed most unsatisfactorily? Why must he not be recognized (“gestaltlos, damit mich niemand kenne” [FS:23; without form so that no one might recognize me [13])? Why may he not enter anyone’s house (FS:22)? And most importantly, what is the sin for which he is thus punished? The only explanation we are given is his own – “ich verriet Unheiligen das Heilige” (FS:23; I betrayed the holy secret to infidels [13]) – but what does that mean? Explanations found in scholarly literature tend to be variations on the principle that he revealed to the general public what he saw in the spirit-realm, by publishing his compositions or by having them performed.49 This, if correct, would be the most disturbing feature of all: the ability to create compositions that may not be communicated to others in any way is a very mixed, not to say self-defeating, blessing; it represents another revocation of the early Romantic notion of the poet-prophet who by his works mediates an understanding of nature and a return to harmony. By this reading, music becomes a self-referential, self-enclosed entity, one that makes use of the musician for its own purposes and in so doing draws him away from human society – once again, Hoffmann is here following in Wackenroder’s footsteps. This renunciation of the mediating function assigned to art by the early Romantics is present in the text whether the protagonist is a revenant or a madman. Either way, his improvements on Gluck’s works remain unrecorded, unperformed, unheard by any save the occasional chance-met kindred spirit. Assuming that one is dealing with a living person who believes he is Gluck disposes of the ontological questions, since the punishment would be imaginary and self-inflicted, the symptom of his illness. No hard evidence militates against this assumption other than a degree of improbability. The impersonation, perfect in every detail and carried on over a lengthy period of time (“Gluck’s” room is very dusty, the paper yellowed from years of disuse), would require considerable ingenuity and financial resources (the means to live for years without occupation), so that one is forced to assume a wealthy person with no relatives or acquaintances, who received in-depth musical training. Unlikely though this be, it is not impossible, but yet unanswered questions remain, and an ambiguous light

49 An exception to this pattern is Dobat’s argument that Gluck is punished for starting a false tendency in music, the striving for dramatic effect that led to the excessive and artificial effects of lesser composers – that is, those condemned in “Über einen Ausspruch Sacchinis und über den sogenannten Effekt in der Musik” (“On a Remark of Sachhini’s and on So-Called Effect in Music”; Musik, 133–5). This hypothesis appears problematic in terms of the tale, which expresses nothing but admiration and enthusiasm for Gluck’s music. Hoffmann himself greatly admired Gluck, and even in the Kreislerianum in question referred to Gluck’s position on dramatic effect as a truth misunderstood by epigones.

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is cast, not only on society’s treatment of the inspired musician but on the “blessing” of musical talent in itself. The so-called natural explanation raises the question, What drove him mad?, and a less obvious but equally crucial one, Why does the madness take the form of identification with Gluck? The second of these may appear trivial at first; Count B imagined himself to be the hermit Serapion, and eighteenth-century accounts are full of madmen who believed they were kings, emperors, or other great historical figures, so identification with an admired composer would seem to pose no great problem. The difference is that for Count B, taking Serapion’s identity means escape from a painful state into a happier one, whereas here a state of torment is taken on with Gluck’s identity. Furthermore, this musician is not an unproductive epigone, as scholars have sometimes argued, but on the contrary an exceptionally talented composer. The narrator quickly recognizes in him “ein seltene[s] musikalische[s] Talent[]”50 (an odd musical talent [8]).51 His gift is so great, and he has penetrated the spirit of Gluck’s oeuvre to such a degree, that he is able to improve on that composer’s works, as it were to out-Gluck Gluck: he never performs Gluck’s works as they were written, but rather improves them, bringing in “neue geniale Wendungen” (FS:23; inspired new variations [13]), which strike the listener by their “Kraft und Neuheit” (17; remarkable strength and novelty [8]) and give the works a “verjüngter Gestalt” (rejuvenated form [13]) so that the result is Gluck “in höherer Potenz” (FS:23; to a higher potency [13]). The narrator is moved and shaken by this performance, it would seem more than by any he had experienced previously. Identification with Gluck is imprisoning this exceptional talent in a tormented and completely unproductive existence in which he is unable to create any music of his own or to fix a note on paper, even of his variations on Gluck (the state symbolized by the bound and titled but blank books). This is, indeed, an explanation more horrific than the possibility of a ghost, and takes us back to the first question, the causes of this madness. Unlike Rochlitz’s tale, this text offers no clue as to the madman’s background and previous life, so that we are reduced to unsupported speculation. Scholars generally assume that his case was likely similar to that of Wackenroder’s Berglinger or Hoffmann’s own Kreisler – that he was driven out of his mind by the contrast between his own devotion to music and the demands of a society that has no respect for music or the musician, misusing both for superficial entertainment and as an outlet for personal vanity. In view of “Ritter Gluck”’s detestation

50 Hoffmann, Werke, FS:17. 51 “Rare” would be a better translation than “odd.”

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of Berliners and his strictures on their mistreatment of Gluck’s and Mozart’s music, this hypothesis is likely correct, but it fails to account for an obsession with Gluck’s music so intense and exclusive that it led, first, to the retention by memory of every note of that composer’s far from inconsiderable output; second, to a mastery of its spirit so complete that it permits of improvement on it; and third, to submersion of the individual’s own identity into Gluck’s. In “Ombra adorata,” Kreisler was thankful not to be confronted by Beethoven’s “gewaltiger Geist” (mighty spirit) in a moment of weakness and depression, as he feared to be wholly crushed by it – might this not be what happened to this eccentric? Might his individuality and awareness of the duality of existence (the lack of which defines madness, according to the Serapionsbrüder), weakened by the miseries of everyday existence in a materialistic and philistine society, have been finally crushed by Gluck’s “gewaltiger Geist”? The image of the sorcerer’s apprentice once again helps explain Hoffmann’s casting of music in an ambiguous light. Whether we assume him to be a madman or a revenant, Ritter Gluck’s description of his vision offers some confirmation that something terrible is part of music’s very greatness. In its language and imagery, it resembles the review of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, grounded in the aesthetics of the sublime with its admixture of exaltation, terror, and even threat to physical existence. It offers a stark contrast to Rochlitz’s text, by the preponderance of pain, the absence of Christian associations, and the irrational, visionary quality of its content. Everything about this vision is fraught with ambivalence, most obviously the fact that it remains unclear whether it is a true vision of the spirit-realm or the ravings of a madman (or conceivably both). The account undercuts itself in that it presents the realm of dreams as a going astray that keeps one from seeing the truth, while being itself dreamlike in its language, in its associative logic, and in the way scenes and images transform themselves. Then too, much of it is a collage of literary allusions, some of them oddly reversed. The realm of dreams and the ivory gate to it stem from the Odyssey and/or the Aeneid and/or the Divine Comedy, except that here the would-be composer enters the realm of dreams through the ivory gate, whereas in all the sources it is a means of egress for dreams (the Odyssey) or people (the Aeneid and Divine Comedy). The negative valuation of the realm of dreams has its precedent in the Odyssey, where dreams that come through the ivory gate are said to be deceptive and empty. The monsters that bar the way out of this kingdom are borrowed from Ariosto, except that there they try to frighten the wanderer into Alcina’s city. The shadows by which one becomes aware of an as yet hidden light and the ascension to the sun that is the truth remind one of Plato’s myth of the cave, and this is the only appropriation that is not reversed.

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This strange, inverted collage does savour of madness, but on the other hand the imagery of the vision of music appropriates images from mysticism (here divested of any religious or otherwise extra-musical associations), the sublime style, and early Romanticism (particularly Novalis). It is the imagery that Hoffmann habitually deploys to describe true artistic inspiration, and it prefigures his description of Beethoven’s music. Both content and style thus militate for the truth of the vision: the language of the sublime, with its stark contrasts and threat of violence, the synesthesia that in Hoffmann’s works (for instance, “Der goldne Topf” [“The Golden Pot”]) symbolizes the unity of the spirit-world, the rarity of inspiration (achieved only by a few and only after suffering through aberration), the discovery of the ideal in the calyx of a flower (echoing Heinrich’s dream in Novalis’s novel), the eye as symbol for the truth (an image from Christian mysticism, but here representing not God but the source of melody). Just as the dream realm is fascinating yet frightening and dangerous, so too elevation to bliss and insight into the realm of music is achieved through suffering and violence: Nacht war’s [i.e. in the realm of dreams just before the vision], und mich schreckten die grinsenden Larven der Ungeheuer, welche auf mich einstürmten und mich bald in den Abgrund des Meeres versenkten, bald hoch in die Lüfte ­emporhoben. Da fuhren Lichtstrahlen durch die Nacht, und die Lichtstrahlen waren Töne, welche mich umfingen mit lieblicher Klarheit. (FS:19) At night I was terrified by hordes of grinning demons that assailed me, one moment plunging me into the depths of the sea and in the next lifting me high into the air. Rays of light shone through the night, and the rays were musical notes that surrounded me with lovely clarity. (9)

The same contrast persists in the vision of the eye, and of the basic elements that constitute music: Melodien strömten auf und nieder, und ich schwamm in diesem Strom und wollte untergehen: da blickte das Auge mich an und hielt mich empor über den brausenden Wellen. – Nacht wurde es wieder, da traten zwei Kolossen auf mich zu: Grundton und Quinte! Sie rissen mich empor […] der sanfte, weiche Jüngling, Terz, wird unter die Kolossen treten. (FS:19)52

52 The description of Beethoven’s music in the review of the Fifth Symphony is composed of similar elements: night, fiery rays of light, giant threatening figures (Riesenschatten). See SM:36, quoted above in chapter 1, section 5.

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Melodies flowed up and down, and I swam in the swirling stream and wanted to drown. The eye looked on me and bore me up on the surging waves. It was night again, and two gigantic figures in shining armor came toward me: Dominant53 and Fifth! They jerked me upright … The delicate youth, Third, will walk among the giants. (9)

This chaotic, elemental and constantly changing world could hardly be more different from the orderly harmonic system of Rochlitz’s madman with its correspondences of chords to God and his creation. God is not present in Ritter Gluck’s vision, where everything is literary and fantastic, or purely musical. The highest truth, the sun, is the triad itself, which then reappears in a new transformation as two colossi and a gentle youth, and the unio mystica is with the source of melody (the triad itself, it would seem). The outcome of the vision perpetuates, rather than resolves, ambiguity. The protagonist concludes: “Alles dieses, mein Herr, habe ich geschrieben, als ich aus dem Reich der Träume kam” (FS:23; All this, Sir, I wrote when I returned from the realm of dreams [13]). Presumably, he means that he, Gluck, wrote his operas as a result of the vision. On the one hand, the narrator’s exaltation on hearing the improvements this mysterious musician makes to Gluck’s works confirms that he truly is a gifted and inspired composer; on the other, the assertion is accompanied by a confession of wrongdoing even now being punished, and it is made as the protagonist turns the pages of the books in which nothing is written. The gesture, pointing to a nothing, thus undercuts the “alles dieses” that would seem true if it referred to sound (i.e., to what the narrator had just heard) rather than to a written record. This mismatch inextricably links the higher insight of musical inspiration to a fundamental lack of insight, whether this be a ghost’s unawareness of physical reality in the world of the living, or an instance of the loss of awareness of the dualism of human existence by which the Serapionsbrüder defined insanity. A further indication that music is a terrible visitation as well as a blessing is the mysterious “Euphon” that has long puzzled scholars. There is a tendency in scholarship on this tale to interpret “der Euphon” as something positive, for instance, as euphony or as a concretization of musical intuition or artistic creativity.54 53 A mistranslation of Grundton, which means tonic, not dominant. 54 Rüdiger, for instance, interprets it as euphony, or the harmonious music of nature, based largely on a passage in Jean Paul in which the term “Sphären-Euphon” appears (Musik und Wirklichkeit, 30, 29 for the Jean Paul reference); but the resulting interpretation is incompatible with Ritter Gluck’s negative reaction to “der Euphon.” Karoli explains it as  “eine Art schöpferisches musikalisches Gedächtnis” (“’Ritter Gluck,’” 354; a kind of

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This is plausible to the extent that “der Euphon” is aroused by musical enthusiasm and by great music. For instance, the protagonist’s own conducting of the overture of Iphigenia in Aulis, and the subsequent discussion about music with the narrator, as well as Mozart’s Don Giovanni, awaken it. Yet the protagonist makes unequivocally clear that “der Euphon” is a torment to him, something he tries to prevent through prayer and fasting, from which he tries to flee and which causes him pain.55 One can only conclude that in its double-edged nature, “der Euphon” underscores all the other ambiguities in the text: as to the musician’s entity and sanity, as well as to the nature and beneficence of music. Hoffmann’s portrayal of an actually mad musician, the fragment, “Der Freund. Brief an Theodor” (“The Friend. Letter to Theodor”), found among his unpublished works, differs radically from Rochlitz’s “Besuch” by the role that music plays in the madness. The text has an almost naturalistic quality in its stark portrayal of the dehumanizing effect of insanity. The madman is identifiable as Kreisler by his appearance and by the initials J.K. on a letter in his wallet. Whereas Rochlitz’s Karl led a fairly civilized and on the whole content existence, Kreisler has largely lost his humanity: he takes shelter in a ruined chapel, he steals chickens and eats them raw, his clothing is ragged and dirty, and, though he has lucid moments, an intolerable grief or pain expresses itself in bestial howling (“ein wilde[s] Geheul und einzelnen schreckhaft[e] Tön[e], die, so wenig menschlich doch nur von einem Menschen herrühren könnten” [N:617; a wild howling and individual frightening sounds that, however little human, nevertheless could only come from a human]), and raving. There is nothing supernatural or potentially so in this text; rather, it is the expressions of madness and of the grief that accompanies it that are experienced as schauerlich. The scream Kreisler emits on fleeing from the gardener is described as “grausenerregend” (horrifying), as is the “Röcheln” (rattle) that accompanies the latest attack of raving, and that same attack causes all inhabitants of the castle “ein grauenvolles unheimliches Gefühl” (N:622; a horrific, uncanny feeling). One might parallel the description of his human/inhuman howling with those of the Teufelsstimme in Ceylon56: what rendered those horrific was their

creative musical memory). For a critique of scholarly opinions of “der Euphon,” see Oesterle, “Dissonanz und Effekt,” 71, esp. n62. Oesterle’s own suggestion, that “der Euphon” is associated with the instrument of that name, enriches the associations evoked by the concept but does not help identify what is persecuting Ritter Gluck. 55 Hoffmann, Werke, FS:22. 56 Described in “Der unheimliche Gast” and “Die Automate.” See chapter 5, ­section 4.

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r­ esemblance to human lament; here, the sounds emitted by Kreisler can only be human yet sound inhuman. The two phenomena share a blurring of borders57 and the association with grief and pain – it might not be too fanciful to suggest mourning over a lost harmony (with nature, within the human psyche) as cause. Madness itself, one can conclude, is the alien Other that defies rational understanding, in stark contrast to the comprehensible thought processes of Rochlitz’s Karl. The fragment does not reveal the cause(s) of Kreisler’s insanity, but his reaction to music is such that one can only agree with the narrator’s conclusion that music must have been a main contributing factor (N:622). Whether this was as cause or simply by association is impossible to tell, but it is clear that music, far from having the power to console and uplift as it did for Karl, causes Kreisler the most intense anguish and fear. Realizing that his protegé must have been a musician, the narrator, like Cyprian with Serapion, embarks on an attempt at a treatment that miscarries far more severely than Cyprian’s. When J.K. finds the guitar that has been put in his room, he plays the tonic C major triad (a key that Kreisler elsewhere associates with madness), then emits a terrible scream and destroys the instrument: “So wie man das zähe Leben eines schädlichen Tiers noch immer durch neue Streiche ertöten will, weil jedes Zucken neue Gefahr droht, so suchte er mit wildem Blick, in dem sich eine gräßliche Angst malte, noch jedes Stückchen der Guitarre und zermalmte es” (N:622; Just as one seeks to kill off the tenacious life of a harmful animal through renewed blows, because every twitch threatens new danger, so he searched, with a wild look in which a terrible fear was revealed, for every little piece of the guitar and crushed it).58 Kreisler sees music as a living entity (as indeed it always is in Hoffmann’s writings), one that is, or has become, a terrifying hostile force: “[er] sprang jetzt aus einer Ecke in die andere als suche er einem ihn verfolgenden feindlichen Wesen zu entfliehen; bald heulte er vor gräßlichem Schmerz, bald stieß er seltsame schrecklich klingende aber ganz unverständliche Worte aus, bald schien ein grausenerregendes Röcheln die letzten Zuckungen des Todeskampfes zu verkünden”59 ([he] now jumped from one corner of the room to the other, as if he were trying to escape a hostile being that were persecuting

57 The blurring of borders is a frequent cause of schauerlich sensations in Hoffmann’s fiction. For a discussion of this, see chapter 5, sections 5 and 6. 58 Keil regards the specific chord, a consonance, as the cause of the attack of fury (“Dissonanz und Verstimmung,” 125), but this seems unlikely. It is not the fact that what he produces is consonant, but rather that it is music which is important, as is borne out by the similar attack caused by the singing of the gardener’s helper. 59 Hoffmann, Werke, N:622.

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him; sometimes he howled with terrible pain, sometimes he emitted strange, terrible-sounding but wholly incomprehensible words, sometimes a horrifying rattle seemed to announce the last contractions of death agony). Again it is possible to see in this a radicalization or distortion of the typical sublime experience, along the lines discussed in Part I, chapter 1. The notion of danger, even of physical destruction, from an overwhelmingly great force was always inherent in the sublime. Here, the terror occurs unaccompanied by any compensatory uplift. Whereas for Kant and Schiller the moment of defeat is overcome through the realization of the superiority of human reason, here reason has already succumbed, and the behaviour following this encounter with music reveals the reduction of a human being to a hunted animal, ridden by a fear he is powerless to check. One is reminded of Schiller’s description of how humans are dehumanized if subjected to the sway of necessity.60 As with Wackenroder, and with Hoffmann’s own descriptions of Beethoven’s effects, music as an independent, overwhelmingly powerful force shades f