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From Confusion to Clarity. Further Reflections on the Revelatory Function of Narrative Technique and Symbolism in Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s Die Judenbuche

  • Raleigh Whitinger
Article

Abstract

This study questions recent claims that darkness is this work’s essential message, that its deaths remain mysterious proof of life’s inscrutability. Confining itself primarily to the text and Droste-criticism, it shows how narrative technique and symbolism in fact lift the reader above the benighted perspective of Mergel’s world to reveal hidden truths of his guilt and retribution.

Zusammenfassung

In Frage gestellt werden die Behauptungen, der Sinn dieser Novelle liege in ihrer Dunkelheit, ihre Todesfälle bewiesen vor allem die geheimnisvolle Undeut-barkeit des Lebens. Vorwiegend anhand des Textes und der Droste-Kritik wird gezeigt, wie Erzähltechnik und Symbolik den Leser eigentlich über die dunkle Perspektive von Mergels Mitwelt hinausheben und ihm dabei verborgene Wahrheiten dieser Schuld und Vergeltung offenbaren.

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Literatur

  1. 5.
    That confusion reigns at many points of the story is disputed by no one. It is pointed out elsewhere that even so astute a critic as Erik Wolf has been confused as to who is who at certain points (see p. 232, his confusion of Franz and Simon). From early on many critics concede that darkness enshrouds several events. So for example, Hermann Hüffer (p. 245), Karl Schulte-Kemminghausen (p. 292) and Felix Heitmann, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff als Erzählerin. Realismus und Objektivität in der “Judenbuche” (1914), pp. 14–19. See also: Paul Schneider, “Die Schuldfrage in Droste-Hülshoffs ‘Judenbuche,’” Zeitschrift für deutsche Bildung, 7 (1931), 274–279; Amalie Bosselmann-Franzen, “Die ‘Judenbuche’ von Annette von Droste-Hülshoff,” Monatshefte, 35 (1942), 1–13, an essay based on a radio lecture by Erich Franzen, “Frauendichtung und Wirklichkeit,” Vorträge der literarischen Abteilung der Berliner Funkstunde, May 14, 1928. Subsequent critics have also pointed out and attempted to explain these confusions. See for example, Lore Hoffmann (pp. 140, 143), Walter Silz (pp. 42, 47, 48), Rudolf Buck (p. 48) and Walter Nigg (p. 36). Heinrich Henel, in his essay “Annette von Droste-Hülshoff: Erzählstil und Wirklichkeit,” Festschrift für Bernhard Blume (1967), pp. 146–172, has made much of these confusions, predicating upon them the thesis that they constitute the work’s central message. Since then, several critics have conceded and attempted to explain these unclarities. See for example: Kent Tiffany, pp. xv-xvii; Janet K. King, “Conscience and Conviction in ‘Die Judenbuche,’” Monatshefte, 64 (1972), 349–355; Gerard Oppermann, “Die Narbe des Friedrich Mergel. Zur Aufklärung eines literarischen Motivs in Annette von Droste-Hülshoffs ‘Die Judenbuche,’” DVjs., 50 (1976), 449–464; Ronald Schneider, Realismus und Restauration, pp. 248–289, and Metzler, pp. 78–82. Others have seen the concealment and confusion of these basic facts as part of the author’s intentions. See especially: Winfried Freund, “Der Mörder des Juden Aaron. Zur Problematik von Annette von Droste-Hülshoffs ‘Judenbuche,’” WW, 19 (1969), 244–253; James M. McGlathery, “Fear of Perdition in Droste-Hülshoff’s ‘Judenbuche,’ ” Lebendige Form. Interpretationen zur deutschen Literatur. Festschrift für Heinrich E.K. Henel (1970), pp. 229–244; Clifford Albrecht Bernd, “Enthüllen und Verhüllen in Annette von Droste-Hülshoffs ‘Judenbuche,’ ” Untersuchungen zur Literatur und Geschichte. Festschrift für Benno von Wiese (1973), pp. 347–362.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Metzler 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raleigh Whitinger
    • 1
  1. 1.EdmontonCanada

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