Charles Sealsfield’s Polyvalent Novel: Der Dichter Zwischen Zwei Hemisphären

  • Jerry Schuchalter


In the year 1897 Albert B. Faust published the first full length scholarly study of Charles Sealsfield.


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  1. 129.
    The thesis positing that Sealsfield was a representative of the Biedermeier is part of a larger study by Friedrich Sengle, Karl Posti/Charles Sealsfield, in Biedermeierzeit: Deutsche Literatur im Spannungsfeld zwischen Restauration und Revolution 1815–1848, volume 3: Die Dichter, Stuttgart: Metzler, 1980, p.752–814.Google Scholar
  2. The study locating Sealsfield in the Austro-Bohemian Spätaufklärung is by Hartmut Steinecke, Literatur als Aufklärungsmittel: Zur Neubestimmung der Werke Charles Sealsfields zwischen Österreich, Deutschland und Amerika, in: Herbert Zeman, Hrsg., Die österreichische Literatur: Ihr Profil im 19. Jahrhundert (1830–1880), Graz: Akademische Druck-und Verlagsanstalt, 1982, pp. 399–422.Google Scholar
  3. On Sealsfield and the „exotische Roman“, see Gerhard Muschwitz, Charles Sealsfield und der exotische Roman, diss., Clausthal, 1969.Google Scholar
  4. 130.
    For an interpretation of Sealsfield as writing within an American literary tradition, see Walter Grünzweig, Das demokratische Kanaan: Charles Sealsfields Amerika im Kontext amerikanischer Literatur und Ideologie, München: Wilhelm Fink, 1987.Google Scholar
  5. For a study in English presenting a different interpretation of Seals-field within the American literary tradition, see Jerry Schuchalter, Frontier and Utopia in the Fiction of Charles Sealsfield: A Study of the Lebensbilder aus der westlichen Hemisphäre, Bern, New York: Peter Lang, 1986.Google Scholar
  6. For a study in English by a British scholar, see Paul Duncan Hartley, Politics and Society in Europe and America in the Works of Charles Sealsfield, diss., Leeds, 1986.Google Scholar
  7. 131.
    Alexander Ritter. Darstellung und Funktion der Landschaft in den Amerika-Romanen von Charles Sealsfield (Karl Posti), Eine Studie zum Prosa-Roman der deutschen und amerikanischen Literatur in der ersten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts, Stuttgart: Charles-Sealsfield-Gesellschaft, 1970. Like an entire generation of Americanists, Ritter is indebted to Henry Nash Smith’s, Virgin Land, and Leo Marx’s, The Machine in the Garden. Both of these scholars show the prevalence of mythic constructs and their influence and presence in literary works.Google Scholar
  8. 132.
    Günter Schnitzler, Erfahrung und Bild: Die dichterische Wirklichkeit des Charles Sealsfield (Karl Postl), Freibuig: Rombach, 1988, pp. 142–65.Google Scholar
  9. 133.
    Werner Sollors, Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture, New York: Oxford University Press, 1986, pp.31–33.Google Scholar
  10. 134.
    Reinhard F. Spiess, Charles Sealsfields Werke im Spiegel der literarischen Kritik: Eine Sammlung zeitgenössischer Rezensionen, Stuttgart: Charles- Sealsfield-Gesellschaft, 1977, p.25. Subsequent citations taken from this edition will be designated Spiess. Google Scholar
  11. 138.
    Karl Heinz Rossbacher, Lederstrumpf in Deutschland, München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1972, p. 20 („Sealsfields Erfolgsromane erschienen erst nach der ersten großen Cooperwelle“)Google Scholar
  12. 140.
    See: Franz Schüppen, Charles Sealsfield, Karl Posti: Ein österreichischer Erzähler der Biedermeierzeit im Spanmmgsfeld von Alter und Neuer Welt, Frankfurt am Main, Bern, New York: Peter Lang, 1981, pp. 224–232.Google Scholar
  13. 141.
    On Cooper’s role as an American exile, see Daniel Marder, Exiles at Home: A Study of Literature in Nineteenth Century America, New York, London: University Press of America, 1984.Google Scholar
  14. 144.
    David W. Noble, Cooper, Leatherstocking, and the Death of the American Adam, American Quarterly 16 (1964): pp. 419–431.Google Scholar
  15. 145.
    Robert Clark, The Last of the Iroquois: History and Myth in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans, Poetics Today 3: 4 (1982): pp. 123–24.Google Scholar
  16. 147.
    Marcus Hanson, The Atlantic Migration, 1607–1860: a History of the Continuing Settlement of the United States, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960, p. 149.Google Scholar
  17. 150.
    For a discussion of the Biedermeier responses to social unrest, see Werner Conze Vom Pöbel zum Proletariat, in: Hans Ulrich Wehler, Deutsche Sozialgeschichte, Köln: Kiepenheuer u. Witsch, 1966, pp. 112–133.Google Scholar
  18. 159.
    James Fenimore Cooper, The American Democrat or Hints on the Civic and Social Relations in the United States of America (1838), New York: Vintage Books, 1956, p. 171.Google Scholar
  19. 161.
    Cooper’s political philosophy and that of Sealsfield display many parallels, allowing the scholar the tempting possibility of perhaps drawing some facile conclusions. Nonetheless the idea of Cooper and Sealsfield conforming to some inter-cultural paradigm would shed some light on the international political culture of the period. For a perceptive study of Cooper’s political philosophy and ideological positions, see Marius Bewiey, The Eccentric Design: Form in the Classic American Novel, London: Chatto and Windus, 1959.Google Scholar
  20. 167.
    For a poignant description of the Latin farmers by a leading 48er, see Friedrich Kapp, Lateinische Bauern, in: Aus und Über Amerika: Tatsachen und Erlebnisse, I, Berlin: Julius Springer, 1876, pp. 291–306. — Of course we have to ask ourselves how many German men with academic training in fact tried their hand at farming in America. Gerstäcker also writes about this type in Nach Amerika, but to what extent the Latin farmer was an imaginative construct and to what extent historical reality would be interesting to examine.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 168.
    Frank Trommler points that among the 48ers there was a curious split in their attitudes towards America. On the one hand, they regarded American political culture worthy of emulation. On the other hand, they looked down upon American literary and artistic culture. See Frank Trommler, Vom Vormärz zum Bürgerkrieg. Die Achtundvierziger und ihre Lyrik, in: Sigrid Bauschinger, et al. Amerika in der deutschen Literatur, Stuttgart: Reclam, 1975, p.95.Google Scholar
  22. 169.
    For a discussion of the Amerikaroman in its socio-historical context, see Juliane Mikoletzky, Die deutsche Amerikaauswanderung des 19. Jahrhunderts in der zeitgenössischen fiktionalen Literatur, Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1988.Google Scholar
  23. See also Barbara Lang, The Process of Immigration in German-American Literature from 1850–1900, München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1988.Google Scholar
  24. 171.
    Nikolaus Lenau, Sämtliche Werke und Briefe, Leipzig: Insel-Verlag, 1970, p. 207.Google Scholar
  25. 172.
    Otto Ruppius, Geld und Geist. Roman aus dem amerikanischen Leben, St Louis: George Scharmann, 1860, p.175.Google Scholar
  26. 178.
    In this connection we only have to think of the response Dickens elicited with his American Notes (1842) or that of Frances Trollope in her work Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832). Jacksonian America was apparently still trying to free itself from its colonial stigma. Yet even this judgment must be placed in a historical context: the British were highly critical of America in this period, often unfairly so. See perhaps not a completely impartial observer, H.L. Mencken, The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982, especially The English Attack, pp. 17–25.Google Scholar
  27. 182.
    Jeffrey L. Sammons, Charles Sealsfield: Innovation or Intertextuality?, in: Traditions of Experiment from the Enlightenment to the Present: Essays in Honor of Peter Demetz, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992, p. 131.Google Scholar
  28. 186.
    See as an example of this tradition, Joseph G. Baldwin, The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi: A Series of Sketches (1853), New York: Hill and Wang, 1957.Google Scholar
  29. See also Kenneth S. Lynn, Mark Twain and Southwestern Humor, Boston and Toronto: Little Brown, 1959.Google Scholar
  30. 189.
    Once again it is Seasfield’s propensity to exaggerate already existing trends to seemingly monstrous proportions that seems to characterize his thought and style. Albert Weinberg in his classic study of American expansionism points out that among American architects of expansion in the forties the implicit belief was that „the free rather than the meek would inherit the earth.“ See Albert K. Weinberg, Manifest Destiny: A Study of Nationalist Expansionism in American History, Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1935.Google Scholar
  31. 191.
    Gerbi argues that the image of America for Europeans was originally negative, being shaped by the writings of DePauw and Buffon. Only with the publications of Alexander von Humboldt did the image of America develop positive qualities. Humboldt argues that the flora and fauna, instead of being denatured, was in fact more vigorous in America and that the inhabitants were more potent and procreative. See Antonello Gerbi, The Dispute of the New World: The History of a Polemic, transi. Jeremy Moyle, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  32. 192.
    Frederick Jackson Turner, The Significance of the Frontier in American History, The Frontier in American History, New York: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston, 1920), 2.Ed. Subsequent reference Turner will be taken from this edition.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Deutschland 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerry Schuchalter
    • 1
  1. 1.VaasaFinland

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