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Space and symbolism in the restauration novelle. with particular reference to jeremias gotthelf's die schwarze spinne, adalbert stifter's der hochwald and franz grillparzer's der arme spielmann.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 09:06 authored by Keith Alan. Bartlett
The study looks at symbolism, especially the symbolism of space and visuality, in three Restauration Novellen. Gotthelf's Die Schwarze Spinne presents a religious dilemma in spatial form. Specific motifs such as changing shape and absence of position become consistent correlates of evil. If the godless characters are foreigners who have abandoned their former homes, the Christian ones affirm and restore existing space, remaining where they were born. This contrast relates to the over-riding concept of "Neu-gier" in the Novelle. Gotthelf's ultimate rejection of anything new is given spatial form and placed within its ethical, political and religious contexts. As in Gotthelf's Novelle, the landscape described in the frame of Stifter's Der Hochwald creates spatial norms which embody ethical values. By contrast, the remainder of Novelle - dealing with Clarissa's love for Ronald and the Swedish sacking of her father's castle - portrays deviations. These two strands of plot also run in parallel, with the fall of the castle emerging as an allegory of Clarissa's loss of innocence. In observing this disaster through a telescope she witnesses her own moral downfall. But the castle also appears as a "dice", the ultimate symbol of fate. The question of responsibility is therefore never resolved. In Grillparzer's Der Arme Spielmann the elements of place, position and movement have narrative functions. Above all they develop the antithesis between Jakob and "das Volk". This antithesis possesses a moral dimension, with absence of movement generally conveying an allegiance to the past. While covert forms of "theatrical" symbolism sustain the opposition of Jakob and society, the description of the festival also creates a network of analogies between them. The narrative is also sustained on various, conflicting levels concurrently, presenting a world which is dialectical - simultaneously discordant and harmonious. This all-pervasive relationship finds its ultimate expression in Jakob's room.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Modern Languages

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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