German gothic fiction  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

German gothic fiction is usually described by the term Schauerroman ("shudder novel"). However, genres of Gespensterroman/Geisterroman ("ghost novel"), Räuberroman ("robber novel"), and Ritterroman ("chivalry novel") also frequently share plot and motifs with the British "gothic novel". As its name suggests, the Räuberroman focuses on the life and deeds of outlaws, influenced by Friedrich von Schiller's drama The Robbers (1781). Heinrich Zschokke's Abällino, der grosse Bandit (1793) was translated into English by M.G. Lewis as The Bravo of Venice in 1804. The Ritterroman focuses on the life and deeds of the knights and soldiers, but features many elements found in the gothic novel, such as magic, secret tribunals, and medieval setting. Benedikte Naubert's novel Hermann of Unna (1788) is seen as being very close to the Schauerroman genre.

While the term "Schauerroman" is sometimes equated with the term "Gothic novel", this is only partially true. Both genres are based on the terrifying side of the Middle Ages, and both frequently feature the same elements (castles, ghost, monster, etc.). However, Schauerroman's key elements are necromancy and secret societies and it is remarkably more pessimistic than the British Gothic novel. All those elements are the basis for Friedrich von Schiller's unfinished novel The Ghost-Seer (1786–1789). The motive of secret societies is also present in the Karl Grosse's Horrid Mysteries (1791–1794) and Christian August Vulpius's Rinaldo Rinaldini, the Robber Captain (1797).

Other early authors and works included Christian Heinrich Spiess, with his works Das Petermännchen (1793), Der alte Überall and Nirgends (1792), Die Löwenritter (1794), and Hans Heiling, vierter und letzter Regent der Erd- Luft- Feuer- und Wasser-Geister (1798); Heinrich von Kleist's short story "Das Bettelweib von Locarno" (1797); and Ludwig Tieck's Der blonde Eckbert (1797) and Der Runenberg (1804).

During the next two decades, the most famous author of Gothic literature in Germany was polymath E. T. A. Hoffmann. His novel The Devil's Elixirs (1815) was influenced by Lewis's novel The Monk, and even mentions it during the book. The novel also explores the motive of doppelgänger, the term coined by another German author (and supporter of Hoffmann), Jean Paul in his humorous novel Siebenkäs (1796–1797). He also wrote an opera based on the Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's Gothic story Undine, with de la Motte Fouqué himself writing the libretto. Aside from Hoffmann and de la Motte Fouqué, three other important authors from the era were Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff (The Marble Statue, 1819), Ludwig Achim von Arnim (Die Majoratsherren, 1819), and Adelbert von Chamisso (Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte, 1814).

After them, Wilhelm Meinhold wrote The Amber Witch (1838) and Sidonia von Bork (1847). Also writing in the German language, Jeremias Gotthelf wrote The Black Spider (1842), an allegorical work that used Gothic themes. The last work from German writer Theodor Storm, The Rider on the White Horse (1888), also uses Gothic motives and themes. In the beginning of the 20th century, many German authors wrote works influenced by Schauerroman, including Hanns Heinz Ewers.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "German gothic fiction" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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