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A Study of Ghosts and Consciousness of Reality in German Realism Literature -Focusing on "By the Fireside" by Theodor Storm-

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2015, (56), pp.183-216
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : January 23, 2015
  • Accepted : February 2, 2015

Young Eun Chang 1

1숙명여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to examine By the Fireside (AmKamin, 1862), which isone of the earliest works by Theodor Storm (1817-1888) – a representativewriter of realism in Germany – and is one of the ghost stories that havenot been introduced to Korea. In By the Fireside, Storm opposed theromantic literary tradition of Germany and the return of literature to theunrealistic past and attempted to deromanticize literature by dealing with, inthe category of realism literature, “ghost stories” that had been regarded as a“reactionary tool” amid the political confrontations between restoration andreactionism after the 1830s. From the socio-historical perspective, the workreflects the political circumstances and the critical situations of 19th centuryGermany. The work contains the frustrations over the civilian revolution in1848, a sense of crisis in the wake of the Schleswig-Holstein War(Schleswig-Holstein Krieg) in the 1860s, and anxiety and fear of thecontemporary Germans. The structure of the narrative is a ghost story within the narrative(Binnenerzählugen) in the narrative society (Erzählgesellschaft) of story(Rahmenerzählung). The main characters of the story include an old man(alter Herr), his wife, and a young woman Clärchen. The story unfolds in apattern that the old man recollects and says to the audience at a tea-meetingsociety (Teegesellschaft) what he had experienced or heard – to be morespecifically eight ghost stories – for two days. Meanwhile, the old manintroduces the ghosts of the past to the audience and asks them to focus on“here & now” – the present and the actual situations. The “ghost stories” ofStorm enables the readers to recollect the culture-related memories that hadbeen cut off among the people in the midst of tensions of life and death. Asthe diverse aspects of realistic human life unfolded in relation to Storm’s“present” of the contemporary times, the accuracy of the stories beingrecollected is dealt with very importantly and is ruminated in the multilayerednarrative structures. As the amplified sense of fear and feeling of revulsionamong the audience are being expressed, the hitherto repressed emotions areemphatically exposed. Meanwhile, such unrealistic elements like the feeling ofrevulsion (das Unheinmliche) and the ghostlike thing (das Gespenstische) arereenacted in the fictional reality through the recurrent recollections. Besides,the relations between human souls and physical bodies are dealt with throughthe recollection of the dead ghosts, which is interpreted as an attempt torearrange the present situations by memorizing again the forgotten past thathad been severed between the past and the present. The narrative techniquesof “recollection” here have an important function in the formation ofconsciousness in which the narrator reaffirms the present situations of thenarrator who is the subject of recollecting the past, overcomes the severeconfrontations with the past linked to the future, recognizes the self-identityof the past and the present, and reconciles with the past.

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