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Title:Karl Gutzkow And "wally, Die Zweiflerin": A Biographical Revaluation
Author(s):Vanvalkenburg, Janet Kay Zacha
Department / Program:German
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Germanic
Abstract:This study is a revaluation of Karl Gutzkow's novel Wally, die Zweiflerin based on an examination of significant aspects of Gutzkow's life, specifically his psychological and intellectual development, up to the time he wrote the novel.
Karl Gutzkow is best known for the novel, Wally, die Zweikflerin, which he wrote during a three week period in June and July, 1835. The subsequent censoring of his writings and his incarceration as a result of the public and official reaction to the content of the novel have been accepted by historians, literary critics and scholars as proof that Gutzkow was a political writer who wrote this work to expound his liberal views. He has, in fact, come to be considered the most significant representative of a small group of politically engaged writers of that period known as Junges Deutschland.
In Wally, die Zweiflerin Gutzkow did address himself to topics which were issues of contemporary social and political concern. However, an examination of Gutzkow's memoirs, of his correspondences in the years prior to Wally, and of other writings of an autobiographical and critical nature indicate that Gutzkow has generally been misrepresented and misunderstood by critics and scholars.
Gutzkow's life up to the writing of Wally can be characterized as one of contrasts, contradictions and conflicts. Born into a poor, lower class family of little education and strict, fundamentalist religious beliefs, he very early aspired to a higher social class, a higher education and a more tolerant religious belief.
The conflicts which were inevitable due to such a disparity of background and aspirations were exacerbated by Gutzkow's maladjusted personality. He was self-righteous, aggressive, combative, and critical of others but incapable of accepting criticism himself.
The years before Gutzkow wrote Wally were filled with the difficulties and frustrations inherent in establishing oneself in a profession and in life in general. Gutzkow, however, translated all of these personal difficulties and frustrations into questions of human liberty, specifically his own. He regarded his fiancee's rejection as resulting from the poor education of women and the prudery which was taught by Christianity. Christianity, particularly Pietism, was seen as an established means for controlling the emotional, intellectual, social, and political behavior of mankind. Criticism of his literary and critical endeavors was perceived as an effort by an older, uninformed generation to halt intellectual and literary progress.
Gutzkow's reaction, then, made it appear as if he were fighting a battle for the liberation of all of mankind rather than primarily for himself. And this led to the misconception about his motivations and his goals which has endured since the Wally affair occurred.
The examination of Gutzkow's letters, memoirs and critical writings from the period of time surrounding the writing of Wally, die Zweiflerin makes adjustments in the accepted view of Gutzkow's personality, motivations and goals. The novel is then evaluated for what it was: a product of a troubled personality rather than a Tendenzroman written to further a liberal political ideology.
Issue Date:1981
Description:260 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8127723
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-14
Date Deposited:1981

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