Theodor Storm's novelle ''Carsten Curator': An evaluation of the terms "Befreiungsdichtung" and "das Peinliche".
thesisposted on 19.11.2015, 09:06 by John Richard. Hillier
This thesis undertakes an analysis of two interrelated aspects of Theodor Storm's later prose writing. The Novelle Carsten Curator (1877) has been selected since this work constitutes the most significant example of both "Befreiungsdichtung" and "das Peinliche". A definition of "Befreiungsdichtung" - the artistic projection of personal experience as an act of 'self-liberation' - and the way this is revealed in a series of earlier works is the subject of the first chapter. The following three chapters offer a study of the genesis of Carsten Curator and show by an investigation into Storm's relationship with his eldest son (Chapter 2) the extent of the autobiographical content in the Novelle (Chapter 4) and Storm's awareness of its 'confessional' nature while writing it (Chapter 3). The second part of the thesis concerns itself with artistic problems which thereby arose for Storm. The creative process conditioned Storm's treatment of the thematic complex of heredity, alcoholism and paternal responsibility in Carsten Curator and brought with it a degree of realism which the author and his more sensitive critics found 'unpoetic' and thus 'offensive' (Chapter 5). This constitutes "das Peinliche", which Storm believed detracted from the 'tragic' nature of the central conflict. The following two chapters assess Carsten Curator in the light of Storm's theoretical definitions of "das Tragische" and draw the conclusion that the Novelle is a prime example of his mature tragic art. Chapter 8 discusses the implications of "das Peinliche" for a study of Storm's later Novellen (1877 - 1888), including the development of his realism, the effects of literary censorship on his later treatment of the central themes of Carsten Curator and his knowledge of Naturalist literature, showing the absence of any direct influence where these themes are concerned. The thesis concludes that Storm's continuing preoccupation with the themes of Carsten Curator after 1877 can be attributed only to their 'confessional' nature.