Fairy Tales in the Modern(ist) World: Gerhart Hauptmann’s Bahnwärter Thiel and Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach’s Das Gemeindekind
Creators:Byram, Katra A., 1975-
Ebner-Eschenbach, Marie von
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Publisher:American Association of Teachers of German
Citation:Published version: Byram, Katra. Fairy Tales in the Modern(ist) World: Gerhart Hauptmann’s Bahnwärter Thiel and Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach’s Das Gemeindekind. German Quarterly 86.2 (Spring 2013): 141-159.
Despite the dark impulses that drive many fairy tales, popular nineteenth-century collections were animated by modern optimism. This article contends that two 1887 novellas, Gerhart Hauptmann’s Bahnwärter Thiel and Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach’s Das Gemeindekind, demonstrate what happened to this optimism and the fairy tale that embodied it at the inception of twentieth-century modernity. It shows how they use fairy-tale frameworks to express a proto-Naturalist worldview and draws out the affinities that make this improbable combination fruitful: foremost, a common concern with poverty and its consequences. Both novellas reject the fairy tale’s miraculous resolution of these problems and, with it, the modern optimism it expresses. At the same time, each demonstrates the continuities underlying the shift to modernism. While Hauptmann’s story retains the fairy tale’s dream of domestic sanctuary and its belief in overwhelming supernatural powers, Ebner-Eschenbach’s preserves a remnant of humanist hope.
This is a pre-print of the published article.
Rights:Author Posting. © American Association of Teachers of German 2013. This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of the American Association of Teachers of German for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in The German Quarterly 86.2 (Spring 2013): 141-159.
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