The Tale of Bluebeard in German Literature: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present

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Bluebeard', in which women are slaughtered by a monstrous husband and their bodies hidden in a horrible chamber, is the most hair-raising of tales; yet with its happy ending, it also has a utopian force. Using the idiom of literary criticism, the study considers Bluebeard texts as a seismograph of gender politics and of the process of civilization from seventeenth-century France to 1990s Germany, in a broad range of canonical and non-canonical, often forgotten texts. The study discusses Charles Perrault's French version of 1697, through Ludwig Tieck's versions of 1797 and classic versions by the Grimms and Ludwig Bechstein, to nineteenth-century romantic fiction, the savagery of High Modernism, and twentieth-century versions such as that of the Surrealist Unica Zurn. While the focus is on literature in German, this is the first full-length study published in any language of the history of Bluebeard, and it redefines the canon and our interpretations of this key tale.