The Queen's Mirror: Fairy Tales by German Women, 1780-1900

By Shawn C. Jarvis; Jeannine Blackwell | Go to book overview

Gisela von Arnim
1827–1889

The daughter of the Romantic writers Achim von Arnim and Bettina Brentano, Gisela von Arnim spent much of her childhood in the company of the people who shaped the canonical German and European fairy tale tradition, from Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm to Hans Christian Andersen. In 1857 Gisela married Herman Grimm, Wilhelm’s son, and together they kept up a correspondence with leading intellectuals of their times, including Ralph Waldo Emerson. Together with her sisters, Armgart and Maximiliane, and Marie von Olfers, Gisela founded the Kaffeterkreis, an (almost exclusively) female literary salon in the 1840S. From those beginnings, Gisela began a long path as a writer of fairy tales and fantasy pieces. In the 1840S she published a few of the tales she had written for the Kaffeterkreis and wrote (together with her mother, Bettina) the novel The Life of High Countess Gritta von Ratsinourhouse (translated by Lisa Ohm [Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999]), a fairy tale in the style of Robinson Crusoe. In later life Gisela produced numerous lengthy but not particularly stageable historical plays. Her contribution to the fairy tale tradition lies in her intimate reception of the Grimms’ tradition and her protofeminist revisions of that tradition.

The works by Gisela von Arnim presented here form an especially interesting chapter in the German female fairy tale tradition because they were not initially written for publication but instead were conceived to be read aloud in familial and social salon settings among friends. One example of von Arnim’s works for the salon is “The Nasty Little Pea.” A story that problematizes the fate of the disenfranchised and highlights the virtues of community and self-reliance, it tells the tale of two outcast peas who find happiness in their lives together. In several pieces from a cycle of short epistolary tales written for her nephew Achim (“The Ghost Lady,” “Wedding Day,” and “About the Hamster”), von Arnim uses the fairy tale as a way both to mystify and demystify the mundane: the ghost lady is a deceased family member who explains the family’s history, while real-life burglars at the Wiepersdorf

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The Queen's Mirror: Fairy Tales by German Women, 1780-1900
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • European Women Writers Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - The Historical Context of German Women’s Fairy Tales 1
  • Prologue - The Ghost Lady 1853 11
  • Catherine II, Empress of Russia (Known as Catherine the Great) 1729–1796 15
  • The Tale of Fewei 1784 17
  • Ludovica Brentano Jordis 1787–1854 27
  • The Lion and the Frog 1792/1793; 1814 29
  • Benedikte Naubert 1756–1819 33
  • Boadicea and Velleda 1795 35
  • Sophie Tieck Bernhardi Von Knorring 1755–1833 75
  • Sophie Tieck the Old Man in the Cave 1800 77
  • Anonymous 89
  • Anonymous the Giants’ Forest 1801 91
  • Karoline Von Günderrode 1780–1806 103
  • Temora 1804 105
  • Bettina Von Arnim 1785–1859 111
  • The Queen’s Son 1808 113
  • Amalie Von Helwig 1776–1831 117
  • The Symbols 1814 119
  • Anna Von Haxthausen 1801–1877 127
  • The Rescued Princess 1818 129
  • Karoline Stahl 1776–1837 133
  • The Godmothers 1818 135
  • Amalie Schoppe 1791–1858 141
  • The Kind and Diligent Housewife 1828 143
  • Agnes Franz 1794–1843 165
  • Princess Rosalieb a Fairy Tale 1841 167
  • Fanny Lewald 1811–1889 183
  • A Modern Fairy Tale 1841 185
  • Louise Dittmar 1807–1884 195
  • Tale of the Monkeys 1845 197
  • Sophie Von Baudissin 1813–1894 201
  • The Doll Institute 1849 203
  • Gisela Von Arnim 1827–1889 207
  • The Nasty Little Pea Ca. 1845 209
  • About the Hamster Ca. 1853 211
  • Marie Von Olfers 1826–1924 215
  • Little Princess 1862 217
  • Marie Timme 1830–1895 225
  • The King’s Child 1867 227
  • Elisabeth Ebeling 1828–1905 241
  • Black and White a Fairy Tale 1869 243
  • Hedwig Dohm 1833–1919 259
  • The Fragrance of Flowers 1870 261
  • Marie, Freifrau Von Ebner-Eschenbach 1830–1916 271
  • The Princess of Banalia 1872 273
  • Henriette Kühne-Harkort 1822–1894 299
  • Snow White Freely Adapted from the Grimms 1877 301
  • Elisabeth of Rumania 1843–1916 325
  • Furnica, or the Queen of the Ants 1883 327
  • Anonymous 335
  • The Red Flower 1893 337
  • Ricarda Huch 1864–1947 351
  • Pack of Lies 1896 353
  • Epilogue- Wedding Day 1853 359
  • Afterword from the Cradle to the Grave Reading These Tales 361
  • Bibliography 369
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