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Goethe's Number-One Fan: A Neo-Feminist Reading of Bettina Brentano-von Arnim

Goethe's Number-One Fan: A Neo-Feminist Reading of Bettina Brentano-von Arnim NY PROTAGONIST OF A HORROR NOVEL by Stephen King is of generic necessity in deep trouble. What distinguishes Paul Sheldon’s misery is its literary source: the almost obscene degree of popular fame he has achieved as a writer of historical romances.1 In a desperate attempt to gain critical acclaim, Sheldon completes a “serious” manuscript, celebrates with copious amounts of champagne, and wrecks his car in a snowstorm. He is found by Annie Wilkes, whose skills as an ex-nurse and serial killer combine with her passion as Sheldon’s self-declared number-one fan to teach him the true meaning of misery. Annie forces Paul to burn his new manuscript and to resuscitate Misery Chastain, the heroine of his abandoned romance series. Only after hundreds of pain-filled pages—highlighted by a symbolic castration—does Paul’s psychotic admirer finally die, in a predictably macabre fashion. King’s nightmare vision of the female fan from hell may seem an extraordinary choice to introduce a study of Bettina Brentano-von Arnim (1785-1859). Although she first came to the attention of the reading public by publishing Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child (1835), her correspondence with a writer she adored, Brentano- von Arnim is now celebrated as a major nineteenth-century German http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

Goethe's Number-One Fan: A Neo-Feminist Reading of Bettina Brentano-von Arnim

Comparative Literature , Volume 57 (4) – Jan 1, 2005

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2005 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/-57-4-294
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

NY PROTAGONIST OF A HORROR NOVEL by Stephen King is of generic necessity in deep trouble. What distinguishes Paul Sheldon’s misery is its literary source: the almost obscene degree of popular fame he has achieved as a writer of historical romances.1 In a desperate attempt to gain critical acclaim, Sheldon completes a “serious” manuscript, celebrates with copious amounts of champagne, and wrecks his car in a snowstorm. He is found by Annie Wilkes, whose skills as an ex-nurse and serial killer combine with her passion as Sheldon’s self-declared number-one fan to teach him the true meaning of misery. Annie forces Paul to burn his new manuscript and to resuscitate Misery Chastain, the heroine of his abandoned romance series. Only after hundreds of pain-filled pages—highlighted by a symbolic castration—does Paul’s psychotic admirer finally die, in a predictably macabre fashion. King’s nightmare vision of the female fan from hell may seem an extraordinary choice to introduce a study of Bettina Brentano-von Arnim (1785-1859). Although she first came to the attention of the reading public by publishing Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child (1835), her correspondence with a writer she adored, Brentano- von Arnim is now celebrated as a major nineteenth-century German

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2005

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