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Replicas of a Female Prometheus

The Textual Personae of Bettina von Arnim


Lisabeth M. Hock

The relationship of the writer Bettina von Arnim (1785-1859) to the protagonists of her letter and conversation books has long intrigued readers and critics. The first sustained reading of Arnim’s six major texts written in English, this book investigates the relationship of Arnim to her literary Bettine-figures and the roles – including those of child, friend, lover, mother, writer, and genius – that she assigned to these textual personae. Employing feminist theories of positionality, it demonstrates how Arnim developed various subject positions for both herself and her protagonists. Further, it shows how Arnim’s increasing public stature over the course of the 1840s strongly influenced the transformation of her literary namesake from childlike figures who focus primarily on the development of the self into mature women who concern themselves first and foremost with issues of politics and social justice.