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Theodor Storm: The Dano-German Poet and Writer


Clifford A. Bernd

This book offers a new understanding of the nineteenth-century German author Theodor Storm, taking seriously, for the first time, the heritage of the Danish muse in his life and major works. Bernd offers a Dano-German portrait of Storm, tracing the youth of the author in the bicultural borderland of Schleswig, where Storm lived under a succession of Danish monarchs until he was 36 years old, and learned to refer to the German states as Ausland (foreign territory). Highlighting the German nationalism that has prevented previous biographers, beginning with Storm’s own daughter, from drawing attention to the importance of Danish culture and literature in forming the author, Bernd then details Storm’s education and reading in the Danish language and literature, showing how he added a distinct Danish tone to his German poetry and also refashioned the German novella in the manner of Danish practitioners, and thus became a unique representative of a Danish literature situated in the German-speaking world. These achievements, inflected by transnational influence, should now help us to recognize Storm as a figure of exceptional importance in European letters.
Contents: Current fascination with Storm’s fiction – Rise of a falsified anti-Danish portrait of Storm in biographical criticism – Need to map a new bicultural Dano-German identity for him – His exposure to Danish culture in early life – Grafting the gifts of the Danish muse onto German poetry – The breakthrough ‘Nixen-Chor zur Begrüßung König Christians VIII in Husum’ – Immortal poem ‘Oktoberlied’ – Poetry and life ‘Hyazinthen’ – The chef d’œuvre: ‘Meeresstrand’ – Infusing the German novella with notions which contributed to the genre’s flowering in Denmark – Early glory: Immensee – A Danish novella in German disguise: In St Jürgen – Painting in oils: Aquis submersus – Final triumph: Der Schimmelreiter.