“Was willst Du denn eigentlich, Clementine?”: Subjectivity in Fanny Lewald’s Clementine

Katherine Kerschen


This article aims to move the scholarship concerning Clementine beyond a narrow interpretation focused on the extratextual significance of this work as it relates to Lewald’s biography as an activist for women’s emancipation. It approaches the novel with a focus on its formal elements, employing critical frameworks from Bakhtin and Butler to examine how Clementine is constructed as a subject. A tension between narrativization (a stable identity) and the unfinalizability inherent in the development of the self pervades the novel, as shown in the contradictions between Clementine’s language and actions. This never-resolved tension is reflected at the structural level in the heterogeneous textual genres contained in Clementine, which allows for a Butlerian reading of identity development through performativity. Ultimately, I show that this largely overlooked work exemplifies many of the features of the literary that have been prized in the canonical—and principally male-authored—texts of the nineteenth century. (KK)

View Full Text

This article requires a subscription to view the full text. If you have a subscription you may use the login form below to view the article. Access to this article can also be purchased.

Purchase access

You may purchase access to this article. This will require you to create an account if you don't already have one.