Kellers Novellierung der Gattung: Der Schmied seines Glückes als Schreib-Szene einer uneigentlichen Novellistik

Simon Schoch


Keller’s Seldwyla cycle serves as a prime example of the 19th-century novella. A detailed account of its compositional complexity, however, reveals “significant ruptures, disturbing divergence, and a troublesome variety” (Aust) that continue to raise the question of genre. I argue that Seldwyla, in contrast to the “authentic novellas” of Keller’s Galatea project, designates the site of a formal inauthenticity negotiating a genre “in flux,” “yet to be determined” (Keller). In particular, my article investigates a key element of the novella, both indispensable and disputed, namely the unheard-of incident (“unerhörte Begebenheit”). For this reason, my essay focuses on Keller’s Der Schmied seines Glückes, a widely neglected part of the cycle that revolves around the scene of writing as its pivotal event. Keller’s “writing-scene” (Campe), I argue, does not only serve as framework of genre-specific self-reflection, it articulates the “Begebenheit” itself, thus situating the novella at the very edge of its genre and, hence, at the threshold of a modernist writing that “has no other law than that of affirming [ … ] its own existence” (Foucault). (SS; in German)

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