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The Tale of Bluebeard in German LiteratureFrom the Eighteenth Century to the Present$
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Mererid Puw Davies

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199242757

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199242757.001.0001

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The Moral(s) of the Story: Early Versions of ‘blaubart’

The Moral(s) of the Story: Early Versions of ‘blaubart’

(p.97) 4: The Moral(s) of the Story: Early Versions of ‘blaubart’
The Tale of Bluebeard in German Literature

Mererid Puw Davies

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at early German translations of Perrault's conte, and at the familiar, classic versions by the Grimms (1812) and Ludwig Bechstein (1845), all of which seek to cover over the material's explosive potential in similar ways. The development of ‘Blaubart’ in the classic 19th-century versions involves several significant features. It confirms Suhrbier's suggestion that the 18th- and 19th-century Bluebeard tradition uses distancing devices, since Tieck, the Grimms, and Bechstein all distance the tale both in time and class from their bourgeois present. The social dimension that is so important in Perrault's version is removed from the later texts, thus isolating the bride and making her appear more helpless. As far as the bride herself is concerned, there is an increasing narratorial ambivalence, and her transgression is miniaturized into curiosity, which in turn becomes a foolish covetousness. Thus, like the children at whom such Märchen were increasingly directed, the wife appears immature and in need of education.

Keywords:   Perrault, Grimms, Ludwig Bechstein, Blaubart, Suhrbier, Tieck, narratorial ambivalence, bride, curiosity, covetousness, education

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