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Guter Hoffnung? Pregnancy and narrative in two German romantic Marchen.

In this essay I examine the function of pregnancy and narrative in two Romantic tales' engagement with a Fichtean notion of subjectivity. I begin by tracing how Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis) responded to the Fichtean model, arguing that even while embracing the agency and expansiveness gained by the subject in Fichte's reworking of Kant, he recognized its simultaneously solipsistic and hyperoppositional tendencies and worked to mitigate them in his own philosophical and poetic attempts. Following an interpretation of Novalis's "Atlantis-Saga" (1801) in this context, I broaden my perspective to examine the way in which pregnancy functions in the discourse about gender around the turn of the nineteenth century, including changes in the medical treatment of pregnancy and childbirth. Finally, I turn to Bettina Brentano's "The Queen's Son" (1808), which throws into question the autonomous, self-referential Fichtean subject, even in its Novalian revision. This occurs not least in its narration of pregnancy as an experience in its own right.


Let a body venture at last out of its shelter, take a chance with meaning, under a veil of words--Julia Kristeva (235)

Once upon a time there lived a king who presided over a splendid and happy kingdom. But alas! There was no queen who could give birth to an heir. After many trials, a beautiful mother came to be, children were born, and the kingdom lived on in a grandeur far surpassing all that came before. Thus proceed two remarkably similar narratives by two icons of German Romanticism: the "Atlantis-Saga" in Novalis's Heinrich von Ofterdingen (1801) and Bettina Brentano's "The Queen's Son" ("Der Konigssohn," 1808). At the center of both stories is a pregnancy, in each case arising out of crisis and moving the story toward resolution. The pregnancy in Novalis's allegorical fairy tale catalyzes the Romantic poetic revolution; in Brentano's tale, ostensibly remembered from her childhood, the strangeness of the pregnancy and birth tends to undermine the story's conventional happy ending. (1) In what follows, I will explore how these narrative trajectories--and more specifically, the narrative trajectory of pregnancy itself--enact and subvert the Romantics' poeticized version of transcendental idealism's powerful and self-conscious subjectivity.

My discussion proceeds as follows: first, I trace how Novalis responded to Johann Gottlieb Fichte's notion of subjectivity, arguing that even while embracing the agency and expansiveness gained by the subject in Fichte's reworking of Immanuel Kant's philosophy, he recognized its simultaneously--and paradoxically--solipsistic and hyperoppositional tendencies and worked to mitigate them in his own philosophical and poetic attempts. Next, I interpret Novalis's tale as it performs a revision of the Fichtean model, highlighting the crucial, but merely implicit and self-evident mediating role of pregnancy in the emergence of the new poetic subject. I then broaden my perspective to examine the function of pregnancy in the discourse about gender around the turn of the nineteenth century, touching on medical-historical dimensions of the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. Finally, I turn to Brentano's "The Queen's Son," which, I assert, questions the autonomous, self-referential Fichtean subject, even in its Novalian revision. This interrogation of the idealist subject occurs not least by means of the narration of pregnancy as an experience in its own right.

Novalis and Fichte

The circle of young intellectuals who gathered in Jena in the 1790s was inflamed by the ideals of the French Revolution; steeped in the critical idealism of Immanuel Kant and, especially, Johann Gottlieb Fichte; and convinced of the emancipatory, even revolutionary potential of Poesie. Far from embracing the irrational, as earlier commentators would have it, these men and women regarded themselves as raising reason to a new power. (2) The group's two leading theorists, Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel, took as the starting point for their notion of a poetic subject Fichte's radicalization of Kantian transcendental idealism. His Wissenschaftslehre (Foundations of Transcendental Philosophy) of 1794 absolutizes the Kantian imperative of a self-conscious subject by formulating the notion of an absolute ego (Ich) that consists in the sheer activity of positing itself; paradoxically, however, the Ich requires an entity other than itself, the Nicht-Ich, in order to come to necessary consciousness of itself. In fact, then, Fichte's model is founded on a tautology, Ich equals Ich, which simultaneously contains within in it an absolute--even if only apparent--opposition. (3)

The publication of Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre provoked intense activity in the Jena circle; in fact, Novalis penned an extensive response to it in the characteristically Romantic form of fragments in his "Fichte-Studies" of 1795-96. These earliest responses provide evidence that Novalis aims to revise and go beyond Fichte's philosophical model. Here, he juxtaposes the inherently limited conceptual language of philosophy, by which he always means the Fichtean Thathandlung (self-positing Ich), merely to a vague notion of "life":
   Were there a still higher sphere, it would be that between being
   and not-being--the hovering between both--an inexpressible, and here
   we have the concept of life. [...] Here philosophy stops, and must
   stop--for precisely therein consists life: that it cannot be
   rendered conceptually. (4)

Later, he will posit the notion that true subjectivity (poetic subjectivity, as we shall see) consists in the hovering between subject and object:
   All being, being itself is nothing more than being
   free--hovering--between extremes that must necessarily be united
   and necessarily be separated. From this focal point of hovering all
   reality flows--everything is contained in it--object and subject
   exist through it, not it through them. I-ness or productive
   imagination, the hovering--determines, produces the extremes, that
   between which is hovered. (5)

Thus Novalis revises Fichte's model by emphasizing the process of interaction between subject and object; in so doing, he replaces the fundamentally--paradoxically--solipsistic and oppositional Ich/Nicht-Ich schema with the more relational Ich/Du:
   Criticism [the transcendental idealism of Kant and Fichte] [...]
   allows us to intuit nature, or the external world, as a human
   being. It shows us that we can and should only understand
   everything as we understand ourselves and our lovers, as we
   understand us and you [plural]. [...] Now the so-called
   transcendental philosophy--the reference back to the
   subject--idealism, and the [Kantian] categories--the relationship
   between object and perception--appears in a whole new light [...]
   (You) (Instead of Not-I--You). (6)

The juxtaposition of first- and second-person instead of first and not-first ("understanding us and you") performs Novalis's recasting of the Fichtean subject as much as it describes it. That novel locution presages Novalis's explicit assertion that the recasting entails not only the redefinition of the I's necessary other but also the transformation of the philosophical subject into a poetic subject. In the "Fichte-Studies," the alternative to philosophical discourse had been "inexpressible"; by 1798, Novalis is able to express it: "Whereas the philosopher only puts everything in order, puts everything in its place, the poet would dissolve all bonds. His words are not general signs--they are tones--incantations, that move beautiful groups around themselves." (7) Poetic discourse is able to release language from the bonds of rigid general concepts and allow it to move freely: "Our language is either--mechanical--atomistic--or dynamic. The genuinely poetic language should, however, be organically living." (8)

Correctly identifying the Fichtean subject as primarily concerned with representation--"We leave the self-identical in order to represent it" is his first note in the "Fichte-Studies"--Novalis posits a self that is constituted as the process of poetic representation. (9) Such a self overcomes the opposition between subject and object that lies at the heart of Fichte's model, while retaining the integrity of each: "The poet represents in a very real sense subjectobject--mind and world." (10) Novalis's unfinished novel, Heinrich von Ofterdingen, whose first part was published in the year of the young man's death, traces the coming of age of such a poet. His poetic maturation takes place as a journey, in the company of his mother and some traveling merchants, from his father's home in Sachsen (near Luther's Wartburg) to Augsburg, the southern city of his mother's youth. The journey takes place as Heinrich's confrontation with a series of stories. These stories gradually increase in closeness to Heinrich's time and in realism, and the protagonist moves incrementally from a position of passive listening to active participation in the story-making process. In the unfinished second part of the novel, he was to become himself a creator of Novalian Poesie--or rather a practitioner of it in his own life. (11)

In a process akin to Novalis's revision of Fichte's Ich, the second story Heinrich hears, dubbed by subsequent readers the "Atlantis-Saga" because of its setting, details the emergence of a potential new subject out of a vital, but limited source, simultaneously remaining continuous with and superseding that source. The story begins in the "brilliant court" of a "serious and austere" king who nonetheless has two loves that fuel the beauty and energy of the kingdom: "The one was his fondness for his daughter, who was infinitely precious to him as a remembrance of his long-lost bride and as an inexpressibly lovable girl. [...] The other was a genuine passion for poetry and its masters" (36). The kingdom at the start of the tale resembles the absolute Ego in its total circling around itself. (12) But the fissure that threatens the entire edifice is revealed when the king, in his infinite arrogance, can find no non-kingdom dweller who is worthy of reproducing the kingdom. If the kingdom is to survive, it must change its orientation; that change is catalyzed by its "visible soul," the daughter. One day, while wandering on the kingdom's margins, the princess discovers the wonders of a realm that, while technically part of the encompassing whole, nevertheless has its own integrity. Situated not far from the court, it centers on the estate of an old naturalist, who occupies himself with raising his son and dispensing health advice to his neighbors. The old man has made use of the "beneficent peace which the king spread about him" in order to explore the "forces of nature and to impart this fascinating knowledge to his son, who revealed much aptitude for it, and to whose deep soul nature willingly entrusted her secrets" (38). The princess returns here again and again, eventually sharing her own love of poetry and song with the son in exchange for lessons about nature. (13) The realm of the naturalist and his poetically inclined son seems not to be a mere NichtIch, existing only to aggrandize the Ich of the kingdom, but rather a Du in its own right. The erotic union between the princess and the youth--hidden from the king's eyes--produces a child of a different sort than the king had sought: a potentiated poet, to use one of Novalis's most compelling concepts, who is infused with the unfamiliar, though born of the familiar. The triumphant return of the new family is mediated by strange and wonderful poetry. At the end of the tale, the new relationship of self and other is signified by the symbolic transfer of power from the king to the poet, who in turn gestures toward the child, thus continuing the exponential series. (14)

The princess's pregnancy at the center of the tale functions as the culmination of the love story that has unfolded between her and the youth and as the starting point of the new poetic order. The love story is initiated at least as much by the princess as by the youth; it is she who, with a typical Novalian combination of unformed will and directed accident, wanders through her garden, on the margins of the king's court, into the woods that stand outside it, and finds herself in the house of the naturalist and his son. (15) Subsequently, she teaches the young man some of the songs she knows from her father's poetic kingdom--she is, after all, the "visible soul of that glorious art" (37)-As the initiator of the contact with the natural world, and then as--literally--the bearer of the next element in the transformational series, the woman thus appears both as the agent of Romantic potentiation and as its vehicle, as catalyst and as object of the budding (male) poet's creativity.

In that respect, the "Atlantis-Saga" is an elaboration of Novalis's double-edged fragments on the function of women and men in the Romantic schema. While he did participate in the budding bourgeois practice of attributing essentialized opposite characteristics to each sex, Novalis was less interested in pinning down the essence of masculinity and femininity than in applying the two phenomena and their related attributes in the project of Aufhebung (sublation) of opposites that informs his entire oeuvre. "Polarity is actually an equation," he wrote in the notes to his encyclopedia project of 1798-99, following immediately upon the statements: "The equation for the [individual] human being is body = soul--for the species it is man = woman." (16) It is the "manifold sorts of connection" that most fascinate Novalis; the polar opposition of masculine and feminine--only apparent for Novalis, following Fichte--often serves as the exemplary intellectual laboratory for his experiments in what might be called exponential combinatorics, whatever the context. (17) In his highly controversial fragment-essay "Faith and Love or the King and Queen" ("Glauben und Liebe oder Der Konig und die Konigin," 1798), for example, Novalis posits the marriage of the Prussian king and queen as the ideal symbol of a holistic political life: "A true royal couple is for the whole human being what a constitution is for the mere ratio." (18) Elsewhere, he repeats some of the more conventional pairings of complementary masculine and feminine attributes: concept and sensibility (Begriff and Empfindung [2.261.519]), or reason and sensuality (Vernunft and Sinnlichkeit [2.275.577]). Always, though, he emphasizes the dovetailing of the respective aspects: "The corollary essence of the man is the main essence of the woman." (19) Novalis puts his own stamp on the relationship of complementary opposites when he replaces mere juxtaposition with the idea of the transformation of a more basic material into a qualitatively different, more refined substance: "Coal and diamond are one material--and yet how different--shouldn't the same be the case with man and woman?" (20) Here we see the tendency to regard the woman herself as the possible site of the harmony of opposites; this tendency existed in Novalis and in the larger intellectual context side-by-side with the positioning of woman on one side of a polarity. (21)

By a complicated association of linkages, women even appear in conjunction with the notion of the "most perfect consciousness" (vollkommenstes Bewusstseyn), which is "conscious of everything and nothing." (22) This description is reminiscent of Heinrich's proto-poetic state at the beginning of Novalis's novel: "intoxicated with rapture and yet conscious of every impression" (17); perhaps the Romantic poetic subject could be a woman? Indeed, in the midst of some particularly intense and critical speculation about the nature of Poesie, Novalis poses the remarkable question: "Could not an inspiration in the case of a woman manifest itself through a pregnancy?" (23) However, Novalis's "Atlantis-Saga" reveals how the pregnant woman actually functions in his schema: the pregnancy itself is not narrated at all; instead, the story highlights the Ich/Du encounter of princess and youth--the moment of conception--and the presentation of the new poetic subject--their baby--to the king's court. After a gorgeously erotic love scene in an edenic cave, which functions as a sort of natural marriage of the two lovers, the princess spends her entire pregnancy in the cellar of her common-law father-in-law's house. Her reemergence from this state of latency is announced by her husband's song, which in turn is received with awe as a qualitatively new kind of Poesie by the grieving king and his court, who believed they had lost forever the female principle that nurtures and sustains the poetic kingdom. The princess herself appears in the midst of the young man's performance, veiled, on the arm of her husband's father. Only after the symbolic transfer of power from king to poet to child does the personal reunion of father and daughter take place; the final gesture involves the father's welcoming of the prodigal daughter as the bearer of his grandchild, whom he then presents to the jubilant public.

Pregnancy and Gender at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century

Ultimately, then, the pregnancy in Novalis's story remains itself hidden, while performing a catalytic role in the larger narrative of philosophical and poetic transformation. In this respect, it reflects the general status of pregnancy in the late eighteenth century. Hence before turning to an analysis of Brentano's "The Queen's Son," I will examine briefly the eighteenth-century discourse about pregnancy and the pregnant woman, which both derived from and helped to shape its social, economic, medical, and philosophical context.

The second half of the eighteenth century saw a deepening interest in formulating essential notions of human--and more particularly, gender--characteristics. Scientific, medical, socioeconomic, philosophical, and political developments fed each other in this project; it is impossible to tease out cause and effect in the concatenation of discourses in which the differences between the sexes play a central role. (24) Gender, now characterized as intrinsic and natural, increasingly functioned as the field on which crucial discussions were played out: What is the nature of the individual subject? To what extent is he (or she?) free and autonomous? How does the individual function in society? All of these questions were based on the idea that there is a necessary, natural order of things that can be discovered by the rational subject. Some of the key proponents of the natural-law and natural-rights forces of the time enlisted essentialized masculinity and femininity in their overall projects. Jean-Jacques Rousseau is, of course, the best known of these, and his remarks on women help to cement his ideas of nature and law alike. His Emile, for example, fully participates in the essentializing discourse about men and women, whether it is discussing love ("The man should be strong and active, the woman should be weak and passive; [...] This is not the law of love, but it is the law of nature, which is older than love itself" [385]) or the law ("Women do wrong to complain of the inequality of man-made laws; this inequality is not of man's making, or at any rate it is not the result of mere prejudice, but of reason. She to whom nature has entrusted the care of the children must hold herself responsible for them to their father" [388]). Fichte, too, links gender to his more general philosophy. In his Foundations of Natural Right (Grundlage des Naturrechts, 1795-96), he outlines why the "law of the separation of the two generative sexes necessarily pervades all organic nature" (265) and goes on to detail why the man is by logical necessity "entirely active," the woman "entirely passive" (266).

Gender plays a very significant role in the arena of social and economic history as well. In her crucial study of the links between newly naturalized concepts of gender characteristics and major economic shifts in Europe, Karin Hausen notes what was new in this regard in late-eighteenth-century Europe:
   The bald fact of the comparison between men and women is
   historically not very informative, for statements about the "other
   sex" have long formed a model for male self-definition in
   patriarchal societies. However it is probably historically
   significant that with the appearance of the "character of the
   sexes" in the late eighteenth century the nature of this comparison
   changed. [...] Evidently what was new in the definition of the
   "character of the sexes" was the choice of reference system. From
   the end of the eighteenth century, character definitions took
   the place of status definitions. Thus a particularistic
   classificatory principle was replaced by a universal one; instead
   of the head of household and his wife, the entire male and female
   sexes were included, and instead of duties deriving from the
   household, it was the general nature of each that was described.

Using contemporary sermons, household guides, and encyclopedia entries, Hausen demonstrates convincingly how the shift from role-based to essential notions of gender and character is related to the changeover from the household economy, in which family members and other workers lived together and there was little or no separation between work and home life, to the now familiar nuclear family, headed by a woman and starkly separated from the man's work life. The woman in this new model functions as the linchpin not merely in the moral economy of the family but also to a large extent in that of the entire society. Not only did the mother/wife become responsible for educating the children to moral citizenry and providing the emotional support necessary for the husband to go back out into the public sphere every day and do his work; as the one traditionally associated with the body, she was also the arbiter of the health and hygiene of the family members. (25) Thus, as Barbara Duden notes, "the new rituals of a clean body and a clean home were rituals of demarcation, which had a political as well as a personal significance" (Woman Beneath 15); the mother/wife's work played into bourgeois Enlightenment notions of the cleanly rational individual as the motor of social health. (26)

The heavily freighted association of women with bodies centers on their reproductive functions. (27) Pregnancy presents undeniable evidence that a woman is linked to a man and will become a mother; it also proclaims loudly that she is sexual. In this respect, it is fertile ground for both the aspirations and the fears of male theorists. Not surprisingly, Enlightenment theory focuses primarily on conception and birth as those aspects of pregnancy that have most to do with men, the carriers of political and philosophical weight in society. Concerns about paternity and inheritance dominate, as is clear, for example, in Rousseau's equation of female infidelity with "treason":
   No doubt every breach of faith is wrong, and every faithless
   husband [...] is cruel and unjust; but the faithless wife is worse;
   she destroys the family and breaks the bonds of nature; when she
   gives her husband children who are not his own, she is false both
   to him and them, her crime is not infidelity but treason. (388)

At the root of the unthinkably awful discovery by a husband that his wife is pregnant by another man is, of course, the woman's sexuality. As Rousseau famously maintains, "the male is only a male now and again, the female is always a female. [...] Everything reminds her of her sex" (388). Paradoxically, because of this close connection to their sex, women, argue Rousseau and others, are the engines of civilization and morality, via modesty and coquetry. (29) Rousseau provides a brilliantly convoluted summary of the power relations between male and female, man and woman, in an enlightened society:
   Thus the different constitution of the two sexes leads us to [the]
   conclusion that the stronger party seems to be master, but is as a
   matter of fact dependent on the weaker, and that, not by any
   foolish custom of gallantry, nor yet by the magnanimity of the
   protector, but by an inexorable law of nature. For nature has
   endowed woman with a power of stimulating man's passions in excess
   of man's power of satisfying those passions, and has thus made him
   dependent on her goodwill, and compelled him in his turn to
   endeavour to please her, so that she may be willing to yield to his
   superior strength. (387)

Fichte also constructs a tortuously "natural" justification of the subordination of sexual woman to sexual man. Having already determined that one sex is entirely active, one entirely passive, he proceeds as follows: Since reason is by its very nature absolute activity, it follows that the "first" sex can have as its goal the satisfaction of its sexual drive, since that drive is itself active. But it would contradict the rational nature of the "second" sex if it were to have as its goal the satisfaction of its own sexual drive, which is wholly passive, and thus cannot be construed as belonging to the sphere of reason. Since the female sexual drive is, after all, a "part of nature's plan" (266), it must be expressed in another way than as the direct satisfaction of its passive self--"it must appear as a drive towards activity, indeed as a characteristic natural drive towards an activity unique to this sex" (266). This drive Fichte identifies as the drive to satisfy the man, a drive far more exalted, in Fichte's terms, than the man's own:
   In this act she becomes the means for another's end, since she
   could not be her own end without giving up her final end, the
   dignity of reason. She maintains her dignity--even though she
   becomes a means-by freely making herself into a means, on the basis
   of a noble, natural drive, that of love. (269)

Fichte participates here in the paradoxical idealization of women via their subordination that intensified through the nineteenth century. (30) In that same period, interest in the child and in childhood increased tremendously, as did the coincident glorification of motherhood. In the medical-historical context, this instrumentalization of women finds a parallel in the shift of focus from the woman to the fetus in the pregnant pair as a significant change in obstetrical thinking and practice at the end of the seventeenth and start of the eighteenth centuries took place. (31) At that time, men were becoming more and more involved in even routine childbirth, either as male midwives or, increasingly, as physicians. In a fascinating comparison of two popular German texts from around the turn of the eighteenth century, one a novel written by a male doctor, one a treatise by a female midwife, Lynne Tatlock discusses the two authors' respective notions of a "good outcome" for the efforts of Geburtshelfer (birthing assistants), in the process illuminating widely differing senses of the verb to deliver:
   [The physician] Ettner's interlocutors [the book is in the form of
   a dialogue] [...] insist that the midwife's primary duty is to
   deliver the baby, whom they implicitly understand to be male--they
   are, after all, discussing their origins. "Deliver" has added
   meaning in their view; they speak of the time the child must spend
   in its "prison." [...] Siegemund views her work differently. In
   difficult births her efforts are directed toward the delivery of
   mother from baby, not the other way around--with "delivery"
   understood as deliverance, removing the child, live or dead, from
   the mother. (753, 755)

Thus the notion of the pregnant woman as means of delivery of the heir to her husband, always crucial in patriarchal societies, gained further legitimation as male doctors began increasingly to attend and participate in births. (32) In a very real sense, pregnancy enacts a perfect narrative for the Enlightenment subject--and even more for its revised version in early Romanticism: the birth of the baby points backward to a moment of voluntary submission by the rational, but passive woman to the active, creative man, and it points forward to the educative and potentially even transformative processes associated with the nuclear family. But what about the period of time between conception and delivery? Certainly the fact of pregnancy plays a role in the establishment of significant factors in masculine discourse--its presence marks an unmarried woman as fallen, a married woman as legitimate; its absence, conversely, signals purity for the maiden or failure for the wife--but the actual duration of pregnancy, taking place as it does hidden within the body of the woman, rarely appears as a substantial part of a narrative trajectory. Instead, it is usually merely mentioned briefly as a fruitful latency period, as in Novalis's tale, or skipped over altogether; as we shall see, there is good reason for this evasion of the stretch of pregnant time. Within it, all manner of danger exists, from death, to deformity, to delegitimation. Brentano's "The Queen's Son" places pregnancy squarely in the center of the narrative, and the little tale demonstrates starkly the exquisite paradoxes associated with that state.

Complications of Pregnancy in "The Queen's Son"

The action of Brentano's tale takes place on figurative terrain that is remarkably similar to that of Novalis's story: a kingdom with the king's palace at the center, surrounded by a garden that functions as a buffer against and a transition to a surrounding wilderness. Here, though, the autonomous and vaguely threatening wilderness encompasses the kingdom, in contrast to the attractive but essentially subordinate natural world in "Atlantis-Saga": "The forests were like a true kingdom of animals that encircled that of the king, and it was seen as theirs alone" (113). The desire for an heir as the impetus for the plot resembles "Atlantis-Saga" as well; in fact, it is much more baldly evident in Brentano's tale: "But then the king took a wife for her beauty and to have children" (113). Even the overall trajectory is similar in the two stories: inheritance crisis, marriage, pregnancy, resolution of crisis, plus some kind of transformation of kingdom. But in "The Queen's Son," the mere fact of pregnancy's prominence in the text combined with the disruption of the usually compact and uneventful pregnancy story ultimately throws into question the larger patriarchal narrative. The queen becomes pregnant all right, but she does not give birth at the expected time; instead, not until seven years have passed does she finally deliver a son, only to lose him to a bear. (33) While the king's men try in vain to retrieve him, the queen gives rapid-fire birth to a veritable litter of sons, six in all, who grow up one nobler than the other. The king deems all of them to be suitable heirs to the kingdom and decides to crown them collectively when they reach majority. At their coronation ceremony, the first son returns triumphantly, together with a "horde" of animals, and riding "on the backs of the lions and tigers" (116). The young man possesses no human language; "he could only express his will through signs." Communicating with dramatic gestures, he becomes "king of the animals and of humankind in spirit, without language" (116).

When regarded on the largest scale, this is a success story: the desired conception is achieved, as is the birth of an heir, and the kingdom's prestige is enhanced by its connection to the animal world. But the devil is in the details, and details abound in Brentano's tale. The sheer proliferation of weird twists ultimately throws into question all three dimensions of pregnancy that are of burning interest to the male establishment: its origin, its outcome, and the reliability of the woman as vehicle both of inheritance and of the man's story.

If pregnancy is construed primarily as the production of an heir, then delayed birth threatens that goal nearly as much as infertility or still-birth do. (34) In fact, the breach of the usually firm temporal self-containment of pregnancy creates more dis-ease than either of those more familiar problems--the queen's seemingly permanent pregnant status renders her quite literally unheimlich (uncanny). Having established that his wife is not ill, the king's sadness turns to "anger" at her "deformity," and he can only imagine that "she had sinned against God, since He was punishing her so" (113). The king reacts here to the threat of an indefinable body with personal annoyance and by imagining a supernatural or a moral/religious explanation for it. As Paul-Gabriel Bouce has documented in the English and French contexts, the notion of the pregnant woman's body and imagination as unnaturally powerful, and as a breeding ground for the monstrous, persisted--even flourished--in the age of Enlightenment. (35) Bouce focuses on the lore surrounding birth abnormalities; in Brentano's tale, the monstrous--or here, the bestial--surfaces again and again as the story proceeds. Banished from the king's bed to the "rear part of the castle" (113), the queen gravitates, like Novalis's princess, through the garden toward the wilderness surrounding it, without ever actually entering the animals' world. In her simultaneously imposed and self-imposed limbo, she longs not for re-entry into her husband's court but for access to the beasts' ostensibly natural life cycle: "When springtime came and the old lions and tigers came with their young and suckled them, she would often wish in deep despair that she, too, was a beast of prey in the forest, wresting her food from life in a raging fight, just to feed her young" (113). (36) Without completing the story of pregnancy, she can be categorized for certain neither as wife nor as female animal; instead, she embodies a grotesqueness that undermines not just her legitimacy in the masculine context but even her very sense of existence.

Then, suddenly, the story does seem to reach a conclusion: the queen feels labor pains and gives birth to a boy. With the birth of her son, her wish for connection to the predators of the animal kingdom is granted, albeit only at the price of great personal sacrifice: "He seemed to have the strength of a seven-year-old boy, for as he came into the world, a wish she-bear had ventured across the river, and he was barely out of the womb before he chased after her, catching her by the pelt; the bear swam back across and carried him off with her into the forest" (114). The king's men, responding to the cries of her "powerful mother's voice" (114), try in vain to rescue the heir from the animal realm, an exile that, like his mother's to the garden, is ambiguously self- and other-determined. While the two opposite worlds face off against each other, armed men versus ferocious beasts, the queen, still pregnant, begins to give birth to six more sons, much to the delight of the temporarily defeated warriors: "They swam back to the deserted queen, for they believed that the king's son was indeed lost. But when they came to her, they found that she was again in labor, bringing six more children into the world, each of them happier and stronger than the last, so there was little grief for the lost son" (114).

For the queen, however, mourning becomes a way of life. Despite the fact that she has fulfilled her mission as producer of heirs, the mother remains mired in grief at the loss of her firstborn. Even at the coronation ceremony, where she is celebrated as the "glorious mother," she is not what she seems: "She stands up and, with her right hand, blesses her children, but she holds her left over her heart in memory of her son" (116). The queen remains seriously marginalized in the patriarchal kingdom, this time not by command of the king but by virtue of her own sense of not belonging. In fact, the limbo she had experienced during her pregnancy has become a seemingly permanent condition, since she still cannot gain access to the animal world, either. Living a sort of double life--by day caring for the remaining children as a good mother should, by night retreating again to the margins between "civilization" and wilderness--she repeatedly attempts in frustrated desperation to communicate with the animals: "whenever one animal wanders into the garden, she runs up to it and asks about her child, but they don't understand her" (114). The beasts do not actually hurt her, however, and learn to recognize her and accept her in their midst; perhaps some progress toward the harmonization of animal and human, nature and culture, has been achieved after all, with the mother once again as catalyst? This view is apparently vindicated at the story's conclusion, when the firstborn son returns with a coterie of animals to rule over an enhanced kingdom, and his mother, alone of the group, approaches the beasts; once again, "the animals recognize the woman and do her no harm," and the queen "feels a stone move from her heart" (116).

But language poses a problem in the happily restored and enhanced kingdom, both on the level of the narrated story and on the level of the narration itself. The story posits the returning wild child as the undisputed ruler--albeit as first among equals--but how exactly will he rule, if not with language? The third-person narrator is forced to translate for the reader the gestures he makes--taking the crown and turning it seven times, ripping an olive tree from the ground and presenting each brother with a branch, keeping the trunk for himself--into quoted language: "I am the master! But you shall all live with me in peace" (116); there is no indication in the text that either the humans or the animals in attendance themselves understand what he is saying.

The queen herself presents an even trickier and subtler challenge to the patriarchal paradigm that the fairy tale ostensibly reproduces. As we have seen, her drawn-out pregnancy is a thorn in the king's side, and its undeniable presence in the story mutes for the reader any unambiguous jubilation at the birth of the children and their accession to kingship. Her ungrounded status in the configuration of characters destabilizes the kingdom as well; the clean opposition of civilization and nature, self and other, and body and mind cannot be maintained when the queen is impossible to locate in either realm. But perhaps most importantly, the discourse of the text itself throws the story's apparent typicality into question. Beginning when she first wanders through the garden between palace and wilderness, the queen's voice rises in resistance, though in complicated ways. Her strongest protest, appearing as a direct quotation, is only implicitly and indirectly raised against the patriarchal forces that pushed her aside; as noted above, its explicit complaint is against the natural world of which the bizarreness of her pregnancy does not let her be a part: "Every year I see you bearing your fruit, and I see how you raise your young ones in your wild, rough way. But I, a king's daughter, the queen, shall never raise my own noble progeny and be happy but rather be hated by the king, my husband" (113). Once the pregnancy is "resolved" with the birth of her children, the queen's resistance is relegated to indirectness, appearing in the form of the present tense interrupting the conventional narrative past. The description of her habitual wanderings on the shore of the river separating the palace grounds from the wilderness, for example, eases almost imperceptibly between past and present tense: "She went down to the water to try to lure her son out of the undergrowth. Deep in her heart she worries very little about her other children, only about this one, and she could not convince herself that he was dead. [...] She is no longer afraid of the wild animals" (114; translation modified, my emphasis). Once the narrative shifts into present tense, it is as if the text itself comes alive as a protest. Continuing in that tense as it describes the queen's double life, it works itself up to a direct statement to the queen--and the reader--addressing the exploitation of nature by humans:
   Oh, poor queen, not even one wild, ignorant animal will give you
   counsel. They know nothing of human lament! For humans persecute
   them and have no communion with them at all. [...] And when they
   are cornered and helpless, they attack people and tear their bodies
   horribly, just to protect their freedom or their young. (115)

This somewhat cliched rant against human mistreatment and misunderstanding of the natural world could emanate from the queen's mouth and refer to her own predicament, but for the fact that she rarely speaks, except, ironically, to verbally shake her fist at the unfairness of nature for excluding her from its naturalness.

After this outburst, the story settles down again into its past-tense flow, but the present tense raises its voice again sporadically at the conclusion of the tale; this strange mixture of tenses as the story draws to a close signals the precariousness of the happy ending, especially since here the presentness leaks from the queen to her son and the animals with which he is associated: "The horde of animals came onward, and among them appears a beautiful face, that looks upward to the sky and seemed to be a human, only more beautiful and noble" (116; translation modified, my emphasis). Thus mother, son, and animals are linked via a subtle linguistic anomaly that touches the dominant discourse only barely, but enough that the reader is left feeling as uneasy with the story as the king did with his wife's seemingly interminable pregnancy.

What do we make, then, of this strange little tale? At its conclusion, the civilized kingdom has gained a crowd of qualified rulers, led by one who can link it to its previous opponent, wild nature, and the queen has regained her beloved son. In this respect, the story seems practically to mirror the restoration and transformation narrative of Novalis's "Atlantis-Saga," albeit in folksier terms. But as we have seen, the apparent resolution of the kingdom's problems opens up what would seem to be enormous questions about its subsequent viability as a traditionally patriarchal realm. And what about the queen? On the one hand, despite the return of her firstborn, it is not at all clear that she has in any way shifted from the margins to the center of the action. As before, she is merely noticed and tolerated, not actually embraced by the animals, and, like the animals, after a brief moment of presence in the hubbub of the ending, she is ultimately eclipsed by the general jubilation surrounding the self-coronation of the new king. On the other hand, her presence and her voice, emerging out of the bizarreness of her pregnancy and delivery, remain with us as a question: Could we be experiencing the difficult birth of a pregnant subject here? And how would such a subjectivity relate to the dominant discourse of transcendental idealism and its Romantic poeticization?


We will remember that central to Fichte's notion of subjectivity is the paradoxical simultaneity of pure self-consciousness and an opposed nonself needed to create it. Novalis, as we have seen, renders self-consciousness--or, as the early Romantics would have it, "productive imagination" (produktive Einbildungskraft; see Novalis 2.275.571 and 2.280.613)--more relational, recasting Fichte's Ich-NichtIch juxtaposition as Ich-Du. Musings about possible metaphorical relationships between the masculine and the feminine play a significant role in Novalis's working through of Fichte's ideas, and pregnancy appears prominently in both his philosophical fragments and his fiction as a site of potentiation and transformation. But pregnancy functions merely as a space and a time where poetic subjectivity is gestated; there is no hint of it anywhere as a state of mind, let alone a kind of subject status. Brentano's tale delves deeply and poignantly into the interior of her pregnant protagonist; in fact, the displacement from her hitherto existent self and the irrevocable connection to an other that characterize her pregnancy remain active even beyond the birth of her children. In this context, what might be called a pregnant subjectivity could represent an actualization of Novalis's dialectic of self-extension and other-incorporation.

However, there can be no question that any alternative subjectivity appears primarily in negative terms in Brentano's text. This is certainly the case experientially for the queen; rather than a celebration of potentiation and logarhymicization (see note 13), we witness a painful odyssey of loss and grief. On the societal level, too, the queen's apparent raison d'etre, her maternal devotion to the first child, is suppressed by, on the one hand, the value system of the court that declares any heir to be as good as any other heir and, on the other hand, the ostensibly undifferentiated nonsubjects of the animal kingdom. But she is undeniably there. Her pregnancy remains before everyone's eyes, the usual elocutions of expectancy and hope unable to contain it; the circumstances surrounding the birth of all of her children connects her to both the animal and the human world, however much each may deny her full entry; and her voice, the voice of the unavoidable presentness of pregnant experience, simply will not go away. In fact, it can be said to be inherited by her firstborn, who is himself both linked to an undeniable otherness and unalterably separate from his own ostensibly natural self. How bizarre and wonderful that this unlikely combination of negatives ends up ruling the kingdom!

Works Cited

Bouce, Paul-Gabriel. "Imagination, Pregnant Women, and Monsters in Eighteenth-Century England and France." Sexual Underworlds of the Enlightenment. Ed. G. S. Rousseau and Roy Porter. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1988. 86-100. Print.

Brentano von Arnim, Bettina. "The Queen's Son." The Queen's Mirror: Fairy Tales by German Women, 1780-1900. Ed. and trans. Shawn Jarvis and Jeannine Blackwell. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2001. 113-16. Print.

Duden, Barbara. Disembodying Women: Perspectives on Pregnancy and the Unborn. Trans. Lee Hoinacki. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1993. Print.

--. The Woman Beneath the Skin: A Doctor's Patients in Eighteenth-Century Germany. Trans. Thomas Dunlap. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1991. Print.

Epstein, Julia. "The Pregnancy Imagination, Women's Bodies, and Fetal Rights." Inventing Maternity: Politics, Science, and Literature, 1650-1865. Ed. Susan Greenfield and Carol Barash. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1999. 111-37. Print.

Fichte, Johann Gottlieb. Foundations of Natural Right. Trans. Michael Baur. Ed. Frederick Neuhauser. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print.

Grimminger, Rolf. "Aufklarung, Absolutismus und burgerliche Individuen. Uber den notwendigen Zusammenhang von Literatur, Gesellschaft und Staat in der Geschichte des 18. Jahrhunderts." Hansers Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur. Vol. 3. Ed. Rolf Grimminger. Munchen: dtv, 1980. 15-99. Print.

Hausen, Karin. "Family and Role-Division: The Polarisation of Sexual Stereotypes in the Nineteenth Century An Aspect of the Dissociation of Work and Family Life." The German Family: Essays on the Social History of the Family in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Germany. Ed. Richard J. Evans and W. Robert Lee. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1981. 51-83. Print.

Helfer, Martha. "The Male Muses of Romanticism: The Poetics of Gender in Novalis, E. T. A. Hoffmann, and Eichendorff." German Quarterly 78.3 (2005): 299-319. Print.

Hodkinson, James. Women and Writing in the Works of Novalis: Transformation Beyond Measure? Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2007. Print.

Kristeva, Julia. "Stabat Mater." Tales of Love. Trans. Leon Roudiez. New York: Columbia UP, 1987. 234-63. Print.

Kuzniar, Alice. "Hearing Women's Voices in Heinrich von Ofterdingen. PMLA 107.5 (1992): 1196-1207. Print.

Laqueur, Thomas. "Orgasm, Generation, and the Politics of Reproductive Biology." Representations 14 (1986): 1-23. Print.

Mahoney, Dennis. Die Poetisierung der Natur bei Novalis. Beweggrunde, Gestaltung, Folgen. Bonn: Bouvier, 1980. Print.

Massey, Marilyn Chapin. Feminine Souls. Boston: Beacon, 1985. Print.

Newman, Gail M. "Das poetische Subjekt, der 'intermediare Raum', und die Asthetisierung der Frau." In Novalis: Poesie und Poetik. Ed. Herbert Uerlings. Tubingen: Niemeyer, 2004. 171-84. Print.

Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg). Heinrich von Ofterdingen: A Novel. Trans. Palmer Hilty. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland, 1990. Print.

--. Schriften. Ed. Paul Kluckhohn, Richard Samuel, Heinz Ritter, and Gerhard Schulz. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1960-1988. Print.

Neubauer, John. Bifocal Vision: Novalis's Philosophy of Nature and Disease. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1971. Print.

--. "Nature as Construct." Literature and Science as Modes of Expression. Ed. Frederick Amrine. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1989. 129-40. Print.

Peter, Klaus. Stadien der Aufklarung: Moral und Politik bei Lessing, Novalis und Friedrich Schlegel. Wiesbaden: Athenaion, 1980. Print.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Emile. London, VT: Everyman, 1993. Print.

Steig, Reinhold. "Nachwort." Bettina von Arnim: Werke und Briefe. 3. Band. Frechen/Koln: Bartmann, 1963. Print.

Strack, Friedrich. "Novalis und Fichte. Zur bewusstseinstheoretischen und zur moralphilosophischen Rezeption Friedrich von Hardenbergs." Novalis und die Wissenschaften. Ed. Herbert Uerlings. Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1997. 193-211. Print.

Tatlock, Lynne. "Speculum Feminarum: Gendered Perspectives on Obstetrics and Gynecology in Early Modem Germany." Signs 17.41 (1992): 725-60. Print.

Uerlings, Herbert: "Darstellen. Zu einem Problemzusammenhang bei Novalis." Romantische Wissenspoetik. Die Kunste und die Wissenschaften um 1800. Ed. Gabrielle Brandstetter and Gerhard Neumann. Wurzburg: Konigshausen u. Neumann, 2004. 373-91. Print.

von Molnar, Geza. Romantic Vision, Ethical Context: Novalis and Artistic Autonomy. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1987. Print.

Walker, Joyce S. "Romantic Chaos: The Dynamic Paradigm in Novalis's Heinrich von Ofterdingen and Contemporary Science." German Quarterly 66. l (1993): 43-59. Print.


(1.) Since she wrote "The Queen's Son" in 1808, before her marriage to Achim von Amim in 1811, I will refer to Bettina Brentano von Arnim throughout by her maiden name, Bettina Brentano.

See Steig: "Bettina erzahlte das Marchen aus eigenem Gedachtnis, wie sie es von ihrer Kindheit her wusste" 'Bettina told the tale from her own memory, as she knew it from her childhood' (155). The tale is just as likely to have been invented by Brentano, however, who is well known for blurring the boundaries between experience and invention, most notably in her novels based on her correspondence with Goethe and Karoline von Gunderrode.

(2.) For a discussion of the relationship of early Romanticism to the Enlightenment, see Peter.

(3.) For an excellent summary of Fichtean subjectivity as it relates to Romantic theory, see von Molnar, Strack, and Uerlings. For an excellent and concise discussion of Novalis's disagreements with Fichte's Wissenschaftslehre, see Mahoney (esp. 15-20).

(4.) "Sollte es noch eine hohere Sfare geben, so ware es die zwischen Seyn und Nichtseyn--das Schweben zwischen beyden--Ein Unaussprechliches, und hier haben wir den Begriff von Leben. [...] Hier bleibt die Filosofie stehn und muss stehn bleiben--denn darinn besteht gerade das Leben, das es nicht begriffen werden kann" (2.106.3). All fragments are drawn from Novalis's Schriften, edited by Kluckhohn. The numeral citations refer to volume number, page number, and fragment number, respectively. Translations of the fragments are mine.

(5.) "Alles Seyn, Seyn uberhaupt ist nichts als Freyseyn--Schweben zwischen Extremen, die nothwendig zu vereinigen und nothwendig zu trennen sind. Aus diesem Lichtpunct des Schwebens stromt alle Realitat aus--in ihm ist alles enthalten--Object und Subject sind durch ihn, nicht er durch sie. Ichheit oder productive Imaginationskraft, das Schweben--bestimmt, producirt die Extreme, das wozwischen geschwebt wird" (2.266.555).

(6.) "Kriticism [...] lasst uns die Natur, oder Aussenwelt, als ein menschliches Wesen ahnden--Sie zeigt, dass wir alles nur so verstehn konnen und sollen wie wir uns selbst und unsre Geliebten, uns und euch verstehen ... Nun erscheint die sogenannte Transscendentalphilosophie--die Zurukweisung ans Subject--der Idealism, und die Kategorieen--der Zusammenhang zwischen Object und Vorstellung in einem ganz neuen Lichte [...] (Du) (Statt NichtIch--Du.)" (3.429-30.820).

(7.) "Wenn der Philosoph nur alles ordnet, alles stellt, so losste der Dichter all Bande auf. Seine Worte sind nicht allgemeine Zeichen--Tone sind es--Zauberworte, die schone Gruppen um sich her bewegen" (2.533.32).

(8.) "Unsre Sprache ist entweder--mechanisch--atomistisch--oder dynamisch. Die acht poetische Sprache soll aber organisch lebendig seyn" (2.440.70).

(9.) "Wir verlassen das Identische um es darzustellen" (2.401.1).

(10.) "Der Dichter stellt im eigentlichsten Sinn Subject Object vor--Gemuth und Welt" (3.686.2-8).

(11.) See the following: "Das Leben soll kein uns gegebener, sondern ein von uns gemachter Roman seyn" (2.563.187).

(12.) Significantly, Novalis does not cast the kingdom as some kind of primitively unpoetic realm that will be overcome--even negated--as the story proceeds, just as he never actually opposed Fichte's ideas. Instead, the king is characterized as possessing "a genuine passion for poetry and its masters" (36), and his kingdom as an "earthly paradise," in which "all repugnant and rancorous passions were dispelled like discords by the gentle, harmonious spirit that reigned in all hearts" (37). As we shall see, the story enacts not conflict, which appears "only in the ancient legends of poets as a bygone enemy of man" (37), but an exponential series that has started before its inception and continues beyond its conclusion.

(13.) In this respect, the two enact one of Novalis's most famous fragments: "The world must be romanticized. In this way, we will find its original meaning. Romanticization is nothing more than a qualitative potentiation. The lower self is identified with a better self in this operation. We ourselves are just such a qualitative exponential series. This operation is still completely unknown. Insofar as I give the commonplace a higher sense, the ordinary a mysterious appearance, the familiar the dignity of the unfamiliar, the finite the aura of the infinite, I am romanticizing it--The operation is reversed for the higher, the unfamiliar, the mystical, the infinite--these are logarythmicized through the connection--it receives an ordinary expression. Romantic philosophy. Lingua romana. Reciprocal raising and lowering" 'Indem ich dem Gemeinen einen hohen Sinn, dem Gewohnlichen ein geheimnissvolles Ansehn, dem Bekannten die Wurde des Unbekannten, dem Endlichen einen unendlichen Schein gebe so romantisire ich es--Umgekehrt ist die Operation fur das Hohere, Unbekannte, Mystische, Unendliche--dies wird durch diese Verknupfung logarythmisirt--Es bekommt einen gelaufigen Ausdruck. Romantische Philosophie. Lingua romana. Wechselerhohung und Erniedrigung' (2.545.105).

(14.) The fact that the exogamous nature of the marriage is to a large extent illusory points up the paradox of the Novalian revision of Fichte: while he does replace the Not-I with a You, the You is necessarily part of the absolute ego; Fichte's solipsism is hence not entirely erased.

(15.) Novalis speaks often of the importance of regarding what is given as necessary--an act both of faith and of creativity. See, for example, where he speaks of the "lover of fate" 'Liebhaber des Schicksals', who sees that "every arbitrary love [...] is a religion--that has only one apostle, evangelist, and devotee" 'jede willkuhrliche Liebe ... ist eine Religion--die nur einen Apostel, Evangelisten und Anhanger hat' (2.597.333).

(16.) "Polaritaet ist eine reale Gleichung" (3.462.1040).

"Die Gleichung fur den Menschen ist Leib = Seele--fur das Geschlechte--Mann = Weib" (3.462.1040).

(17.) "mannichfaltige Arten der Verbindung" (3.600.284).

Some of Novalis's most intriguing juxtapositions come in the fragments in which his intense engagement with the natural science of his day emerges. See, for example, the passages where eating, digesting, and excretion, fertilization, conception, gestation, and birth appear in a complex web of complementarity and metamorphosis, all associated with the masculine and the feminine (3.88; 3.93; 3.262.117). For more on Novalis's connection to the science and medicine of his time, see both of Neubauer's analyses and Walker.

(18.) "Ein wahrhaftes Konigspaar ist fur den ganzen Menschen, was eine Constitution fur den blossen Verstand ist" (2.487.15).

(19.) "Das Beywesen des Mannes ist das Hauptwesen der Frau" (2.275.577).

(20.) "Der Holzkohle und der Diamant sind Ein Stoff--und doch wie verschieden--Sollte es nicht mit Mann und Weib derselbe Fall seyn" (2.621.440). See also: "The contradictory is not opposed, and the opposite is not contradictory--because both alternate in antipodal spheres. / man and woman /" 'Das sich Widersprechende widerstreitet sich nicht, und das Widerstreitende widerspricht sich nicht--weil beydes in entgegengesetzten Sfaren wechselt. / Mann und Weib/' (2.280.609).

(21.) In the "Teplitz Fragments" (summer 1798), for example, we find the following notes about women: "Even their greater helplessness raises them above us--like their greater ability to help themselves--their greater talent for being slaves as well as for being despots--and so they are thoroughly over us and under us and at the same time more cohesive and indivisible than we are" 'Auch ihre grossere Hulflosigkeit erhebt sie uber uns--so wie ihre grossere Selbstbehulflichkeit--ihr grosseres Sklaven--und ihr grosseres Despotentalent--und so sind sie durchaus uber uns und unter uns und dabey doch zusammenhangender und untheilbarer, als wir' (2.617.172).

(22.) "sich alles und nichts bewusst" (2.611.87).

(23.) "Sollte sich eine Inspiration bey einer Frau nicht durcb eine Schwangerschaft aussern konnen?" (3.569.97). Other notations locate the woman squarely on the nature side of the nature/culture split characteristic of the time. See, for example, "Women know nothing of the affairs of community--Only through their men do they connect to the state, the church, the public sphere, etc." 'Die Frauen wissen nichts von Verhaltnissen der Gemeinschaft--Nur durch ihren Mann hangen sie mit Staat, Kirche, Publikum etc. zusammen. Sic leben im eigentlichen Naturstande' (3.568.92), or "Women's resemblance to plants. Poetic works on this idea. (Flowers are vessels)" 'Pflanzenaehnlichkeit der Weiber. Dichtungen auf diese Idee. (Blumen sind Gefasse)' (3.651.564). Feminist critics differ about the general status of women and the feminine in Novalis's work. See, for example, Kuzniar, Newman, Hodkinson, and Helfer.

(24.) For a particularly interesting example of this tangled relationship, see Lacqueur. Lacqueur states, for example, "Instead of being the consequence of increased scientific knowledge, new ways of interpreting the body were rather, I suggest, new ways of representing and indeed of constituting social realities. [...] The new biology, with its search for fundamental differences between the sexes and its tortured questioning of the very existence of women's sexual pleasure, emerged at precisely the time when the foundations of the old social order were irremediably shaken, when the basis for a new order of sex and gender became a critical issue of political theory and practice" (4).

(25.) In this connection, see Grimminger: "Marital love in the household economy consisted primarily in the fulfillment of myriad domestic duties. Now [in the bourgeois economy], on the other hand, the man must quite unilaterally fulfill the new duty of implementing his rationality in the world of the market and the office, far from the family, expecting his wife to provide a counterbalance to this world by satisfying his 'heart's' needs in the home" 'Die eheliche Liebe im ganzen Haus bestand weitgehend in der Erfullung einer Summe von hauslichen Pflichten. Dahingegen hat jetzt der Mann ziemlich einseitig der neuen Pflicht zu genugen, sich durch seine Rationalitat in der familienfernen Welt des Marktes und der Amter durchzusetzen; von der Frau aber erwartet er im Ausgleich dazu, dass sic zu Hause sein 'Herz' zufriedenstellt' (96; my translation).

(26.) Duden also links the focus on physical health to the nascent concern with private property, citing Volney's "Health Cathecism" of 1793: "Everyone is the supreme master, the complete owner of his body." She goes on to assert: "The entire catalog of the bourgeois social norms subsequently flowed into the attitude toward this new form of property" (Woman Beneath 13). See also Duden's Disembodying Women.

(27.) Lacqueur goes so far as to assert, "Women's bodies in their corporeal, scientifically accessible concreteness, in the very nature of their bones, nerves, and most important, reproductive organs came to bear an enormous new weight of cultural meaning in the Enlightenment" (13).

(28.) Rousseau goes on to emphasize that even suspicion of a wife's infidelity can drive a man to distraction, which leads him to explain--or create?--the need for the appearance of mildness and passivity in a woman: "Thus it is not enough that a wife should be faithful; her husband, along with his friends and neighbours, must believe in her fidelity; she must be modest, devoted, retiring; she should have the witness not only of a good conscience, but of a good reputation" (389).

(29.) For Rousseau's argument on modesty and coquetry, see Emile (385-87). Lacqueur discusses the contributions of Rousseau, Diderot, and John Millar on the role of women in the progress of civilization (12-14).

(30.) See, for example, Massey.

(31.) See Epstein and Tatlock.

(32.) Shifts in biological knowledge and, probably more significantly, biological conceptions also contributed to the paradoxically combined increasing political/philosophical importance of and practical subordination of women's bodies. Lacqueur, for example, details the political implications of the fact that "near the end of the century of the Enlightenment, medical science and those who relied upon it ceased to regard the female orgasm as relevant to generation" (1), linking this biological discovery to concurrent interest in defining woman as the organ of societal morality (see also 14). Lacqueur also links the nineteenth-century discovery of spontaneous ovulation--ovulation without coitus--in women to the casting of the ovaries as the "essence of femininity itself" (16).

(33.) Both English and German use euphemisms for pregnancy that express an optimistic orientation for the future: "expectant" or "expecting" and "guter Hoffnung" 'of/with good hope.'

(34.) Infertility appears prominently in the folk tales collected and edited by the brothers Grimm, as the starting point for such tales as "Rapunzel" and "Sleeping Beauty."

(35.) Bouce writes, "It would be idle to believe that throughout the eighteenth century there developed a linear progress toward the definitive eradication of the imaginationists' theses. [...] The para-logical recourse to malefice as a ready 'explanation' [for abnormalities] is never far off either, not to mention the implicit transgression of traditional sexual interdicts" (92).

(36.) It is interesting to note that the queen identifies only with the beasts of prey and seems as much fascinated with the process of predation as with having the young to feed. Perhaps we are witnessing not so much a birth fantasy as a fantasy of agency here.
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Author:Newman, Gail
Publication:Women in German Yearbook
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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