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Interfigurality Strategies: Fontane's Realistic Melusine as a Transfictional Phenomenon

Realistic conceptions of genuinely fantastic literary or mythical characters, such as Theodor Fontane’s Melusine, represent what Umberto Eco refers to as "floating individuals." These characters are transfictional as they are highly decontextualized from their narrative origin and thus a challenge for intertextuality and intermedia studies: the name implies a relationship with another text or medium but the representation does not offer any information about the relationship’s quality. To examine the range of (re-) presentation strategies and to shed some light on the transfictional background of the character as it is represented in Theodor Fontane’s novel The Stechlin, I borrow interfigurality ’as an umbrella term from Wolfgang G. Müller. Fontane’s myth-reflexive intermedia strategies come fully to the fore in contrast with the unknown novel Lady Melusine by Eufemia von Ballestrem on the one hand and in comparison with contemporary art on the other. The localization within an intermedia network reveals that the practice of the literary re-production of realistic characters as a “work on myth” (Blumenberg) is reflexive and critical or affirmative towards popular usage such as branding, labeling, or namedropping.

I knew a captain who had a melusine lamp in his cabin that had been made from his murdered lover by Malay embalmers. She had huge deer antlers on her head. (Schulz 65)

In Bruno Schulz's collection of stories The cinnamon shops from 1934 finds the figure of the mermaid at the very edge of an over-the-top philosophical treatise with the title Treatise on dressmakers' mannequins Mention. The treatise, which in its exuberant metaphorics and associative logic is a parody of the scholastic art of argument, circulates thematically around metamorphoses of matter. The difference between the organic and the inorganic is drawn on with an irritating appreciation of the scarce commodity, the trinket, which in the speaker's expectorations takes on the status of an improved creation. And so the water creature Melusine at Schulz is not a mysteriously enchanting one femme fatale, but embodies the superlative of an imperfect existence as part of the room furnishings: “In the silence of the cabin, the head attached to the ceiling between the antlers slowly raised its eyelashes; A film of saliva glistened between the half-opened lips, which tore when he whispered quietly. ”(65) That Schulz decouples Melusine's head from the story of the story, fishtail and Medusa-like less than a coherent narrative, because it was placed in the cabin as a vague allusion, is an example of that transfictional status (Saint-Gelais), which the figure achieved at the beginning of the 20th century.

The figure's emancipation from its narrative can be classified against the background of popularization in the 19th century, the beginnings of which date back to the Middle Ages: the Melusin saga (Jean D'Arras, approx. 1393), the adaptation of verse by Coudrette (approx. 1400) and the German-language saga Volksbuch von Thüring von Ringoltingen (1456), is continued in the drama (Hans Sachs, 1556), in the gallant novel (Jean Nodot, 1698), in the narrative (JWF Zachariae, 1772) or as a chantefable (Ludwig Tieck, 1800) rewritten.[1] In these versions, Melusine is still the ancestor of the Lusignan family, whose fate is influenced by her husband Raymond / Reymundt breaking taboos. He looks at his wife forbidden in the bath, discovers the dragon or snake tail and with it her supernatural being. It is no secret that basically none of the texts mentioned could do what Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué did with his adult fairy tale Undine (1811) made it into a libretto, set it to music by E. T. A. Hoffmann and furnished it with an opulent stage design by Karl Friedrich Schinkel to become an operatic hit (premiere 1816): to make the water woman an international fashion. In Eastern Europe she conquered literature and opera as Rusalka / Rusałka, in Western Europe the water women Melusine and Undine merged to such an extent that research sometimes speaks of “Melundine” (Steinkämper 308). With Hans Christian Andersens Little mermaid (1837) a surge in popularization is continued, that - to name just a few examples - by Oscar Wildes The Fisherman and his Soul (1891) about Disney's Ariel (1989) Hayao Miyazakis Ponyo (2008) or Guillermo del Toros Shape of water (2017) to date (Christian Petzolds Undine, 2020) reached global proportions. In short: The representations of the water woman are legion, in which not only literary examples are lined up, but in addition to film and opera, above all the visual arts. In these rows there are, in turn, individual cases that - to stick to the somewhat martial metaphor - wave the Melusine's flag, but do not wear a uniform that would make them recognizable as part of the army: the realistic Melusins.

They are human female characters who bear the name Melusine, but are no longer embedded in the narrative about the weekly metamorphosis and the breaking of taboos. As "fluctuating individuals" (Eco 86-89) detached from their original contexts, they are a challenge for text-based hermeneutics because the naming of names does not establish an intertextual character, but neither defines the pretext nor defines the quality in which the figure becomes Reception history behaves. Without the known features, the naming initially only draws attention to the transfictional character of the character. In order to describe the varieties of this figure presence in more detail, I would like to take up a suggestion by Wolfgang G. Müller that has never really become popular, understand them as expressions of "interfigurality". The term helps to analyze literary figures that have become independent from their original production contexts without anticipating their quality, which happens in particular when they are understood from the outset as myth-réécriteurs. As an interfigural phenomenon, "Melusine" is initially next to "Little Red Riding Hood"[2] like next to "Dagobert Duck" and it is up to the more detailed analysis to determine whether the name should only call up metonymically certain motifs, contexts or aspects such as fish tail or marine world, just as the name Dagobert Duck evokes duckbill and immeasurable wealth, or whether the text evokes wants to inscribe it into the tradition of intertextual and intermedial adaptations of the myth. How large the range of possible strategies is to locate characters decontextualized in a transfictional universe is to be demonstrated by the intermedial context of the Stechlin (1898) worked up by Theodor Fontane and briefly the entertainment novel for him Lady Melusine (1878) by Eufemia von Ballestrem is juxtaposed.

The concept of interfigurality can be used to combine what is traditionally discussed in different disciplines. Mythology research examines the transformations of mythical figures in the context of their cultural functions diachronically (see for example Schlaffer; Matuschek). The transfictionality and seriality research that deals with characters (Bech Albertsen; Mayer; Denson and Mayer, "Image Disturbance"; Denson and Mayer, "Border Crossings"; Denson and Mayer, "Grenzgänger") draw attention to the fact that not only ancient or religious myths circulate in cultures and their media, but also independent figures of contemporary and popular culture cross media and cultural boundaries. Both have in common that they understand figures iteratively in the sense that the representation of individuals in a given context is singular, but always refers to the entirety. This also distinguishes interfigurality from transmedia storytelling (Jenkins "Transmedia"; Jenkins, "Aesthetics"; Ryan; Thon and Ryan) because it depends much more on the recipient's individual conditio to locate the decontextualized representation in the representational universe, to decode allusions, to confirm or contradict each other information to compare and thus to recognize a transmedia figure biography. If transmedia narrative universes are characterized as coherent, the range of interfigurality strategies used to work on myths ranges between allusion and reflection on myths.

1 Realistic melusine drafts as a description and reception problem

The peculiarity of realistic spelling of the water woman figure consists initially in a deficiency, because the mermaid loses her status as the genuine and recognizable other. She is not a visitor from the water world, not a migrant of water origin with integration difficulties, but more natural and motivated not as a differently marked part of a realistic world design. A decisive factor that sets her apart from other wonderful female figures makes a realistic figure design unrecognizable: her ability to transform the figure and thereby cross the boundaries between worlds. Recognizing the character without this narrative context requires prior cultural and literary knowledge.

The problem of reception becomes evident from a transcultural perspective: internationally, the mermaid is present in the last corners of mass culture, but she has different names. While there is a stable in Germany Melusins-Reception, to which not only the most famous authors like Johann Wolfgang v. Goethe, Ludwig Tieck, Franz Grillparzer, Jakob Wassermann or Fontane have contributed, but also some less known or forgotten today - with realistic Melusinen designs: Eduard von Bülow (1848), Karl Frenzel (1860), Paul Heyse (1894), Oskar Schmitz (1928) - it has been breathed into literary life in Eastern Europe since the Romantic era under the name Rusalka / Rusałka or Świtezianka. Even if the folk book based on Ringoltingen's version has been distributed in translations in Slavic countries since the Renaissance, the name of the water woman as 'Melusine' is far less known there than in German-speaking countries. Seen in this way, it makes a huge difference whether Bruno Schulz or Theodor Fontane drop the name. Estimating ourselves cautiously, we can assume that the target audience prefigured by language in Fontane's case is more familiar with 'Melusine' as the metonymy of a waterwomen's literary material than that of Bruno Schulz.

If the problem becomes transculturally evident, it can be transferred to the reception within language communities which, although they refer to a common literary tradition, are of course never homogeneous. Reception hypotheses usually derive their validity from production-oriented parameters such as category expectations or a reception request formulated in the text. Myth research in particular works with the concept of an extremely professional reader when she names the consciousness of the source as the distinction between mythical and non-mythical figures. This can be clearly observed, for example, with Theodore Ziolkowski, who was one of the first to refer explicitly to the phenomenon of interfigurality, but who metaphorically describes it as “figures on credit” or “figures on loan”. The image of the loan enables him to emphasize the difference to the myth (Ziolkowski 130), because it implies an original owner from whom a figure is only borrowed. However, this distinction only works if one accepts a universally given knowledge that helps to differentiate between myth and loan. If one does not want to assume a collective awareness of myths, one has to acknowledge that the simple finding of iterativity leaves open whether someone, to take up an example given by Ziolkowski, read the name 'Faust' to the people's book Historia by D. Johann Fausten, the far-reaching magician and black artist, Christopher Marlowes Tragicall History of D. Faustus, Goethe's fist or thinks of the deodorant advertising in the gym at home, making only a vague reference to it or no literary reference at all.[3]

The realistic adaptations of the Melusinen figure highlight the category of myth as a problem of reception: Since they refuse both the narrative of the fish-human transformation and an alternative world located in the sea, it is possible that the texts have a literary memory of the ideal reader activate who not only knows the origin of the myth, but also the numerous manifestations of working on the myth. It is just as likely, however, that they will remain an individualized and therefore incalculable quantity as an allusion, association or allusion. Then the deficiency opens up new potential because the void is filled associatively. The likelihood of associative reading increases the further the cultural distance is, either in the national-cultural sense, or the further the readership moves away from that professionalized reading ideal that the literary palimpsest, which invokes five centuries of reception, sees through when it reads the name 'Melusine'.

The reception points back to the problem of representation. The range of character qualities is also a methodological challenge for literary studies, which is reflected in the relevant research. None of the texts that refer to Melusine with the title and embed them unmarked in new narrative contexts appear in Monika Schmitz-Eman's relevant works (Sea depths and soul depths; Continued metamorphoses). Claudia Steinkämper admits that Stechlin takes up a lot of space in her investigation, but she considers the realistic figure of Melusine Barby exclusively in the context of selected female figures in Fontane's texts (343–423).

At the same time - that is to be anticipated as a result - the realistic Melusinen unites the function in spite of all the differences in the presentation, because their dual nature is transferred to a socio-cultural level. The cursory comparison with the little-known novel Lady Melusine von Eufemia von Ballestrem will show that in her, like Fontane, the physically manifested ontological hybridity of the Pisces woman becomes a figure of interpretation and negotiation of cultural hybridity avant la lettre becomes. The finding of transfictionality is therefore not limited to the determination of unmarked presence, but also refers to a thematic solidarity of the representational functions. The underlying interfigurality strategies, however, differ drastically in that they either exhibit the 'inter' of the figurality in a complex intermedial network of references and make it productive, or they allusorically call up a set of ideas, but neither make them identifiable nor productive.

2 Transmediality as an interfigurality strategy: diagnosis of time and reflection on myths in Theodor Fontanes Stechlin

Fontanes Stechlin opens in a decidedly decelerated manner[4] the panorama of a time that already perceives itself to be accelerated and dynamic. As an "epoch portrait of the late 19th century" (D'Aprile 8), he undergoes a loss of validity of traditional political ideals and social structures, a newly defined understanding of the 'old' nobility, which the main character Dubslav von Stechlin in particular strives for Means of transport and communication possibilities converging world and last but not least new artistic currents to the subject of the conversations, which formally characterize the novel. Symbolically, the coexistence of the Stechlin-See holds together, which links the Brandenburg province with world events: According to legend, the lake "simmers [...] and bubbles and gushes [...] when it is far out in the world, be it in Iceland, be it on Java, it begins to roll and rumble ”(Fontane 7), and when something really extraordinary happens,“ instead of the water jet, a red rooster rises and crows loudly into the country ”(7). The lake thus not only participates in the great changes in the world, but is also present evidence of a mythical past, which the figure of Doctor Wrschowitz evokes: “It [the lake] has world relations, elegant, mysterious relations [. ..]. He stands with the highest and very highest, whose genealogical calendar still grows beyond the Gothaischen, on you and you. "(159)

Like the lake, the theme of transformation is coded twice on the synchronous and diachronic axes, in that historical and geographical dimensions come together. Both axes are also inscribed in Countess Melusine von Barby: As the daughter of a German and a Swiss woman who grew up in England and married an Italian (145–146), the cosmopolitan represents the world in the Brandenburg province like the lake.The divorced smoker (284) is perceived as a modern woman who breaks conventions and embodies the change not least of a traditional image of women without completely breaking away from it.

Since I will be concerned with Fontane's interfigurality strategies, I will largely leave undiscussed what has been profiled by research as lines of interpretation: on the one hand, the water woman as Fontane idée fixe in different texts[5] or to understand it biographically (Paulsen 107–164) and on the other hand to interpret it in a purely gender-oriented reading (including Stuby; Menke; Bovenschen). Like her female colleagues Lilith, Lulu, Salomé or Dalilah, Melusine herself has ex negativo Share in contemporary ideals of femininity and gender insecurities. But the literary biography of Melusinen does not only mean that she is a fascinating and at the same time dangerous woman - this ascription applies to many otherwise very disparate types and myths of women such as the so-called beautiful Jewish women, Medea or Helena - but above all that she is transform their shape and thereby be able to cross borders between worlds. Their ability to transform is inscribed in a cross-border nature that calls the topos of foreignness onto the scene. If one follows Monika Schmitz-Emans, she becomes the embodiment of strangeness and otherness in a world that perceives itself as rational and enlightened (33).

This alterity is set in the fantastic texts. But what about those in whom there is no otherness that is marked as wonderful? After all, Fontane's Melusine is not visibly different. It does challenge the social convention, but it goes without saying that it is part of society. She breaks with conservative role models and still appears above all as a woman who does not seriously threaten the existing gender order. In contrast to her wonderful predecessors, who "as a rule [...] are characterized by an essential deficiency" (Bovenschen 364), she is neither redeemable nor in need of redemption, neither has nor feels a deficit: there is no desire for a soul, no dynastic interest, not even love that could motivate marriage and transformation. She has lost the before-and-after narrative of the fairytale Melusinen.

The following considerations are based on the assumption that Fontane uses intermedial strategies to expose the functioning of the myth and to interpret the figure in two ways, both diagnostically and mythologically.

3 Melusine's diagnostic function

The fact that Melusine, as a character in a novel, does not undergo any significant transformation, but instead becomes her hybrid embodiment, actually profiles the myth anew. It gives it the function of depicting the abstract idea of ​​one's own present as a time of transition from the past to the future - in the figure of the mermaid, a hybrid of human and fish.[6]

If one follows the idea, it becomes clear that hybridity as a diagnosis of the present in the novel is unfolded in a number of individual motifs: Stechlin Castle is described in an almost contradictory way as an outdated “new building” (8). In the anecdote of a 'revirginalized' princess we encounter a hybrid, a virgin and non-virgin at the same time (198–200) and in that of the spectacular makeover, an old and at the same time young lady (257). Most complex, however, Melusine embodies hybridity of different quality: both in terms of her cultural identity and the concept of femininity she represents, which fluctuates between emancipation and tradition, she is always one and its opposite at the same time: German and non-German, Swiss and non-Swiss, English and non-English, modern and traditionally feminine, just as the mermaid is always non-human and human, non-fish and fish. Alterity and identity in one and at the same time also with regard to their social status. She is introduced as “widow - that actually does not mean a widow, but more correctly a woman who was divorced immediately after marriage. She was only married for half a year, or maybe not married. "(124)

This as well as is unfolded in comments and remarks. In a conversation about the Pre-Raphaelites, in which shortly before John Everett Millais, the creator of the drowned Ophelia as another famous 'water woman' (Stuby 163), is discussed in detail, the painter professor Cujacius makes an irritating, because not further itemized, remark about the contemporary art that reads like a commentary on the hybridity of hybrid beings: “But the most wretched are the halves who want to make pacts. There is nothing to compromise between beautiful and ugly. "(Fontane 239) Melusine appropriately interrupts his monologue by modifying the last half-sentence to change the subject:"And beautiful and ugly ”(239, italics in the original) it begins. The inconspicuous change expresses an endeavor to synthesize, in which past and future also merge in the present elsewhere: “I respect what is given. In addition, of course, also the becoming, because sooner or later this becoming will again be something given. ”(270) In Melusine's figure the theme of transforming time is condensed, but not in the sense of a metamorphosis, as a temporally ordered fore After-state that Monika Schmitz-Emans saw as a "possible strategy for representing temporality" (Schmitz-Emans, Continued metamorphoses 13) examined. Because Melusine does not transform at all, the metamorphosis does not serve to represent time, but rather the hybrid figure of the Pisces woman who becomes an instrument of interpretation for one's own present.

In order to refer to a fish woman melusine outside of the text, Fontane weaves in a number of remarks that readers who are well versed in literary studies or detective-minded readers can trace. This includes numerous allusions[7] on the element of water or the legendary material and, last but not least, the fact that Melusine Barby can finally take the floor and, as the new tribal mother, proclaim the continuation of the 'dynasty' (388). References also include those that refer to media outside of the text. Fontane's Melusinen myth is a transmedia myth that treats literature and the visual arts equally as constitutive of myths, even if the visual arts are not directly related to the mythical narrative.

In conversation with his doctor Dr. Sponholz speaks to Dubslav of a "very famous painter who, I think, was called Böcking or Böckling" (320). The subtle joke of calling someone very famous and at the same time not knowing their name exposes the relationship of his generation to contemporary art as a knowledge that is not canonically secured and consolidated. But the mention of the artist is more than just a symptom of the fact that the ancients' authority to interpret questions of education and culture is increasingly declining - especially since it is not an isolated case. Melusine comments on a fiery speech by the aforementioned Cujacius on the charcoal drawing of a tuba blower by Peter Cornelius, who is known for his religious painting: “Personally, I prefer the Böcklin mermaid with the fish body. I am of course a party. ”(205) What is important about this remark is not so much the identifying allusion highlighted by research but never categorized (Schäfer 90; Thomeier 113–114), which remains an aperçu. The juxtaposition of the tuba blower calling for the Last Judgment, a charcoal drawing on cardboard, with Arnold Böcklin's sea creatures, mostly realized in oil, is hardly logically comprehensible. It becomes it when one sees two world attitudes represented in the pictures. The awareness of doom, "this now established period of decline" and "time of falling away" (Fontane 205), which the speaker foolishly sees manifested primarily in the fact that paints are no longer kept in pig bladders but in tubes , Melusine counters her identification with the "Böcklinsche [n] Meerfrau" (205). It expresses the worldview that is constantly circulated in the novel, whose understanding of the present as a synthesis of past and future leaves no room for the glorification of the past, but at most for nostalgia.

4 Melusine's myth-reflective function

But why Böcklin of all people and not one of the many others who, in addition to mermaids, naiads, nymphs, sirens, also used Lorelei, Ophelia or Venus as motifs or paintings and sculptures by Gabriel von Max, William Waterhouse, Julius Hübner or based on the narrative Chauncey Bradley Ives? The spectrum of pictorial presence of water women or women in water around 1900 is hardly manageable. The fact that, from today's perspective, a critical constellation prevails on them, in which the (water) woman becomes an object of male contemplation, was the last public discussion as Waterhouse ' Hylas and the Nymphs through a performance in the context of the Me tooMovement made the headlines. Voyeurism is impressed on the Melusinen fabric: prints from Guillebert de Mets' 1410 show the male figure eyeing Melusine through a hole in the bathroom drilled into the door with a sword (Fig. 1). If the actual scandal with the dragon's tail is still in the focus of interest and foreground of the picture, then in Julius Huebner's depiction of 1844 it disappears in the form of a shadow (Fig. 2) - instead, the bare breast is intensely illuminated. The arrangement of the figures is also different: while Reymundt and Melusine are still at eye level at de Mets, the male part at Hübner takes on the perspective looking down on the object from above, which also prevails at Waterhouse.

Fig. 1

Guillebert de Mets: Raimondin reveals the secret of the Mélusine (1410)

Fig. 2

Julius Huebner: Melusine (1844)

The hierarchical arrangement of figures prevails in depictions of water women and is particularly characteristic of Art Nouveau. Heinrich Vogeler's illustration for the German version of Oscar Wildes The Fisherman and His Soul (1904, fig. 3) shows the young man holding the mermaid, who barely appears in Wilde's fairy tale, in a net: she, helplessly bared, turning her chest clearly visible towards the viewer, he bending over her from the boat. Since she doesn't have a fishtail at all, the theme here seems to offer a pretext for staging female nudity - especially since the drawing pushes a key motif of the fairy tale into the background: the missing legs are the cause of the betrayal and tragic outcome of the story.[8]

Fig. 3

Heinrich Vogeler's illustration for Oscar Wildes The Fisherman and his Soul (1904)

Fig. 4

Gustav Klimt: Fish blood (1897/1898)

In the 19th century, it was primarily the Pre-Raphaelites, neoclassicists and Art Nouveau artists who staged variations of erotic-demonic water women, thereby consolidating the connection between femininity and the abysmal, intangible element. How great the fascination of the Melusinen and Undinen theme was for the visual arts around 1900 and especially for representatives of Art Nouveau can be read from Jost Hermand and Beate Otto. Hermand also provides a pragmatic explanation for why the water woman of all things became a popular motif, although there are also other “archetypes of the feminine” (482) that offer an intellectualized (with Hermand: “ideological”) pretext for producing and closing nudes receive. According to him, the buoyant creatures "in rhythmic undulating movement [...] with their long, flowing hair and delicate limbs" (482) were easier to fit into the preferred ornamental lines.

The tradition of representation quotes a line of demarcation almost unbroken: the invisible and thus protected viewer gazes at the exposed other, whose sole purpose it seems to be to be gazed at. Whether depicted in the picture or conceptually integrated, like Reymundt, he looks through the doorway in order to recognize (erotically connoted) otherness - even if it is not there at all. With Klimt, for example, one can observe how the human-looking water women expose themselves to the viewer or, like aquarium fish, seem unable to evade them at all. In Fish blood (1897/1898, fig. 4) drift the female figures with slender, long limbs and flowing hair with the stream of water. Her poses - floating on her back, with half-closed eyes, arms thrown backwards - emphasize the nudity and present it to the viewer. Similar also relates goldfish (1901, fig. 5) the viewer, on which the central mermaid, looking teasingly over her shoulder at him, presents her view of the back including her rump. Even if the title of the picture does not refer to Undine, the figure can be identified by the red (often also red-blonde) hair (cf. Steinkämper 368) and in a reference to Paul Gaugins Dans les vagues, ou Ondine (1889, Fig. 6), which Klimt obviously cites. The exoticization goes hand in hand with eroticization and demonization.

Fig. 5

Gustav Klimt: goldfish (1901)

Fig. 6

Paul Gaugin: Dans les vagues, ou Ondine (1889)

In the case of Böcklin, however, the viewer suddenly finds himself in scenes that have nothing fantastically remote. Game of the Nereids like other paintings - Calm of the sea, In the sea and Lake idyll for example (all 1886 or 1887, Fig. 7–8) - show a self-referential get-together in which the Culture clash Human vs. non-human, which is central to the motive of the disturbed marriage, or nature vs. civilization, which in turn is called in the undine narrative, are missing. Even when naked, the figures do not look like helpless objects, if only because they are not pleasantly beautiful in the sense of Art Nouveau aesthetics or neoclassicism. Heinrich Wölfflin already acquitted Böcklin of the accusation of eroticizing, in that he wanted to distinguish his water creatures as "red screeching fish women" from the "girlish mermaids with whom a false interest in the scene is otherwise brought" (117).

Fig. 7

Arnold Böcklin: Calm of the sea (1886/1887)

Fig. 8

Arnold Böcklin: Game of the Nereids (1886)

This becomes clear where the viewer's gaze is thematized, as in Calm of the sea, on which the “Böcklinsche Meerfrau” can be seen, which Melusine Barby may also have in mind. The fishtail, on whom the gaze falls, looks neither teasing nor shy, but, as if ignoring the viewer, she looks past him. A male sea creature is floating beneath the surface of the water and fixates him with a contorted face. The viewer's perspective is integrated, but does not serve to expose the mermaid to the gaze. Rather, in the process of looking at things, the viewer himself becomes the viewer, which as a reflexive strategy in turn affects literature and especially Fouqués Undine refers. There, one can put it this simply, the readers observe the observer (s). The text opens up a meta-reflective level on which it reveals the predominantly male gaze as one in which the otherness and incomprehensibility of the feminine arise in the first place. While Undine's soullessness, expressed in amoral behavior, initially attracts Huldbrand, he loses interest after the wedding and projects, to the same extent as his feelings for Bertalda increase, the demonic in Undine, who at the time embodies the prime example of female virtue. His picture is not complementary to the actual state / character of the mermaid, but to his soul life manifested in the projection.

The voyeuristic moment, which we know from the Melusin saga, serves not only Fouqué to psychologize and characterize figures. In the texts of the 19th century, the main male characters do not come off well during an inspection: From Goethe's fairy tales The new Melusine (1817), Adam Mickiewiczs Świtezianka (1822), Grillparzer's libretto Melusina (1823) to Antonin Dvořaks Rusalka (1901, libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil) the type of the suspicious, unreliable, loyal, fickle and easily influenced man is picked up and reinforced. It can therefore be said that the melusine and undine material does not fix a femininity myth at all, no “ontology of the feminine” (Preusser 85), but rather a concept of masculinity.

The ties to this procedure Stechlin where readers come to second-order observers. Before she appears for the first time, Melusine is preceded by a fama that is condensing in her name: to some she appears magically urbane and modern, to others as a threat to traditional images of family and femininity. It's in too Stechlin a striking strategy to characterize the appearing figures based on their attitude towards Melusine. In the rejection they can be recognized as hopeless little minds, their curiosity marks them positively, be it understood as openness or (erotic) fascination.

In the conversation between Rex and Czako, two friends of the young Woldemar von Stechlin, the divorce story of the "charming woman" (108) comes up, who has put down her husband's name in protest and can only be called by her first name. Czako reacts to this spontaneously: “Melusine? Listen, Rex, but that lets you see deeply. ”(108) The reader does not find out at this point or at any other point into which shallows it allows us to see. The figures are hinted at: "Anyone who is called Melusine should know what names mean" (141), comments Woldemar without giving any further explanation. And the person meant reacts just as naturally: “Unfortunately, I know. Because there are people who are afraid of 'Melusine'. "(141) The rejection that Dubslav's sister, the aging Dominatrix Adelheid, has towards the young countess seems like evidence of this statement:" But Melusine is no coincidence, [...] this Melusine is a real Melusine. "(285) A comment leaves no doubt about the characteristic:" They were just antipodes: canon and lady of the world, pig and Windsor, above all narrow and wide soul. "(380)

In the characters in the novel, the name evidently triggers associations that they can hardly articulate themselves: “Of course, Melusine is more. Everything that comes out of the water is more. Venus came out of the water, as did Hero ... No, no, excuse me, it was Leander. ”(214) What exactly“ more ”is supposed to mean here remains a mystery and clearly shows the inability to concretise what was meant. The fact that Czako names Venus as well as Hero and Leander as related examples illustrates a precarious everyday knowledge of mythical narratives, which can be described as 'something with water', although flippantly but aptly. The text clearly shows how myths are present in everyday life. To study this presence, the Stechlin especially good because Fontane's characters think and say what belongs to the associative structure of the figure. Phantasmagorias of the feminine also occupy a prominent place in it. The novel works and plays with prejudice structures without serving them themselves, which becomes clear when Melusine addresses the phantasmagoria as such: “A woman who is not enigmatic is actually not one at all, with which I personally pronounce a kind of death sentence. Because I am everything, just not a riddle. ”(229) This is a strong delimiting moment to the melusine and undine narratives, both of which are connected by the riddle of origin. Melusine thus refers the whispers about her name to the realm of prejudice. Like the picture taken a few decades later L'invention collective by René Magritte, on which the mermaid lies upside down on the beach with fish head and human abdomen, Fontane shows the potential of creating realities with the help of collectively shared and perpetuated imaginations that access a transmedial universe associatively.

By allowing the characters to draw from an abstract reservoir of ideas and prejudices, Fontane activates a critical moment that is inscribed in the myth. In literary terms, he does what Roland Barthes does with his analysis of myths: deconstructing the myth as such by revealing its power to create stereotypes and ideologues. A realistic Melusine is particularly suitable for this because it is no different on the diegetic level. It becomes different because its surroundings project otherness into it.

Fontane's depiction strategy, which he places near Böcklin, can be located at one end of the interfigurality scale. On the other hand, Art Nouveau and Neoclassicism can be classified, as well as Eufemia von Ballestrem's literary example Lady Melusine.

5 Allusion as an interfigurality strategy in Eufemia von Ballestrems Lady Melusine

Marketing offers a suitable field to visualize the cultural reach and effectiveness of transfictional characters, which are decontextualized, adapted without reference to the source or even just contextual reference. From fairy tale characters like Little Red Riding Hood or Snow White to William Shakespeare's characters, we come across characters of literary origin in everyday culture - also as brand names. In addition to the globally effective brands such as the Starbucks franchise and only nationally known brands such as Pan Tadeusz (vodka), Zadig & Voltaire (fashion), Valmont (cosmetics), this also includes those that have established themselves in certain industries such as Don Giovanni (pizzerias ) and Gatsby (cocktail bars) or which testify to the incalculable ways of cultural transfer (Lotte chocolate in Japan, cf. Richter 151). They all address consumers in two ways: in the case of literary connoisseurs, they evoke associations with familiar works, in the case of others perhaps an elitist aura of the highly cultural or even just the impression of the vaguely familiar. Everyday culture shares this openness to effect with literature where there is no intertextual or intermedial network of references, such as the one Stechlin ready.

An example of this is the figure called Lady Melusine in the novel of the same name by the once successful, but now largely forgotten, entertainment author Eufemia, Countess von Adlersfeld-Ballestrem from 1878. The fact that the text can be located within contemporary entertainment literature is shown by the mixture of a love story with a detective plot and elements of horror, as well as the intricate and intricate plot. Melusine Holwell is of course "of beguiling beauty" (4) and the daughter of an impoverished Scottish nobleman. After the death of her father, at the age of twenty, she was left as a ward to the much older English nobleman Sir Ralph Hereford, who married her as a token of his goodwill. In the impoverished aristocratic house, which is equally shaped by Protestant ethos and traditionalism, she soon feels bored and below her possibilities. She also realizes that her old love, Count von Hastings, lives in some neighborhood, who is not only young and handsome, but also wealthy and sociable. On a hunt he organized, Melusine took the chance to free herself from what she saw as a prison life by shooting her husband and presenting this as a hunting accident. Then she pursues her goal of becoming Lady Hastings, all the more uncompromising and initially successful. However, the success is short-lived, because both the murder and a number of other atrocities eventually come to light. To this here melted down to the essentials, in the tradition of Gothic novel The core plot, which takes place primarily in eerie walls, is built up a network of side stories that are richly endowed with motifs of the recovered sister, the lavish and criminal relative, the loyal servant, a fictitious death, ghostly apparitions and lost letters.

This cursory summary already shows that the figure characteristics can hardly be brought into agreement with the well-known water women. Only the understanding of marriage as a means to achieve a specific goal can be understood as a reference to the Melusin and Undine myths. This reference remains vague, however, because in contrast to the water women narratives, it is not the unreliable man who leads the plot towards the tragedy, but the sly woman. Melusine is considered a femme fatale stylized, whose ambition and unscrupulousness are reminiscent of Shakespeare's female staff: from the sisters Goneril and Regan King Lear up to Lady Macbeth. Ballestrem does not leave this association to chance, but promotes it by prefixing some chapters with quotations from Shakespeare and - particularly obviously - by ennobling Melusine as a "Lady".

The process of merging two characters or types of characters into one has become typical of the participatory literary production of contemporary online culture under the name “mash-up”. In fan fiction, this term stands for the mixing of often historical or canonical characters with popular cultural types, whatever titles are like Sissi, the vampire hunter or Werther, the werewolf show (Wagner and Egger). Lady Melusine can be seen as such a mash-up of water woman and Lady Macbeth, even if their design differs significantly from fan fiction aesthetics (Pugh 25). The character knowledge that characterizes them is neither assumed nor staged in Ballestrem's work. It externalizes the mode of action in a manner comparable to that of the brand names mentioned above.

The literary connoisseur may be reminded of Shakespeare that Melusine is plagued by feelings of guilt that manifest themselves supernaturally. The reference is unmarked, however, so that the connection to Banquo's ghost, who holds Macbeth up against his guilt, is contingent - especially because Ballestrem chooses the narrative of a cleansing story with a happy ending. After being exposed, the Machiavellian beauty transforms into a devoted medic, dies doing charitable work and is honored after her death by those she has previously hurt and betrayed. In this one could see the transformation of Fouqués Undine from soulless natural being to a good bourgeois woman, which, however, is presented as fragments of association. The same applies to the only relevant allusion to the element water:

A quiet pond lay deep inside the park, and she hurried along. Leaning forward, she looked into the black water for a long, long time. Then she spread her arms as if she wanted to get into the treacherous flood, lower and lower she leaned, - then she laughed brightly - a demonic laugh! Standing upright, she pulled back, her head held high, the blond curls low on her neck and through the forest the echo sounded horrific and she laughed again, terribly, brightly, bloodcurdling, horrific! (77)

The connection to the element that characterizes water women narratives is not only singular, it also has no productive effect on the figure. Lady Melusine has nothing in common with water except for this scene. Anyone who knows the history of culture experiences an allusion that has no further consequences for understanding the text. In this text, the title works like a brand logo that allows deeper associations or not - just like in the case of Starbucks: That the coffeehouse chain with the mermaid image, which is still clearly recognizable in the older logo variant, and the Name of the helmsman from Herman Melvilles Moby Dick creates a connection with the sea, hardly anyone will induce an in-depth analysis (even if a connection could be made, for example, with the location of the first branch in the port of Seattle). Mermaid, helmsman and coffee are largely contingent in relation to one another Lady Melusine to the Melusinenmythos. The mash-up of the figures refers exclusively to the type of femme fatale, in this sense the figure could more appropriately be called La Dame Sans Merci, Salomé or Lilith. Melusine is not a tribal mother, but a morally deviant stranger who is being purified. Parallels to the undine narrative can certainly be found in abstraction, but also to many others.

It is all the more remarkable that in this fragmented, self-referential universe of motifs and plot structures in the figure conception of the realistic Lady Melusine, a characteristic can be found that we already know from Stechlin know. Like Melusine Barby, Lady Melusine embodies cultural hybridity in terms of both nationality and social position. In contrast to Fontane, however, the figure is interpreted. Their moral deviance is linked to their non-membership in English aristocratic society. As a Scot, she is considered a culturally foreigner, which is repeatedly expressed with antonomasia such as "Scottish mountain fairy" (e.g. 29, 48, 72, 154). When she wants to set off on the hunt with the men, it is immediately reflected to her how inappropriate her behavior is: “But we are not in Scotland here [...], and although English women sometimes do it, it is at least very noticeable . "(57) The" strange pleasure for a lady of killing the innocent animals of the forest "(56) stigmatizes the figure as capable of cruelty, the reference to the cultural origin relativizes that. cultural context, in the context of origin, the role model appears natural.

Her social advancement is even successfully portrayed as wrong: “[S] he thought how much she wanted to be happy again as a child and young girl in the old Hochlands Abbey. She thought that she was rich, happy and loved in spite of the fact that she was rich, happy and loved. ”(201) The will for social transformation, the pursuit of luxury and a love that is not appropriate to one's status are condemned and manifest as individual moral deviance. The phantasmagoria is confirmed objectively because no dividing line is drawn between the ideas and judgments of the world around us and the point of view of the text. Even if the narrative voice turns with instructive insertions against the habit of gossip, envy and prejudice, which is marked as female,[9] so the unfocalized perspective constantly spreads the image as a “demonically beautiful devil” (78). The pursuit of social advancement and luxury makes the figure suspect. It is the discrepancy between expectation and reality that triggers a chain of fatal entanglements in murder, kidnapping and fraud. The message is that migrants and social climbers cannot be integrated into an aristocratic community that is homogeneous in terms of basic moral convictions and traditions. Ballestrem's novel objectifies what Fontane uses diagnostically and critically of myths. He thus takes on the position known from Domina Adelheid from Stechlin, in everything that eludes the known categories of suspecting moral deviance.

6 Conclusion

In order to counter the problem of reception of transfictional figures like the realistic Melusinen, the term "interfigurality" is helpful because it leaves an objective undecided whether the figure is quoted as a myth, reflected as such or whether the name should merely evoke a treasure trove of cultural associations without to unfold the mythical biography of the character.

With regard to their plot and figure design as well as the target audience, the Stechlin and Lady Melusine very different. The fact that both transfer the physically marked hybridity of the wonderful Pisces woman to a socio-cultural level shows that the enriched stock of associations is stabilizing. Assuming a broad concept of myth and understanding of what can be described as work on it, both texts can be interpreted in this sense insofar as they re-profile the figure. With all the differences show Lady Melusine and the Stechlin also in solidarity that the intellectual experience is greater if one follows the scattered intertextual and intermedial breadcrumbs. Ballestrem does not, however, take the step of allowing the iteratively invoked universe of representations to reflexively affect the text. In front of this foil, Fontane's strategy becomes recognizable as one that is reflective of myth, which reinforces the intermedia reference to the visual arts.

Because even in these, the range from critical to allusoric handling can be observed. If Art Nouveau defines the myth of romantic character by using it to exoticize, eroticize and demonize femininity, Böcklin reflects precisely this tendency. The novel by Eufemia von Ballestrem, with its interfigurality strategy, is close to both Art Nouveau and today's everyday culture, when the figure known as Melusine is portrayed as a demonic woman. That, too, defines the myth and is just as vague as calling a dish consisting of cauliflower floating in tomato sauce and gratinated, 'beautiful Melusine': Both are only understandable if we refer to the narrative as' something in water (or sauce) 'or' something with a demonic woman '. In order to anticipate the obvious assumption that the boundary between high and broad culture is decisive here: The same applies to the quote from Bruno Schulz at the beginning, which is why the interfigurality strategy alone does not provide any information about the quality or the target group of a text.

In contrast to everyday representations, however, literature provides a context. The fact that the figure does not become arbitrary despite maximum decontextualization and, despite demythization, 'Melusine' does not mutate into a signal word for everything else and demonic, has to do with the commitment to the function of representing cultural hybridity. To do this, however, it has to be translated from the dynamic of metamorphosis, which is constitutive for the Undine-Melusine narrative, into the static of the in-between.Therefore, the mythical narrative is not required for this - an idea of ​​a mermaid or siren is sufficient. What literature shares with everyday presence, however, is the lack of clarity as to whether the formulated request for reception will work. That applies even to the Stechlin, where the implicit reader, who is to be thought of as complementary to the intertextual and intermedial network of references, is scattered with such conspicuous breadcrumbs in addition to naming the name that he cannot even recognize the character's cultural palimpsest character. The question of the extent to which the real reader decrypts these references and accesses the transfictional universe of Melusines and Undines that opens up in the palimpsest cannot be answered from the text.


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