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Kerstin Wiedemann and Elisa Müller-Adams

A Female Faust: Reception of Ida Hahn-Hahns Novel Gräfin Faustine (1840)


The novel Gräfin Faustine (Countess Faustina) by Ida Hahn-Hahn might be considered as a key text for 19th-century German women’s writing. As researchers pointed out, Hahn-Hahn tries to establish a female Faustian character in this text in order to discuss the central question of the female genius (as a painter and as a woman who does not accept the concept of marriage, Faustine is an unconventional character in more than one way). Contemporary readers react very strongly to the text, comparing it – for example in France – to George Sand’s novel Lélia (1833). But according to Hahn-Hahn herself (Gräfin Faustine, preface), it seems that they misread the novel, as, for instance, they do not acknowledge the aesthetic dimension of Faustine’s ‘sublime egoisme’, but instead focus their criticism on the selfishness of the female protagonist.

AsK, September 2012

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