Readers and Their Fictions in the Novels and Novellas of Gottfried Keller

By Gail K. Hart

With a New Foreword by the Author

Readers and Their Fictions in the Novels and Novellas of Gottfried Keller

160 pp., 6 x 9, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5676-2
    Published: May 2020

University of North Carolina Studies in Germanic Languages and Literature

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This study seeks to alter our understanding of Keller’s realism by problematizing the act of reading within fiction. The story of reading in Keller’s fiction is a self-conscious meditation on the schism between life and its literary representation--and it emphasizes the incapacity of that representation to actually and substantially influence the life it is based on. This has consequences for the didactic writer. The act of reading here generally involves a collision between fiction and its other and a move (or tragic failure to move) toward an acceptance and affirmation of the non-correspondence between life and literature, a process that renders moral didacticism a quixotic project. This position runs counter to the prevailing view of Keller as a consciously didactic author who tried to create a credible copy of reality in order to revise and repair the real world by inspiring readers to make the depicted improvements in their nonfictional universe.


"Hart's observations are decidedly provocative for the scholarly tradition that has commonly considered Realism the antithesis of modernism. Her reevaluation of the role of readers and texts within "realist" works--as a means of identifying and defining the borders between representation and lived experience--clearly merits the close attention of anyone interested in exploring the historical nature of these divisions and their various manifestations."--Monatshefte