Catherine Grimm



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German women writers, Bettine von Arnim, Die Günderode, female friendship


Bettine von Arnim’s Die Günderode is the second of her autobiographically inspired works of epistolary fiction, based on correspondences and memories of key figures from von Arnim’s youth.i Published in 1840 the text is usually read as an idealized depiction of 19th century female friendship and companionship. Lorely French states, for example, that “recent studies have recognized Die Günderode as the most communicational of Arnim’s four epistolary books”, while Edith Waldstein observes that “such cooperation, mutual respect, reciprocal enrichment and love are characteristic of the relationship between these two women and distinguish it from all other friendships portrayed in Bettine von Arnim’s novels. The frank exchange between the two young women in Die Günderode is often contrasted with the more one-sided and hierarchical correspondence between a young von Arnim and an older Goethe in her first book Goethes Briefwechsel mit einem Kinde. For example, in her recent book Ulrike Growe writes the following about Die Günderode: “Dem ganzen Briefverkehr ist konstrastierend vor der Folie des drohenden Selbstmordes eine jugendliche Unbeschwertheit und Träumerei unterlegt, und eine Offenheit und Akzeptanz, die so im Austausch mit dem Bruder Clemens oder dem abgöttisch geliebten Goethe nicht vorhanden ist“.


This work is part of the Sophie Digital Library, an open-access, full-text-searchable source of literature written by German-speaking women from medieval times through the early 20th century. The collection, covers a broad spectrum of genres and is designed to showcase literary works that have been neglected for too long. These works are made available both in facsimiles of their original format, wherever possible, as well as in a PDF transcription that promotes ease of reading and is amenable to keyword searching.

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Sophie Journal


German Literature

‘Die Seele sehnte sich hinaus in den Schnee’: The Meaning and Function of Outside Space in Bettine von Arnim’s Die Günderode