The Demons of the Text

In the Danish Romantic writer B. S. Ingemann's fairy tale "The Sphinx" (1820), written "in the manner of CallotHoffmann", the protagonist is, in imaginative terms as well as literally speaking, overpowered by the writing process itself, for "the longer he wrote, the stranger everything turned out to be to him; it was as if the pen kept running all by itself, while he indulged in the most bizarre fantasies, with regard to the unhappy prince who was once murdered in this place [i.e. his own double]"; and at the same time his beloved ("the beautiful Cordula") undergoes the most peculiar transformations and finally ends up as "a terrible monster who said: I am Princess Goldini - you will never stop bothering about me, until you dive into the Abyss with me ''.1 Narrative desire thus gets the better of the protagonist (the student Arnold), but at the same time the identity crises staged in the plot are also associated with a spectacular mise en scène of femininity itself, inasmuch as certain feminists (pace Pil Dahlerup) have characterized "the very dissolution of the subject [as] a female condition".2

In this paper*, I intend to focus on three texts, all of them related to the nineteenthcentury fantastic tradition - and all of them bearing witness to the influential position of the German Romantic writer E. T. A. Hoffmann in Danish literature in the early decades of the century. The three narratives taken up here are: B. S. Ingemann's "The Sphinx" (1820) and Hans Christian Andersen's "The Goloshes of Fortune" (1838, 1849) and "The Snow Queen" (1845). What these texts have in common is what may be termed a drift towards a demonic sphere, in casu a sphere where the writing process no longer appears to be entirely subordinated to the control of the subject (the narrator), or where narrative desire tends to destabilize the very position of the protagonist within the plot. Or to put it in other words: narrative space itself appears to be invaded by textual demons or gremlins (!).

In a theoretical perspective the notion of a compact with the Devil is given an exemplary role in the French critic Irene Bessière's investigation of the fantastic in Le récit fantastique (1974); and in Angus Fletcher's epoch
making study Allegory. The Theory of a Symbolic Mode (1964) the first chapter is entitled "The Daemonic Agent" (according to Fletcher, allegories may, to a very large extent, be read precisely in the light of the idea of a demonic agency). Insofar as "The Goloshes of Fortune" is (essentially) based on an allegorical plot, Fletcher's thesis is certainly relevant in our context, and it may be used to elucidate important aspects of the narrative. According to Fletcher, what characterizes allegories is the way in which cosmic systems tend to govern the individual character, for "[t]rough the workings of destiny he is narrowed to the function represented by his daemon".3 In accordance with this allegorical logic "Sorrow" in "The Goloshes of Fortune" is not only given the last word in the narrative, but her lastminute intervention at this point simply "frames" the whole story:

Sorrow pulled the galoshes off the student's feet, and the sleep of death was over; and the resurrected young man rose. Sorrow disappeared, and so did the galoshes; Sorrow thought they belonged to her.4

Sorrow (the allegorical agent) thus appears to be provided with semidivine power, but even in less obviously allegorical stories the same kind of narrative logic seems to be operative, limiting quite radically the sphere of action of the characters. Thus the flowers in the "Third Tale" of "The Snow Queen" ("The Flower Garden of the Woman Who Was Versed in Sorcery") foreground in a rather exemplary manner what Fletcher has called "demonic agency", for "each flower was standing in the sunshine and dreaming of its own fairy tale or history; little Gerda was told so very many of these, but no one knew anything about Kay".5 Thus the existential outcome of this compulsion to narrate is somewhat deficient, for none of these narrators is capable of crossing over and reaching the Other's sphere, addressing the latter with the words: De te fabula narratur. On the contrary the obsessive refrain is: De me fabula narratur. Thus narrative desire is here governed by narcissistic fixation and a spectacular style of selfrepresentation.

2. Bewitched Sticks, or the Riddle of the Sphinx in the Manner of CallotHoffmann

In an article in the Danish review Passage (No. 8, 1990) Jan Rosiek comments on the approach(es) to Ingemann's "The Sphinx" (1820) undertaken by earlier critics,6 and in a reading inspired by American deconstruction the said critic attempts to concentrate on "allegorical elements in Ingemann's fairy tales", thereby making it possible to discuss him in the light of the allegorical version of Romanticism foregrounded by two of the most innovative readers of Romanticism in the twentieth century, i.e. Walter Benjamin and Paul de Man.7 To Jan Rosiek "The Sphinx" is not a fantastic tale (i.e. not in Todorov's sense),8 but rather a Kunstmärchen, closely related to the kind of Märchen written by Goethe or Novalis (a utopian type of fairy tale, often incorporating some sort of alchemical symbolism).9 It seems as if Rosiek is operating with a rather narrow conception of the fantastic, however, inasmuch as a number of recent theorists have foregrounded other aspects of the said mode than those pointed out by Tzvetan Todorov (who emphasizes the element of "hesitation" visàvis the natural and/or the supernatural in the fantastic tale).10 Thus textual antinomies, a "demonological" dimension, etc., have been stressed in connection with the said attempts to theorize the fantastic.11

In this connection it is worthwhile bearing in mind E. T. A. Hoffmann's position as a "key figure" within the fantastic tradition (Neil Cornwell).12 For Hoffmann's "Der goldene Topf" ("The Golden Pot", 1814) is certainly an essential precursor text, when it comes to reading Ingemann's "The Sphinx" with due reference to its intertextual links to German Romanticism.13 But other tales by Hoffmann such as Die Elixiere des Teufels (The Devil's Elixirs, 181516), "Der Sandmann" ("The Sandman", 1816), etc., also play an important role as literary models in Ingemann's tale. Like Viktorin/Victor (the double of the runaway monk Medardus) in The Devil's Elixirs, Arnold at the very beginning of Ingemann's tale falls into a deep pit (Countess Cordula, his beloved, finds him "hurled down a steep mountain slope close to the castle'');14 and furthermore the interrupted wedding ceremony in "The Sphinx", with Cordula and Arnold presiding as bride and groom, reminds us of a similar scene in The Devil's Elixirs, where Medardus' beloved Aurelia is murdered in front of the altar just as she is about to pledge her vow as a nun to the ecclesiastical authorities (and this event is characterized as "the martyrdom of the bride of Christ, put to the test and purified from sin'').15 Even if "The Golden Pot" shares some of the characteristics of the "utopian" (Goethean) Kunstmärchen (cf. Rosiek),16 the other precursor texts associated with E. T. A. Hoffmann's name certainly point in a different direction - foregrounding a Romantic Zerrissenheit and Wertherlike Weltschmerz; and these features are definitely prominent in Ingemann's "The Sphinx", where the theme of madness likewise plays an important structural role (cf. Viktorin's/Victor's and Nathanael's madness in The Devil's Elixirs and "The Sandman" respectively).

Jan Rosiek, in his abovementioned reading of Ingemann's tale, focuses on a discrepancy between on the one hand a kind of philosophical Überschwenglichkeit (associated with the German Universalromantik), on the other a de facto denunciation of "the demands of the poetics of the symbol", insofar as the very rhetorical strategy adopted by Ingemann in "The Sphinx" actually tells a different story; for "in a rhetorical perspective", the symbolic narrative focusing on reconciliation and a happy ending becomes "an allegory of failure" (!).17 In a somewhat schematic manner Rosiek links up the (Romantic) opposition between symbol and allegory with the two female protagonists of the narrative, turning the latter into "a tale about literature's attempt to achieve selfdetermination, when it comes to choosing between allegory (Cordula) and symbol (Goldini) ".18 However, in this context it appears to be more relevant to point out the conspicuous lack of stability of the very female signifiers in question - instead of trying to link them to wellestablished literary categories (allegory and symbol). For what is characteristic of femininity in this narrative is precisely that it nowhere coincides with itself (!).

Male desire is actually unable to cope with its object, when it is confronted with the seductive appearance(s) of the Princess Goldini: " a glowing radiance emanated from her black, glittering eyes, and it kindled a longing in Arnold's heart that he had never experienced before in actual life, but only toyed with in his dreams''.19 However, even here the protagonist is not confronting an empirical fact, but rather another demonic precursor text, i.e. Shakespeare's Macbeth (written between 1603 and 1606); for what happens to Arnold is very much similar to what occurred to Macbeth "on the mysterious heath, when the Weird Sisters greeted him as a King ".20 Power and sexuality are intimately related in an almost Foucauldian manner in Ingemann's tale, and furthermore, the femme fatale or female antagonist (Princess Goldini) is destabilized and undergoes a significant transformation as "the old gaoler danced merrily across the floor with the insane saleswoman from Hamburg''.21 Thus the witch may be regarded as the archetypal representative of femininity in this episode, and in the said context it is worthwhile returning to the initial scene or tableau of the narrative where the saleswoman in question tries to dispose of her goods (her sticks) in the open market, with a stubbornness that reflects both the conditions of a new commercial culture and the ageold traditions of carnival (in its Bakhtinian sense): thus "Old sticks! Sensible sticks" on the spur of the moment become "Goodfor-nothing sticks! Romantic
poetical sticks! stark raving mad, devilish sticks!", ending up as "Brocken sticks, Hellfire sticks, Devil's Grandma sticks!"22 And in this context the sticks have clearly become a kind of enigmatic signs, inasmuch as the semantic shifts obviously signalize the lability of the semiotic universe. This lack of stability is linked up with an écriture féminine that undermines the very telos of the narrative and its structural regularities. There is a formal happy ending ("Happy, happy adventurer! thou didst win the Princess, and her's is the Crown, when the splendour of the whole world turns out to be vanity and a futile dream");23 but in a philosophical perspective this ending is unable to bridge the gaps in the text. For until the very end of the text the signs (sticks) remain associated with both a phallic masculinity (un Oedipe trop gros, to quote Deleuze and Guattari)24 and an enigmatic femininity (the female sphinx on the knob of the stick that Arnold buys in Hamburg).25 And the riddle of the Sphinx is never really solved in Ingemann's tale.

3. The Fairy of Happiness Enters the Scene - and Makes a Slip

Textual demonry dominates the initial scene in Ingemann's "The Sphinx" sketched above (where Arnold buys one of the saleswoman's countless sticks in the marketplace of Hamburg). The affinity between these sticks and a subversive, "Satanic" underground world becomes more and more obvious; the mad saleswoman is clearly a witch. But at the same time the knob on the stick also represents the enigma of femininity itself, for it is shaped as "a sphinx, smiling secretly with its tiny, spellbinding face and waving its finger in such a manner that it now seemed to beckon, now to warn or threaten [the protagonist]".26 In Hans Christian Andersen's framenarrative "The Goloshes of Fortune" (1838, 1849) Hoffmann's narrative universe also plays an important role, but in this case it is one of his late stories, "Meister Floh" ("Master Floh", 1822), with the subtitle: "Ein Mährchen in sieben Abentheuern zweier Freunde", that constitutes the (primary) narrative model. Thus the metapoetical beginning is to be found in both the earliest version of Andersen's "The Goloshes of Fortune" (1838) and in Hoffmann's "Meister Floh", and in both cases ostensibly boring or repetitive narrative formulas (such as "Once upon the time there was") are explicitly denounced by the narrator ("Rom har sin Corso, Neapel sin Toledo, - see der have vi Andersen igjen, sige de, men jeg maa alligevel blive ved - Kjøbenhavn sin Østergade" - "Es war einmal - welcher Autor darf es jetzt wohl noch wagen, sein Geschichtlein also zu beginnen").27

The plot in "The Goloshes of Fortune" focuses on what might be called the demonic aspects or consequences of magical wish-fulfilment, and of course, this is a motif that we come across quite often both in the traditional fairy tale, in the Kunstmärchen, and in fantastic literature. In the allegorical tableau placed at the beginning of Andersen's tale "a servant of the lady in waiting to the Fairy of Happiness" - whose role in the ordinary scheme of things is far from prominent - tells her interlocutor ("Sorrow") that she has received a rather remarkable birthday present, i.e. "a very special pair of galoshes. They are magic galoshes and anyone who has them on is transported instantly to the time in history or the place in the world that he desires to be. And so, at last, some people will have a chance to be happy on earth!"28 But Sorrow foresees nothing but trouble if mankind is introduced to such a Pandora's Box. The younger fairy, however, is convinced that the ultimate outcome of this experiment will be a blessing to the parties involved: "I'll leave the galoshes here by the door, somebody will take them by mistake and obtain happiness!"29 The very words of the fairy are significant in this context, for they seem to indicate that human happiness is only possible on the basis of very dubious (metaphysical) premises, i.e. on the basis of a "mistake" (!). In ordinary life there is no room for such a happiness. And in the last chapter of "The Goloshes of Fortune" the final consequences of this narrative logic are demonstrated to us, for here death itself turns out to be the ultimate object of the subject's (in this case the theological student's) desire, i.e. human life is, in the last resort, governed by the (Freudian) death instinct. Interesting enough, the sphinx turns up once more in this context (cf. Ingemann's tale), and here it is linked up with the whole telos of the narrative, for "Every dead body is an immortal sphinx"30 (a more correct translation would be: "Every corpse is the Sphinx of Immortality'').31 31 Thus the Riddle of the Sphinx is clearly related to an existential complex of problems, i.e. to a Heideggerian Sein zum Tode, for death closes "the split between letter and figure, and vital differences emerge as identity in death" (Jan Rosiek).32 And inasmuch as the allegorical conflict produces as its final outcome the emblematic image of a lifeless body, "the Sphinx on this black sarcophagus",33 the subject remains at a loss with regard to a possible interpretive strategy visàvis the strange ciphers offered to it by the narrative (what does a dead body mean?).

Like Hans Christian Andersen's Journey on Foot (Fodreise, 1829) "The Goloshes of Fortune" is largely based on a series of genre pictures from the Danish capital, where the reader is introduced to different social classes: the higher bourgeoisie (Councilman Knap), the lower classes (the night watchman), the academic élite (the medical student, the theological student), the world of the theatre, and the blackcoated proletariat (the copyist). The narrative thread that establishes the necessary link(s) between all these disparate elements is simply brought about by means of the magical stage requisite of the plot (the goloshes). Both "The Goloshes of Fortune" and Hoffmann's "Meister Floh" are furthermore, in thematic terms, based on a common denominator, insofar as both texts are dominated by what Tzvetan Todorov has classified as "the perceptionconsciousness system";34 in this connection it is more accurate to say that " in Hoffmann it is not vision itself that is linked to the world of the marvelous, but rather eyeglasses and mirrors, those symbols of indirect, distorted, subverted vision".35 In "Meister Floh" two scientists become involved in an "optic duel", where both of them "put eyeglasses in front of their eyes and made furious attacks on each other with sharp, murderous looks" (!).36 And in "The Goloshes of Fortune" the poem entitled "Auntie's Glasses" functions in a manner that reminds us very much of Master Flea's microscopic glass in Hoffmann's tale (capable of revealing people's innermost thoughts to the beholder). The poem called "Auntie's Glasses" actually seduces the medical student into undertaking a veritable "trip through the hearts of all the people in the front row of a theatre".37 What is interesting in this context is that the emphasis is actually transferred from the head (Auntie's glasses) to a considerably lower part of the body - or what Mikhail Bakhtin has termed the material bodily lower stratum (the feet, represented here by the magical goloshes).38 In this connection it is worth
while remembering that to Freud feet and shoes have obvious sexual connotations.39 Anyway, the student's tumultuous journey through the entrails of a number of theatregoers is certainly brought about by means of the goloshes; but the ultimate outcome of this attempt to penetrate into the heart of darkness is negative: the medical student ends up believing that all his experiences simply bear witness to the fact that he is not in his right mind, and "when he got back home and into his own room, [the first thing he did] was to plaster a Spanish fly on his back, in the hope that it would draw out the madness".40 Consequently, "The next morning he had a bloody back; and that was all he had got out of wearing the magic galoshes".41

4. The Demonic Mirror

In "The Snow Queen" (1845) the opening scene is presented to us in a much more emphatically grandiose style than was the case in the first tableau of "The Goloshes of Fortune" (cf. above). What is foregrounded at the beginning of "The Snow Queen" is a veritable cosmic drama, reminding us incidentally of the magnificent account of the Fall of the Rebel Angels in Milton's Paradise Lost (1667, 1674), but - and this is actually what matters in our context - transposed into an altogether different, much less pathetic, key or mode. In terms of genre, we seem to witness a shift from the epic (Milton) to the grotesque (Hans Christian Andersen). Thus Satan himself becomes nothing but "an evil troll"!42 The demiurgic hubris of the said "Devil" (in Danish: "Dævelen")43 consists in his arrogant attempt to construct a mirror "that had the quality of making everything good and fair that was reflected in it dwindle to almost nothing The loveliest landscapes looked like boiled spinach in it, and the best people became nasty or stood on their heads without stomachs ".44 In the magical mirror the very notion of mimesis - holding up the mirror to nature - is literally deconstructed, as the trolls try "to fly up to Heaven itself, to make fun of the angels and our Lord".45 In this titanic metaphysical battle the trolls are bound to lose, for the sheer power of the good is simply too much to sustain for this devilish engine, and "the mirror quivered so dreadfully in its grin that it shot out of their hands and plunged down to the earth, where it broke into a hundred billion - and even more fragments ".46 In a parodically disfigured form Hans Christian Andersen's account here echoes the spectacular fall of Milton's archrebel in the Sixth Book of Paradise Lost, or "the deep fall / Of those too high aspiring, who rebelld / With Satan ...".47

After the cosmological drama presented to us in the first tale (focusing on "The Mirror and the Fragments") the remainder of the narrative is much more down to earth, focusing on the lives of the two children Kay and Gerda, on Kay's misfortunes after he has got a fragment of the troll glass in his eye as well as one in his heart, and finally on Gerda's quest after Kay has been abducted by the Snow Queen and transported to her arctic castle, when Gerda is trying hard, for a very long time, to find her lost companion. Gerda's trials and tribulations during her long journey to the Northern regions (the Snow Queen's castle) make up most of the narrative, and only in the very last tale ("What Happened in the Snow Queen's Castle and what Happened Afterward") is Kay finally liberated from the spell put on him by this demonic magna mater (the Snow Queen). The "Ice Puzzle of Reason"48 presented to Kay by this femme fatale may be said to represent a distorted version of the Project of Enlightenment, but its riddling (demonic) power is counterbalanced in the plot by two lines from a pious eighteenthcentury Danish hymn: "Roses growing in the dale / Where the Holy Child we hail";49 49 and thanks to the pathetic power of tears ("the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings"), called forth in Kay by the said lines, the hero undergoes a cathartic experience, making even the fragments of ice dance for joy, "And when they were tired and lay down, they arranged themselves in the very letters the Snow Queen had said he was to find [i.e. the word "eternity"], and then he would be his own master and she would give him the whole world and a pair of new skates".50

It may be argued that what is missing in Jan Rosiek's deconstructive reading of Ingemann's "The Sphinx" is an awareness of the kind of narrative desire that informs its plot - an awareness of the fact that it is (also) an erotic text. This eroticization - or sexualization - of the writing process itself may likewise be found in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen", where the text is permanently oscillating between two poles, one of them representing excessive cold and the other excessive heat. In the third tale ("The Flower Garden of the Woman Who Was Versed in Sorcery"), the tiger lily embodies the second pole in its dramatic account of the death of the Hindu widow on her pyre: "In her long red kirtle, the Hindu wife stands on the pyre, as the flames leap up about her and her dead husband. But the Hindu wife is thinking of the one still alive here in the ring, the one whose eyes burn hotter than the flames, the one whose burning eyes come closer to her heart than the flames that will soon burn her body to ashes. Can the flames of the heart die in the flames of the pyre?''51 Here is actually one of the few places in the narrative where sexuality is thematized in a fairly straightforward manner. But together with other thematic elements in the plot this scene bears witness to the fact that narrative desire cannot be left out of account - and characters like the robber girl, the Lapp wife, and the Finn wife point in the same direction. All of them embody a powerful femininity - a femininity and a female jouissance undermining in subtle ways the very authority of the patriarchal system. The euphoria of the final tableau ("And it was summer - the warm, glorious summer")52 in the last resort cannot eliminate the disquieting whiteness represented by the Snow Queen and her realm (a kind of empty transcendence?), and the very snowflakes are animated by a grotesque life of their own: "Some looked like huge loathsome porcupines, others like whole knots of snakes that stuck forth their heads, and others like little fat bears with bristly hair - all shining white, all living snowflakes".53 Thus it turns out that even this arctic waste is brimful of life the whole animal kingdom has actually invaded the said barren realm! The grotesque mode reminds us of our links to the animal world and the vegetable kingdom - just as it is the case in "The Little Mermaid" (1837), where the submarine territory of the sea witch is similarly constituted and also represents a parallel attempt to foreground an alien world, to play around with the notion of the absurd, as well as "an attempt to invoke and subdue the demonic aspects of the world" (Wolfgang Kayser).54 This constitutional demonry cannot be abolished by means of pious quotations from a hymn book!


1. B. S. Ingemann, Fjorten Eventyr og Fortællinger. Tekstudgivelse, Efterskrift og Noter af Marita Akhøj Nielsen. Danske Klassikere. Det danske Sprog og Litteraturselskab. Copenhagen: Borgens Forlag, 1989, p. 63 (my translation). back

2. Cf. Pil Dahlerup, Dekonstruktion. 90'ernes litteraturteori, Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1991, p. 75 (Dahlerup's italics, my translation). back

3. Angus Fletcher, Allegory. The Theory of a Symbolic Mode, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1964, pp. 5960. back

4. Hans Christian Andersen, The Penguin Complete Fairy Tales and Stories of Hans Andersen. Translated by Erik Christian Haugaard. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1985, p. 107. (In this edition the story is entitled "The Magic Galoshes".) back

5. Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales. Penguin Popular Classics. London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1994, p. 160. back

6. Jan Rosiek, "Ingemanns romantiske eventyr. En læsning i den demanske manér", Passage, No. 8, 1990, pp. 4969, especially p. 49 and p. 52. (For obvious reasons Rosiek does not comment on András Masát's reading, "Verdiformidling og kjønnsrolle i det danske kunsteventyret. Tre eventyr av Ingemann", in: Helga Kress (ed.), Litteratur og kjønn i Norden. Foredrag på den xx. studiekonfe-ranse ... , Reykjavík: Háskólaútgáfan, 1996, pp. 91-99.) back

7. Cf. ibid., p. 66 (my translation). back

8. Cf. Tzvetan Todorov, The Fantastic. A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre. Translated from the French by Richard Howard. Cleveland / London: The Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1973, p. 25: "The fantastic is that hesitation experienced by a person who knows only the laws of nature, confronting an apparently supernatural event." back

9. Cf. Jan Rosiek, op. cit., p. 56 and p. 59. back

10. Cf., e.g., Irène Bessière, Le récit fantastique. La poétique de l'incertain, Paris: Librairie Larousse, 1974, and Neil Cornwell, The Literary Fantastic. From Gothic to Postmodernism, New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1990. back

11. Cf. in particular Irène Bessière, op. cit., p. 79, where she refers to "un équilibre entre la tentation de la fantaisie pure et celle de l'allégorie morale", when she tries to determine the position of the literary topos of the compact with the Devil within this field, i.e. in fantastic literature. back

12. Cf. Neil Cornwell, op. cit., p. 78: "E. T. A. Hoffmann is by any standards a key figure in the development of the literary fantastic ". back

13. Cf. the passage in Ingemann's tale where the student Arnold asks himself: " you shouldn't yourself by any chance be the student Anselmus [in "The Golden Pot", 1814]?" (Ingemann, op. cit., p. 47). Jan Rosiek, op. cit., p. 59, warns his readers against using this quotation as a "key" to the meaning of the narrative and adds that "It is difficult to locate Hoffmannesque descriptions of the philistines of everyday life in the fairy tale" (my translation), but actually, there are quite a few of these philistines in Ingemann's text (and Arnold's adventures make him come across a number of them from the very outset). Thus the saleswoman selling Arnold the magical stick at the beginning of the story addresses her potential customers in a rather strange manner, explicitly contrasting bourgeois mediocrity with romantic Burschenherrlichkeit (she stores "Old sticks, sensible sticks" as well as "Good
fornothing sticks, romanticpoetical sticks", etc.; cf. note 22). back

14. Cf. E. T. A. Hoffmann, The Devil's Elixirs. Translated by Ronald Taylor. London: John Calder, 1963, p. 45: "As soon as I touched him [i.e. Viktorin or Victor], he awoke from his slumber, but in the same moment he lost his balance and hurtled down into the gorge, his shattered limbs cracking as they were hurled from rock to rock ". Of course, this passage also reminds us of the murderous and lustful monk Ambrosio's horrible demise in Matthew Gregory Lewis's The Monk (1796): "Headlong fell the monk through the airy waste; the sharp point of a rock received him; and He rolled from precipice to precipice, till bruised and mangled He rested on the river's banks" (Matthew Lewis, The Monk. Edited with an Introduction by Howard Anderson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, n.d., pp. 44142). back

15. Cf. E. T. A. Hoffmann, Die Elixiere des Teufels. LebensAnsichten des Katers Murr, München: Winkler Verlag, 1969, p. 287 (where the text refers to "Das Martyrium der geprüften, entsündigten Christusbraut!") (my translation). back

16. Cf. note 9. back

17. Cf. Jan Rosiek, op. cit., p. 65 (my translation). back

18. Ibid., p. 65 (my translation). back

19. B. S. Ingemann, op. cit., p. 69 (my translation). back

20. Ibid., pp. 6970 (my translation). Cf. William Shakespeare, Macbeth. Edited by Kenneth Muir. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., Reprinted 1963, I,iii,49, where the third witch greets Macbeth with the words: "All hail, Macbeth that shalt be King hereafter". back

21. Cf. B. S. Ingemann, op. cit., p. 70 (my translation). The monstrous equations of "The Sphinx" turn the majority of the female characters into (highly unreliable) replicas (or copies) of each other, i.e. Countess Cordula, Princess Goldini, the saleswoman, and the Devil's Grandma! back

22. B. S. Ingemann, op. cit., pp. 4243 (my translation). back

23. Cf. ibid., p. 72 (my translation). back

24. Cf. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Kafka. Pour une littérature mineure, Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1975, pp. 1728. back

25. Cf. B. S. Ingemann, op. cit., p. 43. The sphinx portrayed here, whose features are those of the beautiful Countess Cordula, is explicitly associated with Egypt and its mysteries in one of Arnold's dreams (after he has been incarcerated in a sinister Gothic dungeon): " he saw the great pyramids and obelisks, and stared with a sense of wonder at the enigmatic hieroglyphs; finally he saw a huge marble sphinx, who appeared to him to be the beautiful Cordula - and he woke up" (pp. 5556 (my translation)). Cf. on the role of the hieroglyphs in Western culture also John T. Irwin, American Hieroglyphics. The Symbol of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics in the American Renaissance, Baltimore / London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983. Of course, Arnold's (futile) attempts to interpret the mysteries of his own lifestory (his enigmatic origin, etc.) may also be read in the light of this complex of problems (in this perspective his quest turns out to be a hermeneutical quest!). back

26. B. S. Ingemann, op. cit., p. 43 (my translation). back

27. H. C. Andersens Eventyr. Kritisk udgivet efter de originale Eventyrhæfter med Varianter ved Erik Dal og Kommentar af Erling Nielsen. Det danske Sprog og Litteraturselskab. Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels Forlag, 1963, Vol. 1, p. 213 ("Rome has its Corso, Naples its Toledo - now there is Andersen for you, they say, but I must go on - Copenhagen has its Østergade" (my translation)). This is the first version of "The Goloshes of Fortune" (1838). The opening is left out in the second version (1849), which is the one translated in The Penguin Complete Fairy Tales and Stories of Hans Andersen (cf. note 4). E. T. A. Hoffmann, Meister Floh (Stuttgart: Philip Reclam Jun., 1993), p. 5 ("Once upon a time there was - what author would nowadays dare to begin his teenytiny story in this manner" (my translation)). back

28. The Penguin Complete Fairy Tales and Stories of Hans Andersen, p. 83. back

29. Ibid., p. 83. back

30. Ibid., p. 106. back

31. Cf. H. C. Andersens Eventyr, p. 238 ("Ethvert Liig er Udødelighedens Sphinx"). back

32. Jan Rosiek, op. cit., p. 66 (my translation). back

33. H. C. Andersens Eventyr, p. 238 ("Sphinxen her paa den sorte Sarkophag"). back

34. Cf. Tzvetan Todorov, op. cit., p. 120. "We are, in Freudian terms, within the perceptionconsciousness system. This is a relatively static relation, insofar as it implies no particular actions, but rather a position - a perception of the world rather than an interaction with it ". back

35. Ibid., p. 122. back

36. E. T. A. Hoffmann, Meister Floh (Stuttgart: Philip Reclam Jun., 1993), p. 95. In this fourth fairy tale there is a reference (in the initial summary) to an "Optischer Zweikampf zweier Magier" (p. 80). back

37. The Penguin Complete Fairy Tales and Stories of Hans Andersen, p. 96. back

38. Concerning this topos cf. Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, Cambridge, Mass. / London: The M.I.T. Press, 1968, pp. 368436. back

39. Cf. Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams. Translated from the German and edited by James Strachey. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., Third Impression, 1967, p. 359: "The genitals may also be represented in dreams by other parts of the body: the male organ by a hand or foot and the female genital orifice by the mouth or an ear or even an eye." back

40. The Penguin Complete Fairy Tales and Stories of Hans Andersen, p. 97. back

41. Ibid., p. 97. back

42. Cf. Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales, p. 148. back

43. Cf. H. C. Andersens Eventyr, Vol. 2, 1964, p. 49. back

44. Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales, p. 148. back

45. Ibid., p. 149. back

46. Ibid., p. 149. back

47. John Milton, The Complete Poems. Text edited by B. A. Wright. Introduction and Notes by Gordon Campbell. London / New York: Dent and Dutton, New Edition, 1980, p. 276 (Book VI, lines 898900). back

48. Cf. Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales, p. 180. back

49. Ibid., p. 181 (cf. p. 152 and p. 184). In Danish the wording is as follows: "Roserne voxe i Dale, / Der faae vi BarnJesus i Tale" (H. C. Andersens Eventyr, Vol. 2, 1964, p. 75; cf. also p. 52 and p. 76). back

50. Hans Christian Andersen, Fairy Tales, p. 182. back

51. Ibid., pp. 16061. back

52. Ibid., p. 184. back

53. Ibid., p. 178. According to Wolfgang Kayser, in The Grotesque in Art and Literature. Translated from the German by Ulrich Weisstein. New York / Toronto: Mc GrawHill Book Company, 1963, p. 182: "Certain animals are especially suitable to the grotesque - snakes, owls, toads, spiders - the nocturnal and creeping animals which inhabit realms apart from and inaccessible to man". back

54. Ibid., p. 188. back

Bibliographic information about the text:

Johansen, Ib: "The Demons of the Text" , In: Johan de Mylius, Aage Jørgensen and Viggo Hjørnager Pedersen (ed.): Hans Christian Andersen. A Poet in Time. Papers from the Second International Hans Christian Andersen Conference 29 July to 2 August 1996. The Hans Christian Andersen Center, Odense University, Odense University Press. 576 pages, Odense, Denmark 1999.