Confessions of a Poisoner, Written by Herself
In Berlin, 1803, readers rushed to their bookstores and libraries to learn more about Countess Charlotte Ursinus, who had murdered several people with poison and was now in prison. To their surprise, Confessions of a Poisoner, Written by Herself turned out to be not an account by this serial killer but a novel, its author anonymous and its pages filled with promiscuous sex, sharp social criticism, and dark humor.
In their introduction to the translation, Raleigh Whitinger and Diana Spokiene show how Confessions was written in response to a literary tradition (Richardson, Rousseau, Goethe) and how, in its questioning of the submissive images and roles of women, it anticipates feminist fiction of a century later. Whitinger and Spokiene also review the critical arguments about whether the author was a man or a woman.
About the Authors
Raleigh Whitinger has published on Romanticism, realism of the nineteenth century, and the development of modern German prose. His research interests include women's writing, the Bildungsroman, and modern drama.
Diana Spokiene is Associate Professor in German Studies. She is also affiliated with the Graduate Program in Humanities, and the Canadian Centre for German and European Studies. Her research and teaching areas are modern German literature, gender and cultural production, inter/cultural studies, and small nations in the context of globalization. Her publications include the edition of Letters about Berlin by Friederike Helene Unger, the co-edition and the first English translation of the 1803 bestselling novel Bekenntnisse einer Giftmischerin, Von ihr selbst geschrieben [ Confessions of a Poisoner, Written by Herself] (with Raleigh Whitinger) and articles on Jurga Ivanauskaite, Thomas Mann and Walter Benjamin, Friederike Helene Unger, and Yoko Tawada.
"Whitinger and Spokeine's work is a valuable contribution to the project of bringing lesser-known works to the attention of students and scholars."Sarah V. Eldridge, MLR
"Whitinger and Spokeine's work is a valuable contribution to the project of bringing lesser-known works to the attention of students and scholars." —Sarah V. Eldridge, MLR
"For students in German, comparative literature, and women's studies, [Confessions is] excellent in the quality of the translation and in the thoroughly researched introduction." —Gisela Brinker-Gabler, Binghamton University
"Whitinger and Spokiene have done a superb job of resurrecting a forgotten German text, embedding it in its historical and literary context, and rendering it in compelling English." —Gail K. Hart, University of California, Irvine
Other Titles by Raleigh Whitinger
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Other Titles in LITERARY CRITICISM / European / German