The Spectre Barber: Shaving the Ghost in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

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This article examines an episode in the transmission of the folktale, as the genre moved into the mainstream of polite literature in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Today, the best-known collection of folktales is the Brothers Grimm’s Kinder- und Hausmärchen (first edn 1812-1815) [Children’s and Household Tales], stories from which are regularly republished and translated. Predating the Grimm’s publication by three decades was Johann Karl August Musäus’ collection Volksmärchen der Deutschen [Folktales of the Germans], published in five volumes between 1782 and 1786. Among the folk tales Musäus included in the collection is ‘Richilde’, the earliest written version of ‘Snow White’ that we have. For this article, I have chosen to focus on the tale entitled ‘Stumme Liebe’ [Silent love], which is printed in the fourth volume of Volksmärchen, as a case study. This story became a popular piece, not least because of the memorable section in which a spectral barber shaves the protagonist Franz to complete baldness and Franz in return gives the ghost the same treatment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRomantik : Journal for the Study of Romanticisms
ISSN2245-599X
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

ID: 311207734