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Lycanthropy in German Literature

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Lycanthropy in German
Peter Arnds
Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
© Peter Arnds 2015
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To Jerrilynn, Jonas, and the memory
of my father
This page intentionally left blank

Acknowledgements viii

Introduction 1

1 The Wolfman between History, Myth and Biopolitics 11

2 Carnivalizing the Ban: The Schelm’s Lycanthropy

in the Age of Melancholy 25

3 Sexual Predator or Liberator: Wolves and Witches

in Romanticism 47

4 Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 69

5 From Wolf Man to Bug Man: Freud, Hesse, Kafka 97

6 Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 122

Notes 151

Works Cited 188

Index 199


The research for this book has been facilitated by the following insti-
tutions and persons. I thank Trinity College Dublin for its generous
support in the form of a benefaction grant and a three-month long
fellowship in Delhi in 2012. I would like to thank Professor Aditya
Mukherjee, the former Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies
at the Jawarhalal Nehru University, for inviting me to Delhi where
I was able to write the first draft of this book. The good spirits and
intellectual stimulation of that environment greatly aided me in lay-
ing the groundwork for this project. I remember with great fondness
the lively discussions I had with my colleagues Tabish Khair (Aarhus
University) and Saikat Majumdar (Stanford University).
I would also like to thank the librarians at Trinity College and at
the Literaturarchiv in Marbach for all their support. During one of
my frequent trips to Marbach I had a chance encounter with Paul
Michael Lützeler, who gave me the idea for thinking about wolves in
view of Ernst Jünger’s concept of the Waldgänger, a suggestion that
has proved fruitful to this work. Last but not least, my gratitude goes
to my wife Jerrilynn and our son Jonas for their patience in listening
to endless late-night wolf tales to the point that they feared my own
impending lycanthropic metamorphosis.


Humanity has an ambivalent relationship with the wolf. Throughout

history it has been considered both valiant and noble, but also a pest
and a threat. Though admired as a skilful predator by hunting and
war-mongering societies, it has also been feared as an animal that is
able to kill and devour humans. In many cultures the observation
of wolves in nature has inspired myths, legends and other folklore.
In Northern Europe, however, the early, primarily Christian asso-
ciation of the wolf with rapaciousness and evil left its imprint on
the political treatment of those the community considered to be
wolves within their midst.1 These human wolves were abandoned
and persecuted due to their nefarious nature. The Germanic Middle
Ages had a name for these wolfmen, expressed in the Old Icelandic
term vargr, signifying both ‘wolf’ and ‘outlaw’. Morally unclean due
to the crimes he committed – usually a murder – he was proscribed
as a wolf, pronounced dead by the community and abandoned to
the woods. As the homo sacer, he was the human cursed by and set
apart from society, conceptually reduced to animal life, and anyone
was allowed to kill him/her without being punished for homicide.2
This book shows the unique relationship that German literature
has had with the wolf as a metaphor in the context of biopolitics
from the Middle Ages to the Third Reich.3 Embarking from the spe-
cifically Germanic medieval concept of the criminal as wolf, it traces
the ways in which this figure has transformed over time and how it
epitomizes different and shifting cultural anxieties, from religious
and superstitious fears to psychological and racial ones. This trajec-
tory follows the wolf as a metaphor for greed and foolishness, for

2 Lycanthropy in German Literature

despotic rulers, sexual predators, persecuted minorities, traumatized

individuals, and those practising resistance against institutions of
power, the Church and the State. As such, the wolf in German litera-
ture is a rather more complex and variable figure than is suggested
by Giorgio Agamben in the chapter, ‘The Ban and the Wolf’ of his
seminal book Homo sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life.4 However,
a useful working tool for this project is Agamben’s theory of the
ambivalence of the medieval wolfman, who in being expelled to
a life outside of communal law is uniquely tied to the sovereign,
whose power to abandon individuals equally positions him outside
of the law. This symmetry between the sovereign beast and the per-
secuted vargr reflects the wolf in his dual perception of the powerful
hunter versus the hunted pest. There can be no sovereignty without
abjection, a fact also recognized by Jacques Derrida in his Séminaire:
La bête et le souverain5 (The Beast and the Sovereign), his lecture series
about the wolf in culture held at the École des Hautes Études en
Sciences Sociales (EHESS).
From the late Middle Ages on, a time when the criminal, the wolf
and the devil become coterminous, the fear of the beast within man
is a fear of Satan introduced by the spread of Christianity in Central
and Northern Europe. This fear pervades the European literary and
cultural traditions of the early modern age, first and foremost in
the picaresque tradition, although it is culturally remembered until
the nineteenth century, from the wolf as a seducer and rapist in the
Romantic fairy tales to the projection of the fear of the wolf onto
foreign invaders like Napoleon and ethnic outsiders (Jews, ‘Gypsies’/
Roma, Slavs) in realist prose. The wolf as a mysterious and demonic
animal continues to fascinate the German literary scene well into
the twentieth century. In modernism, it becomes a psychoanalyti-
cal paradigm, at a time when the word Ungeziefer is used as a racial
metaphor in literature (Hermann Löns). Its Old High German mean-
ing for the animal that cannot be sacrificed because it is unclean
corresponds precisely to the figure of the wolf as homo sacer, but it
rules out any form of resistance on the side of the victim and implies
large-scale extermination in genocide, while the medieval wolfman
used to be hunted either as an individual or in small ‘packs’. As a
metaphor for various persecuted minorities – thieves, vagrants, gyp-
sies and Jews – homo sacer as wolf changes shape in late modernity
to a creature far less glamorous.
Introduction 3

The cultural trajectory this project undertakes reflects a biopoliti-

cal development that culminates in the racist reduction of humans
to ‘vermin/Ungeziefer’ during the Third Reich. During National
Socialism, the wolf, however, persists as a metaphor retaining its
duality of sovereignty and abjection. It maintains its time-worn
position of sovereign power and imperialist aggression in the Nazis’,
especially Hitler’s, own identification with wolves, while reminding
us of the Hobbesian state of nature as the state of war ad extremis in
the various scenarios of human survival unfolding in the concentra-
tion camps (and gulags), which created conditions ‘in which the
nihilistic banality of homo hominem lupus is consistently realized’.6
Following wolves in their metaphorical relationship with humans
through German literature consequently offers a way of revealing
some of the cultural origins of totalitarianism, which was heavily
invested in the conceptual reduction of humans to the level of para-
sitic animals.
The texts I have selected are key milestones along this trajectory
and highlight the community’s shifting anxieties and biopolitics
through the ages. The wolf stands for greed and clerical hypocrisy
in medieval animal epics from the late twelfth century such as
Heinrich der Glîchezâre’s Reinhart Fuchs. He is a religious metaphor
for human sin – voraciousness, belligerence, idleness, vagrancy and
crime – in Hans Jacob Christoph von Grimmelshausen’s picaresque
novel Simplicius Simplicissimus (1668) and serves as the catalyst for
initiation rites in cautionary folk tales. Ludwig Tieck’s literary fairy
tale Rune Mountain (1804) then builds on the folk tales’ motif of
seduction by featuring a wolf woman/witch who entices the male
protagonist into self-abandonment from the community. Fears of
foreign invasion are voiced through the image of the Tiber wolves
in Heinrich von Kleist’s Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (1808), and the
presence of Gypsies and Jews perceived as predatory wolves becomes
the cause of communal anxieties, persecution, and abandonment in
selected prose by Wilhelm Raabe, while a seventeenth-century farm-
ing community called the Wehrwölfe fends off Gypsies in Hermann
Löns’s The Werewolf (1910). The wolf as an internalized psychic
condition denotes Oedipal neurosis in Sigmund Freud’s famous case
study (1918); in Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf (1927), the inner wolf
reflects what György Lucácz called the ‘transcendental homeless-
ness’ of modernity and Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis (1915) most
4 Lycanthropy in German Literature

prominently illustrates the switch from wolfman to vermin. In

Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum (1959), the wolf stands allegorically for
the Nazi apparatus devouring undesirables and in Dog Years (1963)
for race, breeding, and a catalyst for the representation of perpetra-
tors and victims. Edgar Hilsenrath’s The Nazi & the Barber (1971)
shows us the wolfman as a Nazi mass murderer who metamorphizes
into one of his Jewish victims. For many of these texts, the idea of
abandonment and loss of peace of the wolfman, who tends to be a
lonely individual, is pivotal and thus in its persistence over time is a
uniquely German configuration.
A word about terminology: While homo sacer is an over-arching
term for the human who on account of a crime is set apart from the
community, banned, abandoned and thus reduced to naked animal
life, vargr refers more specifically to the perception of the outcast as a
cunning wolf and a parasite to the Germanic medieval community.
The Middle Ages produced both the vargr and the berserkr, the latter
expressing the concept of the wolf warrior, fighting naked or clad in
a wolf or bear skin; he is a historical character who was glorified in
pagan medieval times but was reviled as a vargr with the arrival of
Christianity, which then outlaws him (more will be said about these
figures in Chapter 1). My definition of the wolfman for this project
is derived from the German brand of the homo sacer emerging from
these medieval outlaws and populating literature – in most cases – as
the permanently abandoned or at times temporarily exiled individual
associated with the wolf. The terms wolfsfrei (as free as a wolf, also
free to be consumed by wolves; similar to vogelfrei) and Friedlos (man
without peace) are used specifically in the German context. They
refer to the conditions of his exile and express his troubled freedom
from the social contract and its consequent loss of peace. Some of
the wolfmen discussed here are more directly connected to wolves
than others: while Hesse’s Steppenwolf or Little Red Cap are closely
linked to the image of the wolf, a character like Christian in Tieck’s
Rune Mountain is still tied to the medieval outcast as wolf through his
link to the witch as wolf woman and by declaring himself dead to the
community. Kafka’s Gregor Samsa is, of course, not a wolfman in the
literal sense, but as the parasitic wolf’s reduced form of the Ungeziefer
he finds himself in the same position as the medieval vargr. Kafka’s
story is pivotal in demonstrating the paradigm shift from wolf to a
vermin of a lower order that prepares the perception the Nazis had of
Introduction 5

undesirables. The wolves discussed in this project can, however, also

be figures of power and imperialist aggression, especially during times
of heightened nationalism. Increased nationalism seems to justify
Agamben’s intimate link between the sovereign as a wolf to his sub-
jects (or the invader as a wolf to those invaded) and the homo sacer as
a parasitic wolf to the community and the sovereign. Although I have
made this ambivalence serviceable to this study, my detailed analysis
of the literary milestones along the biopolitical bridge spanning from
the early modern period to the twentieth century allows for a far
more nuanced representation of the different stages of biopolitics for
the sake of nation-building than is warranted by Agamben’s sudden
jump from medieval expulsion to the Nazi camps.
The wolves appear in an environment that is political, mythical,
topographical and psychological. Accordingly, several thematic para-
digms have emerged in the process of mapping this figure.
The transformation into a wolf in myth (e.g. Lykaon) implies
both a physical and mental metamorphosis. The wolf is a complex
psychoanalytical paradigm for many of the literary characters in
this study who suffer from acute loneliness7 and conditions such as
Oedipal neurosis, depression and a choleric temper. Due to his isola-
tion from the community, the wolfman’s psychological state is a con-
stant companion in the evolution of his changing faces in German
literature. It is especially during those periods in German literary
history that allow for emotions such as loneliness and depression to
be culturally represented – the picaresque, Romantic, modernist and
postmodern – that his psychic transformation reveals itself, accom-
panying us through time.
Exiled to a life of loneliness, the wolf has a close connection with
the history of the individual’s usefulness to society. Due to the per-
ception of wolves as parasites since the Middle Ages their metaphori-
cal use for humans beyond the pale of law reflects the community’s
anxiety about idleness and social parasitism. The medieval vargr was
outlawed because of his moral impurity and because as a criminal
he was considered a pest or parasite to the community at large.
His abandonment in light of his usefulness to society is a recurrent
theme in this project, from the picaro’s and romantic hero’s with-
drawal into the state of nature, to the Dionysian excesses of Wilhelm
Raabe’s ‘Gypsy’ wolfman and Gregor Samsa’s transformation into
an Ungeziefer not fit for work in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, to Günter
6 Lycanthropy in German Literature

Grass’s allusions to Nazi persecution of life unworthy of being lived

in The Tin Drum.
In German history the metaphor of the wolf is closely linked to the
concept of peace. It applies to the Friedlos, humans literally without
peace in the state of war, a link partly explained by the presence of
actual wolves scavenging on the dead on medieval battlefields. The
association of war and wolf implies both the idea of respect for the
wolf as a creature of strength and ferocity, but also that of a general
moral decline. However, those expelled from their communities for
the crimes they commit likewise find themselves in a state of war.
Immoral beast that he is, the medieval vargr is excluded from the
social contract and thrown back into the state of nature, the state of
exception outside of the laws that apply to the community, where
Hobbes’s homo hominem lupus is the only law of existence. Without
peace he was condemned to being in a permanent state of war, a con-
dition that applies not only to war itself but also to the heterotopias
into which the Friedlos is abandoned, culminating in the camps of
the twentieth century. The fact that the state of war and the state of
exception are one is evidenced by the German equivalence between
the Kriegszustand (state of war) and the Ausnahmezustand (state of
In German culture, wolves are a part of an extensive terrain of
folklore and myths in the proximity of the hunt and war. They
occur especially in the myth of the Wild Hunt, which is connected
to a variety of legendary and folkloric figures in Germany: Frau
Holle/Mother Hulda, the Erlking, and the Pied Piper. As part of this
mythological complex wolves in German culture have a particular
connection with the abandonment and abduction of children and
adolescents. Literary texts that demonize the wolf draw on this oral
repertoire of myths, which will accompany us in varying forms
and functions from the early modern age to the twentieth century.
Moreover, the literary representation of human abandonment and
the trauma it causes relies substantially on mythical terms. It seems
that realistic representation cannot fully fathom some of these
biopolitical moments in history, especially a limit event such as the
Holocaust. It is therefore particularly in texts after 1945 that mythi-
cal representation of trauma caused by the war and the Holocaust
becomes persistent. To give testimony of his survival in Auschwitz,
Primo Levi had to resort to myths such as Tantalus and Dante’s
Introduction 7

descriptions of Hell. In the same way, Hannah Arendt, drawing on

myth and Dante, also could not find better terms with which to
describe the camps of the twentieth century than Hades, Purgatory,
and Hell. She sees these terms as a progression of intensity of aban-
donment. While in her conceptualization the Greek mythical Hades
corresponds to those relatively mild forms of getting undesirables
out of the way, such as institutionalization and detention, she asso-
ciates Purgatory with the Soviet Union’s labour camps and Hell as
‘those types of camp perfected by the Nazis, in which the whole of
life was thoroughly and systematically organized with a view to the
greatest possible torment’.8
With some exceptions, wolves in German literature are generally
forest creatures. They are despotic in the forest but also on the run;
hunters as well as being hunted. The wolfman who is abandoned by
the community, or who abandons himself, is hounded by and may
in turn hound that community. He is expelled, cast out, but will, if
he does not abandon himself mentally, show resistance in order to
survive, and thus display a certain sovereignty in his freedom in the
forest. His resistance marks the difference between apathy and the
strength of the wolf as a survivor in the state of nature in which
man is a wolf to man. Thinking of the Germanic berserker and the
partisans hiding in forests from where they launched their counter-
offensives, Ernst Jünger formulated his concept of the Waldgänger
(the one who runs through the forest) in delayed reaction (1951) to
Nazi Germany. It implies the wolfman as an anarchist and is a key
concept for my discussion of mimicry, camouflage and resistance to
power and authority, especially in post-totalitarian fiction.
In the general sense, these paradigms characterizing lycanthropy
are not unique to German culture. The wolf as an adept survivor
and figure of resistance also turns up, for example, in Lü Jiamin
a.k.a. Jiang Rong’s Chinese novel, Wolf Totem (2004);9 the Wild Hunt
myth extends beyond German boundaries to the Mesnie d’Hellequin
in France; wolves and wolfmen occur in forests in North America
and in India, in Jack London’s Call of the Wild (1903) and Rudyard
Kipling’s Jungle Book (1894); lycanthropy and wolfishness as psycho-
logical paradigms also exist in other literary traditions, for example,
in David Malouf’s An Imaginary Life (1978) about the exile of Ovid
and his mysterious encounter with a wolf boy. The perception of the
wolf as a parasite is a phenomenon of most parts of the world: most
8 Lycanthropy in German Literature

Wyoming farmers would testify to this.10 It is, of course, a misun-

derstanding of wolf behaviour, for the wolf generally guarantees the
health of the natural environment by hunting down sick and old
animals.11 And in literature, the parasitic wolf threatening farmers
and their livestock, and living off the land that is off-limits, goes well
beyond German boundaries; for example, the she-wolf trespassing
across the Mexican border into US territory in Cormac Mc Carthy’s
novel, The Crossing (1994), a text teeming with references to US
immigration policies and the practice of returning illegal immigrants
across borderlines.12
However, what is unique about German culture is the trajectory
that leads from the medieval forests to the camps, the homo sacer’s
shift from wolf to vermin, the persistent use of the wolf metaphor
reflecting bourgeois anxieties about crime, vagrancy, invasion, and
idleness in the context of nation-building from the early modern age
to the twentieth century. As successors of the medieval Friedlos even
Kafka’s Gregor Samsa and Grass’s Oskar Matzerath can still be seen
in this context of eluding society’s pressures on individual docility
and utility.

Structure of the book

Chapter 1, ‘The Wolfman between History, Myth and Biopolitics’,

outlines the early wolfmen of the Middle Ages and their prehistory.
It provides a short overview of lycanthropy from its origins in the
Palaeolithic Age to the Lykaon myth in Greek antiquity, to the expul-
sion of medieval wolfmen in Icelandic saga. The chapter elaborates
on key terms and concepts and distinguishes the temporary exile
of the Greek wolfman from the permanent exile of the Germanic
vargr. The latter reflects the intimate link between sovereignty and
abjection that becomes the bedrock for the further literary evolution
of the wolf metaphor in the context of biopolitics.
Chapter 2, ‘Carnivalizing the Ban: The Schelm’s Lycanthropy in
the Age of Melancholy’, then explores the religious demonization
of the wolf in Grimmelshausen’s picaresque novel, The Adventures of
Simplicius Simplicissimus (Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus, 1668),
whose protagonist develops from a fool associated with a dog to a
rogue associated with the wolf as devil. His development expresses
the community’s fears of idleness, banditry, and vagrancy resulting
Introduction 9

from the Schelm’s self-abandonment and his moral decline caused by

the Thirty Years’ War. The chapter analyses the curious tension inher-
ent to the Schelm’s lycanthropy caught between his psychological
disorders known as melancholia canina and insania lupina and the car-
nivalesque re-enactment of the expulsion of the medieval wolfman.
Embarking from the wolf in his dual identity of predator and
liberator in Heinrich von Kleist’s Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (Die
Hermannsschlacht, 1808) Chapter 3, ‘Sexual Predator or Liberator:
Wolves and Witches in Romanticism’, examines this metaphor
during German Romanticism. It juxtaposes the Grimm Brothers’
‘Little Red Cap’ and the Holle tale and myth with Ludwig Tieck’s
The Life and Death of Little Red Riding Hood (Leben und Tod des kleinen
Rotkäppchen, 1800) and his adaptation of the Holle material in his
literary fairy tale The Rune Mountain (Der Runenberg, 1804). While the
folk tale uses the wolf to warn against impulses of sexual desire and
civil disobedience, Tieck shows us the wolf as a liberator in the spirit
of the French Revolution and the Germanic Holle as a wolf woman
seducing Christian men. The wolf metaphor, the Holle myth in its
different adaptations, and the contrast between initiation in the folk
tale and permanent self-expulsion in Tieck reflect the tension at the
beginning of the nineteenth century between social integration and
individualist urges to escape the pressures of nation-building.
Chapter 4, ‘Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction’,
reveals the shift from the wolf’s moral impurity and his inspira-
tion of religious and superstitious fears in the early modern age and
Romanticism to racial anxieties in the second half of the nineteenth
century. I discuss how wolves become closely associated with Jews
and ‘Gypsies’/Romanies preying on young bourgeois daughters
and threatening bourgeois communities. This chapter looks at anti-
Ziganism in Wilhelm Raabe’s The Children of Hamelin (Die Hämelschen
Kinder, 1863) and anti-Semitism in Raabe’s The Hunger Pastor (Der
Hungerpastor, 1864), briefly compared with the British literary scene:
Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield (1849), Oliver Twist (1838), and
the connection between Gypsies, wolves and late Victorian fears of
national blood infection in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897).
Chapter 5, ‘From Wolf Man to Bug Man: Freud, Hesse, Kafka’,
shows how densely interwoven the metaphor of the wolf becomes
with psychoanalysis and modernism’s fear of homelessness between
1915 and 1930. In Freud’s case study of the Wolf Man (1918), the
10 Lycanthropy in German Literature

wolf appears in his role of sovereign in the form of Oedipal neurosis.

In Hesse’s Steppenwolf (Der Steppenwolf, 1927), he epitomizes the fear
of modernity’s increasing loss of roots and loneliness in dark urban
forests, and in Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis (Die Verwandlung, 1915),
he is an example of how the medieval image of the expelled wolfman
has morphed into an Ungeziefer in the twentieth century. Awaking as
an ungeheueres Ungeziefer (a monstrous vermin) one morning, Gregor
Samsa suddenly finds himself in the same position of abandonment
in which the medieval outlaw found himself. Chapter 5 shows how
Kafka’s language of abjection heralds the Third Reich’s treatment of
undesirables as animals of the lowest order. The chapter also reveals
parallels between Freud’s Wolf Man and Kafka’s story, in view of
Oedipal neurosis and the ill-fated bond between the sovereign (the
father in both cases) as the agent of expulsion and the homo sacer
(the exiled neurotic son) as its victim.
Chapter 6, ‘Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945’,
focuses on the wolf in the context of resistance, perpetrators and
victims, and the trauma caused by the Second World War and the
Holocaust. Embarking from Hermann Löns’s deeply racist novel The
Werewolf (Der Wehrwolf, 1910), I discuss the Nazi wolf cult, Hitler’s
identification with wolves, and Himmler’s desperate attempt to
reactivate the medieval berserk warrior concept at the end of the war,
followed by an analysis of the wolf metaphor in Günter Grass’s The
Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel, 1959), Dog Years (Hundejahre, 1963), and
Edgar Hilsenrath’s The Nazi and the Barber (Der Nazi und der Friseur,
1971). These texts demonstrate how the homo sacer’s survival
through mimicry produces controversial effects of subversion, par-
ody, and even humor, while elaborating on how myth and metaphor
matter to these authors in coming to terms with trauma.
The Wolfman between History,
Myth and Biopolitics

From the Palaeolithic Age to Greek antiquity

The history of the wolfman begins a long time before he enters myth.
Donning animal hides, the hunters of the Palaeolithic Age mimicked
predators such as wolves, thus hoping to incorporate the wolf’s fac-
ulties which they admired, particularly his stealth and strength.1 By
putting on wolf skins, the hunter underwent a temporary transfor-
mation; he was able to imagine what it was like to be a wolf, while at
the same time the ritual made him understand better what it means
to be human.2 In a trance, these ancient hunting groups transported
their souls into the bodies of wolves. As a consequence, it was not
merely a transformation in physicality but also a change in identity,
a metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls.
Let us briefly imagine these early hunters as they were donning
wolf skins on full moon nights, a time when, as has been argued by
anthropologists like Adam Douglas and cultural critics like Barbara
Ehrenreich, the women did not want the men around and sent them
forth from the cave in search of food.3 From the very beginning,
the wolf is a creature that inspires fear and fascination. Wolves are
feared because they are associated with death, having a connection
with the other world due to being scavengers and feeding on human
corpses. However, Canadian wolf totem stories show that the wolf
is also associated with fertility and the plenitude of game, while in
European cultures the wolf as corn-spirit is often a threat to the con-
cept of fertility, especially in harvest rituals.4 Since primordial man
often also scavenged, predators such as wolves, which left half-eaten

12 Lycanthropy in German Literature

carcasses behind, were associated with food sources from the earliest
days. Since the dawn of humanity, there has been a dichotomy in the
perception of the wolf as being linked to both fruition and perdition.5
In the Palaeolithic Age, the search for food during the hunt necessi-
tated extensive wanderings, which became even more expansive and
urgent if the food sources had dried up and the whole clan was forced
to move on in search of new hunting grounds. This nomadic hunting
lifestyle finally gave way to a more sedentary one, as the hunters and
gatherers settled down and became farmers. It is after this transition
period that the admiration for the wolf for its hunting techniques
and the necessity to emulate it began to wane. Henceforth, the fear of
the wolf overshadowed its former glory so that it became increasingly
seen as a threat to the community. Wolves had to be killed, as they
started to threaten the clan and the livestock. No longer perceived
as nurturers, they became associated primarily with rapaciousness,
a binary that has stayed with us in myth over time and has become
a biopolitical paradigm that associates wolves with thieves. It is
sedentariness that links the wolf to cunning and evil and causes the
emergence of heterotopias, the separation between civilization as the
space of settlement and nurturing, and wilderness as the space out-
side of that settlement, literally beyond the pale.6 The wolf becomes
a symbol of uncontrollable nature outside of the space of dwelling,
which had until then mentally incorporated its spirit as a good luck
token for the great hunt. And as the wolf came to be considered a
parasite, so did other tribes, since with settlement came property and
ownership, and with property came theft. It is thus in the transition
from hunting clans during the Palaeolithic period (until 10,000 BCE)
to sedentary farmers in the Mesolithic period (10,000 to 5,000 BCE)
that wolves were associated with human raiders, a phenomenon
that the Scandinavian term vargr, in its meaning of both ‘wolf’ and
‘outlaw’, echoes in the distant future. The bigger the settlements
grew, the wider the gulf between civil and wild terrain became. Yet
a distant memory of the wolf as protector and nurturing spirit, and
of man emulating it by donning wolf skins, remained and became
the material of myth. For example, the nurturing principle of the
wolf survives in the foundation myth of Rome, the story of Romulus
and Remus, while we encounter the idea of abandonment and exile
associated with the wolf in the myths and rituals of Greek antiquity.7
The motif of self-abandonment to lycanthropy that we have
observed in the Palaeolithic hunter’s transformation into a wolfman
The Wolfman between History, Myth and Biopolitics 13

is also prevalent in Greek antiquity, where abandonment is tied to

psychosomatic changes outside of the community. To abandon liter-
ally means ‘to give over to the ban’. It implies a solitary life beyond
the pale of the social contract with its reach of laws and rights. Once
abandoned, the homo sacer’s human existence is cast into doubt,
since from Greek antiquity onwards, human ‘being’ (Sein) is closely
linked to staying in the community, to dwelling inside the polis.8
Lycanthropy is both a medical term for people afflicted by rabies
and a psychoanalytical phenomenon that produces somatic images
in myth and literature. The wolfman’s psychological problems result
from the very state of abandonment, in which he is reduced to what
Agamben (1995) has called nuda vita (naked or bare life), imply-
ing a demotion from life inside the city (polis) to animal life. Such
loss of human being may have resulted in the expellee’s increasing
resemblance to a wild animal, as a result of not being included in
the human community. This shift from human to animal, however,
also largely lies in the community’s perception of those who were
abandoned, the criminal who is to be expelled being a human wolf
in the eyes of the community, which associates the wolf with cun-
ning, trickery, and thievishness. We find this association as early as
in the wake of the Homeric poems, after which the wolf, in Greek
thinking, ‘became marginalized as an emblem of savagery and, above
all, of dolos, trickery’.9 Once expelled into the state of nature, the
animality of these humans is then perceived to grow in proportion to
the length of their exile, as a consequence of their extensive neglect.
As a psychoanalytical term for people imagining themselves as
wolves,10 lycanthropy can either be a consequence or a precursor of
abandonment, and in the literary texts discussed in this project, it
is densely associated with the heterotopia of the forest, while Greek
myth associates it primarily with water. Lycanthropy and the use
of water are observable as early as in the myth of Lykaon, the King
of Arcadia, whom Zeus changes into a wolf in an Arcadian lake for
the crime of cannibalism. His lycanthropy is thus closely linked to
the heterotopic space of water, demonstrating that not only the
forest is associated with animal ferocity and expulsion, and support-
ing Foucault’s argument that there is a strong link in the European
imagination between madness, abandonment, and water.11 As he
described it in his chapter on the stultifera navis, the expulsion of
the mentally disabled on the so-called Ship of Fools was the result of
similar civic policies as the expulsion of criminals into the forest.12
14 Lycanthropy in German Literature

In German culture, the heterotopia of abandonment and exile is spe-

cifically the forest, while in Greek culture, it is the river, the ameles
potamos, or the River Carefree as the Greeks called it.13
The Greek Lykaon myth is also interesting to us for a number of
other motifs, one of which is the notion of sacrifice intrinsically
connected to the sacred violence committed during the hunt and re-
enacted in war. A custom Lykaon introduces is the sacrifice of a child
to the gods. Wolves and wolfmen in folklore have a special connec-
tion to the abandonment, abduction, and depredation of children,
as we shall see in our discussions of the legend of the Pied Piper,
the folk tales, and in literary texts about war and genocide such as
Grass’s The Tin Drum. Likewise, the motif of cannibalism offered to us
by the Lykaon myth on the transformation of a human into a wolf
reappears in later myths and literary texts, especially those equating
Romanies/Gypsies and Jews with child-stealing cannibals.
The story of Lykaon is a myth but also a psychoanalytical para-
digm which can be linked to Freud’s theory, in his essay, Totem and
Taboo (1913), of the primal horde’s murder and cannibalism of their
omnipotent father due to Oedipal impulses. The Oedipal structures
in the father/son relationship that Freud discusses, with regard to
the causes of Western anti-Semitism, are of particular interest in view
of some of the texts discussed in the present book: Sinfjotli in The
Saga of the Volsunga, Grimmelshausen’s Simplicius, Tieck’s Christian
in Rune Mountain, Freud’s Wolf Man, and Kafka’s Gregor Samsa in
Metamorphosis all display these Oedipal constellations which are
inextricably linked to their exiles and loss of peace. This may not be
unique to German culture, but it is a motif that keeps reappearing in
its literature and is closely tied to the permanence of abandonment so
persistent in German culture. In both the Lykaon myth and Freud’s
narrative, paternal authority – the alpha male, so to speak – causes
the expulsion of the sons, who then become wolves. Lykaon turns
into a wolf after committing the crime of cannibalism, while Freud’s
‘expelled brothers joined forces, killed and devoured their father’.14
This act, ‘the totem meal, perhaps humanity’s first feast’15 turns them
into wolves as outlaws but primarily in the psychological sense of
being on the run, propelled by their torment of mourning the loss of
their father and having to re-enact this primordial crime obsessively
over time. According to Freud, this neurotic compulsion shows itself
in the ritual of the Eucharist as a re-enactment of the murder of
The Wolfman between History, Myth and Biopolitics 15

God’s only son, which in turn was already an act of atonement for
the murder of the primordial father.16 As Marianna Torgovnik has
argued: ‘From this imagined scene of primal Oedipal murder in Totem
and Taboo would come Freud’s explanation of Western anti-Semitism
in Moses and Monotheism (1939).’17 The cannibalism in Freud’s nar-
rative and the Lykaon myth may be an antagonistic act, but it also
shows the strong bond between father and sons as a reflection of the
tie between God and humans, in spite of expulsion and murder. This
bond is replicated in the intimate tie between the sovereign (whom
Derrida (2009) identifies as a wolf in The Beast and the Sovereign) and
the wolfman as the victim of abandonment. The bond is solidified
through the act of expulsion after a taboo has been broken, which
renders those who break it unclean.
The story of expulsion and transformation into a wolf, conse-
quently, does not begin in the Germanic Middle Ages. However, as
Richard Buxton informs us, there are substantial differences between
the Greek and the medieval Germanic wolfmen:

In both cultures (classical and medieval) to be a wolf signifies that

one has forfeited humanity and is obliged to lead an ‘outside’
existence. But the medieval werewolf, perceived as being able to
change his shape from the God-given human form with which
he started, is typically represented as having that power thanks
to demonic assistance. The conceptual background to medieval
werewolfism is Christianity.18

While this may be an obvious difference due to the spread of

Christianity across Europe during the Middle Ages, triggering the
demonization of the wolf as part of the iconography of Satan, there
is at least one other substantial difference between classical Greek
and medieval lycanthropy, which has to do with the length of the
wolfman’s exile. The state of abandonment in which the wolfman
finds himself refers to both space and time, the space usually being a
heterotopia such as the forest or a place surrounded by water, either
Foucault’s stultifera navis, the Ship of Fools, or an island, and the
time of exile being either temporary or permanent. While the exile
is permanent in the myth of Lykaon who does not return from it
and is thus declared dead to the community, it is temporary in the
Arcadian rituals that replicate the mythical ban in the worship of
16 Lycanthropy in German Literature

Zeus Lykaios.19 In contrast to the Greek wolves of the Lykaios rites,

men who were sent into exile for seven or nine years, the Germanic
vargr tended to be abandoned in permanent exile. The permanent
exile in Greek myth thus becomes a historical biopolitical reality in
the Germanic Middle Ages.

From the Middle Ages to late modernity: abandonment,

impurity, apathy and resistance

The ban tends to be temporary for the warrior and for the youth
expelled from the community for the purpose of initiation. To this
day such initiation is closely linked to the hunt and to war. One
prominent figure between temporary and permanent exile in the
Middle Ages was what is called the berserkr, a variant of the vargr, who
in pagan times was not the hunted outlaw but the frenzied warrior
clothed either in animal skin or naked. The duality of the wolfman
as a figure between sovereignty and abjection shows itself in particu-
lar in the berserker, an ambivalent figure between great prowess and
strength, on the one hand, and immorality, on the other. He was
quite literally a wolfman because it was customary among such war-
riors to clothe themselves in the animals they had slain, especially
in wolf or bear hide, to give themselves an air of ferocity and beastli-
ness in order to intimidate their enemies. ‘To go berserk’ is clearly an
expression derived from the berserker, one explanation for this term
being that the sark was the bear or wolf hide used by these warriors
in Scandinavia. Another theory is that the word berserkr could also be
derived from ‘bare skin’, that is ‘without fur’, naked.20 The berserker
consequently is an early example of the Friedlos, one who is ‘without
peace’ as he is the warrior par excellence and literally reduced to nuda
vita (bare life) fighting naked in the state of exception.
The berserkr was revered in pre-Christian times but banned from
the community the moment he became permanently outlawed. This
happened largely with the arrival of Christianity in Scandinavian
Europe in the eleventh century, in 1014, for example, when Erik Jarl
banished all bandits and berserkers so that there was no longer any
clear distinction made between the marauding vikingr, the criminal
vargr, and the berserkr.21 From a Christian perspective, the reason for
outlawing the berserker was his moral corruption that resulted from
his privileged position outside the communal agreement of shared
The Wolfman between History, Myth and Biopolitics 17

laws. The berserker was an early form of oppressor or despot who

could invite himself onto the property of any farmer, participate in
their feasts, and even avail himself of the farmer’s daughter.22 He was
a lycanthrope, and considered mad as he had the ferocity of an ani-
mal, and was able to work himself (or herself)23 into a state of frenzy
to the point of appearing to be demonic. As a figure between history
and myth, he stands at the threshold of pre-Christian madness and
its association by Christianity with the devil.
The day the berserker was outlawed, this revered wolf warrior
became a hunted wolfman (vargr). He is friedlos (without peace) in
two senses of the word: first, because he is at war, so literally not in
a time of peace, and then, when outlawed, because he has become
a wolf to the community. His Friedlosigkeit (absence of peace) thus
changes conceptually from his prominent position in war to the
condition of abandonment with its ensuing loss of dwelling and
exposure to being killed by the forces of persecution. This histori-
cal development of the perception and treatment of the berserker
reflects the two positions of the wolf as ruler outside of the law
versus the hunted outlaw. As long as he was in a position of power,
the berserker was sovereign in his freedom, unrestricted by any laws
within the community of men. However, once he was outlawed
permanently, he became the hunted wolf, usually as a result of a
murder he had committed. He who broke the community peace lost
his own. As a consequence, his Wolfsfreiheit (freedom of the wolf)24
changed from his freedom as a wolf warrior to kill during war to a
very dubious condition of freedom. He was free from the commu-
nity, but because of the ensuing absence of care, he was also free to
die, considered vogelfrei or wolfsfrei, literally as free as a bird or a wolf
in the double sense of being set free from the human social contract
and, once dead, free to be devoured by birds or wolves. The apparent
freedom of these Wolfsfreie points to a state of being that contrasts
sharply with what Martin Heidegger once said about das Frye (the
free), which he connects etymologically to Friede (peace).25 Being free
generally means being at peace because one is safe from harm and
danger, because one experiences Schonung/care and is taken care of.
The freedom of the wolfman, however, implies a detachment from the
social bond of humans and their reach of law and human rights, ‘the
being’s being abandoned and remitted to itself’.26 As a conse-
quence, he can be hunted and killed by anyone as if he were a pest.
18 Lycanthropy in German Literature

At the same time, the freedom of the forest in its function as shelter
to those under the ban offers the wolfman the possibility of acting
against the community from within his place of hiding (note in this
context also the common etymology of the word hide as animal skin
and to hide in the sense of seeking shelter). Outside of human law,
he is still in a special position of power that allows him to act with
animal frenzy and makes him as sovereign in his decisions as the
ruler of a people. Due to this sovereignty, both the despotic ruler
of people and the outlaw are beasts in permanent danger of being
killed by the community from which they are set apart.
Wolves appear to be solo hunters but they function better in
packs. In order to facilitate his survival, the Friedlos also has to
bond with other outlaws. The two principal packs that Elias Canetti
distinguishes in his seminal work Crowds and Power (Masse und
Macht, 1960) are the hunting pack (Jagdmeute) and the war pack
(Kriegsmeute). They are both Vermehrungsmeuten, packs that are always
eager to increase in size and number in order to feel stronger. Outlaws
were associated with wolves because they lived like them, in the
woods, ready to attack and kill travellers, maraud villages, and so on,
sometimes working alone but often, in order to be less vulnerable,
moving in packs. Such gangs of outlaws populate myth and real life,
from the werewolves of Zeus Lykaios to the Irish fianna and the Old
Celtic koryos (hence the word choir), and the Germanic Männerbünde
and haryaz (associations of men).27 While the fianna and koryos were
limited in number and imply the idea of an initiation rite, a youthful
phase of wandering and thievish warfare that evokes the image of the
wolf or even a dog,28 the Germanic haryaz possibly reflect at their best
Canetti’s Vermehrungsmeute as it etymologically predates the German
Heer, the army. Canetti sees the army as symbolically connected to
the forest, with the trees standing up strong and tall and resisting
the elements, and which can only be cut down but not otherwise
defeated.29 This symbolism equating the forest with the army, which
generally obediently follows orders and the state at large, may con-
trast with the idea of resistance to the state of expulsion, but it also
highlights the wolfman’s particular relationship with war.
The outlawed wolfman was pronounced dead by the community.
Consequently, in order to survive, he needed the pack, and the more
outcasts he recruited, the better chance of his survival. The myth
that emerges from these moments of recruitment among those
The Wolfman between History, Myth and Biopolitics 19

pronounced dead, specifically in light of the berserkers and war, is

the Wild Hunt (Wilde Jagd), which recent scholarship has identified
as having its basis in Indo-European warrior cults.30 In the Germanic
tradition, the Wild Hunt is led by Wotan (Odin), the Germanic god of
war and master of rage (the German word Wut (anger) is derived from
his name) and the storm, who leads the frenzied, berserk wolf warriors
into battle. Wolves have a strong presence in this mythological mate-
rial, as Wotan is accompanied by two wolves, Geri (Hungry) and Freki
(Ravenous), and he is associated closely with Fenrir, the mighty myth-
ical wolf, son of the trickster God Loki and the giantess Angrboda, and
the brother of the Midgard snake. Fenrir howls the world to its doom
and devours Wotan at Ragnarök, where the world ends. As the leader
of the Wild Hunt, that nightly cavalcade of the dead, Wotan appears
also in the company of a female figure, Holle, or her male equivalent,
Herlechin or Herle, from whom the Germanic Erlking, that nocturnal
spirit who abducts children from their parents, is also derived.31 There
is a close connection between predatory animals, soul catching in
the Wild Hunt, the abduction of children, and the dead and beyond.
It has also been argued that the night flight is a common motif in
folklore that involves an ecstatic journey made by the living into the
realm of the dead.32 Wotan is accompanied by ghostly dogs as well as
by Valkyries who, in turn, are sometimes represented as wolves.
In German politics and its cultural representations, this myth of
the Wild Hunt seems to be evoked, especially during times of war
and heightened nationalism. The Napoleonic invasion of Germany
in 1806 and Heinrich von Kleist’s reaction to this in his play The
Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (Die Hermannsschlacht, 1808), Richard
Wagner’s production of the Ring of the Nibelungen (1848–1874) sur-
rounding the invincible hero Siegfried, and the berserk movements
of the Third Reich are cases in point. The Wild Hunt, the German for-
est, and the idea of berserk resistance were particularly closely tied in
Germany’s nationalist and philosophical thinking, and are to a great
extent based on that ancient battle in the Teutoburg Forest (in 9 AD),
where the Roman troops under Varus were defeated by Hermann, the
chieftain of the Germanic tribe of the Cherusci.
In history and myth, the wolfman is thus closely associated with
the hunt and war, between which there are smooth transitions. As
Barbara Ehrenreich points out, ‘Hunting is an antecedent of war,
almost certainly predating it and providing it with many valuable
20 Lycanthropy in German Literature

techniques.’33 One of her key arguments in Blood Rites: The Origins and
History of the Passions of War is that war is an enactment of sacrificial
violence during which humans persuade themselves that they are no
longer the prey of the predator beast, that is, an obsessive compulsive
form of acting out primordial trauma.34 As the man set apart from
the community and consequently prey to anyone who may want
to kill him, the homo sacer is hunted but can in turn also become
the hunter, especially if he forms a Meute/pack. Moreover, even in
modern Icelandic, the term vargr/wolf still appears in the context of
‘times of war and cruelty’, what is called vargöld. Imagining oneself to
have the stealth and strength of the wolf, gaining in strength because
one was part of the pack, was (and still is) very important for both
the hunt and war. Specifically, in the medieval Germanic context,
however, the hunter seems to be a lost soul, who either appears in
solitude or leads other lost souls on a wild ride through the sky.35
While permanent abandonment was usually the fate of those who
had committed a murder, becoming a temporary wolf has three pur-
poses: (1) to be recruited for the hunt or for war; (2) to do penance
for a moral impurity, a crime other than murder; or (3) to progress
on the path of individuation. Individuation may be closely linked to
the idea of penance or as a warning to adolescents that they should
stay on the path of virtue and moral integrity. Such temporary wolf
phases for personal growth are a reality in many cultures. Germanic
literature reflects the possibilities of temporary versus permanent
exile as early as in the Icelandic Saga of the Volsungs from the
thirteenth century. It has been argued that this Icelandic version
of the German Nibelungenlied, written around 1200, may have its
roots in European prehistory.36 Many of the characters in this saga
live like wolves or temporarily become wolves. The Volsungs are
called Ylfingar/Wolflings, and the two heroes, Sigmund and his son
Sinfjotli, one day enter a house in the forest where they find a pair
of wolf skins hanging over two sleeping men, who are, as it turns
out, two sons of kings, who are able to shed these skins only every
tenth day. After putting them on, the two Volsungs don’t take them
off again, ‘[a]nd the weird power was there as before: they howled
like wolves, both understanding the sounds’.37 They agree to howl at
each other whenever either of them needs to fight more than seven
men at the same time. At one point, however, Sinfjotli kills 11 men
on his own without howling for his father. The latter then interprets
The Wolfman between History, Myth and Biopolitics 21

this as an act of arrogance and bites through his son’s windpipe, and
‘that day they were not able to come out of the wolf skin’.38
Their capability to kill as many as 11 men could well be interpreted
in the light of mythical traditions that refer to Wotan’s berserk war-
riors, who, according to Storri Sturluson, behaved like wolves.39 This
berserk frenzy is part of Sinfjotli’s youthful spirit; it is an initiation
rite for him through which he tries to prove himself to his father.
The werewolf motif is thus closely linked to Sinfjotli’s growth to
manhood.40 It appears that, unlike in the permanent expulsion in
the Middle Ages to the forest beyond the pale of law, the temporary
transformation into a wolf, from which a youth returns, is an initia-
tion rite. This temporary exile reflects what Hans Peter Duerr (1978)
has called Traumzeit (dreamtime), a part of a youngster’s develop-
ment. The Volsunga Saga, however, also shows us that the potential
permanence of the wolf exile is closely linked to a crime, in this case
the son’s arrogance towards the father, to which the latter reacts
by biting through the son’s windpipe, the result of which is that
both remain trapped inside the wolf skins. I would argue that such
details of the connection between the threat of permanence of the
wolf exile and the violation of paternal authority reflect the wolf’s
negative shift from an animal revered for its strength to one that is
despised in the Christian tradition for its diabolic nature.
As I have pointed out, after Christianity had been adopted in
Scandinavian Europe in the eleventh century, the berserk wolves
became outlaws because they had sinned against God, the Father,
thus violating paternal authority as Sinfjotli does. The end of the
berserker’s former glory is a striking motif in the Icelandic Eyrbyggja
Saga (from the mid- to late thirteenth century), for example, which
clearly shows the transition from the pagan veneration of the human
wolf to his Christian condemnation and killing. The story’s hero is
Snorri the Priest, who changes from worshipping Thor and paganism
to becoming a Christian, and who ends up marrying the farmer Styr’s
daughter Asdis, after her father has killed two berserkers, one of whom
has brazenly asked for her hand in marriage. The death of these two
berserkers – they are first trapped in a sweat house and then slain by
Styr when they escape – signals the end of veneration of the frenzied
fighters, who, according to a description in Snorri Sturluson’s Ynglinga
Saga (Chapter 6), ‘went without armor and were crazed like dogs or
wolves, bit into their shields, were as strong as bears or bulls’.41 Initially
22 Lycanthropy in German Literature

outlawed in the twelfth century, the purported frenzy and cunning of

the wolf become a concept of complete wickedness by 1486 with the
publication of the Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches), but
it resurfaces in its full pagan glory with the Nazis’ wolf cult.
In addition to being an initiation rite, in saga going into the forest
is primarily tied to committing a crime. After killing a servant, Sigi –
the purported son of Wotan – is pronounced an outlaw, a vargr i veum,
‘a wolf in the hallowed places’.42 Being a wolf in sacred places, he is
no longer allowed to enter the sanctuary, a detail that foreshadows the
later medieval association between the wolf, the devil, and the witch.
The wolfman’s godlessness, his desecration of holy places through
his own moral impurity following a murder, points especially to the
wolf’s mythical links with war. On the one hand, wolves are associated
with various gods of war, including Wotan (Odin), Mars (Romulus and
Remus are his sons), or Kandaon in Thrace (daos being the Phrygian
name for wolf).43 On the other hand, these animals’ alleged impurity in
being perceived as vermin results primarily from their actual presence
on battlefields, where they were seen to feed on corpses.44 This observa-
tion of wolves as scavengers of the dead then recurs in the role of myth-
ical wolves as gatekeepers or ushers to the other world, a superstition
that may have accounted for this animal’s unceasing demonization.
Being ‘a wolf in hallowed places’ implies that the homo sacer is
proscribed as an unclean animal not fit for sacrifice. He can be killed
by anyone but cannot be sacrificed due to his impurity. If being tends
to be associated with pure essence, that is, with being within one
shape and identity, then the kind of physical liminality displayed by
the homo sacer as situated between the human and the animal, his
monstrosity, is excluded from such being that insists on the purity of
its essence.45 While the homo sacer as bandit expelled for his crimes
obviously reflects a moral impurity – goodness sullied by evil – the
extermination of individuals in twentieth-century genocide occurred
due to the political perception of racial impurity and the desire for
racial hygiene. No period in human history contains a greater scale
of abandonment and subsequent self-abandonment of the homo
sacer than the still recent genocides, in which alleged racial impurity
extends to various groups of undesirables, among whom we see indi-
viduals not only reduced to the bare life of unclean animals without
rights (Ungeziefer), but also being forced into a liminal condition
between life and death. It is precisely this liminality of a human being
The Wolfman between History, Myth and Biopolitics 23

in still being alive while being pronounced dead by the community

that ties the medieval vargr to the victims of permanent abandon-
ment and genocide in the state of exception today. As early as 1920,
in a pamphlet entitled Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten
Lebens. Ihr Maß und ihre Form [The Legalization of the Destruction
of Life Not Worth Being Lived. Its Extent and Form], Karl Binding
and Alfred Hoche stress that the mentally disabled ‘have neither the
will to live nor the will to die’.46 In Nazi racist thinking, those to be
exterminated were, due to the alleged impurity of their blood, delib-
erately abandoned in a liminal state between human and animal and
between life and death. The politically enforced identity-shift from
human being to an animal without rights, accomplished through
killing techniques such as deportation in cattle wagons, delousing
and gassing, was a way of rendering the impurity of blood visible.
Such tangible impurity could then be killed with less compunction.
Agamben discusses at some length humans situated between life
and death, not only the euthanasia victims, the ‘life that does not
deserve to live’, but also those inmates of the camps who had com-
pletely given themselves up and were clinically still alive but men-
tally already dead.47 In the state of complete self-abandonment, they
do not return from Hades, from the forest of expulsion, but touch
the very bottom of the underworld, which is why both Agamben and
Primo Levi consider them to be the only true witnesses.48
The homo sacer can be killed by anyone but cannot be sacrificed
because he is already possessed by the gods of the underworld.49 Such
sacredness in the sense of being set aside from the community can
only be found in the state of exception, that is, a state of hybridity
and therefore of impurity: ‘It is customary for an impure man to
be called sacred.’50 This is the impurity of being that is condemned
to non-being. Pronounced dead by the community, the vargr was
still running through the forest. If he abandoned himself, then in
his loneliness outside of this world, he preceded those victims of
the camps who had given themselves up. If, on the other hand, he
practised resistance, he was still tied to the community through that
resistance. Robin Hood is a case in point. Ernst Jünger saw a close rela-
tionship between abandonment, the forest, resistance, and freedom:

We call those individuals Waldgänger who see themselves exposed

to destruction due to having become isolated and homeless
24 Lycanthropy in German Literature

through the great process. It could be the fate of many, even of all
humanity – hence there must be an additional defining factor. I
see it in the Waldgänger’s readiness to resistance and his eagerness
to fight a battle that may be hopeless. Waldgänger is the one who
has an original relationship with freedom, which manifests itself
in his unwillingness to become a fatalist.51

Jünger’s Waldgänger is indeed no other than the vargr in his dual

identity suspended between being hunted and being the hunter.52
We are thus faced with two types of the homo sacer, the one in per-
manent abandonment and the one who, due to his resistance to his
abandonment, can potentially return from his exile. This resistance
is not just a physical condition but also a psychic state. The homo
sacer’s psychological dimension will accompany us through German
literature from its very beginnings. As long ago as the Viking sagas, the
human being expelled to the woods suffers psychic trauma caused by
loneliness and depression. When Gudrun in the Saga of the Volsunga
‘disappeared into the forest, [a]ll about her she heard the cries of
wolves, and she thought it would be more agreeable to die than to
live’.53 Her condition is clearly one of depression, and she becomes
one with the wolves in the sense of being expelled to the dark side of
life, thinking about suicide.
Being expelled to the dark side of life is the fate the friedlos wolf-
man, who was pronounced dead, shares with the camp victims of the
twentieth century. Over time that dark side has been associated spe-
cifically with the forest,54 which, though a concrete place for outcasts
in the Middle Ages, today has taken on different metaphorical mean-
ings. The concentration camps, gulags, and other detention centres
of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, which were and still
are often surrounded by real forests or were euphemistically named
after forests (Buchenwald, Birkenau), are such metaphorical forests of
expulsion and lawlessness, where the freedom of the wolfman is an
extremely cynical concept. To this day, the cynically euphemistic
message over the gates of Auschwitz, Arbeit macht frei, which hides
the fact that inmates were worked to death (Vernichtung durch Arbeit,
annihilation through labour), remains a sinister reminder of pre-
cisely this equivalence between the notion of freedom and death in
the expulsion of those considered to be as free as wolves.
Carnivalizing the Ban
The Schelm’s Lycanthropy in the
Age of Melancholy

I was as little acquainted with wolves as I was with

my own ignorance … Ach, ye great donkey, [his Da]
replied, ye’ll be a fule all yer laife … Such a big
laddie and still ye divent ken what a fower footed
rogue the wolf is.1

The fool (Dölpel), the rogue (Schelm) and the wolf form a synthesis
in this passage in Hans Jacob Christoph von Grimmelshausen’s
The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus (1668), a key text which
will demonstrate the significance of the wolf metaphor as a reflec-
tion of the early modern age’s anxieties about idleness, mental illness
and crime. I argue that this association of the wolf with these flaws
and vices in the German picaresque has its roots both in a range of
earlier literary forms and the biopolitical custom of expulsion of the
criminal in the Middle Ages as the human wolf.
In the passage above, the wolf as a cunning rogue and Simplicius
as the classical Dümmling (a naïve fool) of medieval Schwank
literature2 form an identity that becomes significant for the pro-
tagonist’s overall development. He develops from a young fool into
a thievish rogue living in the forest and finally becomes a wise man,
who, disillusioned with life and the world, withdraws from it. Initially
he lives among peasants, not his real family, for whom he tends the
sheep. His putative father, his ‘Da’ as he calls him, repeatedly warns
him against the cunning wolf at a time when the young boy witnesses
the Battle of Nördlingen (1634), in which Bernhard von Sachsen-
Weimar was defeated by the Roman King Ferdinand of Austria.3 When

26 Lycanthropy in German Literature

the marauding soldiers burn down the farm, he thinks, never having
encountered a real wolf, that these riders must surely be that wolf, a
naïveté that contains a historical truth in view of the medieval berserkr/
vargr as wolves outlawed by the community. This image of maraud-
ing, plundering soldiers reappears several times in the text, as does
Simplicius’s refuge in the forest and the contrast between beasts and
fools, on the one hand, and human morals, education, Bildung, on
the other. Simplicius’s progress is thus closely tied to this relationship
between the wolf, the vagrant, the marauding soldier, and the fool.
Following the destruction of his first home, he escapes to the for-
est where he is raised as a good Christian by Knan, a hermit who in
the course of events turns out to be his real father. Knan considers
him either ‘simple minded or crafty’ (p. 33) when he first sets eyes
on the wild and neglected boy, thus expressing this text’s persistent
conflation of folk humour with its figure of the fool and the homo
sacer as an under-developed sinner. In the vocabulary of the seven-
teenth century, in which Christian values and biopolitics conjoin,
folly and thievishness are associated with idleness, leading to mental
illness. According to the words spoken at a later stage by a much
wiser Simplicius, who can never really escape the bourgeois moral
code, ‘[i]f you take away idleness, the illness will disappear of its
own accord’ (p. 275).4 As Simplicius develops from a simple-minded
fool to a crafty rogue, his moral and mental decline, which throws
him into the claws of the devil, accompanies the reader through
a good portion of the book. After growing up as a wild forest boy,
half-human/half-animal, and without speech, he advances to the
position of a court fool under Lord Ramsey and his aristocratic circle;
subsequently he becomes a huntsman, and finally the Thirty Years
War turns him into a berserk-like marauder. It is then that he fully
turns into a wolfman as the outlawed rogue.
Like the English word rogue, the German Schelm from the six-
teenth century on denotes the devil. Although the Schelmenroman
is steeped in the Christian iconography of the Satanic, the genre
derives from a range of literary and cultural traditions, including
the menippean satire of Roman antiquity, German medieval beast
epics, and the Spanish picaresque of the sixteenth century. While
being indebted to these satirical literary forms, Grimmelshausen’s
novel about a man whom the war first corrupts and then turns
into a permanent recluse is a carnivalesque re-enactment of the
Carnivalizing the Ban 27

medieval expulsion of criminals. It is, however, not only his moral

decline but also his depression ensuing from his isolation from the
community that moves Simplicius closer to the human wolves of
the Middle Ages, to the likes of Gudrun in the Saga of the Volsunga,
who, when ‘she heard the cries of wolves, ... thought it would be
more agreeable to die than to live’.5 At times, Simplicius’s connec-
tions with these medieval wolfmen are indeed very close, as the
vargr and berserkr enriched themselves at the expense of others, una-
bashedly taking what was not theirs.6 Like them, we see Simplicius
‘foraging …, roaming the villages … stealing, taking anything you
find, tormenting and ruining the farmers, yes, even, raping their
maids, wives and daughters’ (p. 140). … ‘I stole a lot and prayed very
little’ (p. 144).7 This vagrant, thievish lifestyle is a salient feature
of the picaro, who displays a persistent inability to find roots and
become socially integrated.8 The picaresque novel is the ideal genre
to represent the principles of homelessness and social marginaliza-
tion that Bakhtin saw as key factors for the modern novel in general
with its central figures, which he called life’s maskers: the clown, the
fool and the rogue.9
This largely sinister dimension of Germanic saga, myth and the
practice of expulsion is lightened by the genre’s recourse to medieval
narratives using animals like the fox and the wolf. In Heinrich der
Glîchezâre’s late twelfth-century verse epic, Reinhart Fuchs, for exam-
ple, about the strange brotherhood and enmity between Reinhart
the fox and Isengrin the wolf, the former consistently appears as the
clever Schelm duping the strong and voracious but ultimately stupid
wolf.10 Although with its pair of Schelm and Dümmling11 this story is
conceptually a precursor of Grimmelshausen’s novel, the two posi-
tions are found within one character in the seventeenth-century text,
with Simplicius developing from a Dümmling into a cunning Schelm,
the latter now being associated with the wolf rather than the fox.12
While the wolf stood for human folly, greed, and the hypoc-
risy of monks in the medieval beast epic, he is a marauding rogue
in Grimmelshausen’s text. However, although the wolf is largely
demonized in the early modern age, Grimmelshausen is well aware
that vice is a human rather than an animal quality. Thomas Hobbes
already knew this when he claimed that ‘man surpasseth in rapac-
ity and cruelty the wolves, bears, and snakes that are not rapa-
cious unless hungry and not cruel unless provoked, whereas man
28 Lycanthropy in German Literature

is famished even by future hunger’.13 From its very beginnings in

the sixteenth century, the picaresque genre explores the liminality
between the human and the beastly, and asks persistently what it
is that makes us human. Grimmelshausen’s novel reveals human
excess and other sinfulness in carnivalesque fashion using animal
metaphors – not only the wolf but also the donkey, and it contains
moments in which it reveals animals as the wiser species:

I might almost say that you humans have learnt your arts and
sciences from us animals. You eat and drink yourself to death,
which we animals never do. A lion or wolf that is starting to get
too fat starves itself until it is slim, healthy and full of life again.
Which shows the greater wisdom?
[SRCE](p. 132)14

As a rare defence of the animal instinct, this is one of the few

moments in which the wolf becomes briefly de-demonized in this
seventeenth-century text. In allegorical fashion this novel explores
the phenomenon of becoming animal and becoming human, thus
prefiguring the later genre of the Bildungsroman where becoming
humanized implies the hero’s socialization process.
At the beginning of the text, however, his Da’s warning against
the wolf functions as an early indicator of Simplicius’s later moral
decline. The wolf is primarily a metaphor for rapaciousness and vora-
ciousness, for moral transgression mixed with idleness that accompa-
nies Simplicius through his life. At the height of the Thirty Years War,
as Simplicius becomes indifferent to his surroundings and whether
he is dead or alive, the wolf also denotes war and is contrasted with
the animal of love, the nightingale: ‘All of a sudden the song of
the nightingale meant no more to me than the howling of wolves’
(p. 376). His early youth, however, with its lack of speech and matu-
rity is described through different animal metaphors. His pre-human
foolish self, for example, is made visible when the courtiers stick him
inside a calf skin, a motif that strays from the above accreditation
of natural wisdom to animals and folly to humans, and seems to be
a set piece in picaresque literature in its equation of the fool with
asses and other animals. In Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749, Bk 8,
Ch.10), to give another example, Tom and Partridge encounter a
gentleman nicknamed the Man of the Hill, whom they rescue from
Carnivalizing the Ban 29

two ruffians, and who is dressed in the skin of an ass and has a cap
and boots made of some other animal hide. Although the Man of
the Hill is a benevolent character, in his wild imagination, Partridge
initially associates him with witchcraft and the devil. He turns out
to be someone who has exiled himself from humanity in search of
wisdom by reading Plato and Aristotle. This man in animal skin, a
reminder of his former foolish self, is in the end a man of wisdom,
but only after having learned from his own faults and from the books
he has studied.
Given to self-imposed loneliness and strange wanderings in the
night, Fielding’s Man of the Hill is also the classical melancholic.
He shares this with the heroes of other picaresque novels, such as
Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
(1759–67), which owes much to Robert Burton’s seminal study
Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) about the causes and cures of mel-
ancholy. Burton understood this disease to be a veritable epidemic
of his age. Folly, beastliness and melancholia are one to Burton, an
equation fed by religious superstition, because the disease of melan-
choly was perceived as being stimulated by witchcraft and demonic
possession.15 As early as in 1567, Aëtius had called it melancholia
canina, a condition that was believed to emanate from too much
black bile secreted by the spleen – the dog organ, as Walter Benjamin
called it in his The Origin of the German Tragic Drama: ‘the spleen rules
the organism of the dog.’16
The more intense form of this psychic state was the so-called
insania lupina, lupine madness.17 Although closely linked to what
we now know as lycanthropy and rabies, to Burton, these psychic
conditions were caused primarily by idleness, passions and loneli-
ness. Guided by the religious fanaticism of his time, he believed
that as long as passions were allowed to dominate the soul and
body, these sinful humans were essentially like beasts, animals stuck
inside human form. The religious context is inextricably intertwined
with Burton’s medical opinions, a hybrid discourse, as it were, that
found its way in metaphorical fashion into the picaresque tradition
of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which still featured
under-developed (ungebildete) humans as stuck inside animal skins.
Fielding’s Man of the Hill, whose solitary vita contemplativa – his
exile from humanity – turns him into a melancholic, is a reminder
of Burton’s theory that melancholia and folly are diseases that reduce
30 Lycanthropy in German Literature

man to an animal. So are Grimmelshausen’s references to lycanthropy

in the mythical figure of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, whom, as
punishment for boasting about his achievements, God banishes into
wilderness to live like an animal for seven years. The condition of
exile strongly impacts the confrontation with the self. In both myth
and the picaresque, exile implies a pre-psychoanalytical confronta-
tion with one’s inner demons. Nebuchadnezzar’s transformation – he
imagines himself a wolf – can be interpreted as depression, which over
seven years worsens and turns into psychosis.18 Like Nebuchadnezzar,
Simplicius suffers from despair and even depression in the course
of his tumultuous life, but like the mythical king he also has to be
reformed and learn to honour God: ‘I have been transformed. Just as
Nebuchadnezzar was, and I too will presumably turn back into a man
when the time comes’ (p. 134).19
Juxtaposing the English picaresque tradition, Burton’s thoughts on
melancholia, and the German Schelmenroman reveals the importance
of distinguishing between animals in this early modern European
genre. While the domestic ass features in many of these texts, the
fox is a Schelm in medieval moralist narratives pitting him against the
wolf as slothful, gluttonous Dümmling. One also needs to distinguish
between the dog and the wolf. While melancholia canina is associated
with the dog, the more intense psychic condition of insania lupina
refers to the wolf in man. The wolf, I would argue, becomes a totem
animal for Simplicius, who undergoes a development from youthful
folly represented by the domestic animals of the ass, the calf and the
dog, to his decline into a wolfman displaying insania lupina in his
adult years as an outlaw during the Thirty Years War.

Dog laughter and wolfish voraciousness: carnivalizing

the ban of social parasites

As a literary re-enactment of the medieval ban, the picaresque

contains aspects of mockery that it shares with other folk rituals
such as the charivari, a public humiliation of adulterers, but it also
expresses anxieties about social parasitism.20 By juxtaposing its
protagonist’s youthful folly with his later banditry and vagrancy,
Grimmelshausen’s novel reminds us that not only were criminals
expelled from the community in the Middle Ages, but that, dur-
ing the Renaissance, segregation and confinement also extended
Carnivalizing the Ban 31

to the insane, the idle, the poor and transient vagabonds. Foucault
describes this in detail for what he calls ‘the age of great confine-
ment’ with its ‘imperative of labour’ resulting in arrests of beggars
roaming the streets of Paris (1532), who were then forced to work
in the ‘sewers of the city, chained in pairs’.21 Transients and the
unemployed were treated like criminals. They were no longer driven
away or punished but imprisoned, at the expense of the nation and
of individual liberty. The poor were confined, since they were neither
producers nor consumers: ‘idle, vagabond, unemployed, he belonged
only to confinement, a measure by which he was exiled and as it
were abstracted from society. With the nascent industry which needs
manpower, he once again plays a part in the body of the nation.’22
This confinement and outlawing of undesirable elements start as
early as with the berserkr, outlawed as a human wolf with the arrival
of Christianity in the mid-eleventh century when his transgressions
fell under a new moral code. It was this new Christian moral code
which then resulted in the demonization of the wolf in the late
Middle Ages and the early modern age. With the increasing strength-
ening of the productive bourgeois class, also the fool breathes his last
as his idle pranks, low-class humour, raucous laughter, and at times
grotesque physicality increasingly become anachronisms at the dawn
of the bourgeois age.
The picaresque plays with these paradigms of outlawry and con-
finement in comical ways but also as a warning against moral decline
and social parasitism. The hermit’s initial suspicion upon seeing the
unformed boy that he is either simple-minded or crafty foreshadows
the overall development of Simplicius from a simple-minded fool,
via a court fool, to a crafty thief. His moral regression is accompanied
by images that indicate the hybridity of human and animal, a phe-
nomenon that grounds this genre in satire, the Greek satyrs and the
Roman menippea.23 Simplicius Simplicissimus shares two structural
features with the menippean satire of antiquity such as Apuleius’s
Metamorphoses (about 160 ad): his physical and mental metamorpho-
sis, and the hero’s withdrawal from society. Like Lucius, who changes
into an ass – a popular motif that survives as late as in Carlo Collodi’s
(1826–1890) Le Avventure di Pinocchio (The Adventures of Pinocchio,
1883), where it is likewise a warning against idleness – the picaro is
a fool depicted with animal features.24 Eager to see the world after
the death of his Knan, Simplicius leaves the shelter of the great forest
32 Lycanthropy in German Literature

and ends up at the court of Governor Ramsey. Due to his naïveté, the
people at court immediately take him for a fool and stick him inside
a calf skin, thus marking his beastly nature void of all reason, an
ironic twist on lycanthropy which implies not only changing into a
wolf but also into other animals, such as the dog or a cow. As a clean
animal, the calf is a sacrificial animal, whereas the wolf/vargr is asso-
ciated with murder, scavenging in battlefields, and devouring meat.
At the same time, the calf skin is a carnivalesque degradation of the
wolf skins that the berserkrs donned in earlier, more chivalric ages.
The court scenes show Simplicius also with a costume displaying
donkey’s ears (p. 114), another image that, originating in the Roman
menippea (Apuleius’s Lucius changes into an ass), carnivalizes the
more sinister Germanic tradition of the medieval wulfshedir (the
wolf’s mask put on Anglo-Saxon outlaws),25 although both animal
heads evoke the devil with his two horns.
In Grimmelshausen’s Schelmenroman the rogue becomes a prism
through which historical events such as war are reflected. It is these
war-torn times that turn men into wolves in a society where man is
a wolf to man. Grimmelshausen empathizes with the victims of the
Thirty Years War, with the poor dying as soldiers, from starvation, or
diseases like the plague and smallpox. The text, however, takes a satir-
ical stance towards society and history, and reveals the corruption of
humanity during the seventeenth century. Society’s animal passions,
especially the nobility’s idleness and greed, are the subject of the
feast scene at Governor Ramsey’s court. This text is one of the early
novelistic examples of blasphemy and anarchy in the face of paternal
authority. The intimate connection between the sovereign and the
homo sacer is reflected in the fool’s mockery of the ruler. Specifically,
the godlessness of the medieval wolfman as a sinner lends itself to a
carnivalesque re-enactment of the ban in the picaresque genre. We
remember that, after committing a murder, Sigi in the Saga of the
Volsunga was ‘declared an outlaw, a wolf in hallowed places’.26 He was
a vargr i veum. The vargr’s desecration of such holy places, the fact that
he was morally unclean, seems to be an act of rebellion against God,
as well as the reason for his being outlawed by the Church in the mid-
eleventh century. Simplicius’s frequently repeated withdrawal into
the forest also points to this act of outlawry and to an act of rebel-
lion, his eagerness to escape paternal authority, the authority of God
and his sovereign representatives on Earth.
Carnivalizing the Ban 33

Before he becomes the human wolf in the wilderness, however,

his youthful folly in the domestic, civilized space is associated not
only with the calf but also the dog. This hybridity between the
human and the animal that he keeps displaying literally reveals itself
as a physical openness. Especially his blasphemies and the social
criticism they imply at the Court of Lord Ramsey evoke the satyrs,
creatures that, according to baroque understanding, would tell any
person unabashedly what they thought of them, and would do so
with mocking gestures and with great laughter with their mouths
wide open.27 As a satirical novel, the Schelmenroman harks back to
the medieval saturnalia as well as these creatures that display all the
features of Bakhtin’s grotesque body, the open body in the act of
becoming, as described in great detail in his seminal book Rabelais
and his World (written in the 1930s but not published until 1965).28
It is this image of the open mouth in laughter, gluttony and emitting
the howl that is of particular interest to the discussion of the picaro
as dog and wolf.
In the carnivalized picaresque tradition of the seventeenth cen-
tury, the wide-open mouth emits laughter and social criticism, but it
also signifies gluttony. We see this everywhere in Rabelais. The open
mouth belongs to the grotesque, deformed body associated with the
lower classes and animality, from both of which the bourgeoisie,
with its ideal of the erect body, sought increasingly to distance itself.
It is, however, through this image of the open mouth that the wolf
and the fool can be approximated, the wolf through his voracious-
ness and the fool through his grotesque laughter. Both motifs reveal
how in the early modern age this open mouth falls increasingly into
disrepute. While voraciousness as a sin in the eyes of the Church
was no novelty, laughter fell out of fashion from the Renaissance on,
when it was starting to become equated with idleness and sinfulness,
‘because laughter turned people away from hard work’ and ‘the joker
is a devil’ preventing ‘one from amassing capital’.29 As Barry Sanders
points out in his highly readable history of laughter,30 in Greek and
Roman antiquity, laughter is seen as being produced by the spleen,
an organ that the sixteenth century then associates specifically with
the dog (note that the word ‘cynicism’, a form of derisive laughter is
also derived from the dog, kyon). In the seventeenth century, canine
laughter and canine melancholy both become part of the discourse
of illness relating to idleness.
34 Lycanthropy in German Literature

The famous Hanau banquet at Governor Ramsey’s court served

at the expense of hundreds of starving war victims is teeming
with Rabelaisian images and carnival laughter. Tied to a pig’s trough
Simplicius is being mocked by the others and, uninitiated to rich
food, reacts violently against its abundance. Breaking wind, he ‘spoils
the dance’ (p. 96) by defecating himself: ‘something slipped out into
my trousers which gave off an awful stench, the like of which I had
not smelt for a long time’ (p. 97).31 His ‘protest comes literally from
below and debases everything that is high’.32 In carnival, laughter is
a product of the open, grotesque body often accompanied by other
bodily processes such as defecation and farting. Breaking wind is
deeply connected to the fool through the latter’s etymological origin
in the Latin follem, ‘bellows’ or ‘wind bag’.33 And Simplicius, the fool,
is told that to fart silently is to do it like a dog, by lifting up the left
leg (p. 86), a detail that implies the contrast between the expelled
rogue, the wolf as thief and the fool as the wolf’s domesticated
double, the dog.
In the late Renaissance and the early modern age, the failure to
control one’s physical openness – bodily reactions such as farting
and laughter, alongside abnormal bouts of emotions such as mel-
ancholia, rage or anxiety – were, as we pointed out, associated with
animal behaviour. Man differed from dog also in view of laughter.34
The seventeenth century even distinguished between different types
of laughter, between what in his Treatise on Laughter (1571) Laurent
Joubert described as ‘dog laughter’, which he considered a raucous
kind of laughter that only involves bodily passions, and human
laughter as the side effect of moral and intellectual understand-
ing.35 Carnival laughter is consequently a celebration of the animal
in man, primarily in the face of religious and secular doctrines that
equated laughter with idleness and a release of animal passions.36
These tendencies in the seventeenth century are clearly a precursor
of the Enlightenment’s insistence on rationality. As much as the
Enlightenment was trying to transcend the influence of Christianity
through reason, Christian doctrine, in its attempt to tame the
human beast as an incarnation of the Devil, also prepared the
Enlightenment discourse.37
The picaresque genre displays this celebration of the animal in
man profusely. Grimmelshausen’s text teems with moments in which
laughter is described as satanic and beastly, at times resembling
Carnivalizing the Ban 35

even a wolfish howl. When captured one day by a band of robbers,

Simplicius screams: ‘I am the devil …, laughing out loud, which ech-
oed through the woods, doubtless a terrifying sound to hear in that
dark, lonely wilderness’ (p. 142).38 But Simplicius in his more mature
days internalizes the Christian message that laughter is satanic, as it
becomes associated with too much enjoyment and hence idleness;
and the idle are seen as stealing from the community. Mad laughter
and its ensuing idleness are considered a disease, but they are part of
the freedom of the Wolfsfreie, those as free as wolves and free to be
consumed by wolves:

Laughing is an illness. The Greek poet Philemon is said to have

died from it and Democritus was infected with it to his dying day.
Even now our women say they could laugh till they died. People
maintain it has its origins in the liver but I believe it comes from
an excess of foolishness, since to laugh a lot is not a sign of a
sensible man.
[SRCE](p. 276)39

Laughing in the woods like a howling wolf aligns mad laughter with
the imagery of lycanthropy. As Simplicius theorizes about human
illnesses, he also mentions

people whose ailment was anger; when they suffered an attack

they contorted their faces like demons, roared like lions, scratched
like cats, laid about themselves like bears, bit like dogs, indeed,
they were worse than wild animals, since like madmen they threw
anything they could lay their hands on. They say this disease
comes from the gall, but I believe its origins lie in the arrogance
of fools.
[SRCE](p. 275)40

This is obviously a description of either rabies or clinical lycan-

thropy, showing how much mental illness and folly were thought
of as beastly, and it conjures up the medieval wolfman as crimi-
nal and berserker. ‘Arrogance I considered a kind of mental illness
(Phantasterey) based on ignorance,’ he says (p. 275),41 equating folly
with ignorance, the absence of reason, despite a presence of instinct
with animality.
36 Lycanthropy in German Literature

The open mouth, which is associated with animality, is, however,

not only the laughing mouth but also the voracious mouth. This
motif too forms a part of the discourse on diseases: ‘Over-indulgence
in food and drink is disease’ (p. 275).42 Closing one’s mouth to
laughter and voraciousness ultimately stems from bourgeois prin-
ciples of moderation, rationalism, and abstinence from excesses of
enjoyment, in line with the rising bourgeoisie’s desire to distance
itself from other social strata, above all the over-indulging aristocracy
and the gluttonous mob. Although he understands it as an illness,
Simplicius develops a voracious wolf-like appetite. Burton ranks over-
eating and voraciousness as prime contributors to melancholy,43 and
overall the seventeenth century views voraciousness as greed that
dehumanizes man.44 The devouring mouth is one of the principal
attributes of the Rabelaisian carnival, which celebrates the animal
instincts of the mob in the face of Church repression.45 In view of
Christian morality, voraciousness was associated with idleness and a
parasitic existence. We recall that in spite of his frenetic activity, the
berserkr also had the power and privilege to take what he wanted,
to feast beyond measure, and invite himself unannounced to the
table of others. It is but a step from here to the notion of parasitism,
which literally means eating at someone else’s table. As pointed out,
war and the scavenging of wolves and ravens, those totem animals
of Wotan, the God of War and his berserks, were never far from one
another. In the early modern age, ‘parasite’ was another word for
‘fool’, used with good humour as long as the fool was a prankster
entertaining the court, but it also shows the short distance between
the fool and the wolf in its embodiment of the other, more tradi-
tional meaning of ‘parasite’ as vermin and scavenger.46
With its humour and raucous laughter the Schelmenroman seems
far removed from the more sinister writings on wolves, werewolves,
and witches. Yet the seventeenth century is a time when the wolf
becomes increasingly demonized and equated with sinners, as
becomes evident in lectures such as ‘Lycanthropy: or the Wolf wor-
rying the Lambs’ from 1615 by the Calvinist preacher, Thomas
Adams. For Adams, wolves are sinners who revile, swear, blaspheme,
abuse, and slander; ‘for this is a wolfish language’.47 According to
such religious creeds, the Schelm with all his reviling, swearing, and
blaspheming would be such a wolf. He is still a vargr in the medieval
sense of being a wolf desecrating holy places. Simplicius’s indirect
Carnivalizing the Ban 37

protest against social injustice during times of war is a motif we

shall encounter again in other texts set in times of military conflict.
Hesse’s pacifist, unpatriotic Steppenwolf between the two World
Wars, for example, is another testament to the profound affiliation
between melancholia, anarchy and war, and a distant reminder of
Robert Burton’s ‘perception that post-Reformation Europe was spi-
raling downwards into chaos with the onset and progressive spread
of warfare across the continent’, resulting in ‘widespread psycho-
logical disorder’.48 Simplicius’s insanity, obscenity and profanity in
the sacred realm are typical features that also make him a literary
forerunner of other twentieth-century characters such as Oskar
Matzerath in Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum, whose wolfish howl
reveals itself as a scream accompanied by incessant drumming. Like
Oskar, Simplicius is a mirror reflecting the rottenness of the times
he lives in. Both novels insist that their heroes’ lack of morals is
not a result of their inherent nature but the fault of a society that
corrupts them. One of the main purposes of this genre is precisely
what Simplicius does time and again, namely, to debase that which is
high. The celebration of animality in this text reflects carnivalesque
resistance to the Church and its equation of folly with sinfulness and
beastliness, but it also reveals an authorial awareness of the dynamics
between social classes, as the rising bourgeoisie comes increasingly
to associate the lower classes with animals, as they are uncouth and
bent over from work.
Blasphemy is but a mild form of crime for the wolfman. It reiter-
ates in carnivalesque fashion those more severe crimes on account
of which bandits were expelled as wolves, sinners of the worst kind,
who inspired the Christian iconography of Hell and the Devil.
Disguised as a hunter, Simplicius becomes a criminal expelled from
society, living in the wilderness. Especially after his return from
France, his lifestyle falls into increasing dissolution. It seems that
France has forever corrupted his morals,49 as it turns him into a
male prostitute in a brothel called Venus Mountain. He cheats on
his wife and as an ‘itinerant quack’ tricks a group of peasants with
fake medicine. He is taken for Mercury, the Roman equivalent of
Hermes, and becomes a consummate thief, who in one instance
tries to steal food and gets caught in his own trap. In this carni-
valesque scene (Book 2, chapter 31), Simplicius enters a priest’s
kitchen through the chimney (wolves often enter houses through
38 Lycanthropy in German Literature

chimneys in folklore) in order to steal typical carnival food – ham

and sausages. He gets trapped and, covered in soot, reveals himself
as the devil. The carnivalesque images of the fool/devil garments,
the jester’s donkey’s ears and the devil’s goat’s ears, are leitmotifs,
and in carnival fashion, the text conflates the jovial with the sin-
ister and death with laughter – satanic laughter, mad laughter, dog
laughter: ‘her drunkenness quickly sucked the life out of her child
and so inflamed her own innards that soon after they dropped out
and made me a widower for the second time, at which I almost
died laughing’ (p. 384).50 This carnival world in Grimmelshausen’s
novel seems to turn ever more cynical and contrasts starkly with the
grim reality of the Thirty Years War. Its function is to provide relief
from the suffering and depression that is spreading across war-torn,
plague-ridden Germany. Laughter in the face of death seems to be
the only weapon left to man.

Taking to the forest, becoming wolf

At the height of his poverty and depression, caused by the unend-

ing Thirty Years War, Simplicius turns into what in the early modern
age was known as a Holzgangel, Holzgeher, or Waldgänger (literally
someone who takes to the woods), referring to a criminal, outlaw,
or someone aimlessly roaming the land (Landstreicher) with criminal
intentions.51 In Germanic myth, the Waldgänger often appears as the
so-called green man, specifically in Norman myth as le loup vert de
Jumièges,52 who in turn is associated with the Anglo-Saxon outlaw
dressed in a wolveshede (a wolf’s head53) and with the devil himself:
‘the devil likes to dress in green’ (p. 192).54 Simplicius’s aimless
wandering all over Germany is regarded with scepticism by some
citizens, who consider him a Gypsy and a devil wandering through
the depths of the forest (pp. 360/411). As long as his provisions
last, he stays hidden in the forest, but when his knapsack is empty,
hunger drives him to the farms and makes him creep into the cellars
and kitchens at night to take whatever food he can find and bear it
off to the wildest part of the woods (p. 144). In his high phase of
stealing, marauding, and even flaying corpses (p. 348), Simplicius
clearly resembles the human wolf of the Middle Ages, who was
known to desecrate corpses,55 steal from farms, not just food, drink
but even the farmer’s daughter. The link between Simplicius and
Carnivalizing the Ban 39

these medieval outlaws shows itself also in the motif of the arque-
busiers, seventeenth-century cavalry men who were used in a shock
role on the battlefield, charging with sword in hand, as well as the
dragoons used by the French to hunt and persecute Protestants. This
link, however, becomes strongest when Simplicius joins the Merode’s
Brethren, a whole ‘pack (my emphasis) of them’ (p. 320). This is a
pivotal moment in the text where, similar to Nebuchadnezzar’s pro-
gression from depression to psychosis during his exile, Simplicius’s
canine melancholy turns into lupine madness and he becomes a wolf
to other men. The Merode’s Brethren are marauding deserters of the
army, soldiers without honour ‘best compared to Gypsies’ (p. 319),
and prone to rest on their ‘bear skins’ (‘ohne Noth auff der Bernhaut
ligen’ (p. 364), an expression that has survived in German to this day
for someone who is lazy56). These pernicious marauders are described
in no uncertain terms as homines sacri, cursed individuals who can be
killed with impunity:

The harm a large number of such vermin can do their general,

their comrades, and the army itself is beyond description. The
most bungling raw recruit who can do nothing but forage is more
use to his commander than a thousand Merode’s Brethren who
make a profession of malingering and spend all their time sitting
on their backsides doing nothing … They ought to be leashed
together like greyhounds.
[SRCE](pp. 320–1)57

Grimmelshausen’s vocabulary is an early literary example equating

the idle (the useless eaters) with criminals and both these groups
with vermin, thus preconfiguring the kinds of nineteenth- and early-
twentieth-century literary texts as well as National Socialist ideology
that label Gypsies and Jews as Ungeziefer (vermin). The text, however,
immediately carnivalizes this motif of the marauding underdog by
pointing out that this kind of behaviour can also be found among
those at the top of the food chain, those with the sovereign power of
princes, dukes, kings, and other despots.

I assure you that robbery is the most noble occupation you can
have nowadays. You just tell me how many kingdoms and prin-
cipalities have been acquired by robbery and violence? Is there a
40 Lycanthropy in German Literature

king or prince anywhere in the world who is criticized for enjoy-

ing the revenues from the lands which their forefathers generally
conquered by force? Therefore what could be called more noble
than my current activity?
[SRCE](p. 326)58

The fear of idleness expressed in this text concerns the lower social
strata, the insane, thieves and vagrant as much as the aristocracy,
which is ultimately also associated with banditry and wolfish vora-
ciousness. Simplicius’s self-defence points to the shifting positions
of the wolfman as marauding berserker, as Gypsy underdog and as
tyrannical prince, thus reiterating Agamben’s symmetry between the
sovereign and the homo sacer as wolves.59
Grimmelshausen describes the Thirty Years War in realistic terms
of foraging and marauding individuals and soldiers, but also in
mythological images involving wolves. The Witches’ Sabbath that
Simplicius witnesses on his way across the Harz Mountains is a vision
he has soon after admitting that he steals a lot and prays very little,
sins that draw him entirely onto the side of the Devil and make him
susceptible to this strange vision so reminiscent of the Walpurgisnacht
in Goethe’s Faust. These images are part of the mythological complex
of the Wild Hunt enacted in various Northern European carnival tra-
ditions. One of these is the time of Twelve Nights, the period between
Christmas and the 6th of January, mid-winter, originally the time
for hunting, when winter was harshest and food scarcest. From the
Roman Saturnalia on, it becomes a time of merrymaking, masquer-
ade and feasting, and often a Lord of Misrule was chosen to lead the
festivities. In Poland, men have wolf skins thrown over their heads
and are led about at Christmas,60 and in Rumania and other parts
of the Balkans, youths put on wolf masks during this period.61 The
twelfth night is the night of greatest merrymaking, as Shakespeare’s
play also tells us, a night in which humans are under the strongest
Dionysian spell, when they merge with the voracious predator. It is
traditionally the night during which all evil is expelled for the New
Year.62 Twelve Nights is often also celebrated as a ritual in which a
band of wild hunters would visit a farm to steal livestock, thus act-
ing like a pack of wolves or berserkers who invite themselves unan-
nounced to farm banquets and resort to stealing and marauding. This
custom is particularly interesting in view of the fact that the farmer
Carnivalizing the Ban 41

is able to turn the hunters away by sacrificing a calf to these wolves.

Simplicius being stuck in a calf skin during the Hanau banquet epi-
sode is a literary reminder of this sacrificial totem ritual. Reflecting
his beastly nature, he is as much a wolf stuck in a calf skin as his
substitute father Governor Ramsey is a wolf as aristocratic despot.
The wild hunters of Twelve Nights also share much in common
with the brotherhood of men about which Freud talks in his ‘Totem
and Taboo’ (1913). After having overthrown the father of the primal
horde, these brothers consume their father in order to imbibe his
strength, ‘perhaps humanity’s first feast … [that] could be seen as
the repetition and commemoration of this curious, criminal deed
that saw the beginning of so many institutions – social organiza-
tion, moral restrictions, and religion.’63 Freud shows how this first
communal, guilt-ridden meal is then turned into a totem meal, a
sacrificial offering to a God as a symbolic replacement of the mur-
dered father. In the totem meal, the dead father is commemorated,
and Freud identifies it as a ritual that extends all the way down to
the Christian atonement for the murder of the father through a sec-
ond murder, that of his son, and the commemoration of that act in
the Eucharist.64 The father–son relationship is of particular interest
for the human wolf in his ambivalence of sovereign and sacrificial
victim, a link that is explored in German literature as early as the
medieval Lay of Hildebrand (Hildebrandslied, ninth century). While
in Freud’s primal horde, the father and the sons are of one kin, com-
peting for sovereignty, this intimate relationship between the sov-
ereign and his victim persists in the biopolitical practice of the ban
through which the sovereign ruler can expel and pronounce certain
individuals as dead. The close relationship between the two lies in
the fact that through the ban the sovereign ruler and his victim are
tied to each other in their positions outside of law.
It has been pointed out that the Hanau episode contains a totemic
ritual between the son and the father.65 By leaving the forest,
Simplicius first sins against the father/God. He sins again against
a second father figure during the feast of Hanau by eating the calf
head’s eyes from the meal for the governor (his Uncle, as he later
finds out). This act of eating the calf’s eyes could indeed be seen as
the kind of totem meal that Freud mentions as a re-enactment of the
original crime of the sons killing the primeval father, the Ur-Vater.
By turning Simplicius into a calf, Lord Ramsey then sacrifices him,
42 Lycanthropy in German Literature

thus averting this crime in a symbolic act of killing the son, a situa-
tion that is similar but not as carnivalesque in Kafka’s Metamorphosis.
In Grimmelshausen’s novel, the father–son conflict is depicted
in a much lighter, carnivalized fashion, an atmosphere that is far
removed from the melancholia that reigns at court in the bürgerliche
Trauerspiel (bourgeois mourning play) of the eighteenth century as
the prince mourns the fact that he ceases to represent the authority
of God on Earth.66
Life, however, turns from a jocular into a bitter carnival for
Simplicius, who is driven close to despair. First, it disfigures his
beauty after a vicious attack of smallpox, from which he almost
dies. It then takes away his wives (although he rejoices at the second
one’s death) and his best friend Herzbruder, an event that eventually
causes his complete withdrawal from society. Disgusted with himself
and the world, he returns to the wilderness, shunning the company
of all men and women: ‘My experiences with women had left me
with such a disgust for their company that I resolved never to marry
again’ (p. 385).67 Simplicius follows a primordial instinct to return to
the forest as the place that initially, in his early childhood, gave him
shelter from the corruption of the world. He cares little for the war
and for love any more – ‘all of a sudden the song of the nightingale
meant no more to me than the howling of wolves’ (p. 376)68 – and he
is seized by deep melancholy bordering on despair: ‘[f]or some time,
they said, it had been obvious from my melancholy mood I was get-
ting pretty close to despair’ (p. 392).69 It is at this point that Robert
Burton’s thoughts on war-torn, seventeenth-century Europe with its
subsequent epidemic of melancholia become most acutely felt in the
text. Escaping from his despair, Simplicius descends into the depths
of the Mummelsee, a dead volcanic lake that takes him to the centre
of the Earth, which is the realm of the sylphs, water spirits that guard
the world’s natural springs. Prefiguring Romanticism and Freudian
theory, his Waldeinsamkeit (forest solitude) and descent into the sub-
terranean domain symbolize his confrontation with the repressed
(subterranean) drives of his subconscious. At the same time, this
descent into the underworld evokes that set-piece initiation rite in
Greek myth, the hero’s descent into Hades and his drinking from
the River Lethe upon entering it. Both Grimmelshausen’s forest
and the lake denote this realm of repression and concealment, the
Greek Lethe, and mummeln, as the narrator tells us in German, means
Carnivalizing the Ban 43

‘to disguise’ (p. 388). This magical episode in Grimmelshausen’s

novel has the same function of initiation and individuation for
the protagonist as it does in the Greek myths, as the Prince of the
Mummelsee makes Simplicius realize that the brutish nature he has
so far displayed is not his true nature:

What can God in his goodness do if one of you forgets his true
nature, abandons himself to the creatures of this world and their
shameful lusts, and gives free rein to his animal desires, thus put-
ting himself on a level with the brute beasts, and becoming in his
disobedience to God, closer to the fiendish rather than the blessed
[SRCE](p. 397)70

Although the medicinal spring the Sylphs present to him as a gift

contains water with healing qualities, it fails to heal his depression as
much as fire and heat would fail to cure him of his choleric brutish
side. The connection between water and human transformation into
a wolf is indeed a strange one, bearing in mind not only the Greek
Lykaon myth, but also that lycanthropy as rabies leads to a fear of
water (hydrophobia) and the impossibility of drinking. At one point,
Simplicius is even warned ‘to beware of water because … it might
bring about my end’ (p. 165).
In the first edition of the novel that appeared in 1668, Simplicius
simply withdraws into the society – ‘I abandoned the world and
became a hermit once more’ (p. 433), but in the Continuatio, added
to the reprint of that first edition in 1669, he travels to an island that
shows all the signs of paradise. Here he continues his life as a hermit,
and finds his way back to God. When one day a ship lands, whose
crew offers to take him back to Europe, he politely declines, leaving
the sailors somewhat puzzled as to his sanity. They may think him a
fool, but, remembering the torments of war-torn Europe, he knows
better and refuses to give up his new life in the Land of Cockaigne.
Although no man is an island, this seems to be the only way to hap-
piness for Simplicius, who is an island to himself on a deserted island
far from Europe.
Is Simplicius’s withdrawal simply a form of resignation, or does it
contain a philosophical and thus also political act? At a first glance,
this ending seems far removed from Aristotle’s view that human life
44 Lycanthropy in German Literature

exists only in the polis, while life outside the polis is not political.
According to the Greek philosopher, who was not a citizen of Athens
but a resident foreigner with no political rights, political action is
impossible for people withdrawing to wilderness.71 To the Greeks,
those living outside the polis were barbarians, as they could not hold
public office. They were so-called idiotes, as the politically unin-
volved person was considered an idiot, and, to Aristotle, idiotes and
animals were one. While the medieval fools without wisdom, those
early mentally disabled who were shipped away on rivers, would
correspond closely to Aristotle’s definition, the Renaissance fool does
not. He is an idiot savant, an idiot with wisdom, who has the ability
to directly influence the sovereign.
The picaro withdrawing from society would also be such an idiot
by the Greek definition. The Man of the Hill in Fielding’s Tom Jones,
stuck in animal hide, is a reminder of the equation of exile out-
side the city with the loss of a political function. However, his and
Simplicius’s withdrawal from society into their respective hermit-
ages, where they are no longer friedlos but very much at peace, can
have an impact on the community as a whole. Aristotle saw the value
in this kind of withdrawal, since by a different logic in his thinking
the recluse has the leisure of the philosopher who is uninvolved in
daily activities and can therefore impact politics by way of his vita
contemplativa. Leisurely people must not be farmers, who are too
busy, but philosophers, men not in pursuit of economic gain. In this
sense, withdrawal accompanied by leisure is a prerequisite of political
involvement, not its antithesis.
However, as long as the Friedlos is a hunter, a warrior and an expel-
lee on the run, he lacks leisure and is not a philosopher preparing
political action but a homo sacer, an idiot and a naïve fool. Before
Simplicius is finally far removed from all naïveté and sinfulness
he relapses several times, not least of all in his association towards
the end of the book with the strange character of Jupiter (Book 5,
Chapter 5), the god of all ‘somber melancholics that roam the
countryside, solitary and avid wolves, … patron of animal meta-
morphosis’,72 with whom he discusses the foolishness of humanity
in engaging in war. That homo hominem lupus becomes evident also
on these pages. Ironically, the final emergence from his tormented
condition of the Friedlos, whose very existence tends to be a solitary
one, can be obtained only in isolation on an island far away from
Carnivalizing the Ban 45

Europe. Simplicius’s vanitas conclusion, which he draws in absolute

seclusion, that all life is both vain and in vain, is, in the end, a politi-
cal thought sustaining his identity as a political being. It finally rein-
states his life as a human life, liberating him from the animal life or
bare life that he has displayed while still living in Europe.
Although the text directs its criticism at the Church,73 it does, on
the whole, not question the idea of salvation. Whatever we do is
ultimately deemed to be in vain due to the evanescence of all things
terrestrial. Man’s only hope lies in the Jenseits (the beyond), eternal
life after death. This is the central message of Bildung in this novel,
which takes the protagonist from the folly of immediate animal
gratification to the Christian realization of the immortality of the
soul. Bildung, which is still moral acculturation in the Christian
sense, finally offers a cure from folly and lycanthropy, that arrogance
of the fools. Although torn between the advocacy of Christian virtues
and the vanitas thought, Grimmelshausen’s novel heralds the com-
ing bourgeois age by condemning such vices as animal slothfulness
and the abstention from a rigid work ethic.
Simplicius’s development extends from initial animal life as a
youthful fool and wolf-like rogue without peace in the forest to
human life at peace on the island. Because of this kind of develop-
ment Grimmelshausen’s novel has often been seen as a Bildungsroman
and has been compared to Wolfram von Eschenbach’s (c. 1170–c.
1225) Parzival (c. 1205) and Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister novels.74 That
it is a picaresque novel and not a Bildungsroman, a genre that arose in
the Age of Enlightenment, has been established since the 1970s. As
we pointed out, the Schelm’s metamorphosis from a man ruled by his
animal nature to a good Christian is steeped in menippean satire, a
genre that displayed the metamorphosis concretely as shape-shifting
from a human to an animal and back. It is one of the decidedly
modern achievements of the picaresque novel from the sixteenth
to the eighteenth century that it then places this transformation
largely into the psyche of its protagonists. The disappearance of the
picaresque novel throughout the nineteenth century was a result of
the antipathy that bourgeois authors and readers shared for the fig-
ure of the rogue, whose hybrid nature displaying animal features and
a parasitic, criminal way of life contrasted starkly with the notions
of order of the rising bourgeoisie who could no longer identify with
the Schelm and subscribed to a general repression of conditions such
46 Lycanthropy in German Literature

as melancholy. In the age of the bourgeoisie, which was character-

ized by a search for national unity, ‘[t]he law of nations’ no longer
countenanced ‘the disorder of hearts’ and the rising bourgeoisie’s
great dream was that ‘the laws of the State and the laws of the heart
[were] at last identical’.75 This was a socio-political development for
which the Bildungsroman with its dismissal of the hero’s youthful
dreams and ambitions and his final acceptance of social reality was
an adequate literary representation. Instead of a mischievous social
outsider who was forever fighting against a pitiless society, prefer-
ence was given to a literary hero who was willing to find his way into
society, and who would aspire to reconciliation between his ego and
the world, while the animal half of the protagonist was either sup-
pressed or taken outside of him and placed in an antagonistic char-
acter, such as the Jewish characters of Wilhelm Raabe’s The Hunger
Pastor (Der Hungerpastor, 1864) or Gustav Freytag’s Debit and Credit
(Soll und Haben, 1855).
The onset of the bourgeois age also initiated the decline of the des-
potic beast, Derrida’s sovereign wolf as aristocratic ruler. One of the
last of these in Germany can be found in the bürgerliches Trauerspiel
(bourgeois tragedy), with its melancholic prince suffering from too
much black bile produced by the spleen, the dog’s main organ. The
sovereign outside of law behaves as if he has been bitten by a rabid
dog, the court becomes a hell to him, and he is no other than the
devil himself.76 Melancholy is not made for people, Walter Benjamin
argues, but if it becomes too strong, people become like animals
in their creaturely sadness.77 Those afflicted by the saturnine spirit
are inclined to travel excessively, direct their attention to earth,
to the inside of earth, and are given to excessive ruminations and
auto-introspection. Picaresque heroes like Laurence Sterne’s Tristam
Shandy or Grimmelhausen’s Simplicius are clearly victims of this
melancholia canina, which makes them uniquely modern characters.
What distinguishes Simplicius from these English novels, however, is
his close identity with the demonized wolf as a distant and carnival-
ized echo of the abandonment of humans in the Middle Ages.
Sexual Predator or Liberator
Wolves and Witches in Romanticism

The wolf, oh Germany, is attacking your flock, and

your shepherds are fighting over a handful of wool.1

Wolves appears as foreign invaders in Heinrich von Kleist’s play The

Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (Die Hermannschlacht, written in 1808,
first published in 1821), a dramatic representation of the famous bat-
tle between Herrmann and the Roman troops under Varus (9 AD). On
a meta-narrative level, the defeat of the Romans refers to Germany’s
conflict with Napoleon and is a dramatic clash between the
Germanic partisans and the wolves from the Tiber River,2 between
a scavenging, colonizing wolf pack and clever individualists like
Herrmann. In this drama about Germanic guerrilla warfare against a
far superior colonial power, the image of the wolf occurs alongside
that of the fox and the bear. Similar to the medieval beast epics, the
wolf stands for strength but also a slowness of mind, while Herrmann
subscribes to the wisdom expressed in Machiavelli’s The Prince (Il
Principe, 1532) that the politician who does not have the strength of
a lion should make use of the tactics of the fox and become a great
liar and hypocrite.3
Romantic literature contains both these nationalist tendencies
and a focus on the emotional and strategic impulses of individu-
alists. But while Kleist’s leader is a sly fox, those individualists in
Romanticism who try to escape society’s disciplinary control mecha-
nisms are lycanthropes who exile themselves. In harkening back
to pre-Enlightenment literary traditions such as the picaresque,
Romanticism reactivates that genre’s aura of melancholy and the

48 Lycanthropy in German Literature

outsider’s withdrawal from society into wilderness. Such texts

contain a lot of nostalgia for the forest and mountains, terrains in
which subconscious, repressed desires can surface. In the wake of
eighteenth-century fears of uncivilized nature and the association of
the forest with abandonment, German Romantic literature displays
a clash between a nationalist search for roots and the loss of these.
The wolf metaphor in German Romanticism reflects the tension
between the pressures exerted on the individual to comply with the
demands of the nation state in formation and individualist urges to
escape such pressures.
Romanticism both psychologizes and engenders the image of the
wolf and the act of going into the forest. The wolf here does not stand
for evil per se, and is no longer seen as a sinner in the way the Middle
Ages and early modern age viewed him, but in his confrontation with
humans expresses the uncivilized, undomesticated side in the latter.
Little Red Cap’s encounter with the wolf is her lycanthropic moment,
in which the animal brings out her ‘indulgence in sensuality and her
disobedience’4 to bourgeois expectations of young girls. We encoun-
ter lycanthropy in the psychological sense of humans undergoing
massive shifts of identity in which their uncivilized nature can no
longer be repressed; and we encounter wolves in their association
with women, echoing pre-Romantic folk superstitions equating
witches with wolves.5 The Romantic fairy tale in Germany offers us a
sinister reminder of the persecution of witches from the late sixteenth
century onwards, of women burnt at the stake because they posed
a threat to the patriarchal world order. From the late Middle Ages
on, the wolf becomes synonymous with the devil, and wolves and
witches blend together in this process of demonization as early as the
Great Werewolf and Witch Hunt initiated by Pope Innocent VIII in
the Papal Bull Summis Desiderantes Affectibus of December 1484 and by
the Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches, 1486).6 According
to Hannah Arendt, ‘isolation may be the beginning of terror’, and
women living outside of the community have experienced this terror
over centuries.7 Not having a place in the community, by which they
were pronounced dead, and trying to survive in a heterotopia outside
the social contract meant ‘to have no place in the world’.8
As the great seducer of youth, the wolf in German Romanticism
is a distant echo of the criminal outlawed as a morally unclean wolf
in the Middle Ages. He serves as a cautionary paradigm, warning
Sexual Predator or Liberator 49

youth not to stray from the path of virtue, not to become as morally
unclean as him. As cautionary tales, the Romantic folk tales featuring
wolves serve the interest of bourgeois child education and therefore
ultimately the purpose of successful nation building. In Romantic lit-
erature, ‘wolf time’, that is, humans being exposed to wolves or turn-
ing lycanthropic, is either a matter of temporary or permanent exile.
While in the Grimm Brothers’ folk tales, this exile is temporary, in
the literary fairy tales, the so-called Kunstmärchen – in Ludwig Tieck’s
Rune Mountain (Der Runenberg, 1802) and Adalbert von Chamisso’s
melancholic wanderer Peter Schlemihl, for example – the homo
sacer’s exile from the human community tends to be permanent.

From Bear Skinner to wolf girl

Before returning to the wolf tales and specifically Little Red Cap, I
want to digress via a figure that forms the perfect transition from
Grimmelshausen and his recourse to medieval lycanthropes and
demonstrates the folk tale’s tendency to display this temporary exile
from the community metaphorically as a man’s symbiosis with a
predator, not a wolf, but a bear. Unlike any other tale by the Brothers
Grimm, their ‘Bear Skinner’ (‘Der Bärenhäuter,’ Grimm’s tale 101)
evokes the medieval figure of the vargr/berserkr, aligning him with
the Christian iconography of the devil. The permanent exile that
was customary for the outlawed berserkr, however, subsides for a pos-
sibility to return from exile in this folk tale about temporary aban-
donment from the human community. The tale, which is in part
based on Grimmelshausen’s version of the Bear Skinner,9 features a
poor soldier who gives his soul to the devil as a deposit in exchange
for a coat containing never-ceasing riches. The devil then explains
to him that if he dies within seven years, during which he cannot
wash and groom himself or say the Lord’s Prayer, he will keep the
soldier’s soul, but if the latter survives those seven years he can keep
his soul and the coat along with it. As further proof of the man’s
animal nature, the devil puts a bear hide on him. In his second
year of not washing, the bear skinner is already starting to resemble
a beast, making everyone run away in fright.10 Despite his animal
appearance, however, he retains his good nature. He helps a man in
need who then wants to reward him with one of his three daughters.
Only the youngest sees the good heart behind the wild appearance
50 Lycanthropy in German Literature

of the bear skinner. She remains faithful to him for seven years, after
which the animal skin goes back to the devil, the bear skinner’s soul
is freed, and he reveals his former self to the woman he loves.
The tale about this temporary exile as a were-bear has its roots
in myths involving the sacrifice and consumption of human flesh.
There are parallels, for example, with the Lykaon myth and evolving
from it the werewolves of the Arcadian Zeus Lykaion cult, who were
changed back into men after nine years, provided they had not eaten
any human flesh during that time.11 During his time of lupization,
man is dead to the community, exiled to a psychic and physical
heterotopia, from which, however, he may be able to return once his
moral impurity is considered to have been washed clean. It is this
impurity that is indicated in the bear skinner’s dishevelled appear-
ance, a moral shortcoming intimately linked to his profession as sol-
dier, his business with the killing of other humans. Literally friedlos
(without peace because as a soldier he is in a permanent state of war),
he is a wolf on the battlefield, rendering his Christian soul vulnerable
to the claims of the devil: ‘as long as there was war everything went
fine but when peace was made, he was sacked’.12 The bear skinner’s
transformation is a mythical topos, an initiation rite during which
he enters the underworld to face his own demons. Becoming a bear
or a wolf implies this encounter with his subconscious nature and is
designed to turn him into a fuller human being, someone who is able
to integrate his shadow. His distance from the community seems to
be vital in the human integration process, which may explain why
such exile is an initiation rite in many cultures. Turning into a bear
or a wolf, but also being exposed to and seduced by a wolf, are topoi
in the folk tale tradition, which, in Christian parlance, denote expo-
sure to sin and the devil, and in psychoanalytical terms are vital for
the temporary fragmentation of individuality as the prerequisite for
its reintegration.
Like the Schelmenroman (see Chapter 2), the folk tale of the bear
skinner contains the motifs of melancholia and animal transforma-
tion, thus revealing a distant echo of the fury of the former ber-
serker and the animal skins he used to don. The act of outlawing
the berserker in the twelfth century survives both in the Schelm’s
association with the devil in the seventeenth century but also in
the Romantic tradition, in characters like the bear skinner who are
temporarily brought together with the devil. This motif is not limited
Sexual Predator or Liberator 51

to the folk tales but can also be found in a novella like Adelbert von
Chamisso’s Peter Schlemihl’s Wondrous Story (Peter Schlemihls wun-
dersame Geschichte, 1813). Unlike the bear skinner, however, Peter
Schlemihl, who sells his shadow to the devil for unlimited wealth,
never fully regains his former self. He remains trapped in the under-
world and has to learn to live outside of the community of men for
the remainder of his life: ‘If you wish to live among people, learn to
honour your shadow above all else.’13 Unlike the bear skinner’s exile,
that of Schlemihl is permanent. His initial sin of wanting to enrich
himself without working for it remains unforgiven, and he turns
into a melancholic man wandering the globe in seven-mile boots
and in the company of a faithful poodle, a detail that connects his
melancholia canina with the devil, whom Peter can never quite shake
off (note that Faust first encounters Mephistopheles in the shape of
a poodle).14 Most folk tales, on the other hand, contain the notion
of a temporary exile, of an initiation rite in which children and ado-
lescents encounter a temptation with sin that has to be overcome.
This motif is in the interest of bourgeois social aspirations with their
concepts of maturation and acculturation, while the Kunstmärchen
(the literary fairy tales) contain a more complex psychological
dimension in the possibility of a character’s permanent exile from
the community.

Little Red Cap, do you see all the beautiful flowers here?;
why don’t you look around a bit?15

As an animal with human qualities, the folk tale wolf is an allegorical

figure for the historical Friedlos, condemned to the night side of life.
The wolf holds the potential for human sin that devours its victims
and threatens to cast them into permanent exile. Following this
rationale, various characters’ encounters with wolves in these folk
tales function as warnings against sin and the impurity associated
with sinfulness. Such cautionary folk tales exploit the wolf’s ambiva-
lent historical reception between nurturer and devourer in that the
destructive wolf often is disguised as its opposite, as nurturer. The
Grimm’s tale of ‘The Wolf and the Seven Kids’ (Grimm’s tale 005),
for example, demonstrates this mythical (and biological) dual nature
of the wolf. In its adaptation of Matthew 7:15, the false prophets
as wolves in sheep’s clothing, this Grimm’s tale shows us the wolf
52 Lycanthropy in German Literature

posing as the nurturing mother goat to gain access to the house in

which he finds and devours all but one of the seven little kid goats,
whom their mother has briefly left behind. She warns her children
that they can recognize the wolf by his hoarse voice and black paws.
When he arrives, it takes him three attempts on the threshold16 of
the house to find out that he needs to soften his voice and whiten
his paws with chalk in order to trick the kids into believing he is
their mother. This duality of devourer and nurturer is also alluded
to in ‘Little Red Cap’ (Grimm’s tale 026) for which the Grimms bor-
rowed from ‘The Wolf and the Seven Kids’ and where the wolf also
briefly adopts a maternal role by putting on the grandmother’s hood
in order to trick the girl. The nurturing function of the wolf, as we
see it in the Roman foundation myth of Romulus and Remus, thus
survives as a camouflaging technique in the German patriarchal folk
tales, which cannot be completely disengaged from the Christian
doctrine of the devil’s power of seduction and leading humans astray.
Young people’s encounters with the wolf correspond to that phase
in the formation of an individual which Duerr called ‘dreamtime’ and
which I would like to call ‘wolf time’. It is time spent in the wilder-
ness which serves many cultures as an initiation rite and has left its
imprint on the folk tale, where, however, the rite is not limited to
male characters. Little Red Cap distances herself from her peaceful
dwelling (an area that is umfriedet/fenced in or walled in) by going
into the forest, where she encounters the wolf as a reflection of a
potentially sinful side of herself. Her eventual physical union with the
beast that devours her contrasts sharply with her nurturing goodwill
signalled by her task of carrying a basket of food to her grandmother,
and it accentuates the peril of her becoming morally corrupted. ‘Little
Red Cap’ contains a rite de passage, during which the girl’s awakening
sexuality is the cause of her being tested to see whether she will stay
on the right track in life or succumb to the sensual temptations of
the forest – to the sexual urges of her own body, which, in line with
the bourgeois moral code of the nineteenth century, need to be disci-
plined. Bruno Bettelheim famously interpreted this moment of temp-
tation in the context of Freud’s pleasure principle for which Little Red
Cap relinquishes the reality principle, with her absent father repre-
senting both oedipal desire and the resolution of the conflict through
his double, the hunter.17 She is being devoured, an act that implies
that she is, however briefly, physically possessed by the tempter, from
Sexual Predator or Liberator 53

whom she has to be exorcised, literally excised.18 That act of excision

is performed by the patriarchal principle of justice, the hunter/father
figure, who skins the wolf and, in turn, becomes a wolfman: ‘The
hunter skinned the wolf and went home with its fur.’19 Donning the
wolf skin denotes the patriarchal crime of desiring the daughter. But
as wolves were closely associated with witches in the early modern
age, there is also a close symbolic union between the nefarious wolf
and the guilt-endangered girl he devours. Little Red Cap can only be
cleansed from her impending transformation into a young woman
possessed by the wolf, a witch, in other words, by being cut out of his
belly. It is a tale of the dangers for women young and old – Granny
has to be excised as well – of becoming witches.
As homo sacer, the wolf, in this case, a devourer of women (the
image of rape is never far from this tale), is an unclean vermin set
aside into exile and attempting to set others aside who become
unclean through him. The bear skinner’s ban on washing himself
is his exile of seven years. This conflation of the notion of exile
and uncleanness is also thematic in ‘Little Red Cap’, her potential
moral uncleanness being also a possible threat due to her loss of
innocence in a purely physical sense, as the little red cap of velvet
she receives from her grandmother may signal her beginning men-
struation. Little Red Cap is sent to the woods, the traditional state
of nature into which the vargr was banned as an unclean, criminal
member of the community. We recall that the homo sacer, who is
too unclean to be sacrificed to the gods, but can be killed by anyone
with impunity, is wolfsfrei. By sending her into the woods, on her
Waldgang, and on to Granny, who is well beyond menstruation,
Little Red Cap’s mother renders her wolfsfrei in the literal sense of
being free to be taken by the wolf. The tale could thus be consid-
ered as yet another enactment of the medieval expulsion of unclean
members of society.
In being unclean, the girl becomes closely associated with the wolf
she encounters, that ‘infernal vermin’, as Angela Carter has called
him in ‘The Company of Wolves’.20 In her rewritings of some of the
folk tales in her collection, The Bloody Chamber (1979), Carter has
paid particular attention to the traditional defencelessness of girls
and young women in the original patriarchal tales. In one of her
retellings of the Little Red Riding Hood tale, ‘Werewolf’, she is trying
to correct this by having the girl defend herself by seizing a knife
54 Lycanthropy in German Literature

and slashing off one of the wolf’s paws as she meets him in the for-
est. It turns out, when she gets to her Granny’s house, that the paw
was one of Grandmother’s hands. Grandma is a werewolf, and thus
a reminder of the persecution of women as witches, based merely on
their age, looks and economic status. As Kurt Baschwitz has argued
in his seminal book on the witches and witch trials, the war against
the devil was primarily a war against old women, against women
driven by desire for murder (‘von Mordlust getriebene alte Weiber’).21
Baschwitz’s work on mass psychosis in the context of witches was no
doubt inspired to a large extent by his vision of the links between
that phenomenon in the early modern age and Nazi Germany, from
where he escaped to Holland in 1933. Women accused of being
witches, he points out, were often thought to turn into wolves by
applying a salve.22 This intimate union between women and wolves
is already contained in the imagery of devouring in the Grimm’s tale
of ‘Little Red Cap’, but Angela Carter intensifies it in her story ‘The
Company of Wolves’ about the love Red Cap develops for her wolf
so full of lice. As the werewolf is about to devour her, she rips off his
shirt and throws it into the fire, thus condemning ‘him to wolfish-
ness for the rest of his life’, while ‘seven years is a werewolf’s natural
span’.23 In the end, the wolf’s lust to eat her subsides and with it
the aura of fear, because she loves him and searches his body for
lice, which she even wants to eat. He is as unclean a werewolf as the
Grimm’s Bear Skinner, and by wanting to eat his lice and through her
loss of virginity with him, the girl too becomes unclean. Carter takes
this theme of woman’s uncleanness to maximum heights, as her Red
Cap commits the kind of disgrace the Inquisition saw in the union
between women and the devil.24 Carter, however, also elaborates on
the possibility that the red cap of the Grimm’s tale may indicate the
girl’s first menstrual cycle.25 Her girl, whose ‘breasts have just begun
to swell’, wears a red shawl, the color of blood on snow, and ‘she has
just started her woman’s bleeding’.26
Traditional gender divisions apply in this patriarchal Grimm’s tale,
where the liberation Red Cap and her grandmother experience hap-
pens at the hands of the hunter, the male principle. In her adapta-
tion of the tale, Angela Carter, on the other hand, turns Red Cap into
a woman who runs with the wolves and becomes part of the hunt.
In the folk tale, the girl is entirely a victim of male depredation, her
blood marking her as prey to the wolf. He is a werewolf not just in
Sexual Predator or Liberator 55

the androgynous sense of being a cross-over between animal and

grandmother, but between an animal that devours and a young man
stalking young women.
That the archaic union between the two, the bloodthirsty wolf
and the bleeding girl, is disrupted in the patriarchal tale is indicated
in the girl’s initiation, her passage through the wolf’s belly from
which she has to be liberated by the hunter. Hunting and slay-
ing the animal are thus reserved solely for the man, who engages
in sacrificial violence, while the girl is excluded from that hunt
by being the prey, but also by having to learn her lesson that she
should never have strayed from the forest path in the first place. In
the Grimm’s tale, the wolf is the sexually aggressive seducer, while
in Carter’s version, the girl is an active participant in the seduction
scene. In the company of wolves, she hunts as much as, if not more
than, the wolf, that old melancholic: ‘There is a vast melancholy in
the canticles of wolves, melancholy infinite as the forest.’27 From
a patriarchal Christian perspective, she becomes a devouring wolf
woman; she does not flinch at the wolf, on the contrary, she desires
him, ‘[His] genitals, huge. Ah! Huge,’28 to lose her virginity with the
beast, and she chases his melancholy away with laughter: ‘The girl
burst out laughing. She knew she was nobody’s meat.’29
Carter’s version of the tale emphasizes the sexual innuendoes
that already exist in the Grimm’s version. However, political allu-
sions have also been read into this tale. As Jäger points out, the
Grimm Brothers collected their folk tales at a time when Kassel and
the Rhineland were occupied by the French, who were associated
with invading wolves in German literature.30 This tendency became
observable already in Kleist’s allusion to Napoleon’s occupation of
parts of Germany through his Roman wolves in the Battle of the
Teutoburg Forest. The Grimm Brothers, however, were also familiar
with Ludwig Tieck’s dramatic poem, ‘The Life and Death of Little Red
Riding Hood’ (‘Leben und Tod des kleinen Rotkäppchens’, 1800)31
and incorporated some of Tieck’s historical and political motifs into
their tale.32 In Tieck’s version, which draws on the earlier one by
Charles Perrault from 1697, Little Red Cap does not survive. Nor does
the wolf, who kills her to get back at her father for killing his beloved
she-wolf. In contrast to the domesticated ‘fool’ of the dog, the wolf
in this dramatic poem appears as a freedom-loving creature, unshack-
led in the spirit of the French Revolution. Tieck thus reiterates the
56 Lycanthropy in German Literature

distinction between the fool and the cunning rogue that we also
encountered in Chapter 2 in Grimmelhausen’s Schelmenroman. The
wolf’s confession that he too had once been a domesticated hound –
‘I grew more docile than a dog … It was a glorious thing to be of use’
(Schelmenroman, p. 116) shows symptoms of what Foucault describes
as the bourgeois docility principle for the body and mind under
which Little Red Cap is disciplined in the Grimm’s tale. Unlike the
Grimm’s version, however, Tieck’s poem seems to contrast German
dogged domestication with the wolf’s French freedom-loving rebel-
liousness,33 but it develops ironic distance to this stereotype in the
fact that the wolf ends up destroying innocent German youth.

From wolf to witch: the Holle myth

Being seduced, abducted and even devoured by wolves finds a paral-

lel in folk tales in what happens to children at the hands of witches,
whom the early modern age likened to wolves. Possibly one of the
clearest reminders of the practice of burning old women suspected
of witchcraft at the stake is the tale of ‘Hänsel and Gretel’ (Grimm’s
tale 327), where, in the end, the godless witch must burn to death in
her own oven.34 More animal than human – ‘witches have red eyes
and cannot see far, but they can pick up a scent like animals know-
ing when humans approach’35 – the witch uses her house as bait for
the children. She seduces Hänsel to eat from the roof of her house
before wanting to eat him. Although she is a cannibal, the under-
tones of sexual seduction are hard to miss in the scene where she
fattens the boy and makes him stick his finger out between the cage
bars, while Gretel gets only Krebsschalen/the shells of crabs. This folk
tale witch corresponds clearly to the image of the so-called Unholde
(the ill-disposed one), a word the early modern age used for women
branded as witches.
The early modern age was the time in which the idea arose of the
pact between the devil and each individual witch, and in many a folk
belief these witches were thought to ride wolves.36 This association
with wolves is also supported by the fact that, at least in the Germanic
tradition, the word for witch, Hexe, is derived from Old High German
hagazussa, the woman associated with the hedge or forest, i.e., women
leaving the domestic terrain. According to Duerr’s extensive research
on the liminality between wilderness and the communal space, the
Sexual Predator or Liberator 57

fence and hedge (hag) in archaic mentality is the limit between the
wilderness and culture. Whoever wanted to live consciously within
these confines of peace (Einfriedung) set by the community, that is,
whoever wanted to be at peace, had to penetrate it at least once in
his lifetime and live in the wild like a wolf.37 Arguably, it was easier
for men, the ancient hunters, than for women to live in wilderness
and to experience the wolf in themselves by way of initiation rites
(the Männerbünde in Germanic and Celtic Europe), while for women
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this would have marked
them as witches. Having left the communal space, a woman living
in the forest was highly suspicious, and it is in this phenomenon of
her becoming a Waldgänger that the word Hexe/hag has its origin. By
penetrating the hedge, that boundary between the domestic and the
uncivilized terrain, she enters the space of homo sacer, man perceived
as wolf, and is henceforth associated with him and his crimes.38
The Hänsel and Gretel witch is the devouring rather than the nur-
turing mother archetype, a woman ‘as old as stone’,39 who lives far
removed from the community and is a monument to the persecution
of old and poor women engaging with the natural resources. She is
Doppelgängerin (the double) of the evil stepmother, who disappears
from the scene as soon as the witch burns to death, and as someone
who hoards treasures of gemstones and pearls, she still reminds
us of the nurturing and devouring Earth Mother. In that respect,
she resembles Frau Holle, who is known by a variety of names in
Germany: Holle or Hulda in central Germany, Perchta in South
Germany, Frau Herke, Gode, Freke, or Frigga in North Germany.40
In folk belief, Holle typically appeared during Twelve Nights, the
time between Christmas and Epiphany, when she would check on
whether people were working diligently in the weaving rooms. She
would subsequently punish the lazy by cutting their bellies open. To
appease her, she would be given sacrificial offerings of food.41 We are
familiar with the image of the cut-open belly from the tales featur-
ing wolves, as it appears both in ‘Little Red Cap’ and ‘The Wolf and
Seven Young Kids’, while the belief that she punishes the lazy and
controls weaving activities found its way into the tale of ‘Frau Holle’
(Grimm’s tale 024).
Like the wolf tales, the story of Frau Holle, about two girls visiting
her underworld where they are tested for their domestic qualities,
contains the duality of nurturing and devouring which she shares
58 Lycanthropy in German Literature

with the wolf that has, since the Palaeolithic Age, been seen as an
animal of fruition and perdition. Holle rewards the diligent Goldmarie
(Gold Mary) by showering her with gold coins, but punishes the lazy
Pechmarie (Pitch Mary) by covering her in pitch. Holle is a com-
plex mythological figure that reflects the transition from viewing
some women on the margins of society as healers and nurturers to
their condemnation as witches. Before the full onset of Christian
demagogy against women as witches in Europe, Holle was still con-
sidered a manifestation of the benevolent Earth Mother, and there-
fore was mythologically linked to figures like the Celtic Abundia,
the Roman goddess of fertility, Ceres, or the Roman goddess of the
hunt, Diana.42 The link between these nurturing goddesses and the
Palaeolithic huntresses, from a time when women still participated
in the great hunt, is particularly strong. These huntresses leave their
imprint on myth where they are accompanied by wild animals, the
Indian Durga who rides a tiger, or Cybele, commander of lions; they
are archaic predator goddesses to whom sacrificial offerings were
given. The Earth Mother nurtures but she also punishes and devours
men, hence the duality of the psychological mother archetype.43
That Frau Holle is associated with fertility becomes clear in the three
tests the two girls have to pass in the underworld: the apple tree that
asks them to shake it, the cow that asks them to milk it, and the oven
whose bread wants to be taken out. The girls encounter these objects
just before they meet Holle, and they are all fertility symbols, vegetal,
carnal, and of human hand.44
In North German versions of the Holle myth, Gode is the wife of
Odin and associated with wolves.45 Suggesting strong Indo-European
ties, this North German variant is particularly close to the Italian
Diana, who was the ‘ruler of wolves’, of all those outside of culture
and beyond law and order, the patroness of all outlaws and strangers
(‘die Herrin der Vogelfreien und Fremden’).46 Like the wolf image
itself, Holle’s position is highly ambivalent and ultimately a reflec-
tion of the two females with whom she interacts in the folk tale, the
good and the bad, the Holde and the Unholde. She rewards one girl
and punishes the other, but the two girls are ultimately two sides of
Holle herself: Holle as she once was and what she became after 1600,
a figure in transformation from the nurturing goddess of fertility to
the witch. She embodies the psychological battle within woman who
is under threat in a patriarchal world that stigmatizes these women
Sexual Predator or Liberator 59

as either hold/fair or unhold/ugly (both also in character). As we have

seen in ‘Little Red Cap’, it is especially woman’s awakening sexuality
that marks her liminal status between innocence and sinfulness, and
the forest or the other locales that serve the rite of passage in the
underworld are typical testing grounds for initiation and individua-
tion.47 Like ‘Little Red Cap’ and the ‘Hänsel and Gretel’ tale, the tale
of ‘Frau Holle’ demonstrates that the Waldgang (the descent into the
underworld) in the folk tale is closely linked to initiation rites and
phases of transition in life from childhood to maturity and adult-
hood, but by the same token these tales are also sinister reflections
of the age of the witch hunt. As Dieter Arendt once pointed out, the
wolf reflects and projects human possibilities.48
With its motif of the Waldgang, the Germanic folk tale of Frau Holle
is closely related to the mythological dimension of the Wild Hunt
and the figure of Odin/Wotan. Unquestionably, the Romantics took
great interest in this medieval context, as did Richard Wagner in his
adaptations of the Nibelungen and Tannhäuser myths. Tännhauser
is seduced by Venus, the unholde Roman equivalent of the Germanic
Holle or Frigg, the wife of Odin/Wotan whose army were called ulfar
(wolves). Neither fire nor iron could injure these wolf warriors, a
detail also present in the Nibelungenlied (written by an anonymous
author some time between 1180 and 1210), where Siegfried cannot
be hurt except in one small location on his back.
Odin’s and Holle’s connection with war and the Wild Hunt is a
mythological complex that arises from human memory of hunting as
‘an experience of an archaic past’. Especially Odin is associated with
runes as ‘ciphers of a mysterious primordial archaic time’.49 In a sin-
gle poem in the Poetic Edda called Hávámál, specifically in a section
called Rúnatal, Odin is described as learning the magic of runes while
he is hung for nine long nights from Yggdrasil, a tree central to Norse
mythology and upon which the nine worlds existed.50 Odin learns
to interpret the runes, which in a modern, psychoanalytical sense
implies that he gains further insight into his own self. These runes,
however, are also associated with Frigg or Holle as Earth Mother. As
Jacob Grimm tells us, Ölrun is the word for a wise woman,51 from
which alraun is derived, a soothsaying devilish spirit. Gothic runa
refers to the secret of writing and sound52 and aliorûnen are wise
women capable of magic, while the burgrûne in Old Germanic is the
equivalent of the Latin furia, a furious, devilish woman, or witch.53
60 Lycanthropy in German Literature

This etymology reflects Holle’s ambivalent role between the Mother

Earth goddess who holds the secrets of Earth and her devilish, furi-
ous nature that connects her to war, destruction, and the exploita-
tion of nature. Mother Earth’s destructive potentiality started with
the Mesolithic Age in replacement of the hunting of the Palaeolithic
Age, as the wars of sedentary tribes became a substitute for the hunt-
ing of earlier nomadic times. She is thus a nurturer of humanity
before becoming its devourer, an evolution that is replicated in the
destiny of women labelled as witches in the early modern age. Since
they were perceived as a threat to men, they were persecuted after
they were thought to have transformed from Holde to Unholde, from
nurturer/healer to a devourer of men. This shift took place around
1600 and survives as a key narrative strand in one of the literary
fairy tales in German Romanticism, in Ludwig Tieck’s Rune Mountain
(Der Runenberg, 1802). It shows a male lycanthrope, an individualist,
who enthralled by the Holle/Venus figure, pronounces himself dead
to the community thus eluding the grasp of nation-building with its
disciplining tendencies.

Lycanthropy in Ludwig Tieck’s Rune Mountain

I am as good as dead to you. Over there in the forest

the beautiful giantess is waiting for me.54

Pronouncing himself dead to his family and community Tieck’s

protagonist shows a new dimension to the homo sacer, whom in the
Middle Ages the community declared as dead. Tieck’s Kunstmärchen
(literary fairy tale) serves as an example of how this genre in
Romanticism reflects the densely pre-Freudian psychologizing pro-
cesses at work in the transformation and eventual permanent exile
of homo sacer, understood here as the one who is not set apart by
society due to an actual crime but who sets himself free from society.
The tale reveals that the state of abandonment and its consequent
loss of peace (Friedlosigkeit) have become a complex psychological
phenomenon that takes place in a topography divided between the
civilized plains and the uncivilized forested mountains. Although
the Romantics predate psychoanalytic theories, their view of the
wilderness contains a deep awareness of its psychological dimen-
sion. At the same time, Romantic literature is not detached from the
Sexual Predator or Liberator 61

Enlightenment’s (and subsequently Classicism’s and Biedermeier’s)

fear and distrust of this wild terrain, topographically mirroring the
abysses of the soul. But rather than suppressing the perils that the
Enlightenment associates with the wilderness, specifically the forest,
Romantic literature tends to expose the danger to bourgeois society
posed by individualism, loneliness, mental and sexual transgression,
and the threat of homelessness.
Tieck’s literary tale follows its male protagonist’s journey which
is not entirely dissimilar from the Waldgang in the folk tale of Little
Red Cap. Age and gender are different, however, in Tieck, where dur-
ing a full-blown midlife crisis a man is seduced by a wolf woman.
Bewitched and transformed by the Earth Mother Holle, Tieck’s pro-
tagonist Christian finds himself torn between his duties as a family
man and his unquenchable desires, his Sehnsucht.55 His wanderings
through the forest initially lead him away from his sheltered home,
a narrow world that he hates: ‘it depressed me and I hated it’.56
His journey takes him to the top of Rune Mountain where he spies
on Holle, the Earth Mother in the shape of a beautiful giantess,
who hands him a strange rune-bedecked slab by which she wants
him always to remember her. Then he witnesses her undress in
front of him:

Then she opened the gown over her bosom, and the young man
forgot himself and the world at the sight of her heavenly beauty.
He dared not breathe as she dropped her garments, one after
another; she stepped back and forth in the hall naked, her heavy
floating curls forming a dark undulating sea around her, from
which shone forth the radiant curves of her body like marble.57

Christian immediately represses this vision and its inherent spiritual

renewal into his subconscious as he returns to the plains on the
other (southern) side of the mountains.58 Back on the plains, for
many years he continues to lead the life of a devoted husband and
father, repressing his innermost desires until one day he returns to
the forest. Initially this happens for the purpose of visiting his par-
ents, but then during what one might call a full-blown midlife crisis,
he keeps returning to wilderness in pursuit of Holle. He gives up his
wife Elisabeth and their child, and instead runs after the vision of his
youth and ends up living in the forest, where he also literally goes
62 Lycanthropy in German Literature

underground with the intention of unearthing hidden treasures, a

quest that eventually leads to complete insanity.
All throughout his adult life, Christian suffers from a neurotic
compulsion to return to the wilderness, displaying symptoms of
lycanthropy in the psychological sense of shifting identities from
being a civilized dutiful son, husband and father to the solitary
wild man that lurks within him, compelling him to escape all social
bonds. The satanic associations of earlier ages of wolfishness with
the criminal and parasitic side in humans still abound. His vision
in the mountains, through which he has experienced an excess of
passion, allows him to partake of the kind of forbidden knowledge
that Christian societies associate with the satanic. It has also trig-
gered an insatiable yearning for the renewal of such a heightened
sensation,59 what Rüdiger Safranski, referring to Nietzsche’s concept
of Verzückungsspitzen (pinnacles of elation),60 describes as a moment
in life so ecstatic that it cannot be duplicated and can therefore lead
to depression. Contrary to psychoanalysis’s message that the return
of the repressed is a step toward healing, it is during Christian’s final
Waldgang that he overcomes bourgeois repression and that in a sort
of Dionysian Rausch (intoxication) his subjectivity is completely
destroyed and is no longer restorable. He becomes the homo sacer in
the sense of being irreversibly mentally set apart (in the sense of the
German word verrückt/crazy [literally ‘displaced’ mentally]) from the
community he has left.
He pronounces himself dead to the community, thus advancing
from initial eros to eventual thanatos. This psychic development is
closely tied to the spatiality of the forested mountain landscape, to
its depth dimension. In Freudian terms, Christian’s initial hike to
the peak is governed by the pleasure principle, which is displaced by
the reality principle governing life in the lowlands. During his final
return to the forest the pleasure principle then merges with a death
drive. Freud defined the reality principle as having

the task to mediate between the demands of the id and the exter-
nal world. On the one hand, the pleasure principle observes the
external world in order to avail itself of the opportune moment
for harmless gratification; on the other hand, it influences the id,
curbs its passions and induces its instincts to postpone their desire
for satisfaction.61
Sexual Predator or Liberator 63

This convergence of the sexual drive and the death drive is indicated
through Christian’s spiritual marriage with Holle, the Waldweib
(woman of the forest) as he calls her. She is sometimes young and
beautiful, sometimes old and ugly, thus uniting eros and thanatos in
herself: ‘An old extremely ugly woman approached him … when she
turned around he thought he saw the golden veil, her proud walk,
her mighty build between the trees.’62 But the union between the
sexual and the death drive also shows itself in Christian’s obsessive
search for rocks and minerals. His digging efforts and merging with
the stony terrain reflect the Freudian death drive, ‘charged with the
task of causing animate organisms to revert to an inanimate state’,63
to that state of being before birth and to primordial being at the
dawn of humankind. ‘I am as good as dead to you,’ says Christian
to his wife Elisabeth the very last time they meet, and that ‘there in
the forest the beautiful, powerful one awaits me’.64 This confession
expresses a complete merging of eros and thanatos, two areas that
may indeed lie in close proximity if one gives credence to Freud’s
theory that may be a ‘similarity between the state that ensues upon
full sexual gratification and dying’.65
Tieck’s landscape stands for the workings, the very spatiality
of consciousness and is highly gendered. The community on the
plains is male, patriarchal; it represents the ego, the reality principle,
and is populated by God-fearing citizens. The forest, in contrast, is
female, matriarchal, mythical, and pagan; it represents the id, the
pleasure principle, and is the domain of the Waldweib, of joy and
terror, pleasure and death. Bewitched and ignoring his father’s mes-
sage, Christian obsessively repeats his Oedipal Waldgänge. It is this
symbolic murder of his father as well as God that makes Christian
a homo sacer, renders him dead to the community and causes his
self-expulsion. Killing the paternal authority carries the metaphori-
cal, mythical sense that Freud implies in Totem and Taboo about the
primal horde killing the father/God following an Oedipal impulse. In
Tieck, that Oedipal impulse is also largely mythical as it relates above
all to Mother Earth, who is represented as the mythical Venus. While
Tieck’s Venus morphs between the forces of life, youth and beauty,
on the one hand, and the forces of death in the form of old age and
disappearance of a youthful aspect on the other, the Mother arche-
type in the Oedipus complex too is associated with the drive to give
life (the sexual drive) and the death drive (the son’s Oedipal quest
64 Lycanthropy in German Literature

to return to the womb). Incestuous desire thus becomes equivalent

to the death drive, and it is because of this Oedipal death-drive that
the female in Venus Mountain has been demonized and repressed in
patriarchal societies throughout the ages.66 In what could be read as
a psychoanalytical comment on the biblical seduction of Adam by
Eve, followed by expulsion from paradise, Freud’s patriarchal theory
also seems to imply woman’s primordially sinful nature by pointing
to the Oedipal impulses that cause the primal horde’s expulsion by
the father/God before they kill him.67
Tieck’s giantess, however, is more than just the Venus that criti-
cism has portrayed her as being.68 She is a figure in which Roman
and Germanic myths blend. As a hybrid in the nationalist context
that has produced this story (first written in 1802 but republished in
1812), she embodies both the seductive Roman Venus and a version
of the pagan goddess Holle/Hulda.69 Guarding the rune slab reveals
her deeper connection with Wotan (Odin), who learns to interpret
the runes on the tree of Yggdrasil. As Gille points out, her handing
over the slab of jewels is a sacred act70 by which the aliorûne, the wise
woman, wants to open Christian’s channels for self-introspection
and take him to a higher plane of spiritual existence. We see Holle
here as a nurturing, healing figure far removed from the destructive
qualities with which she has come to be associated after 1600 and
also towards the end of this novella.71
Like the witch, the wolf can quite literally embody both principles,
the nurturing versus the devouring mother archetype. We have observed
this, for example, in the fairy tale of ‘The Wolf and the Seven Kids’,
where the evil wolf poses as the nurturing mother on the threshold of
the house, trying to dupe the little goats by concealing his devouring
nature. The same happens in ‘Little Red Cap’, where the wolf tries to
trick the girl with his grandmother costume. Again the nurturing role
is used as camouflage for the purpose of devouring. In Tieck’s story, this
duality is psychologically more complex and inscribed into the pair of
eros and thanatos of the Waldweib. While initially, when looked at with
desiring eyes, she is an erotic and life-affirming Venus, Tieck’s giant-
ess turns into the Germanic Holle and is associated with death once
her seduction of Christian has succeeded in having recruited him for
Wotan’s army of the dead.
In his Deutsche Mythologie, Jacob Grimm describes Wotan as the
one who has excessive rage, the Wüterich, accompanied by wolves
Sexual Predator or Liberator 65

and suffering from melancholy, which turns to lupine madness as

he leads the berserkers into battle. But his melancholy also produces
the formative power from which originates the art of poetry as he is
learning how to interpret the runes on Yggdrasil. From his heavenly
dwelling place, he looks down at earth the way Tieck’s giantess does
from the Rune Mountain.72 Grimm further equates Wuotan with
Wunsch, with wish fulfilment through pleasure and joy,73 but also
with the typically Germanic Todeswunsch, his army’s readiness to
face and embrace death as it leads them to the desired Valhalla – a
concept that corresponds closely to Freud’s pleasure principle and its
proximity to thanatos.74 Christian’s repeated visit to the realm of the
dead is part of the myth of the Wild Hunt led by Wotan and Holle. As
he emerges from the woods, dishevelled, insane, and equipped with
a sapling, a young spruce as staff or weapon, Christian regresses from
a domesticated sedentary man into a nomadic hunter.75
Other details seem to point in this direction of an underlying
Odin/Wotan cult. The wild man archetype is connected not only to
the concept of the hunt but subsequently also to war, to the berserk
warriors whom Wotan leads into battle. Tieck’s Waldgang to Rune
Mountain may contain such a connection with battles if we consider
that it evokes rune stones like the Swedish Rok, which commemo-
rates 20 kings slain in the battlefield and guided to Valhalla by a
Valkyrie. Holle herself is a Valkyrie who abducts men for pleasure
and joy but ultimately leads them to death. She is a mythical female
berserker, resembling the historical North American Freydis, the
last known female berserker, who slapped her naked breasts with a
sword.76 Christian is far from being a warrior, but his manic hunting
and gathering specifically of stones and metals may be indicative of a
time in which stone weapons for hunting were replaced by weapons
of metal during the first wars.
The links between Roman and Germanic myths extend not only
to Venus/Holle but also to the berserk wolf warriors. Christian’s
journey away from Christianity to heathenism is essentially dia-
metrically opposed to the fate of the berserker, who in the course of
medieval history regressed from pagan Übermensch to being outlawed
by Christianity. Although Rome was founded by wolf warriors and
initially made use of them just like the pagan Germanic tribes, it lost
them relatively early due to a reorganization of its armies. The city
replaced their warrior styles by disciplining their bodies, by making
66 Lycanthropy in German Literature

them more docile, while the Celts and Germans still adhered to the
old fighting style.77 Christianity’s outlawing the berserker is thus a gift
from Rome, a result of the civic space and Christianity taming unre-
strained bodies in a process of self-differentiation from barbarism. As
Speidel has pointed out, in the pre-Christian version of Beowulf, the
hero takes a berserk stance when he encounters Grendel, while in the
handed-down Christian version he entrusts himself to God.78 This
discrepancy between the wild man and Christianity is inscribed into
Tieck’s novella in the conflict that throws Christian into a midlife cri-
sis. Tieck thus psychologizes an ancient transition from pre-Christian
berserker and follower of Wotan to faith in Christianity.
His journey into the subterranean world of Venus Mountain,
where he encounters the giantess and her mysterious double, the
hunter/stranger, makes Christian a homo sacer on the threshold
between life and death, between being nurtured and devoured,
between the modern and the archaic, between his ego and his id.
His torment is a form of lycanthropy that displays the two sides
typical of the werewolf: the were/vir (man) as the human ego and
the subconscious id as his lupine side. The latter surfaces from a
realm of repression, here spatially indicated as the subterranean
of the landscape. As these two sides are highly gendered, the wolf
part is feminized. In the final analysis, the wolfman in this story is
a wolf woman. This androgyny reveals itself both in the mythical
hero/ine, the giantess who at times appears as a male hunter, as well
as in Christian’s journey from the patriarchal terrain to the Venus-
dominated wilderness. In their androgyny, the mysterious hunter
and the Waldweib are revenants who pull Christian into the night
side of life, aligning him with the medieval vargr/Friedlos, who was
pronounced dead by the community. ‘I am as good as dead to you’
(p. 208), says Christian to Elisabeth, implying that he is also dead to
the small village community.
Once he is wolfsfrei, Christian experiences a complete loss of
dwelling outside the reach of the emerging nation-state and its
power structures, in a location where unrestrained femininity is no
longer suppressed and where men are allowed to turn wild, explore
their deeper consciousness, even their own femininity. The fact that
Christian’s regression into the woods is considered heathen, even
demonic or satanic, by his religious-minded family and agrarian
community evokes the godlessness of the medieval wolfman but also
Sexual Predator or Liberator 67

the equation of folly with sinfulness in the late Middle Ages and the
Renaissance. Especially Christian’s Wollust (lust, p. 192) was listed
by Sebastian Brant in his late medieval work The Ship of Fools (Das
Narrenschiff, 1494) as one of the great sins as it is directed toward ter-
restrial, earthly pleasures. In the same way as for Little Red Cap lust
is closely associated with the forest terrain and with lupine instincts,
with the wolf’s voraciousness,79 in Tieck’s novella, this Wollust reveals
itself in Christian’s obsession with ores, stones, and metals, Mother
Earth’s subterranean treasures. They are sexualized, but on a different
level also stand for greed and the rising capitalism of the early nine-
teenth century.80 A distant reminder of the legendary wild men as
keepers of Earth’s treasures, Christian’s quest for ores and metals hap-
pens at a time when forests and mountains were ceasing to be a terra
incognita that one would fear and avoid, and increasingly became the
focus of an exploitation of their resources, primarily wood and ore.
Tieck’s novella thus metaphorically illustrates this process of nature’s
exploitation. As he places his character’s hunting instinct into the
modern context of bourgeois productivity with its intended increase
of capital, he creates a tension for Christian, who becomes a neurotic
caught between the signs of his times and the ancient atavisms he
seeks in the forest.
Christian’s deranged hunting and gathering instincts are, of
course, completely useless to society. In that sense too he is the homo
sacer expelled for being of no use (like the mentally disabled on the
Ship of Fools) or even a danger to society. Christian is deluded in
thinking that the worthless stones he unearths are precious jewels.
His spelunking is the result of an obsessive compulsive disorder that
evolves out of his midlife crisis: ‘how I have lost my life in a dream’,81
he thinks as he recognizes the depression that throttles his life on the
dull plains. The despair and lethargy he experiences in the village
are clearly symptoms of repression and its companion, depression.
Christian is a Benjaminian melancholic par excellence and his restless
wanderings and manic gaze into Earth’s interior are clear symptoms
of it: ‘Everything relating to Saturn points to the depth of Earth …
The intuitions rising from Mother Earth arise to the melancholic
from the night of ruminations like treasures from inside the Earth.’82
The Romantics still seem to be acutely attuned to this condition of
melancholia canina once identified by Robert Burton (1621), and they
went to extremes to free themselves from depression and mourning.
68 Lycanthropy in German Literature

Death as the preservation of an eternal youth is a Romantic

idea possibly best illustrated by Novalis’s success in effecting an
early death through which he saw himself eternally connected to
Sophie von Kühn, their youth forever preserved. Christian’s obses-
sive Waldgänge are propelled by a sense of having lost his youth. By
rejuvenating himself with the eternal Waldweib he tries to forget the
ageing process. In her faculty of appearing old at times and then
young again, Tieck’s Holle reflects how fleeting and illusory these
moments of pleasure really are, and that Christian’s depression is
never fully healed but that his trip back into the woods is in itself an
act of repression of life as such and the passage of time. Tieck seems
to be acutely aware of this vicious circle of joy and misery, youth and
old age, life and death, eros and thanatos – binaries that are physically
inscribed into Holle, traditionally a figure of fruition and perdition.
The power of rejuvenation is an integral part of the Venus cult, while
Christianity embraces the ageing process as a portal to the afterlife.
In werewolf terms, this means that the wolf that repeatedly tries
to escape from within Christian signifies his youth, strength, and
sexual prowess, a bit like the strength of Hyde that emerges as he
splits from his other half Jekyll. Although Christian’s lycanthropy
may foreshadow modernity’s homelessness, one will need to keep in
mind that the Romantics still felt very much at home in their meta-
physical homelessness. In spite of how Christian and his family may
perceive his death to the community, his self-abandonment results in
a sort of deranged happiness: his Waldgang on the night side of life,
being a lone wolf running with Holle, is in the end a homecoming.
He may indeed appear friedlos to the community, but not to himself.
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves
in Realist Fiction

Oh, Unwirrsch, ... You let the wolf into our house.1

In nineteenth-century literature, the wolf metaphor undergoes a

shift from its religious and moral contextualization to a paradigm by
which the presence of minorities who were perceived as threatening
to communities and the nation at large is fictionally represented.
While Kleist’s invocation of the battle in the Teutoburg Forest has
shown us the nation united against foreign invaders, some of the
literature of the second half of the nineteenth century, both in
Germany and abroad, increasingly associate wolves not only with
foreign invaders but also with ethnic minorities, specifically Slavs,
Jews, and ‘Gypsies’ (I will use the politically correct term Romanies
rather than the popular usage of ‘Gypsy,’ a derogatory word derived
from folk belief in their Egyptian origin). The wolf’s demonic aura
becomes a reflection of the nineteenth century’s increasing preoc-
cupation with matters of race in Wilhelm Raabe’s The Children of
Hamelin (Die Hämelschen Kinder, 1868) and The Hunger Pastor (Der
Hungerpastor, 1864), but also in some texts outside of Germany,
such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), a novel I will include in this
discussion, as in its dense association of Romanies, wolves and the
blood-sucking vampire it highlights European fears of the national
community’s infection by foreign invaders.
The racial aspects of these literary texts do not appear out of the
blue, but have their origin in the early modern age’s demonization
of minorities such as Jews and Romanies, who were condemned
for their purported thievish nature and abduction of children.

70 Lycanthropy in German Literature

The Great Werewolf and Witch Hunt initiated by Pope Innocent

VIII in the Papal Bull Summis Desiderantes Affectibus in December
1484 and by the Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches,
1486) gave rise to a racism that links the wolf not just with any
religious non-conformity but specifically with Jews, who were not
assimilated and were seen as rootless wanderers. The equation of the
wolf, the devil and the racially marked outsider appears as early as
in the fifteenth century, and in ‘all the religious diatribe of the 16th
and 17th centuries there were constant parallels drawn between the
devil and his associates, the Jews, witches, and werewolves, and this
had a profound effect on the popular imagination’.2 It is specifically
the association of rootlessness, foreignness and crime with wolves
threatening communities that becomes thematic in nineteenth-
century literature. Yet perceptions of Gypsies and Jews differed: while
nineteenth-century anti-Ziganism was based on fears of infection
by a vagrant lifestyle, anti-Semitism shifted from the early modern
age’s superstition and religious demonization of Jews to bourgeois
anxieties about Jewish assimilation, their social climbing, and their
purported ‘voraciousness’ concerning the accumulation of vast
material wealth, which guaranteed political power. This voracious-
ness, which was already an attribute of the wolf in medieval beast
narratives and which we saw associated with the wolfishness of the
aristocracy in Grimmelshausen, appears in the mid- to second half
of the nineteenth century as the trademark of characters such as
Fagin in Oliver Twist (1838), Uriah Heep in David Copperfield (1849)
and Moses Freudenstein in Raabe’s Hunger Pastor. But before we turn
to these Jewish characters, I want to elaborate on the position of the
Romanies in European biopolitics and literature.

Romanies as homo sacer

The Roma and Sinti are two distinct ethnic groups who originally
came from India and settled in South Eastern Europe around the
fifteenth century. Initial tolerance towards them soon gave way to
widespread rejection of their nomadic lifestyle in the mid-fifteenth
century.3 This resulted in their ban from entering cities, turning
them into homines sacri whose history of being ‘set aside’ from soci-
ety stretches back to Greek antiquity. Examples of such expulsion
and the Romanies’ penalization for their attempts to settle abound.
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 71

In 1482, for instance, the Duke Achilles of Brandenburg stipulated a

penalty for Romanies for trying to settle anywhere on his territory.
With the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into Central Europe,
Romanies were initially thought to be spies for the Turks. During
the Thirty Years War, they were often recruited as soldiers and thus
received some recognition, but after the war this recognition soon
gave way to one of the worst phases of their persecution, from 1670
to 1740, a time in which they came to be increasingly criminalized
and randomly killed as vogelfrei (fair game for anyone to kill). After
the onset of the Great Witch Hunt in Germany and France in the
late sixteenth century, Romanies became increasingly demonized,
and from the seventeenth century on they were generally suspected
of witchcraft and black magic.
Louis XIV introduced the first attempts to make the Gypsies give
up their nomadic way of life and educate them in order to turn
them into useful citizens. This policy was an obvious improvement
over what Foucault describes as the Age of the Great Confinement
with its ‘imperative of labour’ resulting in arrests of beggars roaming
the streets of Paris (1532).4 Transients, beggars, and the unemployed
were treated like criminals. They were no longer expelled from the
community or penalized but instead imprisoned at the expense of
the nation and of individual liberty.5 Neither producers nor consum-
ers, the ‘idle, vagabond, unemployed, … belonged only to confine-
ment, a measure by which he was exiled and as it were abstracted
from society. With the nascent industry which needs manpower, he
once again plays a part in the body of the nation.’6 Not until 1789
and the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man’ was there a relaxation of
these practices of confinement in France.
Similarly, in Austria, under the rule of Maria Theresa and Joseph II,
there were repeated attempts to reform the Romanies by forbidding
them to wander through the woods or by forcing them to live in
houses and take to agriculture, all this an improvement over the
situation before 1783, when it was still possible to kill any Romany
as an outlaw.7 Their vagrant lifestyle was widely associated with a
criminal mentality and the evasion of a regular performance of work,
while respectable citizens were settled and thus more easily con-
trolled by the state as to their whereabouts and work ethic. From the
eighteenth century on, the Romanies’ nomadism came to be linked
to claims of an impossibility to educate them. The politics of social
72 Lycanthropy in German Literature

integration as a means of promoting a sedentary way of life were thus

inseparably linked to the politics of education, to Bildung. By the
same token, however, the Bildung of the citizen had not outgrown
the presence of superstitions attached to the Romanies, of folk myths
that survived well into the nineteenth century, such as their cult
of the Virgin Mary, the fear that they would form rapacious packs
of criminals, steal children and make food out of them, a common
myth also applied to Jews.8
In Germany, during the second half of the nineteenth century,
Romanies roaming the countryside were considered a so-called
Landplage, a scourge plaguing the land, and were increasingly sub-
jected to police control.9 They were labelled ‘permanent nomads’ in
Prussia, their socialization as citizens being systematically rejected.10
The realization of the purported inability to assimilate and educate
them resulted in their increasing segregation and simultaneous
attempts to register them, especially at the end of the nineteenth and
the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1899, the Munich police
created the so-called ‘Zentrale zur Erfassung der Anwesenheit von
Zigeunern’ (literally, the Central Office for the Registration of the
Presence of Gypsies) and in 1906 the Prussian Ministry of the Interior
released an order for the ‘Bekämpfung der Zigeunerplage’ (the fight
against the Gypsy plague).11 The introduction of fingerprinting and
the bureaucratic registration of all Romanies then paved the way
for their biopolitical persecution in the 1930s and 1940s. Thoughts
of deporting them from the Deutsche Reich arose as early as 1900.
From the mid-nineteenth century on, ethnologists and linguists had
become increasingly concerned with the question of the original
home of the Romanies, and were eager to return them there.12
The Romanies’ non-sedentary lifestyle is the primary category of
alterity that caused their seclusion from civil rights in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries.13 Vagrancy, homelessness, crime, seduc-
tion and abduction combine in literary representations of discrimi-
nation against Romanies. In the folk superstition of the early modern
age, Romanies, Jews, witches and wolves are often grouped together
as child stealers and child devourers, and their biopolitical exclusion
can be documented in literature from the seventeenth century to the
early twentieth century.14 We have already observed this tendency
with Grimmelshausen’s Merode Brethren, marauding deserters of the
army without honour ‘best compared to Gypsies’ (Grimmelshausen,
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 73

p. 319) and Gesinds (vermin).15 While the Romantic period briefly

romanticized the Romanies and their association with an archaic
wild terrain, these paradigms became increasingly viewed as threats
to the rising bourgeois class. Ludwig Tieck’s literary fairy tale, The
Elves (Die Elfen, 1812), which appeared together with Rune Mountain
in the Phantasus collection, exemplifies that the Romanies inspired
more fear and discrimination than fascination also in the Romantic
Age. In Victor Hugo’s novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Notre
Dame de Paris, 1832), then Romanies are once again linked to child
abduction and devouring, long-lived superstitions that survive in
the nineteenth century from Romanticism to the novels of real-
ism.16 While the fairy tales, however, show the wolf as a seducer
outside of the context of race, in the second half of the nineteenth
century the motif of seduction of innocent youth, especially the
dutiful bourgeois daughter, is performed by Romanies, Jews and
Slavs. By the late nineteenth century, the image Germany had of the
Romanies was almost entirely negative, and the rationalists saw in
them ‘depraved vagabonds, deprived outcasts or a “useless race”’,17 a
sentiment reflected especially in Hermann Löns’s novel The Werewolf
(Der Wehrwolf, 1910), one of the worst literary testaments regarding
their treatment on European soil. Löns’s aggressive description of
the ‘tartars’ as criminal vagabonds foreign to German soil made this
novel particularly popular among Nazi ideologues.18

All that riffraff so foreign to these parts: Gypsies, Slavs, Swedish

and Spanish soldiers – they do not belong to the Heath. If the
peasants encounter them they are vogelfrei, fair game. Drewes kills
the spying Gypsy roaming through the forest with one strike. For
him the Gypsy is not human.19

The passage touches on a number of paradigms previously dis-

cussed in the context of the homo sacer as wolfman, his stealthy
run through the woods and his existence as vogelfrei or wolfsfrei, in
this case, literally free to be killed by the protagonist Harm Wulf,
to whom the title Der Wehrwolf refers. He is a wolf in the Derridean
sense of the sovereign, a wolf who resists and defeats ethnic outsid-
ers, reminiscent of Kleist’s berserk Germanic wolves, but now in the
context of race and biopolitical persecution. Romanies and Slavs are
mentioned together here, an association that also accompanies us in
74 Lycanthropy in German Literature

one of the key texts in German realism describing a Slavic Romany

as a wolf to the community.

Wilhelm Raabe’s historical novella

The Children of Hamelin

[H]is ardent eyes … had more of the wolf in them

than of man … Once again, the old word of the
wolf or of the devil had become a reality.20

Wilhelm Raabe exploits the theme of the seduction/abduction

of children and youth by Romanies in his historical novella, The
Children of Hamelin (Die Hämelschen Kinder, 1868), a literary adap-
tation of the Pied Piper legend. His protagonist Kiza is a Slav who
has lost his home terrain and lives on the outskirts of Hamelin.
This historical novella strays substantially from earlier versions of
the legend. When allowed within its walls for the benefits of his
music, Raabe’s Kiza seduces Athela, the mayor’s daughter, spark-
ing the community’s intense hatred and racism towards him. He
takes revenge for being tortured by leading Hamelin’s youth into
war against the town of Minden, in the Battle at Sedemünder on
28 July 1259, where they all perish near the infamous Koppenberg.
The story is part of a long line of adaptations of the Piper legend in
which historical representation and myth collide, an evolution that
Heinrich Spanuth has described in sufficient detail.21 These texts, to
name but a few, include Robert Browning’s famous poem ‘The Pied
Piper of Hamelin’ (1842), Günter Grass’s The Rat (Die Rättin, 1986),
which identifies Hitler as the Pied Piper of Germany abducting the
Germans (children) and Jews (the rats), and the poetry of Walter
Helmut Fritz from the 1980s, a warning against the rise of neo-
Nazism and anti-Semitism. Initially, the legend appeared in chroni-
cles, the ‘Lüneburger Handschrift’ and the ‘Bamberger Chronik’,
dating the event of the disappearance of about 130 youngsters from
the town of Hamelin to the 26 June 1284. The story soon loses its
historical authenticity, especially in the seventeenth century when
it develops a demonic aura and becomes increasingly mythologized.
While on the continent, the Pied Piper is still seen as an incarna-
tion of the devil, in England, the theory arises of a recruitment of
Hamelin’s youth for the purpose of colonizing South Eastern Europe,
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 75

in particular, Siebenbürgen in central Rumania.22 The eighteenth

century, the Age of Reason, then sees attempts to explain the legend
historically, de-demonizing it and ridding it of its Gothic aura. It is
either discarded as a mere superstition, typical of the dark, unen-
lightened ages, or interpreted as a remaining fragment of a histori-
cal event.23 During the Romantic period, especially in the fairy tale
adaptation by the Brothers Grimm, the legend is once again clad in
an aura of demonic mystery and understood as folk myth. Although
there are decidedly realist aspects to Raabe’s story, his demonization
of the Piper Kiza, who is of Eastern European origin, and allusions to
the Wild Hunt myth, transport this Gothic aura well into the second
half of the nineteenth century.
The medieval context of Raabe’s novella creates an aura of Gothic
realism that allows the author to make comments on contemporary
racism towards outsiders, specifically vagrants, Romanies, and those
whom the racist discourse of the time labelled as having a ‘Gypsy’
lifestyle. Partly such racism results from the suppression of a vagrant
lifestyle, considered to produce idleness, along with the repres-
sion of sexual desire and sensuality, as we have seen also in Tieck’s
novella. The implied nineteenth-century context in Raabe’s Gothic
scenario contains much scepticism towards the Enlightenment’s
agenda of controlling nature, fears and desires. Kiza’s outlandish
appearance signals a return of the repressed, especially his music,
which ties the narrative’s medieval racism to hetero-ethnic intruders
to the meta-narrative’s nineteenth-century racism towards Romanies
and other vagrants.
Although he is Slavic, Kiza shares his nomadic lifestyle with the
Romanies. In particular, his provocative dance evokes Romany cul-
ture and reflects bourgeois fears of an allegedly untamed sexuality
frequently ascribed to that ethnic group.24 In Germany, this view
of the dangerous Romany, and especially the dangerous ‘Gypsy’
woman, largely resulted from the broad reception of Heinrich Moritz
Gottlieb Grellmann’s ‘Historischer Versuch über die Zigeuner betref-
fend die Lebensart und Verfassung, Sitten und Schicksale dieses
Volkes seit seiner Erscheinung in Europa, und dessen Ursprung’
(A Historical Attempt to Describe the Gypsies Concerning their Way
of Life, Constitution, Customs, and Fate since their Appearance in
Europe, and their Origins; Göttingen 1787), a book that shaped the
view of Romanies well into the twentieth century.25
76 Lycanthropy in German Literature

Kiza’s appearance in Hamelin combines the horrors of expulsion

and torture with oriental pleasures of seduction and intoxication. It
is the tension between fascination and suppression of this pleasure
that results in the community’s racism towards him:

He stood on a hillock of a forest meadow lit up by the last rays of

sunshine – young and gaunt, half-starved, clad in colourful rags,
and thick black hair fell over his forehead and shoulders. Under
his felt cap, which was adorned by a ragged cock’s feather, his
ardent eyes flickered at the dancers; they were eyes that had more
of the wolf in them than of man … A Slav! A heathen! A cur of
a Slav!26

The text abounds in references to Kiza’s wolfish appearance, and this

is where the cultural memory of the Germanic wolfman converges
with a fear of invasion from Eastern European vagrants. The descrip-
tion of Kiza as a wolf or heathen Slavic dog implies the Christian
Church’s demonization of the wolf in the context of a racism
towards Jews and dissidents from the fifteenth century on. That the
wolf became directly associated with the devil in the Middle Ages is
reflected in Raabe’s reference to Kiza as a Schalk (rogue) or Schalksnarr
(roguish fool, p. 137) – a term that once referred to the devil27– and
the Hamelin community’s equation of Kiza with the wolf and devil:
‘Once again the old word of the wolf or devil had become true.’28 It
should be noted that Schalk is also very close in meaning to Schelm,
which shows that the picaresque is never far removed from this
context of religious demonization. Kiza is a figure that centuries of
superstition have fostered.
Due to his connection with revenge and war, he is also a berserk
revenant. In saga, the berserkers were often depicted in groups of 12,
and as warriors and bullies who harass the local population by freely
availing themselves of their women.29 In berserk-like manner Raabe’s
lone wolf tries to recruit the pack by igniting the fury in other young
men. He also claims the mayor’s daughter. Frenzy and sexual licen-
tiousness were substantial parts of the berserker’s nomadic life style.
In his ability to lead Hamelin’s youth into a state of ecstasy and then
into war against Minden, where they turn into an army of the dead,
Kiza is particularly close to the mythological Wild Hunt complex.30
His association with the wolf as outlaw, as a scavenger threatening the
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 77

community, and his subsequent maltreatment, however, also point

to that other, later etymological meaning of the berserker as someone
fighting without armour, naked, as the term berserker may not only
be derived from bear skin but also from ‘bare-skinned’, that is, naked.
As Speidel has shown in his brilliant comparison of Indo-European
wolf-warriors in the Ynglinga Saga of 1220, Snorri Sturlusson already
defines these as men without armour: ‘Woden’s men went without
hauberks and raged like dogs or wolves.’31 The mood of the wolf is
one of madness rather than strength, and indeed the rabies of dogs
and wolves come to mind. If indeed the berserker is someone who
is completely naked and displays these wolfish instincts, then the
connection with the vargr as outlaw reduced to animal life, to what
Giorgio Agamben has called nuda vita (bare life), stands to reason.
Raabe’s description of Kiza as quasi-animal with a wolfish appear-
ance, the citizens’ racist degradation of him to a dog (‘Give the Slav
a bone.’),32 his ‘vogelfreies Dasein’ (existence that is as free as that
of a bird, p. 140) as a Slavic vagrant whose community has been
destroyed by German resettlement, and his self-expression through
erratic music rather than language all mark him as the traditional
Friedlos, the man without peace. He is a man without social rights.
Martin Heidegger’s discussion of ‘being’, Sein or Dasein, Foucault’s
thoughts on abnormality and biopolitics, and Agamben’s wolfman
are all reflected in his status outside the city. What Agamben says
for the wolfman also applies to Kiza, namely that ‘[w]hat has been
banned is delivered over to its own separateness and, at the same
time, consigned to the mercy of the one who abandons it – at once
excluded and included, removed and at the same time captured’.33
According to Heidegger, the fundamental character of peaceful
dwelling is the assurance of being spared and cared for.34 The piper,
traditionally a metaphor for Satan, is well outside of this sense of
dwelling. Kiza roams and sleeps in the forest. He is both removed
from the town of Hamelin but also captured by it in its maltreatment
of him. Raabe’s figure makes it very clear that the apparent freedom
of the forest as reflected in the Germanic terms wolfsfrei and vogel-
frei is a cynical illusion, as it coincides with the persecution of the
Friedlos, who is without dwelling, without shelter. Open spaces such
as the forest provide ‘no shelter or security. The open is rather the
place where what is still undetermined and unresolved plays out, and
therefore it is an occasion for erring and going astray.’35 The fate of
78 Lycanthropy in German Literature

the Friedlos is undetermined, unresolved, and marked by erring and

going astray to the highest degree.
Although Kiza himself never appears naked, his existence is char-
acterized by what Agamben has called nuda vita. Kiza’s reduction to
‘bare life’ is supported by a significant detail in the story. If there is
one historical figure in Raabe’s work that can serve as an example
for the discussion of Agamben’s nuda vita, Heidegger’s concept of
lack of good dwelling, and Foucault’s notions of confinement and
insanity in institutions whose inmates are suspended between inclu-
sion within the city and exclusion from it, then it is that naked,
neglected, feral child that Raabe mentions in his story who turned
up in Hamelin in 1724:

It was in 1724 during the wheat harvest when a local citizen by

the name of Jürgen Meyer returned one afternoon from the field
through the town gate, leading with him a naked boy of about 10
to 12, who had black short hair and in colour and body resembled
a Gypsy boy … this strange foreigner who kissed the ground like
an Oriental.36

By labelling the boy an oriental, Raabe is obviously thinking about

Romanies. In addition to his exotic music, the Piper’s abduction of
children is one indication that in the collective mind he could be a
Romany. In Robert Browning’s poem, too, the Piper is described as
a ‘rootless gypsy’, thus aligning the motif of kidnapping with the
medieval superstition that Romanies steal children. Browning’s Piper
guides the children through a subterranean world from where they
emerge in central Rumania, a motif that combines the superstition
of Romany child theft with traditional Romany terrain. Recruitment
for the sake of resettlement of the dissolved Slavic communities and
populating the Eastern provinces is a phenomenon to which, in turn,
Raabe also refers subtly by way of Kiza’s origins.
Raabe mentions the oriental boy as a historical revenant of the
original nebulous thirteenth-century Piper figure, and he models
his fictional Kiza on this feral child, whom after numerous futile
attempts to put clothes on him, the community locks up in an insane
asylum. He belongs to the ‘vertierte Geschlecht’ (animalized species,
p. 127), and as a hybrid between the human and the animal may
remind us of Foucault’s definition of abnormality and monstrosity:
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 79

‘a mixture … of two realms, the animal and the human … of two indi-
viduals … of two sexes … of life and death’.37 Kiza’s own Vertiertheit,
his lupization, is a result of his solitary life outside the social contract
that makes his animal alertness an absolute survival mechanism.38
His menacing eyes that ‘have more of the wolf than of man’ (p. 134)
are a set piece in adaptations of the legend, as Browning’s poem also
stresses the Piper’s ‘sharp blue eyes, each like a pin’.39 Although Kiza
is temporarily allowed access to the city of Hamelin for the benefit
of his entertainment value – a detail that parallels the legend’s utili-
tarianism concerning pest control – the German peasants and the
sedentary citizens consider the Wenden, the Slavs on German soil, to
be contemptible outcasts. Following the German dispersal of Slav set-
tlements, Kiza remains one of the few Slavs who can survive, thanks
to his music: ‘his art had saved him, although it gave him only a
miserable, vogelfrei existence that was dependent upon chance’.40
Due to his absence of social rights, the wolfman can be killed by
anyone, but his status outside of the law that applies to the polis
also enables him to tyrannize the polis. In that sense, contrary to
Heidegger’s equation of good dwelling, peace, and freedom, the loss
of peace comes with its very own freedom, that of the criminal out-
side the social contract:

[T]he criminal is someone who breaks the pact to which he has

subscribed and prefers his own interest to the laws governing the
society to which he belongs. He thereby reverts to the state of
nature since he has broken the original contract. The man from
the forest reappears in the criminal … The criminal is always in
some way a little despot who at his own level advances his per-
sonal interest like the despot.41

We can see here that Agamben’s symmetry between the despot and
the outlaw echoes Foucault’s thoughts on the ambivalence of the
outlaw, the one above the law and the other beneath it. They evoke
the ambivalent status of the berserker, who in his sovereignty outside
of communal law was able to serve himself to whatever he wanted,
including the farmers’ wives and daughters, as does Kiza in seducing
the mayor’s daughter.
The process of animalization is not limited to Kiza. Hamelin is tem-
porarily dissolved into a state of exception in which man becomes
80 Lycanthropy in German Literature

a wolf to man, as the whole town engages in torturing Kiza, and as

the population, yielding to Kiza’s oriental flute playing, enters into
a zone in which they seem no longer distinct from the purported
beast they persecute: ‘The crowd’s frenzy grew into Bacchanalian
proportions; it was as if it had been seized by that strange and epi-
demic insanity, the medieval Saint Vitus Dance.’42 Kiza himself shifts
identities from wolf as victim to wolf as tyrant. He does so twice: the
first time when he exerts his diabolic power over Hamelin’s youth by
making everyone dance deliriously to his tunes, and the second time
when he takes with him that which hurts the community most, their
youth, upon which the town’s continuance most depends. Kiza is
thus a wolfman at both ends of the power spectrum of this concept,
oppressed and oppressor, hounded and hounding others.
The Dionysian intoxication Kiza causes among Hamelin’s youth has
much in common with the state of exception, in which the despot can
‘promote his will over the entire social body only through a perma-
nent state of violence’.43 Due to the power of his music, Kiza, as out-
law and stranger, temporarily turns into such a despot. Tortured and
abandoned, Kiza becomes ‘the criminal as little despot’,44 seducing the
mayor’s daughter but also vindictively leading the Wild Hunt, lead-
ing Hamelin’s youth into war against Minden. The Wild Hunt motif,
seduction, and going into battle are still closely tied here, as they are
in the original mythological complex of Wotan leading the berserk
warriors into battle. Kiza’s music represents the main threat to the
community, as the self-abandonment it induces leads to idleness. It is
perceived as Eastern, oriental idleness, much like in Browning’s poem,
where the music (along with the Piper’s garment) is also suspicious to
the burghers in being ecstatic, colourful, and above all not conducive
to the Northern work ethic: ‘with idle pipe and vesture piebald’.45 ‘For
he led us he said, to a joyous land,/ joining the town and just at hand,/
where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew,/ and flowers put forth a fairer
hue.’46 This ‘joyous land’ promised to the children suggests an oriental
environment, a place in which all the cares of the home environment
subside. Nietzsche’s association of the Dionysian Rausch (intoxication)
with lethargy47 is evoked especially by the motif of Browning’s sole
survivor, the lame boy who temporarily forgets his physical predica-
ment: ‘and just as I became assured/My lame foot would be speedily
cured/the music stopped and I stood still/and found myself outside the
hill/left alone against my will/to go now limping as before.’48
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 81

That Dionysus and the homo sacer have much in common has
been amply noted in anthropology.49 How close the dimensions of
horror and pleasure really are for these two related figures becomes
clear if one looks at the state of exception in which they find them-
selves. In the state of nature, the demonized vargr becomes a victim
of abandonment and experiences a loss of Schonung (sparing/car-
ing). The Dionysian intoxication that Raabe describes with its own
abandonment to pleasure and consequent absence of Sorglosigkeit
(worry), contains in itself the potential for horror as it results in the
community’s Schonungslosigkeit, their ruthlessness manifesting itself
in violence and racism. As Nietzsche once said, ‘From highest joy
there comes a cry of horror.’50 Yielding to repressed desire among
Hamelin’s youth triggers the pleasure of Sorglosigkeit alongside with
violence and horror – the horror experienced by the community
observing their youth give in to openly displayed sexual desire, idle-
ness and a lack of responsibility, and the horror of the subsequent
torture inflicted on Kiza.
Hamelin’s racism is clearly a consequence of self-denial, of a hatred
of otherness. It targets the Slavic outsider as an embodiment of the
stranger within that suddenly surfaces from the bourgeois soul and
disrupts a quotidian life of restraint and reason. In Freudian terms,
Kiza embodies the pleasure principle that breaks through the reality
principle governing Hamelin, subsequently unleashing the horror
principle. The wolfman, with Dionysian and berserk-like qualities,
can challenge the nineteenth-century reality principle by exciting
extremes of pleasure and pain that transform the bourgeois commu-
nity into a communal beast. As we have seen, in Tieck’s literary fairy
tale, The Rune Mountain, this figure cannot change the community
and withdraws into isolation, his lupine madness an internal psy-
chological phenomenon, but in Raabe’s more realist story he breaks
into the city and recruits the pack, sowing pleasure and reaping pain:
‘The rhythm of the shrill tunes ignited all hearts into a passion-
ate frenzy … They beat me like a dog.’51 Self-abandonment and its
inherent pleasure lead to abandonment by the community and the
trauma resulting from this expulsion, for ‘whoever is banned from
his city on pain of death must be considered as dead’.52
This conflation of the homo sacer with Dionysus can be further
illuminated by a brief look at Euripides’s play The Bacchae, whose
Dionysus shares a great deal with the nineteenth-century piper.
82 Lycanthropy in German Literature

As a foreigner with outlandish customs, Dionysus is the god of intox-

ication who leads the women of Thebes astray just as Kiza seduces
Hamelin’s youth. He is consequently received with considerable
aggression by Pentheus, the King of Thebes:

And they say that some foreigner, some wizard sorcerer, has come
here from the land of Lydia … If I catch him within the bounda-
ries of this land, I shall stop him making his thyrsus ring and toss-
ing back his hair – by cutting his head from his body.53

By repressing Dionysus and his thyrsus, the giant fennel rod which is
as symbolic of fertility and the phallus as is the Piper’s flute, Pentheus
represses sensuality, the stranger within himself, in the same way as
Hamelin’s older generation represses sexual desire and wants to see
it repressed in their youth. In its suppression of passion, Euripides’s
play subscribes to Socratic reasoning, that first form of European
Enlightenment and logo-centrism which came to supplant the
mythological world of the Greeks.
In a similar way, the nineteenth-century Pied Piper versions by
Browning and Raabe display bourgeois constraint in the wake of
eighteenth-century Enlightenment, its concern with reason and
rationalism also in a utilitarian, monetary sense. Much like the
townsfolk of Hamelin, Pentheus’s instinct is to restrain transgression.
In typically Foucauldian fashion, he tries to punish and discipline it
by imprisoning Dionysus, by disciplining his body: ‘We shall guard
your body inside in prison.’54 By binding Dionysus, Pentheus is try-
ing to restrain the beast within himself, an act that reflects the post-
Socratic suppression of myth, femininity, animality and irrationality.
Dionysus is a mythical revenant in a logo-centric environment as
much as Kiza is a Gothic revenant challenging the values of the
Enlightenment and its suppression of the beast.
In the final analysis, the conflation of the medieval vargr with the
Greek Dionysus in Raabe’s novella published in 1868 finds a strong
ideological echo in Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy (published only
four years later [1872]) and its evocation of the spirit of Dionysus in
Wagner’s music with its celebration of the Germanic medieval past
(especially of Wotan in Die Walküre). The elements of seduction and
intoxication in both texts not only directly take on Enlightenment
reason and repression of pleasure, but also point to its volatile dialectic
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 83

manifesting itself in the seduction, intoxication and destructive poten-

tial of the masses in Nazi Germany as a result of a long-term repression
of Dionysian impulses. Although placed in the superstitious Middle
Ages, the story of Kiza and his treatment as subhuman are a product of
late nineteenth-century racism. It displays the language of pest control
(as in the Landplage of the Romanies) that in the late nineteenth cen-
tury increasingly displaced the religious vocabulary of demons, were-
wolves and witches. While the Germans’ racism is directed against
his Slavic background – ‘The Germans’ hatred of these foreign tribes
that had once invaded Germanic soil and taken possession of it was
grim and persistent’55 – Kiza’s description contains elements of racism
in the context of Romanies that one encounters also among some of
Raabe’s contemporaries. Christian Friedrich Hebbel (1813–1863), for
example, in a feuilleton of 1850 described Romanies as ‘barely human,
forest-dwelling, half naked’ and as having ‘aggressively piercing
scavenger’s eyes’,56 a portrayal that is close to that of Kiza. Moreover,
Hebbel savagely denounced ‘Gypsy music as demonic and death
dealing … , wild and ever quickening music, unchanged since it was
first played by the Ganges a thousand years since, [it] drives … German
girls into a frenzied, subject-threatening Bacchanalian dance.’57 This
description has much in common with Raabe’s Kiza, whose music
is not only Bacchanalian (note that in the original myth Dionysus
also emerges from the Ganges region) but also death-dealing. Unlike
Hebbel’s biting denunciation of Zigeunerromantik (romanticization of
the ‘Gypsy’ lifestyle), Raabe, however, remains sceptical about his con-
temporary anti-Ziganist discourse and the biopolitics arising from it.
His critical distance shows itself in particular in his novel The Children
of Finkenrode (Die Kinder von Finkenrode, 1859), where the Romanies
are forced to settle and function as the Germans’ Oriental Others.58
Although far from subscribing to a vagrant lifestyle himself, the Lower
Saxon author, who rarely strayed from his home environment in
Braunschweig, viewed all forms of nomadism and world wandering
with great intellectual curiosity.

‘Unwirrsch, you have let the wolf in the house’:

hetero-ethnic bloodsuckers in Raabe, Dickens and Stoker

In his texts about vagrants from excluded ethnic communities and

bourgeois fears of their threat to the community, Raabe is referring to
84 Lycanthropy in German Literature

the racism of his time rather than applying it himself. One encoun-
ters a similar phenomenon in his literary treatment of anti-Semitism
in Hunger Pastor (Der Hungerpastor, 1864), a novel that, along with
Gustav Freytag’s Debit and Credit (Soll und Haben, 1855), became
extremely popular with Nazi ideologues and educators. Raabe’s repu-
tation was badly tainted by the Nazi ideologues. Third Reich German
Studies largely misunderstood Raabe’s true intentions and exploited
him for his love of Heimat, his purported support for a sedentary way
of life, his proximity to the German Volksseele (folk soul), his por-
trayal of German peasants, his concern with Bildung and education,
and ultimately his narrative treatment of Jewish characters, which
easily lent itself to National Socialism’s racist ideology.59 Regarding
Raabe’s alleged anti-Semitism, Gerhard Köttgen has argued that the
author saw in the protagonist, Hans Unwirrsch, a German and in
his Jewish antagonist, Moses Freudenstein, an anti-German nature,
and that through this natural view he stands closer to Third Reich
perceptions than many others who provide only Jewish caricatures.60
It is safe to say that the Nazis elevated Raabe to one of the foremost
precursors of fascism among German authors of the nineteenth cen-
tury.61 That Raabe, however, was not an anti-Semite has been shown
time and again. Horst Denkler even goes so far as to contend that the
anti-Semitic passages in Raabe’s novel Der Hungerpastor and the por-
trayal of his Jewish character Moses Freudenstein were created not
from anti-Semitic prejudice but as social criticism of the anti-Semitic
climate that Raabe witnessed in his society.62 I would argue that the
anti-Semitism displayed in this novel is in part also borrowed from
other texts, primarily Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield (1849) and
Gustav Freytag’s Debit and Credit (1855).63
As a double-plotted Bildungsroman closely modelled on the struc-
ture of Freytag’s anti-Semitic novel, Raabe’s Hunger Pastor juxtaposes
the development of Hans Unwirrsch, the son of a shoemaker, with
that of the Jew, Moses Freudenstein. The novel begins with the
illusory love and friendship which Hans feels for Moses during his
school years in the fictional town of Neustadt. After Moses’s father
dies, the two friends leave their hometown for university, with
Moses eventually emigrating to Paris. Hans accepts several positions
as a private tutor, none of which really satisfy him. In the home of
the Privy Councillor Götz, he meets his second large circle of peo-
ple, among whom he learns to distinguish his true friends from the
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 85

false ones, resulting in his disillusionment with Moses. During an

illness, Hans perceives his former friend’s base character and comes
to recognize Fränzchen as the right woman in his life. Kleophea, the
Privy Councillor’s daughter, bolts with Moses to Paris, making her
father so miserable that he soon dies broken-hearted. Hans blames
himself for having introduced Moses to the Privy Councillor’s fam-
ily and his employment there is terminated. To reassess his life, he
takes quarters in a solitary room but does not yet succeed in com-
ing to terms with his past. Then, during his journey to Grunzenow
on the Baltic Sea, he rediscovers the rural paradise he once lost as a
child, and it is to this enclave away from all corrupt cosmopolitan
life that he brings his Fränzchen and where he finds his true call-
ing as ‘Hunger Pastor’. His happiness is complete, while the Jew
Moses is declared dead (‘in the most terrible sense of the word’) as a
citizen by bourgeois society – ‘bürgerlich tot im furchtbarsten Sinne
des Wortes’64 – a sinister reminder of the medieval treatment of the
wolfman who was likewise pronounced dead by the community.
Kleophea, who is closely modelled on Em’ly in Dickens’s David
Copperfield, is shipwrecked in a storm off Grunzenow, thus joining
the host of women in world literature who die victims of the men
who have seduced them.
The Jewish and rootless cosmopolite Moses Freudenstein, whose
lifestyle is a persistent threat to the rural community, is, like Kiza,
compared with a wolf, especially after eloping with Kleophea, the
bourgeois daughter: ‘Oh Unwirrsch [says the Privy Councillor], …
You let the wolf into the house.’65 What has changed – and we
observe this also in Hugo’s Hunchback and other post-Romantic
texts – is that the human who is expelled by the community is no
longer primarily associated with the forest but increasingly becomes
an urban phenomenon. His loss of roots, originally linked to the
ban from the polis, has become a part of the urban landscape,
where the individual experiences loneliness within the crowd. Poe’s
‘Man of the Crowd’ (1840), a werewolfish night prowler, is another
literary example of this exile among the rootless urban proletariat.
Moses Freudenstein’s survival in the cosmopolitan jungle of Paris,
far away from the stultifying German provinces that Raabe’s
Bildungsroman celebrates as the ideal place to live, is, however, also
a reference to Heinrich Heine’s exile in that city, his banishment
from German soil.
86 Lycanthropy in German Literature

Other literary Jewish and non-Jewish models have gone into the
making of Moses Freudenstein: Veitel Itzig, Gustav Freytag’s Jew in
Debit and Credit and James Steerforth and Uriah Heep, the two nefari-
ous antagonists in Dickens’s David Copperfield. As I have shown else-
where,66 Moses is modelled on both Steerforth and Heep, especially
for their role of seducing innocent women, the fallen angels of these
novels. Steerforth elopes with Em’ly, David’s childhood love, who,
like Kleophea, ends up dying in a shipwreck, and Uriah Heep pur-
sues Agnes, David’s second wife and ideal soul-mate, whom Dickens
completely de-eroticizes. Raabe obviously borrowed heavily from
this constellation of characters for his novel to the point that one
may be tempted to speak of plagiarism rather than intertextuality.
While Moses aggressively pursues the object of his lust, Hans marries
the sexually innocuous Fränzchen and definitively withdraws from
the temptations of eros. One reason why Kleophea has to die in the
end is to prevent the erotic threat that she poses to the virtuous cou-
ple from disturbing an idyll in which eros has been channelled into
‘mere’ reproduction to found a family.
With all his distasteful writhing gestures, David’s main antagonist,
Uriah Heep, is described as a serpent, which, like the wolf, evokes
Satan. Although there is no clear consensus in criticism as to whether
Heep is Jewish, two factors can be named in support of the argument
that he is a Jew and consequently the product of a disguised anti-
Semitism: his name and his red hair. That Dickens gave the good
Jew in Our Mutual Friend (1864/5) the name of Riah can be inter-
preted as the author’s intention to counterbalance not only his bad
Jew Fagin but also the bad portrait of Uriah. Moreover, Uriah’s last
name Heep may imply Hebrew. It has been shown that Jewish figures
in visual and literary works of art have traditionally been depicted
with red hair.67 After the openly anti-Semitic portrait of Fagin, the
red-haired villain in Oliver Twist, Dickens may have wanted to tone
down anti-Jewish sentiments in David Copperfield by concealing
Uriah’s origin underneath an external stereotypical attribute and the
label name Heep.68
The extermination of wolves in England in the early modern
period69 may have caused the wolf’s disappearance also from public
consciousness much sooner in England than in Germany, which
may partly explain why Dickens resorts to the metaphor of the snake
for the devil Heep, whom he also describes by other metaphors of
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 87

animality, the snail, for example: ‘his lank forefinger … made clammy
tracks along the page … like a snail (David Copperfield, p. 290). The
serpent, however, best describes his fawning gestures, while the
wolf denotes criminal activity, specifically in the Germanic context.
That Uriah is also a thief becomes clear when towards the end he is
imprisoned in the debtors prison on account of having embezzled
money from the Wickfields and having committed multiple acts of
fraud. In Oliver Twist, Dickens’s anti-Semitism is unconcealed and
he applies the same metaphor of the wolf for demonized Jewishness
that we see in Raabe’s novel: Sikes calls Fagin ‘a black-hearted wolf’70
and Fagin’s address to Oliver, ‘[D]elighted to see you looking so well
my dear’ has been interpreted as evoking the Grimm Brothers’ wolf
in Little Red Riding Hood.71 The old motif of the wolf seducing and
abducting children persists in Dickens’s novel, but it occurs as part
of the pan-European anti-Semitic view in the late nineteenth cen-
tury of Jews as ruthless money-grabbers, as thieves in the midst of
national communities. Dickens’s Fagin is no different in this regard
from Raabe’s Moses, who is driven not only by sexual lust but most
of all by hunger for power and a financial greed that even displaces
his love for his father. It is his father, however, who initially plants
the seed of Bildung that Moses later corrupts for the sake of achieving
financial and social success at all cost of human sensibility.

‘Learn that your head is starting to sweat, Moses,’ he said as soon

as the boy was able to understand him. ‘If they give you a piece
of cake and a book, take the book and drop the cake. If you learn
something you can defend yourself against being kicked, and you
can become a great man and need not fear anyone. And you’ll still
get the cake on top of that.’72

What Samuel Freudenstein wants for his son is an education that will
enable him to rise above his class, a motif not only echoing Uriah
Heep’s relationship with his father but reflecting more generally
Jewish attempts of assimilation in the mid-nineteenth century. As
Monika Richarz has argued:

In their fight for social recognition, the Jews were forced to aspire
to Bildung and material possessions – these pillars of the bourgeoi-
sie. Especially in the first half of the nineteenth century Bildung,
88 Lycanthropy in German Literature

an education, is starting to play a prominent role for social success

among both Jews and Christians.73

Samuel Freudenstein’s prediction of education as the only way to

lead his son to material wealth reflects Jewish attempts at assimila-
tion in nineteenth-century Europe. As Hannah Arendt puts it, the
Jews’ decision was between being pariahs or assimilated parvenus,74
with both paths resulting in the kind of loneliness that she sees as a
persistent and increasing psychological dilemma for European Jewry.
Raabe’s nefarious character Moses Freudenstein, the wolf forcing his
way into the bourgeois home and bringing misery to the family,
is a reference to this complexity that views cosmopolitan Jewry in
anti-Semitic terms. However, rather than being anti-Semitic himself,
Raabe depicts the anti-Semitism of his age that despised the success
and power of international Jewry. The wolf is urban, cosmopolitan,
greedy, and Jewish, a contextualization that still operates along the
lines of the ancient Greek equation of the wolf with dolos/trickery
and the medieval association of the wolf with voraciousness, now
though in an anti-Semitic context that condemns the Jew as a capi-
talist rogue.
More than Germany, Britain associates wolves with foreign, pri-
marily Eastern invaders. One exception is Rudyard Kipling’s racist
Jungle Book, where the law and order the wolves uphold in the jungle
links them to England as a colonial presence and the presence of
Christianity (the wolf as a symbol of Rome) in the midst of what is
perceived as Indian disorder (represented by the monkeys trying to
lure Mowgli away from the wolves) and ‘heathenism’. In Victorian
Britain, however, the fear of foreign intruders upon the national
scene predominates and goes so far that it produces Stoker’s famous
invocation of the bloodsucking vampire. It is a vision that anticipates
National Socialist ideology, which in its perception of social parasites
was still infiltrated with some of the Gothic features we observe in
the nineteenth century. In Mein Kampf, Hitler identified a nomadic
lifestyle as parasitic, a fact that recalls the nineteenth century label-
ling of Romanies as a Landplage, a scourge on the nation. Hitler’s
argument was that while ‘the nomad has already a definite attitude
towards the concept of “work” … [t]he Jew has never been a nomad,
but always a parasite, battening on the substance of others’.75 Hitler
even went so far as to compare Jews with vampires: ‘[the Jew’s]
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 89

presence is like that of the vampire; wherever he establishes himself

the people who grant him hospitality are bound to be bled to death
sooner or later’.76 Hitler may indeed have been thinking of that
most famous of all vampires, Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Count Dracula’s troublesome presence in England, ‘where perhaps

for centuries to come, he might, amongst its teeming millions,
satiate his lust for blood, and create a new and ever-widening cir-
cle of semi-demons to batten on the helpless’,77 is a projection of
late-nineteenth-century British phobias of invasion, contagion and
racial pollution, of the nation being drained by Eastern European
immigrants, primarily Jews and Romanies. This has been shown
in some detail by Jules Zanger, who argues that ‘Dracula derived
a significant portion of its power from its ability to dramatize in a
socially acceptable form a body of hostile perceptions of the newly
arrived Jews.’78 Another critic, Oliver Lubrich, has pointed out that
the Dracula myth articulates several racisms, against Slavs, Germans,
and Romanies, but especially against Jews. ‘Everything that Stoker’s
culture was afraid of seems to be condensed into the figure of the
vampire.’79 Dracula is clearly a reflection of the discourse on racial
hygiene and eugenics that arose at the end of the nineteenth century
in Germany, France and England, among other places. Its principal
progenitors were the French Arthur de Gobineau, the Victorian
explorer and eugenicist Sir Francis Galton, and the German Alfred
Ploetz, whose book, Grundlinien einer Rassenhygiene (Basics of Racial
Hygiene, 1895) and the foundation of a society for Rassenhygiene in
1905 became major influences on Nazi ideology.
The fear of infection that pervades Dracula is both racially and
morally determined, with no clear dividing line between these.
Zanger pointed to the religious elements contained in this racism of
the British toward the new arrivals from Eastern Europe:

[an] additional cluster of associations linking the Dracula myth

with that of the archetypal Jew springs from that familiar image
of Dracula cringing before the Crucifix. Stoker very quickly estab-
lishes the conflict between ordinary humans and the un-Dead as
one between Christians and Un-Christians.80
90 Lycanthropy in German Literature

The hunt for Dracula that Van Helsing and several other men
undertake as the great climax of the book then reads like a religious
crusade to defeat not only the un-dead but also the un-Godly, the
Devil himself:

Thus are we ministers of God’s own wish: that the world and men
for whom His Son die, will not be given over to monsters, whose
very existence would defame Him. He have allowed us to redeem
one soul already, and we go out as the old knights of the Cross to
redeem more.
[SRCE[(p. 267)

Van Helsing compares Dracula with a man-eating tiger which, once

he has tasted human flesh, needs to be erased from the community
of men or will ‘never cease to prowl’ (p. 267). Primarily, however,
Dracula is surrounded by ferocious wolves. They are at his constant
beck and call in his ‘wolf country’ of Transylvania/Romania, as are
their more domestic relatives, the zoo wolf and dogs, while Dracula
resides in Britain. This metaphor of the bloodthirsty wolf for the
human predator becomes an allegorical element in Stoker’s book.
Like Raabe’s Moses Freudenstein and Dickens’s Fagin, Count Dracula
is both a powerful predator and a victim of racism.
As Master of the Hunt, Count Dracula controls the wolves just by
holding up his hand in silence. He can also turn into a wolf or bat at
any time of the night. In the final showdown between Van Helsing
and Dracula, the close connection between Gypsies, wolves and
vampires culminates. The Gypsies and wolves are connected through
forming circles around the hunters of Dracula, but as soon as Dracula
is finished the wolves and the Gypsies also disappear:

The gipsies [sic], taking us as in some way the cause of the

extraordinary disappearance of the dead man, turned, without
a word, and rode away, as if for their lives … The wolves which
had withdrawn to a safe distance followed in their wake, leaving
us alone.
[SRCE](p. 314)

This trinity of wolf, Gypsy and vampire is closely associated with

the Slavic population of that area as well as, specifically, with the
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 91

Count’s family and race. From the beginning, British fears of racial
pollution by Eastern invaders of Oriental provenance form a stark
contrast with the Count’s own perception of his noble and ancient
lineage, steeped in the berserks, as he explains to Jonathan Harker,
the attorney he holds in his power:

We Szekelys have a right to be proud, for in our veins flows the

blood of many brave races who fought as the lion fights, for lord-
ship. Here in the whirlpool of European races, the Ugric tribe bore
down from Iceland the fighting spirit which Thor and Wodin
gave them, which their berserkers displayed to such fell intent
on the seaboards of Europe, aye, and of Asia and Africa, till the
peoples thought the were-wolves themselves had come.
[SRCE](pp. 25–6)

The Count’s understanding of his race is quite different from the

way he and his kind are viewed in civilized Western Europe. His
self-alignment with the purportedly superior Nordic race, however,
contains the symmetry between the wolfman as sovereign and as
outcast. Specifically his insistence on his family’s origins in the ber-
serkers aligns him with marauding Vikings, with predators, and thus
a much older threat of invasion than the one facing the British from
nineteenth-century migration waves of Jews and Gypsies. As we have
seen, the berserkr is the one in the state of exception outside of law,
and indeed the Count represents that lawlessness, as do the wolves
and Gypsy population he lords over. During his imprisonment in the
Count’s castle, Jonathan Harker notes that:

[a] band of Szgany have come to the castle, and are encamped in
the courtyard. These Szgany are gipsies; I have notes of them in
my book. They are peculiar to this part of the world, though allied
to the ordinary gipsies all the world over. There are thousands of
them in Hungary and Transylvania, who are almost outside all law.
[SRCE](p. 36)

Since they attach themselves to some great noble like Dracula, he

is their ruler, a ruler of outlaws, himself the greatest outlaw. In his
diary, Dr. Seward, the administrator of an insane asylum and later
participant in the hunt for Dracula, mentions that ‘the Count is a
92 Lycanthropy in German Literature

criminal and of criminal type … and qua criminal he is of imperfectly

formed mind’ (p. 285), which is why he can be defeated in the end.
Dr. Seward is the scientific voice in Stoker’s novel, which constantly
blends folklore and realism. His is the voice of reason (‘Surely there
must be some rational explanation of all these mysterious things’
[p. 169]) that comments on mental and psychoanalytical processes
primarily with regard to his patient Renfield. Through his theories
on reason versus insanity Dr. Seward becomes the key spokesman for
late-nineteenth-century perceptions of race that distinguish between
the superior races of civilized West Europe and the inferior ones
from Eastern European areas, a discourse continued by the National
Socialists. His argument that, as a criminal, Dracula is of imperfectly
formed mind precedes National Socialist equations of criminals with
psychopaths and Untermenschen, sub-humans.
As a descendant of the Germanic berserks, Dracula is the classical
vargr as wolf and outlaw. He is contrasted with Jonathan Harker, who
symbolizes everything to do with law. The latter also suddenly finds
himself in the state of exception, where not only man is a wolf to
man, where he is stripped of all human rights, including the ones
pertaining to criminals, but also where the idea of human sacrifice is
closely linked to ritualistic violence: ‘I am shut up here, a veritable
prisoner, but without that protection of the law which is even a crim-
inal’s right and consolation’ (p. 38); ‘… a man’s death is not a calf’s’
(p. 40); … ‘I was to be given to the wolves’ (p. 43). Harker’s initial
position as prisoner of the Count has all the qualities of a rite that
will initiate and facilitate the great hunt for blood and souls upon
which Dracula embarks as he travels to England. As the ruler of his
lawless terrain and the one who takes the right to sacrifice humans,
be it Harker or the children he feeds to his female fellow vampires,
Dracula is the primordial hunter. The ship on which he arrives in
England bears the name Demeter, the goddess of the hunt. Since he
is the one who in turn becomes hunted in the end, he finds himself
in the typical position of the wolfman as hunter and hunted, tyrant
and victim, while for Harker, who advances from initial sacrificial
victim to becoming one of the hunters, this process is inverted.
The outlaw’s position outside of the community and civilization
makes Dracula appear a threat when he first lands in Whitby, that
historical terrain of Viking invasions. In line with the fear of the West
that sees itself as civilized while considering the East as uncivilized,
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 93

the two locations of the novel, Transylvania and Britain, reflect this
tension between the wild and lawless versus the civil, domestic space
in which law and order prevail. We saw a similar tension of locales in
Wilhelm Raabe’s The Children of Hamelin. Dracula is obviously aware
of Britain’s domesticating and civilizing mission, for while associated
with wolves in his home territory of Transylvania, when he lands in
Whitby, he needs to camouflage his uncivil nature. He does so by
shape-shifting into the domesticated species of the wolf, that of a
dog. However, like those Viking marauders a long time before him
and from whom he claims to be descended, he is a berserk dog, imme-
diately engaging in a fight with a home dog, a scene in which the
tension between the alleged superior race of the West and the alleged
inferior races of the East are inverted in that Dracula, the noble and
‘evidently fierce brute’, kills the ‘half-bred’ British mastiff (p. 69).
That England is the country that domesticates the wolf and con-
siders all wild wolves as distinctly foreign and invasive can be seen
primarily in the irony surrounding Bersicker, the Norwegian wolf
living in a London zoo. He belies his name, which implies ferocity,
and is as tame as a dog, ‘the animal was as peaceful and well-behaved
as that father of all picture wolves, Red Riding Hood’s quondam
friend’ (p. 117). As the domesticated wolf, he is ‘at peace’, unlike the
human wolf as Friedlos. Old and no longer used to the wild, Bersicker
is a creature that instils pity rather than fear. When Dracula arrives
in London, however, Bersicker tears himself from years of British
domestication and escapes from the zoo to follow that call of the wild
that Dracula’s presence has sent him telepathically. As a descendant
of the berserkers Dracula exerts special control over Bersicker, as he
does on all wolves and those given to lunacy, like Dr. Seward’s patient
Renfield and Jonathan Harker’s fiancée, Lucy Westenra. Victorian
fears of racial contagion are especially inscribed into Lucy, who gets
bitten. She thus becomes unclean – racially polluted – and needs the
blood transfusions from four of the men who surround her hoping
to save her from becoming a vampire.
Renfield too becomes contaminated by the Count. He is a lycan-
thropic ‘zoophagous life-eating maniac’ (p. 60) who re-enacts the
predator–prey link in obsessive-compulsive ways. Swaying between
beastly frenzy – ‘He was more like a wild beast. I never saw a lunatic
in such a paroxysm of rage’ (p. 86) – and extreme reason (p. 212),
he is the wise fool, a werewolf in the sense of being torn between
94 Lycanthropy in German Literature

his wisdom and his insania lupina. Renfield’s ‘domestication’ by

Dr. Seward, who attempts to cure him of his insanity, is symptomatic
of England’s desire to exert control over what it considers as uncivi-
lized and insane. With the arrival of his Master, however, Renfield
follows the call of the wild as much as Bersicker. As a dog-man,
Renfield ‘began to get excited and to sniff about as a dog does when
setting’ (p. 84) and resembles in part that other cynocephalus, Saint
Christopher, in his evolution from worshipping the devil (Dracula)
to saintliness: ‘he will soon think that he himself is God’ (p. 85).
The fact that the Victorian discourse of race is connected to issues
of health, sanity and disease shows itself in the location of Dracula’s
London house right next to the lunatic asylum imprisoning Renfield.
As precursors of the Nazi ideology that saw Romanies as disease
carriers, Jews as slyly subverting the German Volk, and labelled
the ‘criminal type’ as subhuman, Stoker’s wolves already embody
fears of infection, power and cunning, as well as mental instabil-
ity and a criminal nature. Ferocious wolves, however, exist only in
myths, fables and fairy tales, and in countries that, from a logo-
centric Western perspective, have not yet seen the light of reason.
Transylvania is such a place in this novel, where ferocious wolves
are still alive and form part of the mythological terrain. Stoker’s
novel is not without reference to mythological paradigms, the cen-
tral one of obvious interest to us being the Wild Hunt motif that
we see in most other texts assembled in this study. The wolfman’s
ambivalence as hunter and hunted appears in the trinity of Renfield,
Bersicker, and Dracula: Renfield, who attempts to imbibe the souls of
animals by hunting and eating them (‘Oh, it is a soul you are after
now, is it?’ [p. 223]), becomes the hunted when he escapes from the
lunatic asylum, as does Bersicker, the traditional hunter, when he
escapes from the zoo, setting all the children in London shivering
in their shoes for half a day (p. 117). Dracula both hunts for blood,
by which he is trying to get to his victims’ souls, and is hunted by
the brotherhood of men consisting of Van Helsing, Jonathan Harker,
Dr. Seward, Lord Godalming and Quincy Morris: ‘You are hunters of
wild beast’ (p. 255).
As previously noted, one of the legends that has emerged from
the Wild Hunt myth is that of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. In some
versions the Piper has a special connection with the land of Dracula
through his emergence from an underground passage in Transylvania.
Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction 95

Specifically, it is Dracula’s association with Lake Hermanstadt that

points to the children of the Pied Piper who are said to live there, as
Stoker tells us (p. 200, note 166). The Piper is said to have emerged
from a cave north of Baraolt in 1284, in an area full of underground
passages which are associated with the un-dead. What connects the
legendary piper with Dracula is this aura of un-deadness, of revenant
existence, but also the motif of the abduction of children. Like the
Piper, the Count also takes children from their mothers, in his case
to feed them to his three female vampire companions, a motif that
in folk superstition makes him part of that triad that in addition to
vampires also includes child-stealing ‘Gypsies’ and child-devouring
wolves. These superstitions relating to child abduction suggest that
in most versions the Piper is considered to be a Romany. Robert
Browning alludes to this, for example in his line ‘a gipsy coat of red
and yellow’.81 His traditional hunt of rats and in Browning also of
‘vampyre bats’ moves this legendary figure close to the animals he
goes after, that is, vermin. His association with vermin links the Piper
to the vampire, who has come ‘to invade a new land’ (Stoker, p. 285),
in view of Western bourgeois late-nineteenth-century fears of conta-
gion, of becoming unclean in a racial sense.
Being bled to death by itinerants as if by vampires and being
infected by them mentally and also physically, are the terms by
which Raabe’s, Dickens’s, and Stoker’s narratives view hetero-ethnic
intruders, Slavs, Romanies, and Jews, mixing to varying degrees con-
temporary anxieties and racism with an aura of Gothic horror. While
The Hunger Pastor expresses a fear of mental infection of German
communities (the wolf in the house) through Jewish cosmopolitan-
ism, in The Children of Hamelin it is above all bourgeois utilitarian
thinking that drives the community to hound Kiza for his crime of
enticing its youth to idleness. This motif is at the heart of a racism
directed towards bodies that escape the demands of docility and util-
ity in the bourgeois nineteenth century, one of whose principal aims
was to ship ‘superfluous capital and people’ out to the colonies.82
Following on from the large-scale expulsion of such superflu-
ous individuals in the nineteenth century, in 1938, Nazi Germany
passed a law that classified the so-called Landfahrer (Romanies) as
asocial and facilitated their deportation to concentration camps.
One of the principal fears was of the vagrants’ alleged reluctance to
work. As I have argued previously in this chapter, the bourgeois work
96 Lycanthropy in German Literature

ethic has a limited tolerance towards the pleasure principle. Racism

towards the Romany life style, with its enjoyment of ‘wild’ music
and purported idleness draining the life force from the community
at large, is a result of bourgeois constraints and expectations of pro-
ductivity. In Nazi ideology, this bourgeois reality principle became
tied to an obsession with racial hygiene, to fears of contagion and
crime. Stoker’s and Raabe’s texts in particular are harbingers of this.
The social parasite was primarily a health threat to the community.
The contempt towards those roaming the land (Landstreicher) was
determined not only by the belief that the wanderers were literally
prone to transmit infectious diseases, but also that their purported
unwillingness to work would have a contagious impact on the good
members of society. The burghers’ fear of Kiza’s flute play, which
they see as infecting the community, is a precursor of this mentality.
Moreover, Kiza’s theft of Hamelin’s impressionable youth supports
bourgeois fears of the purported criminal nature of those lacking
roots, because it shows them eluding the state’s grasp. In National
Socialist stereotyping, it was only a step from the Landstreicher, peo-
ple whose poverty forces them to furtively roam the land, to the
thief. Unlike the insane, who were considered passively parasitic,
vagrants and criminals were classified as active social parasites, as
Untermenschen who ranked high on the list of people the Nazis tried
to eliminate.
We have seen that these nineteenth-century texts contain an aura
of Gothic realism that points to early modern superstitions about
Jews and Romanies as wolves abducting and infecting the nation’s
youth. These texts, however, also contain elements of foreboding.
Escaping the Piper, the stout rat and the lame boy in Browning’s
poem are the only ones who bear testimony. Uncannily, the con-
textualization of Foucauldian biopolitics in view of the rivers of for-
getting, the multitude of rats and children condemned to oblivion,
and the motifs of sole survival and giving testimony evoke weekly
newsreels associating Jews with typhoid-spreading rats and the con-
demnation of millions to destruction in the camps. Although the
legend of the Piper dates back to the thirteenth century, it remains a
sinister reminder to this day of the seduction of a whole people who
chose political lethargy over alertness.
From Wolf Man to Bug Man
Freud, Hesse, Kafka


Jean Grenier, a boy in seventeenth-century France, claimed to have

turned into a wolf by means of an ointment and a wolf skin and to
have eaten a collection of young girls. He was pronounced insane by
the judges and his crimes were not punished other than by perpetual
imprisonment within the walls of a monastery. The court empha-
sized ‘the utter neglect of his education and moral development’,
that his ‘mind was completely barren’ and referred to the whole mat-
ter of lycanthropy as an aberration of the brain.1 Baring-Gould ech-
oes Foucault in arguing that from the seventeenth century onwards,
mental malady was segregated and treated rather than punished.
The metaphor of humans possessed by wolves or other wild animals
points to material that is repressed in the subconscious of the psyche.
As became evident in the case of Tieck’s Christian, who was caught
between his bourgeois existence and a deeper unfulfilled impulse,
his wild side that eventually made him run off into the mountains
in pursuit of his vision, the Romantics already incorporated neurosis
into their narratives. This notion of a split identity between a domes-
ticated and a wild, animal side in humans increasingly becomes the
subject in literature towards the end of the nineteenth century, coin-
ciding with the arrival of modernism and psychoanalysis. The lat-
ter’s beginnings are marked by Sigmund Freud’s and Joseph Breuer’s
study of hysteria from 1895. In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson had
published his Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Hyde and Oscar Wilde’s
Picture of Dorian Gray had appeared in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine

98 Lycanthropy in German Literature

on 20 June 1890. Nietzsche had already pointed to the presence of

the instinctual side in humans with his theories on Dionysus in The
Birth of Tragedy (Die Geburt der Tragödie, 1872), who is glossed over
by the spirit of Apollo. In Nietzschean terms, Dorian Gray embodies
Apollonian semblance and beauty, his hidden portrait revealing the
satanic nature behind his beauty. While Stevenson separates good
and evil into two creatures, with the latter living inside the former,
Gray’s corrupt nature is isolated from his body. Both are stories about
a man’s split identity, about mental malady, melancholia and the
repression of deeper instincts, all substantial components in stories
of lycanthropy, both literary and historical. In their Study on Hysteria,
Freud and Breuer identified this repressed material as an alien, for-
eign object within the self,2 and Freud later came to equate this
foreign object with the pleasure principle and the Id hidden beneath
the reality principle of the Ego. Stevenson’s Hyde aptly refers to this
personality in hiding, the stranger within the respectable Jekyll.
Carl G. Jung referred to this hidden, repressed side as the shadow.
Unlike Freud, with his focus on the individual, Jung attributes
the shadow to both individuals and the collective unconscious of
a whole people. In his ‘Wotan’ essay from 1936, for example, he
equates the mythical God of storm, rage, and war – of berserkers –
with the Germans in the grip of National Socialism. He sees Hitler
as the shadow in the collective unconscious of the German Volk, as
the personification of the archetype of Wotan, by whom all Germans
have become ergriffen (seized). But Jung’s intuition about this shadow
and the archetype of Wotan goes back to the interim war period, to
as early as 1918, when

I noticed peculiar disturbances in the unconscious of my German

patients which could not be ascribed to their personal psychology.
Such non-personal phenomena always manifest themselves in
dreams as mythological motifs that are also to be found in legends
and fairy tales throughout the world. I have called these mythologi-
cal motifs archetypes: that is, typical modes or forms in which these
collective phenomena are experienced. There was a disturbance
of the collective unconscious in every single one of my patients
… The archetypes I had observed expressed primitivity, violence,
and cruelty … I suggested that the ‘blonde beast’ was stirring in an
uneasy slumber and that an outburst was not impossible.3
From Wolf Man to Bug Man 99

The blonde beast Jung is referring to is a concept derived from

Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals (Zur Genealogie der Moral,
1887). Nietzsche argued that the unconscious in the European psy-
che cannot be suppressed by the artificial morality imposed upon
it through Christianity. Jung then saw in the blonde beast a threat
that could seize Germany and other nations at any moment but also
as a potential for spiritual renewal, and this view was, as Lewin has
argued, ‘one of the roots of his break with Freud, who, he felt, was
ignoring the therapeutic necessity of acknowledging the primitive
mythic base of the psyche’.4
Jung himself insisted that his Wotan corresponded closely to
Nietzsche’s Dionysus, the God of intoxication, thus equating the
Dionysian Rausch with the storm and frenzy that are linked to the
Norse God.5 In spite of Wotan’s and Dionysus’ roles as ‘Ergreifer’ (cap-
tors) of humans, Jung argues that the latter intoxicates women rather
than men, while Wotan is associated with men at war, with the kind
of Front experience that Ernst Jünger describes in his Storms of Steel
(In Stahlgewittern, 1920) – experiences both shattering and formative
at the same time. Although destructive, Wotan, the interpreter of
runes and fate, is also a force of spiritual renewal to Jung, in line with
Nietzsche’s argument in The Birth of Tragedy that the principium indi-
viduationis needs to be fragmented before it can be reassembled and
have an impact on the psychic renewal of the individual. Friedrich
Schiller had already argued that the violence of fragmentation is nec-
essary for mental and spiritual acculturation, a view that contrasted
starkly with Hölderlin’s conviction that nature and culture can nei-
ther thrive nor progress when based on violence.6 Nietzsche was not
the first in nineteenth-century Germany to sense the dark, violent
forces waiting to be released from just under the surface of Apollonian
semblance of Bildung and culture. As early as 1834, Heinrich Heine
in Religion and Philosophy in Germany (Zur Geschichte der Religion und
Philosophie in Deutschland, 1834) viewed the threat of Germanic ber-
serker rage in terms very similar to those of Nietzsche and Jung:

Christianity subdued to a certain extent the brutal warrior ardor

of the Germans, but it could not entirely quench it, and when
the cross, that restraining talisman, falls to pieces, then will
break forth again the ferocity of the old combatants, the frantic
Berserker rage whereof Northern poets have sung.7
100 Lycanthropy in German Literature

Despite Jung’s highly contested equation of Nazism and the furor

teutonicus of Viking berserkers in his Wotan essay,8 he conceded in
a later radio programme on the BBC (Introduction: The Fight with the
Shadow, 3 November, 1946) that

[This] condition was not by any means a purely Teutonic phe-

nomenon … [but] the onslaught of primitive forces was more or
less universal. The only difference lay in the German mentality
itself, which proved to be more susceptible because of the marked
proneness of the Germans to mass psychology.9

That the uncontrollable beast lurking within man was not a purely
Teutonic phenomenon is also evidenced by particular case studies
around the time of the First World War. Freud’s famous study of the
so-called ‘Wolf Man’, undertaken from 1910 to 1914 and published
in 1918, is a case in point. The wolves in Sergei Pankeiev’s dreams
are repressed psychic material, Freud’s foreign object within the self
or the Jungian shadow, and evoke one of the meanings for the vargr,
that of stranger. The dream that haunted the Russian aristocrat, who
lived in exile in Vienna, and drove him to seek Freud’s help is the

I dreamed that it is night and I am lying in bed (the foot of my

bed was under the window, and outside there was a row of old
walnut trees. I know that it was winter in my dream, and night-
time.) Suddenly the window opens of its own accord and terrified,
I see that there are a number of white wolves sitting in the big
walnut tree outside the window. There were six or seven of them.
The wolves were white all over and looked more like foxes or
sheepdogs because they had big tails like foxes and their ears were
pricked up like dogs watching something. Obviously fearful that
the wolves were going to gobble me up I screamed and woke up.10

The white wolves that appear in the dream of the Wolf Man denote
both sides of the power spectrum connecting the sovereign with the
homo sacer. The dream, according to Freud’s interpretation, signifies
the repressed memory of a primal scene – an Urszene – witnessed
by the patient when he was just one and a half years old of his
parents engaging in coitus a tergo (from behind). On the one side
From Wolf Man to Bug Man 101

of the power spectrum he signifies Pankeiev’s father as alpha male,

despotic instigator of this primal scene, which, according to Freud,
is then followed by the patient’s sister’s ‘seduction’ of him nearly
two years later when she takes his penis into her hand and tells him
sexually provocative stories about his nurse Nanya. This is a moment
Pankeiev subconsciously equates with castration at age 3, following
castration threats from Nanya when he plays with his penis in front
of her. Moreover, Freud suspects that the possibility that his patient
has seen white dogs locked into a tergo positions in the company of
his father before the age of 4 may also have contributed to cementing
these fears of castration.11
The story of Freud’s Wolf Man is enigmatic and contains many
more interpretations than offered to us by Freud. Carlo Ginzburg, for
example, points out that the Wolf Man’s dreams are a product of his
exposure to Slavic folklore through his nurse Nanya. The Wolf Man
was born with a caul (like Freud) on the first night of Twelve Nights,
the period between Christmas and Epiphany. In the world of folklore
and superstition, this detail marks him as a werewolf, and not just
in Russian folklore as Ginzburg’s work on the benandanti of Friuli
and other parts of Italy amply demonstrates.12 Freud himself had
alluded to the folklore content of his patient’s dream, the six or seven
white wolves in the trees pointing specifically to ‘The Wolf and the
Seven Young Kids’ (Grimm’s tale 005) as well as to a tale Pankeiev’s
grandfather had told him about a tailor cutting off the wolf’s tail and
subsequently hiding from that wolf up in a tree.13
Another theory of acute interest to us due to its contextualization
with the phenomena of concealment, abandonment and forgetting
that surround homo sacer is Nicholas Abraham’s and Maria Torok’s
study ‘The Wolf Man’s Magic Word: A Cryptonomy’, published in
1976. Their argument is that Freud’s Wolf Man is not haunted by a
fear of castration but by a set of repressed ‘pleasure words’ encrypted
into his subconscious, words such as the number six in Russian,
shiest, the number of wolves Pankeiev initially remembers from his
dream. Shiest points to the phallic ‘mast’ as much as to siestorka, the
Russian diminutive for sister, and the German Schwester,14 so that
the six pack of wolves seen on the tree could be a hidden reference
to his sister. By way of revealing several of these cryptonyms – words
that hide in the subconscious of the patient – Abraham and Torok
conclude that rather than having witnessed a primal scene between
102 Lycanthropy in German Literature

his parents, this Urszene refers to his sister’s seduction by his father,
thus also supporting Ginzburg’s argument that ‘[i]n 1897 … the “pri-
mal scenes” referred not to coitus between the parents but to acts of
seduction perpetrated on children by adults (frequently parents)’;15
‘[i]t became clear that the “pack of six wolves” did not contain the
idea of multiplicity, but of the sister instead … It was likely, in fact,
that in the nightmares and the Wolf Man’s phobic moments, the
wolf and sister would occur together.’16
The fact that Freud’s patient is haunted by his memories and
phobias of a family situation in which other wolves appear – the
father according to Freud, the ‘sixter’ of wolves as the sister, accord-
ing to Abraham/Torok – points to the traditional ambivalence of
the human wolf as both victim of abandonment and as despot. The
cryptonyms that are hidden, forgotten, banished, repressed, and lie
abandoned until retrieved mark the patient as a wolfman as much as
the father – ‘Of course, the “wolf” was Father, of course, Father had
to castrate Stanko.’17
Although Freud’s wolfman was Russian, a curious thread leads us
back from him to Jung’s Wotan archetype as a specifically German
phenomenon and to Adolf Hitler as wolfman. Although there is little
evidence for the ultimate psychological roots of Hitler’s fascination
with wolves, Robert Waite has argued that as a 3-year-old Hitler may
have witnessed an act of sexual aggression committed by his father
Alois Hitler upon the mother, who seemed to enjoy it, and that this
resulted in Adolf’s traumatic shattering of Oedipal fantasies.18 It is
possible, Waite argues further, that Hitler associated his aggressive
father with the wolf,19 among other factors because he owned a large
shepherd dog. For Adolf, whose Christian (pagan, really) name is
derived from Athalwolf (Noble Wolf), the only way to rid himself of
the fear of his father as the ‘big bad wolf’ was to think of himself as
the wolf, ‘by associating himself with the object of his fear, by delib-
erately cultivating it and surrounding himself with it’.20 Following
this argument, Adolf’s own shepherd dog ‘Blondie’ would be a
small piece in the puzzle of Nazi aggression involving the Jungian
archetype of Wotan (the ‘blonde beast’) and its occurrence of pri-
mal scenes and their subsequent neuroses that involve wolf images.
Possibly, Freud’s Wolf Man case and Jung’s Wotan archetype are not
as far apart as one may think, and these individual cases are part and
parcel of the alleged archetype at work in these years.
From Wolf Man to Bug Man 103

In any case, the wolf in Freud and the hybrid of the berserker in
Jung’s Wotan archetype are metaphors for subconscious forces in the
interwar period. It is certainly no coincidence that the animal as a
metaphor for repression and neurosis is a motif we encounter also
in literary texts written at this time. The wolf appears particularly in
one text where it is also associated with psychoanalysis, with purging
the wolf in man, and curing him of his wolf neurosis.


I am one who is half-wolf and half-man, or thinks

himself so at least.21

Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf (1927) reflects the author’s interest in

Jungian psychoanalysis, as Hesse underwent psychotherapy with
one of Jung’s assistants, J.B. Lang, in the mid-1910s. Hesse’s story
makes clear how resorting to mythical structures and paradigms
can aid the process of coming to terms with neurosis, especially in
view of the detail in the Greek Lykaon myth of a human turning
into a wolf, undoubtedly a metaphor for times of psychic strain and
emotional hardship. Harry Haller’s struggle with his shadow, his
repressed subconscious drives, is a literary example of Nietzsche’s
blonde beast lurking underneath bourgeois layers of culture and
civility. Haller is a wolf set aside from society, not a patriot, but a
prophet who foresees the next war, which Hesse calls ‘die nächste
Millionenschlächterei’22 and Basil Creighton translates as ‘holo-
caust’: ‘Nobody wants to avoid the next war, nobody wants to spare
himself and his children the next holocaust’ (p. 138).23 Haller’s case
is complex, since the wolf side in him resists one-sided interpreta-
tion as the old berserker rage Nietzsche and Jung had spoken of.
Nonetheless one can argue that Wotan, not as a solely destructive
force but also representing ‘archetypal hope’,24 characterizes Haller’s
development. As Kriegsgegner, an opponent to war in general, Haller
is a sort of anti-berserker, ‘a rotten patriot – who had been making
fun of the Kaiser and expressing the view that his own country was
no less responsible for the outbreak of war than the enemy nations’
(p. 96).25 Being a wolf of the steppes and not of the forest (Waldwolf)
may be a significant detail in connection with this lack of patriot-
ism, with Haller’s un-German, if not foreign nature. Although Haller
104 Lycanthropy in German Literature

is not Jewish, Hesse’s equation of the wolf of the steppes with a lack
of patriotic spirit resonates to some extent with Werner Sombart’s
famous juxtaposition in The Jews and Economic Life (Die Juden und
das Wirtschaftsleben, 1911) of Germans as people of the complex (not
primitive or backward) forest versus the Jews’ urbanism as a result of
their nomadism on the desert. According to Sombart, the Jews were
Steppenwölfe whose Saharism had, in the course of the nineteenth
century, turned them into rootless and, from the point of view of
capitalism, ruthless cosmopolites.26
Haller is, however, a Waldgänger in Ernst Jünger’s sense of practis-
ing resistance against the general consensus of his times (as we have
seen, Jünger’s forest can be anywhere, even in the city), yet in the
course of the narrative his self-imposed isolationism is to be broken
by Hermine and Pablo of the Magic Theatre, who guide him from
the blood of political resistance to the chocolate of shallow pleasures.
The wolf in Haller is a lonely creature that withdraws from mass psy-
chosis and the intoxication of the Front experience: ‘With horror I
remembered those terrible photographs from the Front that one saw
occasionally during the war – those heaps of bodies entangled with
one another, whose faces were changed to grinning ghouls by their
gas masks’ (p. 228).27 In the Magic Theatre, the traditional Wild Hunt
complex with which the homo sacer is associated in folklore and
myth turns into the ‘Jolly Great Automobile Hunt’, while Haller’s
memories of the frenzy of war may still provide a distant echo of his
age-old identity of the wolf as berserker, an identity he hates as much
as his domestication: ‘I had the taste of blood and chocolate in my
mouth, the one as hateful as the other’ (p. 228).28 His torn identity
exemplifies the true extent of his neurosis. He accepts neither side in
himself, neither the wolf as ferocious warlike animal nor the dog, the
fighting spirit crushed in him.
The old patterns of melancholia canina and despair (‘Animals are
sad as a rule’, p. 135)29 which we have observed in the picaresque
tradition and the Romantic Age persist in Hesse’s Steppenwolf and
have become even more pronounced: ‘wolfishly seen all human
activities became horribly absurd and misplaced, stupid and vain’
(p. 53).30 This vanitas thought with which we are familiar from the
Schelmenroman of the baroque age reappears here in the context of
severe repression and solitude – ‘The other day you looked as if you
had been cut down from the gallows’ (p. 126).31 Haller, who has
From Wolf Man to Bug Man 105

forgotten how to laugh, is a suicide sharing much in common with

Adam Douglas’s psychiatric werewolf, who ‘lives in sad isolation’
and ‘is kept at a discreet distance form respectable society’.32 We
recall that the homo sacer is the one set aside from society, which is
reflected in Haller’s loneliness, the solitude of the individual at the
height of modernity. His proximity to the dead also conjures up the
idea of self-abandonment of the homo sacer, who has the choice of
either giving himself up after being set aside from society or practis-
ing resistance. Yet Haller is not a radical Waldgänger, but a figure
of ambivalence caught between his wolfishness outside ‘the world
of social convention’, of family life and social ambitions, while at
the same time being ‘secretly and persistently attracted to the little
bourgeois world’ (p. 62).33 This dual nature of his has its literary pre-
cursors in the nineteenth century, from Christian’s conflict in Tieck’s
novella Rune Mountain between his family life and the wild, pagan
terrain of the mountains where he pursues his dreams, to Stevenson’s
Jekyll and Hyde, another story about neurosis in the sense of modern
man’s split identity between primordial bestiality and the bourgeois
order, between savagery and domestication, blood and chocolate. As
Haller concedes, the wolf ‘is not of primeval simplicity but a creature
of manifold complexity’ (p. 77).34
Hesse plays with the traditional motif of the wolf’s voraciousness
that can already be found in the medieval beast epic. His wolf stands
for an intensity of life and reflection from which stems his resistance
to the bourgeois world with its ennui and un-reflected patriotic sup-
port of dominant politics. Hermine tells him:

You are much too exacting and hungry for this simple, easy-going
and easily contented world of today. You have a dimension too
many. Whoever wants to live and enjoy his life today must not
live like you and me. Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy
instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of
business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial
world of ours.
[SRCE](p. 177)35

The wolf side in Haller stands for these passions that are not shared
by the majority: music rather than noise, joy rather than pleasure,
soul instead of materialism, creative work instead of business, but it
106 Lycanthropy in German Literature

is only humour that can save him from himself, the folly of laughter
that will cure him from his wolf neurosis. This perception of laugh-
ter is very different from the Renaissance and the early modern age
in which the Christian value system equated laughter with folly,
and philosophy tolerated laughter only as cynicism.36 Homo sacer
was a figure that represented this foolish laughter in the satirical
tradition of the picaresque that already suppressed laughter. Haller
is a product of this development of suppression of laughter and
irrationalism which extends from the Enlightenment through the
nineteenth century and culminates in the age of neurosis at the
beginning of the twentieth century. His suppression of laughter,
his suicidal wolfishness, is thus an extreme consequence of the
Enlightenment and its suppression of folly. Hermine’s view is that
he needs to learn to laugh for the sake of reinstating his full subjec-
tivity. To some extent, this indictment of the absence of laughter
and folly foreshadows the seriousness of Nazi rule. In reaction to
it we will see parodic texts that liberate laughter, such as Edgar
Hilsenrath’s The Nazi and the Barber in the context of death-dealing
‘You will learn to laugh like the immortals … I wish you good rid-
dance of the Steppenwolf for today at any rate’ (p. 208).37 The objec-
tive of Hermine and her friends is to turn the Steppenwolf into a
carnival figure full of medieval mirth. With its suspension of law, the
carnival evokes not only Bakhtinian subversion but also Agamben’s
state of exception. If Haller is to learn to laugh like the immortals,
then this implies a permanent carnival as well as permanent suspen-
sion of law in the process of overcoming the wolf in man who never
laughs, of shattering it as the dominant shadow. This death-dealing,
humourless wolf, however, then becomes reincarnated in the Nazi
years, literally in Adolf Hitler and berserk movements such as
Operation Werewolf at the end of the war (see Chapter 6). Hesse’s text
is a grim foreboding of this transition from the long-term carnival of
the golden 1920s, die goldenen zwanziger Jahre with their hedonism
and economic prosperity ending in the world-wide Great Depression
in 1929, to the carnage of the 1930s.
Haller concedes that his Steppenwolf nature is the result of
repression and that the way he has lived has left a chaos of poten-
tialities, instincts and impulses in him to which he has given the
label of ‘Steppenwolf’. In order to achieve the reintegration of his
From Wolf Man to Bug Man 107

personality, which is the ultimate aim of psychoanalysis and was

Hesse’s own objective for well over ten years before writing this book,
the wolf needs to be merged with the human side in him. Haller’s
wolfish nature has much in common with the Jungian shadow, the
repressed material of the psyche from which the Ego becomes split
off. The wolf as shadow, however, has become Haller’s dominant
personality, and it needs to be integrated with a suppressed human
side, that side of him that recognizes that he is a part of the social
contract and reaches out to other human beings. It is Hermine’s task
to bring his human side to the fore, an integration process that hap-
pens, as Nietzsche argues, by way of fragmenting the prinicipium indi-
viduationis. The God of intoxication, in this case, Pablo of the Magic
Theatre, offers a way of doing this: ‘My personality was dissolved in
the intoxication of the festivity like salt in water’ (p. 198).38 Like the
youths of the Arcadian Zeus Lykaion rites who leave their shadow
at the gate of the underworld,39 Haller is meant to discard his own
shadow, his wolf nature, by learning to laugh like the immortals in
the underworld of the Magic Theatre.40
The conflicting sides in Haller between his sinister wolf nature that
drives him nearly to suicide and the lightness of being as his human
side demonstrated to him by Hermine and Pablo are equated with
the death-driven music of Wagner, on the one hand. and the eros-
filled music of Mozart, on the other. Yet in conjunction with the pur-
pose of an integration of personality and with Freud’s argument that
eros and thanatos are in close proximity if one considers that the state
that ensues upon full sexual gratification is similar to dying,41 these
domains are not seen as complete contrasts but as parts of a binary
that ‘seen from a little distance, always tend to show their increasing
similarity’ (p. 239).42 Like eros and thanatos, upon initial inspection
Mozart and Wagner form a contrast but are also the same, as Jung
and Nietzsche tell us, who both understand the fragmentation of the
principium individuationis as the death of the former self.43 Ultimately,
this death of the former self is never fully achieved by Haller. His
therapy implies his progress from Wagner, the serious myth-ridden
Germanic wolf, to Mozart, the humorous man who manages to have
the wolf integrated in himself. The fact that ‘[h]umour is always
gallows humour, and it is on the gallows you are now constrained
to learn’ (p. 249)44 indicates that the wolf never disappears entirely
and evokes a distant cultural memory of the wolfman in medieval
108 Lycanthropy in German Literature

Icelandic literature, for whom the gallows, the so-called vargtre, was
the place where he generally ended up.
The Magic Theatre is the locale where Haller is meant to be trans-
formed from an individualist who resists the signs of his times to a
shallow human being seeking pleasure. Hesse sees this attempted
domestication of the wolf in Haller as highly dangerous, his magic
theatre offering the perfect preparation for the masses’ intoxication
by political demagogues a few years later. His concern echoes that of
Jung. 1927, the year in which Hesse’s novel was published, was also
the year Jung warned against the danger of the Wotan archetype
driving mass movements that would undermine and destroy the
hope he associated with this archetype for a spiritual renewal of the
individual.45 We have seen in Tieck’s Rune Mountain how the arche-
type leads to the spiritual renewal of one individual who withdraws
from society altogether, and how Romanticism still made room
for this sort of individualism. As Lewin argues, however, Jung was
worried that when these archetypal energies were unleashed at the
collective level, they could lose any potential for an individual’s ther-
apeutic progress and could be all too easily exploited by the state.46
In a way, Hesse’s Haller is the opposite of Tieck’s Christian and a
character such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll/Hyde, who both
show the metaphorical wolf unleashed from man. Haller is the man
suppressed within the wolf, and in that he resembles Kafka’s Gregor
Samsa in whom the human becomes suppressed in the shape of an
animal. In Haller, the wolf then undergoes a process of repression for
the sake of recovering the human, whereas in Kafka the undesired
animal, the parasite, becomes suppressed through human neglect
and annihilation. Both authors, however, conjoin in their melan-
cholia at seeing the individual’s withdrawal from society increasingly
threatened in the age of mass manipulation and mass psychosis.


Was he an animal that music moved him so?47

The one whose humanity is completely destroyed is
the one who is truly human.48

Hesse and Kafka are twinned in this chapter due to their contextu-
alization of exile, loneliness and neurosis tied to an acute intuition
From Wolf Man to Bug Man 109

about the terror that lay in wait for Germany in the 1930s and
1940s. While Hesse shows us the wolf in his full modernist fatigue
and despair, Kafka gives us the old Germanic vargr (wolf and outlaw)
stripped of all lupine strength and fearsomeness, and reduced to
the lowliest of vermin, a loathsome Ungeziefer. Although far from a
wolf in shape, Gregor Samsa is still in the position of the medieval
vargr, who due to his parasitic nature was outlawed by the com-
munity. In Kafka’s Metamorphosis (Die Verwandlung) of 1915, the
vargr reappears as a psycho-somatic paradigm in which the homo
sacer’s impurity is deeply embedded in both racial and Oedipal
As a text written by a Jew in the interwar period, the story reveals
some striking parallels with Freud’s Wolf Man case study, specifically
the strained father/son relationship and the incestuous brother/
sister, father/daughter connection. Gregor’s father undergoes a
metamorphosis as much as his son. He grows from a powerless man
who depends on his son’s salary to the alpha male of the family and
ultimate murderer of his son. His morphing into an erect bourgeois
citizen with growing sadistic aggression is directly linked to his son’s
gradual physical decay in animal shape that hides a heightened
human sensitivity. The father’s phase of mourning at seeing his son
transformed into a beetle is the briefest in the family, and his grow-
ing aggression is signalled by a spate of actions from banging his
fists on the door of his son’s room to bombarding him with apples.
He hunts Gregor like an animal, thus evoking the old relationship
between the hunter and the hunted, the ambivalence of the outlaw
as sovereign and persecuted victim: ‘Pitilessly his father came on,
hissing like a wild man … the voice behind Gregor did not sound
like that of only a single father’49 (p. 15).
Gregor thus shares with Freud’s wolfman the relationship with a
dominant father figure, sovereign and despotic, and it is to him that
the wolves in the wolfman’s dream refer. As Freud points out: ‘In my
patient’s case, the wolf was merely the first father substitute’50 – and
Abraham and Torok echo this: ‘Of course, the “wolf” was Father.’51
According to Abraham and Torok, however, the wolf is also associ-
ated with the sister, who in the incestuous primal scene between
father and daughter ‘makes buka to Father’,52 buka being a Russian
name for wolf. Gregor’s metamorphosis into a vermin can in part be
read as a metaphor for the neurotic family situation characterized by
110 Lycanthropy in German Literature

an Oedipal conflict and Gregor’s desire for his sister. She is increas-
ingly filled with disgust at the sight of his physical shape, which
among numerous other readings can be read as a corporal manifesta-
tion of his incestuous drive as an inner form of animality:

He realized from this that the sight of him was still repulsive to
her and was bound to remain repulsive to her in the future, and
that she probably had to overcome a lot of resistance not to run
away at the sight of even the small part of his body that jutted out
from under the couch.
[SRCE](p. 22)53

While Gregor still shows human sensitivity towards his sister’s feel-
ings, this moment in which a small part of his body sticks out from
under the couch contains sexual undertones that are accompanied
by more aggressive ‘animal’ passions: ‘a stranger might easily have
thought that Gregor had been lying in wait for her, wanting to bite
her’ (p. 22).54 The complex triangular family situation is reminiscent
of Freud’s Wolf Man case as Gregor not only competes with his father
for his mother but also for his sister, who in the end, when she places
her hand around her father’s neck, shows all the symptoms of the
Neo-Freudian Electra complex.
In both Freud’s case study and Kafka’s story, the connection
between the father’s potency and the power of the wolf as sovereign
is indicated in images of erectness. Freud points out that the wolf
that the Wolf Man fears is undoubtedly the father, but that his ‘fear
of the wolf was conditional upon its being in an upright position’,55
that wolves on all fours or lying down in bed like the one in Little
Red Riding Hood do not frighten him. It is the wolf in his liminality
between the animal and the human that frightens him, the wolf in a
zone of indeterminacy which is experienced as unheimlich (uncanny).
In Kafka’s story, the father advances from an impotent figure to one
of increasing erectness which signals a potency that grows in direct
proportion to Gregor’s increasing animalization.56 The sexual under-
tones, alongside with Gregor’s obvious castration as head of family,
are hard to miss: ‘Now, however, he was holding himself very erect
... Gregor staggered at the gigantic size of the soles of his boots …
whenever his father took one step, Gregor had to execute countless
movements’ (p. 28).57 As Santner argues:
From Wolf Man to Bug Man 111

One of the most uncanny features of Kafka’s literary universe is

doubtless the way in which such impotence [the initial impotence
of the father] can suddenly reverse itself into awesome power, or
better, the way in which impotence reveals itself to be one of the
most disturbing attributes of power.58

Gregor’s symbolic ‘castration’ happens in a series of violent acts

committed by the father on his son. Gregor’s gradual killing com-
mences at the end of the first part where his father kicks him back
into his room so that he starts bleeding, having injured one of his
little legs (‘Beinchen’, p. 73), which he drags along lifelessly. The
German diminutive Beinchen is a lot more effective here than the
translation in indicating his physical powerlessness. At the end of
the second part, the father’s readiness for violence increases and he
starts bombarding his son with apples, one of which gets stuck in
his back, causing a wound that gets badly infected and ultimately
leads to his death. This image of the father’s bombardment conjoins
with his physical erectness in expressing his sexualized potency,
while Gregor’s mother, who begs her husband to spare their son,
is described in increasingly eroticized terms as her untied skirts are
falling off her one after another. It is a scene densely filled with
Oedipal allusions. Hellmuth Kaiser has argued convincingly that
Gregor punishes himself for his competitive striving aimed against
the father and that his relationship with him is determined by
Oedipal drives, the fear of castration, even anal pleasure. In Freud’s
case study, too, this fear of castration and anal pleasure are key
motivations. The Russian’s wolf phobia results from a castration
complex, from seeing the mother as a ‘castrated’ wolf, and contains
an anal-sadistic fixation, the erect father as wolf climbing onto the
back of the passive mother. In Kafka’s story, the two central scenes
of Gregor’s maltreatment are acts of castration in the broadest psy-
choanalytical meaning of the term, the first act of violence coming
from the father at the end of the first part as a response to Gregor’s
anal regression which is signalled by his fondness for rotten food.
The second more intense act, when the father bombards Gregor
with two apples, reactivates the repressed memory of a primal scene
tied to the Oedipal competition between Gregor and his father for
the love of the mother. Gregor’s reaction to the bombardment may
indeed be caught between pain and pleasure, the pleasure of gaining
112 Lycanthropy in German Literature

‘the father’s penis as a substitute for his own lost member’, an

insurmountable loss that causes Gregor’s melancholia, while at the
same time this bombardment a tergo may indicate Gregor’s desire
‘for a forcible impregnation by the father in the form of a coitus
per anum’.59
Freud’s contemporaneous case study forms an uncanny parallel to
Kafka’s story. Freud argues that Pankeiev’s fear of being ‘gobbled up
by the wolf’ is a regressive reversal of ‘the wish for coitus with the
father, that is, for satisfaction such as the mother had experienced’
and that ‘this anal-sadistic organization then transformed into the
masochistic objective of being disciplined, punished’.60 The Wolf
Man’s early identification with the mother as the bent-over animal
in opposition to the erectness/erection of the father as the aggressor
wolf, the alpha wolf with human qualities (since he is the one stand-
ing), repeats itself in Kafka’s family situation after the father morphs
into the sovereign, the erect aggressor in uniform. As Pankeiev is
bent over, crippled, by his Oedipal desire for the bent-over mother
and his traumatic relationship with his father, so is Gregor. In the
latter this shows itself concretely in his rounded insect integument,
his hunch, by which he replicates the submissive (bent-over) posi-
tion of his mother in the family, masochistically suffering from his
father’s erectness/erection (his straightened body/throwing apples).
Pankeiev and Gregor Samsa become animals that both fear and
lack erectness, Gregor primarily in the physical sense but also, like
Pankeiev, in the sense of being emotionally crippled by his melan-
cholia, which the late Renaissance and early modern Europe had
linked to lycanthropy. Thus, the old link between melancholia and
animality (melancholia canina), thematic in earlier traditions such as
the bürgerliche Trauerspiel (bourgeois tragedy), for example, appears
again here. Melancholy is the result of a traumatic loss, castration
anxiety in the cases of Freud’s Wolf Man and Gregor. Their neurosis
produces their exile, an exile in animal shape that evokes the aban-
donment of the medieval vargr as the one excluded from the com-
munity, banished to the forest of fears where anyone could kill him.
It is an exile from which to an extent Pankeiev can return, thanks to
being psychoanalyzed by Freud, but from where there is no return for
Kafka’s Gregor – an exile ultimately deeply tied to Jewishness and the
racial melancholy that determines Jewish culture in the years before
the Holocaust.61
From Wolf Man to Bug Man 113

This melancholia of Jewish exile in the context of the liminality

between human and animal also occurs in Kafka’s A Report to an
Academy (Ein Bericht für eine Akademie, 1917). While Rotpeter, the
monkey who changes into a human, however, has been read as a
parody of Jewish assimilation to German culture, Gregor Samsa is
an omen of Jewish annihilation. Like Hesse’s Steppenwolf, Kafka’s
text from 1915 heralds future massacres, specifically those of the
Third Reich. The hunting of undesirables is evoked in Kafka’s lan-
guage of abjection, first and foremost Gregor’s label of an ungeheu-
eres Ungeziefer, a monstrous vermin. In view of the use of this word
by the Nazis to describe Jews and other minorities, Ungeziefer is a
cryptonym in Kafka’s story. As an encryption implying the notion
of a secret as well as a grave vault, the word is a sinister premoni-
tion of the atrocities in the camps more than two decades later.62
Ungeziefer is derived from Old High German zebar, the sacrificial
animal. Ungeziefer consequently has the meaning of an unclean
animal not suited for sacrifice, and this is precisely the definition
that Agamben gives for the homo sacer. That it is ‘ein ungeheures
Ungeziefer’, a monstrous vermin, means that this creature has no
place in the family or in God’s order, an existence Agamben has seen
as the fundamental condition of Jewish exile and the abandonment
of humans in the camps:

The wish to lend a sacrificial aura to the extermination of the Jews

by means of the term ‘Holocaust’ was … an irresponsible historio-
graphical blindness. The Jew living under Nazism is the privileged
negative referent of the new biopolitical sovereignty and is, as
such, a flagrant case of a homo sacer in the sense of a life that
may be killed but not sacrificed. His killing constitutes neither
capital punishment nor a sacrifice, but simply the actualization
of a mere ‘capacity to be killed inherent to the condition of the
Jew as such. … Jews were exterminated not in a mad and giant
holocaust but exactly as Hitler had announced, as ‘lice’, which is
to say, as bare life.63

The text teems with references to Gregor’s exilic Dasein reduced to

the shape of a pestilent bug, which stirs the fear of infection in his
community and is evidenced by his family’s various responses to his
animal presence: they throw out the food he has not touched, ‘as if
114 Lycanthropy in German Literature

they too [my italics] were no longer usable’ (p. 18),64 and his mother
is in danger of growing sick at the sight of him. After a brief phase
of mourning, the family essentially considers him dead. Their reac-
tion reflects the medieval custom of homo sacer being pronounced
dead by the community. It was the fate of millions of Jews and other
minorities whose physical removal from the community through
deportation to the camps where all human rights were suspended
was the same as the pronouncement of their death. The vargr was
a stranger in the sense of being an alien body that was submitted
to death while still physically being alive. When Gregor’s sister
walks into his room, she too thinks she is with ‘einem Fremden’
(a stranger).
The figure of abandonment finds its extreme version in the twen-
tieth century in those victims of the camps who had given up their
lives and utterly surrendered to fate before they were clinically dead.
From the perspective of his family and his employer, Gregor is such a
creature, his human life extinguished at the moment he has become
an animal but he is clinically still alive and thus a constant reminder
of his lack of being cared for. The creaturely that Eric Santner has
identified specifically in the work of Kafka, Rilke, and Sebald,65 and
which resonates with Agamben’s concept of nuda vita, characterizes
Gregor even before he has turned into a bug. In fact, his metamor-
phosis could be considered a manifestation of the way he feels in
his excruciating employment situation – ‘he was a tool of the boss
without brains or backbone’ (p. 5) (‘Er war eine Kreatur des Chefs,
ohne Rückgrat und Verstand’, p. 59). It does not allow for illness,
as, for the Krankenkassenarzt, the health insurance doctor ‘the world
consisted of people who were completely healthy but afraid to work’
(p. 5) (‘es nur ganz gesunde aber arbeitsscheue Menschen gibt’, p.
59). Especially the German arbeitsscheu, which Corngold’s translation
as ‘afraid to work’ does not render very closely, is part of a vocabulary
that reflects fascist medical practice and points to the Nazi jargon
of Gesundheitspflicht (the duty to stay healthy), the persecution of
Arbeitsscheue (the ‘workshy’) in labour camps, and ultimately the
complete perversion of the utility/docility equation in the annihila-
tion method of Vernichtung durch Arbeit (destruction through work)
in the camps. His employer views Gregor’s transformation very
much in the context of the Enlightenment discourse of disciplining
and punishing bodies that are not docile, that is, bodies that try to
From Wolf Man to Bug Man 115

withdraw from the rationalist work ethic of the rising middle class.
This rationalism is determined by utilitarianism and does not toler-
ate laziness but views it as folly. The lazy are seen as Aristotelian
idiotes, deprived of logos, speech and reason, or in a word, as animals.
This is precisely the way Gregor is perceived by his fellow human
beings. To his employer and family, who all fail to understand him,
he has lost the faculty of human speech; his voice has become a
chirping (‘ein Piepsen’, p. 59) that garbles (‘zerstört’) the words. His
boss thinks that Gregor’s ‘idiocy’ will infect everyone around him
and that he is trying to make ‘fools’ of them. Gregor’s animalization
is like an infectious illness, the fool being traditionally associated
with animal images, as we have seen in the picaresque novel. Gregor
has given up human reason for animal whims, for caprice (the goat,
capra, being the traditional animal for the satanic and the homo
sacer as scapegoat). ‘I thought I knew you to be a quiet, reasonable
person, and now, and now you suddenly seem to want to start strut-
ting about, flaunting strange whims … It is strange how a person can
get attacked by such caprice’ (p. 9).66 The word überfallen, to attack
or fall upon someone, is very telling here as it expresses both animal
aggression and animal passivity which clash with human agency,
reason and activity.
Gregor is the human upon whom the animal shape has fallen.
He is being überfallen by an animal, attacked and devoured by it.
In contrast to Stevenson’s Jekyll, who contains the animal Hyde
within himself, Gregor is the animal that contains the human. The
human lies hidden underneath the animal, unrecognizable to the
world around him. Kafka elaborates on this sub-humanity – Gregor
as Untermensch in fascist terminology – by a variety of motifs. Gregor
acts from below, hides under the couch, and is no longer able to lift
his head, which, according to Benjamin, marks him as the melan-
cholic afflicted by the saturnine spirit, his erect body cringed, the
back bent forward, which draws the gaze downward in ‘indefatigable
rumination like a dog eager to follow a trace into depth’.67 But his
change is not only external. His taste buds have become those of a
vermin feeding on garbage, as he prefers to eat only half-rotten veg-
etables, bones, and unpalatable cheese. Unable to feel his wounds, he
thinks: ‘Have I become less sensitive?’ (p. 18).68
His sub-humanity creates feelings of disgust in his family, espe-
cially in his sister. While she is initially still close to him, soon his
116 Lycanthropy in German Literature

Anblick, her human gaze upon the vermin becomes intolerable to

her, filling her with disgust (Abscheu). For Walter Benjamin, the pre-
dominant feeling in Abscheu (disgust) is

the horror that stirs deep in man as an obscure awareness that in

him something lives so akin to the animal that it might be recog-
nized. Whoever experiences disgust has in some way recognized
himself in the object of his loathing and fears being recognized
in turn.69

It is because of the Abscheu he creates in his family that Gregor is

already dead to them and that he must disappear, for only through
his death and removal can they separate themselves from him as
their mirror image, from their fear of being recognized as Ungeziefer
by the Ungeziefer.
Gregor’s surviving internalized humanity shows itself primarily
in his reaction to his sister’s violin playing. ‘Was he an animal that
music moved him so?’ (‘War er ein Tier, da ihn Musik so ergriff?’,
p.98): this moment in which impending thanatos, dehumaniza-
tion, and possibly the keenest expression of human sentiment
through art conjoin contains an intense foreboding of Auschwitz,
specifically of the Mädchenorchester von Auschwitz founded in June
1943. In this orchestra of talented girls, which perfidiously brings
together German high culture with its greatest barbarism, these
young women were spared from the gas chambers as long as they
were able to keep playing their instruments with great sensitivity,
as many of their murderers were music connoisseurs. As one of the
most intense sarcasms of genocide, they were reduced to the bare
life of Ungeziefer while their humanity was displayed in render-
ing German high culture with great sensitivity, a sensitivity both
heightened and challenged by the permanent threat of death. It was
music that spared the homo sacer from her complete animalization
and annihilation.
Gregor is so moved by his sister’s music that he wants to lure her
into his room and never let her go again as long as he is alive, his
love of her music being the last thing that keeps him alive, but again
there are undertones of incestuous desire here. His sister’s response
to his desire reflects the sudden violent turn from heightened
From Wolf Man to Bug Man 117

sensitivity to death-bringing violence that we also see in the com-

manders of the camps.

I won’t pronounce the name of my brother in front of this mon-

ster, and so all I say is: we have to try to get rid of it. We’ve done
everything humanly possible to take care of it and to put up with
it; I don’t think anyone can blame us … It has to go.
[SRCE](p. 37)70

Gregor’s reaction to his sister’s disgust is one of self-sacrifice, not

to stand in the way of his family’s progress: ‘His conviction that he
would have to disappear was, if possible, even firmer than his sister’s’
(p. 39).71 He is filled with a sense of shame similar to that of Joseph
K. in Der Prozess (The Trial, 1925) as he is about to die like a dog.
For Gregor to survive as dust-covered bug, who clearly sees himself
in the way of his family’s happiness, would result in that sense of
shame, and it seems ‘as if his shame were to survive him’ and that
‘the unrestrainable impulse to flee from oneself is confronted by an
equally certain impossibility of evasion’.72 It is the classical shame of
the victim. Quoting Levinas’s De l’évasion, Agamben argues that what
‘appears in shame is therefore precisely the fact of being chained to
oneself, the radical impossibility of fleeing oneself to hide oneself
from oneself, the intolerable presence of the self to itself’.73 This idea
of the intolerable presence of the self to itself is put into Gregor’s
mind by his sister whom he overhears saying ‘es muss weg’, ‘it needs
to disappear’. She sees nothing of her brother in him/it, for if it were
him, thus her argument, then he would have long understood that a
co-existence of humans with such an animal is not possible. The fact
that his presence has become so intolerable to his own sister leads
to Gregor’s self-abandonment and death, the intolerability of his self
to itself. He registers this without despair, but rationally and calmly
as a mere necessity, in a state of empty and peaceful thinking: ‘he
remained in this state of empty and peaceful reflection’ (p. 39).74 In
that sense he is not reminiscent of the camp victims whose empti-
ness implies a loss of all sense and reasoning, but a human in full
possession of his consciousness.
The loss of his human shape condemns Gregor to the realm of Lethe
defined by the Greeks as concealment, forgetting and destruction.
118 Lycanthropy in German Literature

His gradual demise follows precisely these three meanings of the

Greek term. First, his family attempts to render him invisible by
banishing him into his room (concealment), then they remove his
identity by emptying out his room (forgetting), and his father, who
does not spare him, initiates his destruction. The loss of sparing and
caring (Schonung) are closely intertwined in this scenario, with the
father’s reluctance to spare Gregor resulting in the whole family’s
reluctance to care for Gregor. As Heidegger has pointed out, dwell-
ing in peace is deeply connected to this concept of Schonung and a
lack of it results in the feeling of homelessness, of being abandoned.
Heidegger’s notion of ‘being’, Sein or Dasein, is central to this loss
of home. He argues that both the word Bauen and the first person
singular present of Sein (ich bin) are etymologically derived from the
Old High German buan, implying ‘being at peace’. Friede, peace, he
says, contains the old German root, das Frye, and being free means
being preserved from harm and danger, that is, being taken-care-of
(geschont). The fundamental character of dwelling is this caring-for.75
Out of a sense of shame, Gregor supports his own abandonment
and his family’s extortion of his dwelling as his very being by reced-
ing further and further into his exile, covering himself over with a
sheet so that his sister does not baulk at seeing him, and by finally
sacrificing himself. The first step of sinking into Lethe, of rendering
monstrosity invisible, is a motif Gregor shares with Dorian Gray,
whose satanic nature is hidden, and with Jekyll who needs to hide
Hyde. He also shares the link between the invisibility of exile and
alleged impurity with the twentieth-century victims of genocide hid-
den in camps.76 Receding into Lethe and what Freud in his essay on
the Unheimliche (the Uncanny) called Heimlichkeit (secrecy), Gregor
creates his own exilic home in the sense of a place of hiding within
the former home. His room becomes a home within and away from
home, where he is excluded but still included at the same time, thus
following the logic that bare life is excluded and included at the same
time in the state of exception: ‘What has been banned is delivered
over to its own separateness and, at the same time, consigned to the
mercy of the one who abandons it – at once excluded and included,
removed and at the same time captured.’77
It is in this state of exception that Kafka’s language of abjection,
of dehumanization, develops its full potential. This is reflected in
German words of negation which pose extreme problems to being
From Wolf Man to Bug Man 119

translated into other languages, like Ungeziefer (vermin), Untier

(monster), Unrat (rubbish), Unzahl der Bewegungen (uncountable
number of movements). Bourgeois values of productivity dictate
this vocabulary of parasitism and his gradual removal as parasite.
His room changes from a young man’s place of dwelling into the
state of exception where his withdrawal from human form entails
his resistance to the economy of human values and his subsequent
biopolitical destruction. His room is both his forest of resistance and
the forest of annihilation in line with Jünger’s argument that the
forest in which the Waldgänger practises anarchy vis-à-vis the power
centre does not necessarily have to be a forest in the traditional sense
but can be anywhere.78 Jünger seems to be well aware of that forest’s
Freudian quality of Heimlichkeit and Unheimlichkeit: ‘The forest is
heimlich (it contains the secret). ... It is no less the hidden-secretive
that is close to the Unheimlich (the Uncanny).’79 For Hesse’s Haller,
that forest is the city itself, and in Kafka’s story it is Gregor Samsa’s
room, where suspended in his animal shape between resistance to the
bourgeois work ethic and his elimination as an undesirable element
of society, he becomes a sinister premonition of the Nazi persecu-
tion of nutzlose Esser, useless mouths to feed, and other undesirables.
Quite literally, Gregor’s Heim/home becomes a topos of Heimlichkeit
(Freud’s notion echoes the Greek Lethe), in which his family keeps
the secret of their son’s transformation, which is in itself unheimlich
in its liminality of the parasite with human sensitivities. His room
represents this space where the secret is kept, locked up, and where
he is first concealed, where he forgets his former identity, and where
that identity is also quickly forgotten by his family. Initially, the idea
of deportation occurs to them, of resettling him, which is likewise
reminiscent of the fate of millions of Nazi victims deported in cattle
wagons: ‘Who in this overworked and exhausted family had time to
worry about Gregor any more than was absolutely necessary … for
he could easily have been transported in a suitable crate with a few
air holes’ (p. 31).80
Although initially a place of resistance and withdrawal, his room
becomes a cage with a lock on it, an oubliette in which forgetting,
suffering, and ultimately destruction prevail as he is closed off from
the outside world. And yet, there are a few moments and corners in
this place that offer him parasitic pleasures and the feeling of free-
dom from captivity, such as the view of the outside from his window,
120 Lycanthropy in German Literature

which he experiences as ‘das Befreiende’, that which sets him free:

‘He especially liked hanging from the ceiling; it was completely dif-
ferent from lying on the floor; one could breathe more freely; a faint
swinging sensation went through the body’ (p. 23).81 Gregor seeks
freedom by looking outside and moving into places where humans
cannot follow him; below he is captive, but above, on the ceiling, he
is free, as free as an insect or bird. That he is indeed vogelfrei, however,
with all the terrible consequences of that term is shown in the detail
that anyone can hound him, even the newly hired maid who pokes
him with a broomstick which she drives into his body. Homo sacer’s
dwelling has no human dimension, but it reveals his loss of peace.
When Gregor’s room is being emptied out and all the furniture
removed, the destruction of his identity takes a massive step forward.
No doubt, the removal of furniture is yet another step in blotting out
Gregor’s existence rather than caring for a sick person. As Heidegger
assures us, wohnen (dwelling) is derived from the Gothic wunian and
implies Friede and Zufriedenheit, peace, which in turn is etymologi-
cally and conceptually linked to das Frye, freedom.82 The loss of such
peace and ensuing melancholia characterizes the troubled freedom
of homo sacer, who is as free as a wolf, wolfsfrei but forever friedlos.
While Gregor has a memory of that which frees him (‘die
Erinnerung an das Befreiende’, p. 81), he loses that view as the con-
tours around objects outside blur. He displays what Heidegger called
an ‘uncanny hominization of the “creature”’,83 and it obviously
contradicts his increasing animalization. Heidegger contradicts Rilke,
who understood the animal as the one who sees the ‘open as the
unlimited progression of beings themselves, from beings to beings
within beings’.84 For Heidegger, it is the other way round: only
humans can see this ‘open’, while it is closed to the animal. Only
man looks into the open because he has logos, since to the Greeks it is
logos which makes the concealed appear in the open, withdraws the
concealed from Lethe turning it over to Aletheia, the truth. Gregor’s
loss of humanly intelligible speech marks him as an animal that,
following Heidegger’s logic, cannot see the open, and is closed off
from it. His humanity is completely concealed to the others who kill
him as if he were no longer human, and this is precisely where he
resembles the concentration camp victim, who despite his reduction
to bare life remains human – as ‘it is not truly possible to destroy the
human, something always remains; the witness is this remnant’.85
From Wolf Man to Bug Man 121

The camp victim’s humanity is thus as concealed as that of Gregor,

and both are killed as vermin, at a level lower than animals, as para-
sites, Ungeziefer or Untiere.
At the end, Gregor dies the death of an animal, an Untier even, a
sub-animal: ‘es ist krepiert’ (p. 104, it croaked). The word krepieren
used in the context of Gregor’s death points to the biopolitics of
genocide that dehumanized humans and human death, reduced it to
the perishing of animals of the lowest order. Krepieren was originally
used by soldiers during the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) and implies
the worst form of death, a death wished upon vermin. When his
family finds Gregor’s dead body, it is severely emaciated and remi-
niscent of the camp victims: ‘Just look how thin he was. Of course
he did not eat anything for such a long time … As a matter of fact,
Gregor’s body was completely flat and dry; this was obvious now for
the first time’ (p. 40).86 In the meantime, his sister has blossomed
into a flower, stretching her erect young body (p. 107).
Kafka foresaw it all in this story, specifically the clash between a
class that tries to transcend from working class to middle class, but in
order to do so need to get rid of an undesirable minority that stands
in the way of that progress. At a more personal level, Gregor, whose
parasitism denotes that bourgeois class’s undesirable other, the work-
ing class bent over like animals, also heralds Hitler’s self-loathing and
his hatred of Jews as vermin, because ‘he felt Jewishness to be an evil
within himself’.87 In the end, however, Kafka’s text resonates with
Primo Levi’s and Agamben’s argument that those who have seen the
Gorgon by touching bottom and whose humanity seems completely
destroyed are the ones who are truly human88 – an argument that
reveals Gregor as remaining the most human of his family, thus pro-
viding an answer to the question ‘was he an animal that music could
move him so?’ (p. 36).
Hitler the Wolf and Literary
Parodies after 1945

The wolf became a national icon in the Third Reich, not only a
figure of imperialist aggression, but primarily of berserker-style
resistance to foreign invasion in the final months of the war. Hitler
in particular, the tyrant as wolfman,1 saw himself as a wolf.2 He was
familiar with the Disney cartoon, Three Little Pigs from 1933 and
was frequently overheard whistling its theme song, ‘Who’s afraid of
the big bad wolf?’ As suggested in Chapter 5, Hitler’s case of wolf
neurosis could have been similar to that of Freud’s Wolf Man in that
it may have been based on the trauma of witnessing his parents’
sexual act when he was 3 years old.3 Although Hitler saw his father
as an aggressor, as a wolf (like his son, Alois Hitler also owned a
large German shepherd), unlike the Freudian Wolf Man, he did not
develop a wolf phobia but overcame it by deeply identifying with
wolves. By living up to the meaning of his first name, Hitler subcon-
sciously followed Freud’s logic in Totem and Taboo of ‘killing off’ the
patriarchal leader, his own father, whom he saw as a rival, but then
asserted himself as the new patriarchal leader of the entire horde,
the German Volk.
In the final months of the war, the Nazis developed a werewolf cult
setting up a berserk troop ‘trained to engage in clandestine operations
behind enemy lines’,4 a top secret movement reminiscent of, but not
necessarily modelled on Hermann Löns’s concept of resistance in
his 1910 novel, Der Wehrwolf.5 Today Löns is a relatively unknown
author, but his novel became an instant bestseller in the Third Reich,
which celebrated him as a Front fighter and was enamoured with

Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 123

the book’s wolf imagery and its hero Wulf, a berserk-like figure who
fights with the ferocity of a wolf:

Our captain’s name is Wulf and he is a real wolf. Wherever he

bites there are thirty-three holes. Hence I think we call ourselves
the werewolves [note the -h- in the original title Der Wehrwolf
derived from sich wehren, to practise resistance] and where we have
opposed any nefarious acts we leave as a sign three chops with the
hatchet, one here, one there, and one to connect the two.6

The novel contributed to inspiring the Artamanen Society of the

1920s, an organization that advocated the formation of communities
of Wehrbauern – so-called defence farmers that were set up against the
threat from Poland to the demilitarized Weimar Republic.7 While the
theme of lycanthropy is poorly developed in Löns’s book,8 the idea
of a Volkssturm (an attack involving the entire people) during the
Second World War may have owed more to Hitler’s own identifica-
tion with wolves and in particular with the God of storm and war,
Wotan/Odin. Odin’s Wild Hunt with the berserks may have served
Hitler and his entourage as a mythical model, but so did Napoleon’s
Landsturm of 1813. Hitler seemed to have identified very closely with
Wotan as the Wild Huntsman leading the wütende Heer, the furious
army of berserkers.
One of his favourite paintings was Franz von Stuck’s Die Wilde
Jagd (The Wild Hunt) of 1889, and he may have envisioned his
own proximity to Wotan also via the animals with which the lat-
ter is associated, the two ravens Huginn and Muninn and the wolf
Fenrir who would sit by Wotan’s side to be fed only by him.9 In
his last days, Hitler too allowed no one else to touch or feed his
shepherd dog’s pup ‘Wolf’. The desperate use of berserks against the
enemies of the Reich also became known as Unternehmen Karneval
(Operation Carnival) and on 1 April 1945, Goebbels made his infa-
mous appeal to the Werewolves: ‘Hatred is our prayer and revenge
is our war whoop.’10 It was the moment when the werewolves had
gone from an originally clandestine operation to a public terror-
ist organization, and Goebbels planned to form bands of parti-
sans, even a werewolf radio programme and a newspaper for this
124 Lycanthropy in German Literature

The Werewolves were freedom fighters, Freiheitskämpfer, a concept

that evokes the terminology associated with homo sacer as being
wolfsfrei, with berserkers as free as wolves to do anything – a desper-
ate notion of freedom in the end and one more linked to self-sacrifice
than to liberation from the enemy. But this new terror organization
‘was directed at least as much at faltering German civilians as against
the Allies’,11 as the Völkischer Beobachter made clear in no uncertain
terms: ‘[t]he werewolf justice will strike wherever meek creatures try
to abandon their ranks’.12 The wolf’s aggression thus turning inward
upon its own offspring, this strategy is far removed from any nur-
turing instincts that may be accredited to wolves. Victor Klemperer
has even argued that in the final minutes of the Third Reich the so-
called Bandenkämpfer (gang fighters) were letting down their masks,
revealing the true bestial and thus primordial mythical nature of
National Socialism.13 The metaphorical wolf – animal passions that
had become suppressed with the Enlightenment and led to national
neurosis – was at last fully set free in the Nazis’ self-devouring,
all-consuming final show-down before their complete Untergang
(downfall). Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), which
was modelled on Wotan’s and the world’s end at Ragnarök, had
found its grand historical enactment, at least from the point of
view of these self-deluded Werewolves.14 Hitler’s manic vision of
total destruction and of himself as ‘a Teutonic God fulfilling ancient
myth’15 included not only the concept of Totaler Krieg (total war)
in the final days of the Second World War, but also the destruction
of all Germans as not worthy of their leader. The path for this had
already been laid through genocide in the preceding years, through
the objective of eliminating one entire people in the Holocaust. The
inevitable destruction of the world in one ‘tremendous holocaust’16
was a vision Hitler received from Wagner, and we have seen specific
intuitive references to this as early as in Hesse’s Steppenwolf novel
in 1927, which aligns the wolf with Wagner and the view towards
impending total destruction.
Keeping in mind that the wolf is a specifically Germanic concept
in the context of expulsion, one may be tempted to argue with Carl
Jung that myths and archetypal motifs of a given culture determine
that culture’s political actions. In his ‘Wotan essay’ of 1936, Jung
says that ‘a race/nation has its characteristic behavior molded by
their cultural portrayal of a specific archetype … [O]ne can speak of
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 125

Wotan as an archetype, as mediated through elements of Germany’s

history and culture.’17 It is specifically in the reduction of humans
in the camps to parasites or vermin that the natural boundaries
between two species at opposite ends of the evolutionary scale are
transgressed ad extremis. Although largely a relic of the religious rac-
ism of earlier ages, the vargr also fits into this paradigm of parasitism,
of Ungeziefer (vermin), and thus becomes part of the scientific rac-
ism of the twentieth century whose vocabulary of contagion results
from the technological advances in microbiology and bacteriology.
Ungeziefer, a word used by Löns to label the Romanies in 1910,18 car-
ries the meaning of an animal that cannot be sacrificed because of
its uncleanness, but it can be killed by anyone, even the father, as
we have seen in Kafka.
Following the Hegelian master/slave logic, the despot needs the
homo sacer as outcast. The sovereign outside of law seems to feel
the pressure of rendering his unlimited power visible to himself
and others by stripping some of his subjects of all their rights and
taking them outside (ex-capere) of law into the state of exception.
The Nazis persecuted groups and individuals whom they labelled
as racially unclean and parasitic, and according to the rationale of
the time, it necessitated their ultimate treatment as animals of the
lowest order, as beings at a level lower than animals. In his study of
abnormality Michel Foucault mentions as one aspect of monstrosity
the creature between life and death,19 a phenomenon that evokes not
only the undead of myth and folklore, but also the homo sacer of the
camps. In his transgression of natural limits the homo sacer is that
Foucauldian monster between life and death. It is specifically in the
reduction of humans to parasites,20 to lice, where the ‘unclean’ homo
sacer of the camps and the medieval wolfman, the vargr expelled
from the community and at the mercy of anyone who wanted to kill
him, become identical.
It does not surprise then that in his duality of perpetrator and
victim, this figure also appears in literary representations of the
Third Reich, and of the Holocaust in particular. In different guises
the wolfman as perpetrator and victim of genocide makes reap-
pearances in Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum (1959), Dog Years (1963),
and in Edgar Hilsenrath’s The Nazi and the Barber (in English 1971/
in German 1977). In these texts, in which the Third Reich and to
varying degrees the Holocaust become thematic, the wolfman can
126 Lycanthropy in German Literature

more than ever be seen in his ambivalence of tyrant and victim.

As previously observed, this duality was a feature of the outcast as
early as the berserker, people with special powers before they became
outlaws. How does this duality map out in these prose texts? How
do wolves feature in Günter Grass and how does the wolfman shift
identity between victim and despot, and vice versa? How is he rep-
resented in the context of the Wild Hunt myth, how does he survive
and resist persecution and annihilation, and how does he become a
tool for parody? The Tin Drum and The Nazi and the Barber share that
the homo sacer resorts to mimicry as defined by critics like Homi
Bhabha, in the sense that the persecuted individual mimics the beast
as despot, as Übermensch, thus being able to escape and subvert the
power of the latter.21 By resorting to the picaresque genre, Grass and
Hilsenrath are able to produce effects of parody and humour. The
roguish blasphemers we encountered in the seventeenth century
reappear after 1945 with even more carnivalesque intensity. In view
of this dimension of humour, how does homo sacer become a cata-
lyst for revealing the past and coming to terms with trauma?

Wolves, victims and perpetrators in Günter Grass’s

The Tin Drum and Dog Years

Agamben discusses the Third Reich’s euthanasia victim as the twenti-

eth-century homo sacer,22 Oskar Matzerath, the complex protagonist
of Grass’s novel The Tin Drum (1959), is such a potential euthanasia
victim. This boy, who wilfully stops growing at the age of 3, is a
deeply duplicitous figure, embodying the homo sacer in the classi-
cal duality of his nature: victim and despot, scapegoat and monster,
a potential euthanasia victim and an effigy for Hitler drumming up
the masses. In much of the research on The Tin Drum, Oskar has
largely been understood as a manifestation of fascism. But the text
clearly also marks him as a potential victim of the Nazis’ persecution
of so-called Untermenschen (subhumans), the physically and mentally
disabled, criminals, vagabonds, aimless wanderers, and other social
outsiders, as I have shown elsewhere.23
As has been well documented by Friedrichsmeyer24 and Diller,25
The Tin Drum abounds in references to mythology and folklore. The
wolf appears in the context of the fairy tale of Tom Thumb, whom
he swallows, a scene that Oskar Matzerath takes to heart and which
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 127

has a metaphorical significance for his being threatened by the Nazi


The cow’s stomach, however, with Tom inside it, is thrown out
on the dump heap, and gobbled up by the wolf. Tom cleverly
persuades the wolf to pillage his father’s storeroom and starts to
scream just as the wolf is getting to work. The end was like the
fairy tale: The father kills the wicked wolf, the mother cuts open
the wolf’s stomach with her scissors, and out comes Tom Thumb,
that is, you hear his voice crying: ‘Oh, father, I’ve been in a mouse
hole, a cow’s stomach, and a wolf’s stomach: now I’m going to
stay home with you.’26

In medieval beast epics, the wolf used to be the Dümmling, which

may lead one to speculate that the appearance in the tale of the
Däumling, whose physical under-development is an indicator also of
being mentally challenged, may indeed be a moment where oral and
written traditions come together. The wolf of this tale shows his clas-
sical ambivalent nature of being a hunter and being hunted, but also
of perdition in the motif of swallowing Tom Thumb and fruition in
the motif of rebirth, which is brought about by both Tom’s mother
and father. His mother, who cuts open the wolf’s belly, evokes the
mythological Holle. As we have seen, as the Earth Mother, she is a
figure of destruction and regeneration, known in folklore to cut open
the bellies of lazy weavers in the twelve nights between Christmas
and Epiphany.27 According to Duerr, she is identical with the Roman
Diana and Artemis, and sovereign over all wolves and outlaws with-
out peace.28 Many Indo-European cultures represent this mythical
figure as a female wolf, to whom offerings such as butter or bread are
given.29 This double identity of the Earth Mother – at times nurturing
and fair (Holle = Holde, Hulda), at other times devouring witch or
Unholde (Holle = Hölle) – appears in the form of several characters in
The Tin Drum: death and rebirth through the wolf in the Tom Thumb
tale are only one variant, Oskar’s good mother (Agnes) and evil
stepmother (Maria), the frightening Black Cook and the Cashubian
Demeter,30 Anna Bronski are others. The four skirts Anna Bronski
wears on top of each other shelter men who are tired of being hunted –
initially Oskar’s grandfather and later Oskar himself – preserving life
but also threatening it. As a symbol for the uterus, giving birth and
128 Lycanthropy in German Literature

devouring at the same time, Oskar’s escape under his grandmother’s

skirts reflects his desire to return to the mother’s womb, which is
modelled on Tom Thumb’s journey through two animal stomachs.
By hunting game, wolves destroy life but also preserve the balance
of nature. The wolf’s belly in the tale reflects these destructive and
regenerating qualities. The fact that he devours Tom Thumb before
the child is reborn points to an initiation rite as well as an Oedipal
situation. The wolf’s belly represents protection and a threat, desire
and fear – dichotomies that include the good and bad mother in
Oskar’s family. It also allegorizes Oskar’s controversial relationship
with National Socialism and the sovereign wolf Hitler. As the drum-
mer, Oskar is both a fascist replica of Hitler, the wolf as despot, but
he is also being swallowed by the Nazi apparatus. Like Tom Thumb,
he is thus a victim of the wolf but also a substantial part of it. In the
folktale, the perpetrator (the wolf) is being degraded into a victim,
and the victim Tom Thumb becomes the agent of the wolf’s destruc-
tion. Parallel to this inversion, Oskar vacillates between the position
of fascist perpetrator, drumming with the Nazis, and a potential
euthanasia victim. The motif of the physically deformed Tom Thumb
figure being swallowed by the wolf is the first reference to the novel’s
repeated allusions to the Nazis’ destruction of life as unworthy of
being lived.
Then, after his return from France, where he performs for the Nazis
with a troupe of circus clowns, Oskar is in great danger of being taken
to a killing institution when one day a man from the Ministry of
Public Health turns up at his alleged father’s apartment and asks him
to sign a letter which requires Oskar’s institutionalization. Although
Old Matzerath refuses to sign, he receives official letters from
the Board of Health every two weeks. In the following chapter, ‘The
Dusters’ (‘Die Stäuber’), this letter is mentioned once again, but this
time Oskar is kept alive by the ghost of his mother who prevents
Matzerath from signing it. Although Matzerath’s position as puta-
tive father is a weak one, he has a healthy reaction to the letter by
exclaiming that he cannot send his own son away, that the doctors
can say what they like and that they probably have no children of
their own.
It is Maria, Oskar’s first love and later stepmother who is not so
sure about keeping Oskar at home. She would not mind seeing
him disappear into an institution. Matzerath seems shocked at her
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 129

willingness to get rid of Oskar and he exclaims that Oskar’s real

mother Agnes would never have allowed it. Maria’s reaction is this:
‘Of course not, she was his mother, she kept hoping he’d get bet-
ter. But you see how it is: nothing has happened, he’s always being
pushed around, he don’t know how to live and he don’t know how
to die.’31 It reflects the Nazi Party’s own reasoning that because there
is no visible physical growth, a cripple like Oskar has no life inside
him and should therefore be put out of his misery. This is the very
idea implied by the euthanasia programme, under which the disa-
bled were considered mentally dead. Certain historical documents
reflect such attitudes, for example, Karl Binding’s and Alfred Hoche’s
pamphlet Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens. Ihr Maß
und ihre Form (The Legalization of the Destruction of Life Not Worth
Being Lived. Its Extent and Form, 1920), in which they stress that the
mentally disabled ‘have neither the will to live nor the will to die. On
the one hand, there is no ascertainable consent to die; on the other
hand, their killing does not infringe upon any will to live that must
be overcome. Their life is absolutely without purpose.32 This new
juridical category of life devoid of value corresponds exactly to the
bare life of the medieval wolfman, who was clinically still alive but
dead to the community.
Oskar, however, is a homo sacer who practises subversive resist-
ance. He displays features of anarchy that Ernst Jünger addresses in
his concept of the Waldgänger, whom he sees descended from the
medieval berserkers and defines as individuals ‘who see themselves
exposed to destruction due to having become isolated and homeless’
and as having a ‘readiness to resistance and … eagerness to fight a
battle that may be hopeless. Waldgänger is the one who has an origi-
nal relationship with freedom, which manifests itself in his unwill-
ingness to become a fatalist.’33 Man banned as a wolf was either in
a position to give himself up or practise resistance, which was easier
if he banded together with other outlaws. In The Tin Drum and also
in Hilsenrath’s novel such resistance by the homo sacer appears
in a context of authorial irony and as parody, a strategy that takes
recourse to the picaresque tradition of the seventeenth century.
As a twentieth-century Schelm, Oskar is the product of the rediscov-
ery of the picaresque genre after 1945, which happened in reaction
to the forces of order and reason in German society. He acts from
within the belly of the beast, as it were. According to the ban, the
130 Lycanthropy in German Literature

homo sacer was a vargr i veum,34 a wolf in holy places,35 a concept

that shows parallels with Jünger’s Waldgang, especially as both imply
medieval expulsion, and develops a unique significance for carnival
ritual and carnivalized literature from the early modern period up
to the twentieth century. This desecration of the sacred realm is a
motif we encounter not only in Grass, but also in Hilsenrath, as both
authors break taboos and post-war silences through their grotesque
depictions of the homo sacer. As a literary echo of the act of expul-
sion of sinners from the community, picaresque literature tends to
appropriate this concept of the wolf in holy places in order to satiri-
cally destabilize normative structures and attack power institutions
such as the Church. The medieval wolfman’s potential return from
wilderness into the space from which he has been excluded – the area
within the peaceful enclosure (die Umfriedung) – repeats itself in the
iconoclastic picaresque genre as an invasion of sacred spaces through
the agents of the profane (pro-fanum is the area ‘outside of the tem-
ple’). Specifically, this invasion and disruption of the sacred become
observable in Oskar’s acts of irreverence in churches, but also under
the rostrum, from where he disrupts a Nazi rally.
It is through his profane acts that Oskar displays the satanic
dimension of the Schelm. The Jungian interpretation of this arche-
type implies that, since European cultures had ejected their trickster
and suppressed him into the unconscious, he resurfaced as the
shadow in the shape of Adolf Hitler, in whom the trickster revealed a
truly demonic reincarnation.36 In contrast, those cultures who admit
their tricksters, like the Native American cultures, are less inclined to
commit evil deeds, because trickster myths teach of the sacredness of
life.37 This is a different concept of sacredness, namely that all life is
sacred ultimately only in the sense of being untouchable, and not in
the sense implied by homo sacer, where sacred means being set aside
from the community. In these cultures, animals down to the tiniest
insect, and even plants, have souls. A phenomenon like Nazi eutha-
nasia can arise only in a society that disregards this sacredness of life,
disregards the soul in a multiplicity of life forms. It is an extreme
manifestation of the division between humans and animals initiated
by the Church and completed by the Enlightenment.
As early as in Greek myth, Lykaon was both ‘a bringer of culture
as well as a criminal’.38 We need to remind ourselves that the wolf in
ancient Greek thinking already implied the ambiguity of nefarious
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 131

trickery (dolos) and cultural negotiation. On the side of cultural

negotiation, it is the trickster’s task to bridge binaries such as the
divide between humans and animals. He crosses thresholds, destroys
categories, introduces impurity, does dirty work, and is ‘matter out
of place … what we exclude when we are creating order’.39 As ‘order
can become cruel in the name of its own imagined impurity’,40
eugenics – racial hygiene – was an attempt to create order by getting
rid of society’s perceived impurities – homo sacer as Ungeziefer – by
setting matter out of place aside from the community and destroying
it. Tricksters, however, practise resistance to this. They try to intro-
duce impurity into communities that insist on purity, and subvert
these communities through ‘heterogeneity, masking, protuberant
distension, disproportion, exorbitance, clamour, eccentricity, a focus
on gaps, orifices and symbolic filth, physical needs and pleasures of
the “lower bodily stratum,” materiality and parody’.41
These discursive norms of the grotesque all have their validity
for Oskar. At the end of the war he changes shape in one of those
railway cars that only a few years earlier took Jews to the camps. He
grows out of proportion, grows a hump on his back, and his scream
and drumming are full of clamour; he is obsessed with sex, like
the fairy-tale Tom Thumb focuses on gaps and orifices, and he is the
Master of parody when it comes to blaspheming and subverting
the rituals of power institutions. He is the Lord of Misrule who pro-
duces laughter, which steeps Oskar in the raucous, medieval mirth of
the lower social strata, allowing Grass to revive an atmosphere that
went missing with the Enlightenment which viewed laughter as a
product of the lower classes and their animal passions, a fact most
likely due to the open mouth during laughter as a reflection of the
open mouth of the voracious animal. As Barry Sanders has argued in
his history of laughter,

Life at the top is a stylized affair, expressed through a series of

carefully articulated, meticulously learned gestures. The lower
classes felt most alive, not by channeling their lives through the
narrow gauge of rule and law, but by fully unbridling their pas-
sions and desires.42

Oskar’s scream is a perpetual reminder of this anti-bourgeois

132 Lycanthropy in German Literature

Tricksters constantly challenge the boundaries by which groups

articulate their social life, boundaries between right and wrong,
clean and dirty, male and female, young and old, living and dead,
the sacred and the profane. In every case, tricksters cross the line and
confuse such distinctions, since they attempt to obliterate any form
of categorical thinking, even dialectic thinking. Christianity associ-
ates them with Satan and the law does with criminals and other
psychopaths. By desecrating holy places the vargr i veum becomes
a part of the trickster archetype, adopting its principle of resistance
from within his marginalized space. Oskar is a wolf in that sense.
His presence in church is in itself a violation of the sacred through
the profanity of his grotesque body and all his body stands for, as
opposed to one of his counter-images, the classical body of Jesus,
depicted by Grass as an athlete on the cross, flexing his muscles and
expanding his chest over the main altar of the Sacred Heart Church
in Gdansk. In addition, Oskar repeatedly violates this physical divi-
sion between the sacred and the profane by taking profane language
and actions into church. As a culture of shame and guilt, Germany
in the 1950s had its areas of silence. A central moment of breaking
this silence in which Oskar accuses the Church of its passivity in the
face of Nazi atrocities occurs when he gives the Jesus figure his drum
and tells him to use it. This is a double disruption of the sacred, both
in the sense that Germans in the 1950s did not want to hear about
the Holocaust and the war, and in locality, the desecration of the
sacred ground.
The Catholic Church in particular is the target of Grass’s satire. The
church scenes exhibit some of the most offensive passages in the
book by conflating sacred images with those of the material bod-
ily lower stratum, as Catholicism never ceases to inspire Oskar with
blasphemies. He mutters commentaries on the Mass while moving
his bowels, equates Jesus with the philandering Jan Bronski, one of
his putative fathers, touches the little Jesus figure’s penis, his ‘water-
ing can’, as he calls it, thus giving himself a massive erection, and he
comes to sit on the Virgin Mary’s thigh. In the marketplace, Bakhtin
argues, ‘the most improper and sinful oaths were those invoking the
body of the Lord and its various parts, and these were precisely
the oaths most frequently used.’43 Oskar’s drumming and especially the
drumsticks belong to a series of phallic symbols. A variation of
the drumstick motif is the finger Oskar finds towards the end of the
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 133

novel. Being dactyls like the Thumbling himself, these represent

grotesque images of potency that contrast starkly with Jesus’s own
flaccid penis as a symbol of the Church’s political impotence. These
carnivalesque images subvert the authority of the Church, conflat-
ing the theme of the Nazi past and the Holocaust with folk humour.
Oskar’s blasphemies turn into crime when he and his gang, the
Dusters, steal nativity figures from numerous churches. In these
later church scenes Oskar uncrowns the church Jesus by adopting
his name as leader of the gang and by sawing him off along with
the other two figures, John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary. He has
his ‘disciples’ perform Catholic rituals such as genuflections by the
holy water font or enact an impromptu Mass and invoke the ite missa
sunt, a line that was also the object of derision in the medieval festum
asinarium, where it was converted into the threefold braying of an
ass performed by the priest.44 In synchrony with other tricksters who
muddy the gods, Oskar’s blasphemies in church challenge religious
idealism and indict the Church’s silence towards the Nazis’ practice
of doing away with what seems low, dirty and imperfect. This union
between the Church and the totalitarian state is explicitly addressed
in Grass’s equation of the classical body of Jesus and the perfect
Aryan body, the German athletes of the 1936 Olympics and Jesus’s
blue eyes, and the equation of the holy cross and the swastika. Oskar
questions Jesus as a culture-hero and concludes that ‘Oskar is a real
Jesus’ (p. 143),45 more real than the Christian one, for at least Oskar
drums some resistance and his desire to scream glass to pieces in
church could be read as a form of protest against the broken glass
during the Third Reich’s Crystal Night and the Church’s silence.
His actions seem to imply the question: where was God during the
Holocaust? Where were Jesus’s miracles then?
Oskar is a descendant of the medieval wolfman in the sense of
being fair game to the Nazis as a euthanasia victim, but the wolf
is both persecuted as pest and part of a pack that hunts. In line
with this duality, Oskar is also hounding others and is associated with
the Wild Hunt and duplicitous folklore characters that are related
to this mythological complex, such as the Pied Piper. Tom Thumb,
with whom Oskar identifies, has a particular significance for Wotan
and the Wild Hunt. As Jacob Grimm states in his Deutsche Mythologie,
the thumb was sacred and worshipped as Däumling and Pollux,
and the Wodensspanne is the stretch between the thumb and index
134 Lycanthropy in German Literature

finger.46 Oskar’s hiding under the four skirts of his grandmother and
various other womb-like spaces align the folktale with the Nazis’
Wild Hunt for life not worth being lived. However, he also leads
the Wild Hunt. He does so as the drummer, comparing himself with the
Pied Piper.
As we have seen in Raabe’s version of the Piper legend, this victim
of the Hamelin community, which treats him so cruelly that he
starts hounding it by stealing its children, is pre-destined for repre-
sentations of the Wild Hunt for undesirables. The Pied Piper is one
of the key folk tale references contributing to the mythical realist
atmosphere in Grass’s work. Grass places the Piper legend’s motifs of
trickery and abduction in a wider national context by drawing on a
popular theory after the war, that of the seduction of the Germans
(and Grass himself) by Hitler, the Führer as Pied Piper, as a Verführer/
seducer. He will later allude to this theory in his 1986 novel Die Rättin
(The Rat) by describing Hitler as the seductive flute player who takes
rats (Jews) and children (the Germans) to their doom.47 It is in The
Tin Drum, however, that the legend is most prominent and that the
Wild Hunt motif loses some of its sinister context as it is being paro-
died and employed in the context of Germany’s attempts to come
to terms with its past. Oskar drums up a procession of remorseful
Germans and leads them from the Onion Cellar Restaurant, where,
after the war, they learn how to cry again over onions, to the Devil’s
Gulch. Here they ‘took each other by the hands, turned their toes
in, and waited for me, their Pied Piper’ (p. 533).48 This inversion of
Oskar’s position from nearly abducted child to a Pied Piper abduct-
ing Germany’s innocent ‘children’ is a highly ironic statement on
the cries of innocence that, in the words of the narrator, spread
like weeds after the war: ‘for innocence is comparable to a luxuriant
weed – just think of all the innocent grandmothers who were once
loathsome, spiteful infants’ (p. 499).49
In medieval woodcuts Satan was represented either as piper
or drummer, the latter tying Oskar closely to Hitler, whom Field
Marshal Ewald von Kleist once called der Trommler. Oskar’s drum-
ming makes him a mimic man50 and shows his ambivalent nature
of fascist and victim of fascism trying to subvert its messages. In a
key chapter, Oskar’s drumming disrupts the marching music during
a Nazi Party rally. He sits under a bandstand and while marching
music is played all around him he beats his drum out of rhythm and
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 135

ends up turning the marching music into jazz (in the book) and a
waltz (in Schlöndorff’s film adaptation). This is one of the pivotal
moments in Grass’s book that ties the vargr i veum to the postmod-
ern homo sacer’s potential for mimicry, mockery, and subversion
vis-à-vis the ruling elite. In one of the most memorable scenes in
Volker Schlöndorff’s 1979 film adaptation, one political piper or
drummer, Hitler – the wolfman as sovereign – is thus outwitted by
his mimic man, the drummer Oskar, and the wolfman as victim.
One Schelm is tricked by another, possibly a relic of the medieval
beast epic, in which Reynard the fox tricks Isengrim the wolf, but
also of the folktale, where the wolf is being tricked by Tom Thumb.
Like Tom Thumb, with whom he identifies, Oskar tricks the wolf,
the Nazis. This is one of the scenes in which Grass shows Oskar’s
Waldgang, as it were, in a highly humorous, parodic manner, high-
lighting his carnivalesque resistance and subversion of the serious-
ness of the state apparatus. Grass cleverly aligns the sinister political
scenario with the picaresque tradition and an array of medieval
images, above all, the drummer as Satan. Oskar sits in the very spot
that the devil used to occupy in the medieval mystery plays, that is,
centrally under the stage, or in this case a bandstand, from where
he can act and subvert. This is one of many allusions to Oskar’s
satanic nature and beastliness. The satanic survives in the historical
fool, a fact that is indicated by the bi-furcation of the fool’s cap, a
reminder of the devil’s horns. Oskar’s deflation of the ruling group’s
power and consequent empowerment of the folk corresponds to
the traditional function of the historical Fool (and, as we have seen,
the medieval fool and the wolf are brothers in arms due to their
expulsion as imbeciles and criminals), who was to remind the King
of his limitations as a human and of the presence of his inferior
subjects to whom he was responsible. This was also the objective of
the Feast of Fools, a church ritual, both ‘parody and travesty of the
official cult, with masquerades and improper dances’,51 meant to
empower temporarily those officials in the Church who normally
had little say.
The duplicity of Oskar’s drumming in the sense of representing
both Hitler’s seduction and a subversive act towards Nazism con-
tains a moment in which the contours of the erect Aryan body and
its arm stretched into the Hitler salute are dissolved. By drumming
out of rhythm Oskar destabilizes this gesture, turning it fluid. Like
136 Lycanthropy in German Literature

his scream, Oskar’s drumming out of rhythm breaks up rigidities,

the order of things. He dissolves the rigour of the marching music
accompanied by a host of stiff arms raised at a 45 degree angle. In
Bakhtinian terms, he carnivalizes the Sieg Heil salute by breaking
down the stiffness of the arms that now start waving to his beat.
The paradigms of Bakhtin’s carnival can be applied to this moment
of carnivalization, one of many, in Grass’s novel. It is especially
Bakhtin’s discussion of the body that becomes interesting in this
context, his dichotomy of the closed, classical body (in this case, the
Nazi salute) that is being subverted by the grotesque open body. Both
Oskar’s scream, the wide open mouth, and his profane disruption of
the sacred salute belong to this paradigm.
Oskar’s subversion of the Nazi dance as well as his desecrations
of churches can be seen as a twentieth-century renewal of medieval
and Renaissance mirth. Oskar shares this desire for profanation with
the medieval tradition of Saturnalia, the Feast of Fools, the Abbeys
of Misrule, Charivaris, and the Feast of the Ass, whose purpose was
to upset the established order and power of the Church, albeit only
temporarily because in the end they helped reinforce the Church’s
authority. As the non-docile animal body, the open body resonates
with philosophical-political theories of hybridity, with Foucault’s
notion of the monstrous, and as an echo to homo sacer, with what
Eric Santner has described as ‘creaturely life’ in the work of Rainer
Maria Rilke, Walter Benjamin, and W.G. Sebald. Creaturely life, thus
Santner’s argument, appears particularly in Benjamin’s image of the
cringed body, the hunchback, that he sees everywhere in the work of
Kafka, so many of whose figures are ‘bent over, contracted, distorted
(Benjamin’s word is entstellt)’.52 A key moment for this phenomenon
is Oskar’s transformation in the railway car at the end of the war,
when he turns from a boy refusing to grow into a hunchbacked
dwarf. The location of this magical realist metamorphosis is fitting,
as the hump would have increased Oskar’s chances in the Third
Reich of being interned as someone not worthy of living. In Nazi
Germany, the bent-over body was associated primarily with ‘the
bent-over, degenerate Jew [a]s the image of the enemy whom one
has to exclude’,53 and was a target also for euthanasia if Aryans were
afflicted by it. Since the rise of the bourgeois class with its ideal of
the erect body, the hunchback has been a sinister reminder of the
overworked lower classes whose physical labour dehumanizes their
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 137

physical shape. Admittedly, work has become a rather ambivalent

activity with the rise of the bourgeoisie since the eighteenth cen-
tury. On the one hand, idleness is tolerated much less in the Age of
Industrialization than ever before, but on the other hand, the erect
gait that does not reflect hard labour becomes an ideal of the middle
class. Disability is the new crime for this class, the new vargr, since it
keeps the individual from functioning.
In Grass’s novel, the homo sacer’s creaturely body, so expressive of
both the deformity of the disabled victim and the ugliness of the rul-
ing party, thus becomes an image for the new troubled nation-state.
The drumming, screaming, and piping of the deformed Oskar ulti-
mately have the function of reminding us also of the six million Jews
murdered in the Holocaust. He is emblematic of all those excluded
by Nazi racist thinking, his hump signifying the heavy burden of his-
tory, the weight of Nazi crimes upon his shoulders, but in its cathar-
tic function of reminding post-war Germans of their crimes (and
helping them mourn in the Onion Cellar), it also contains an excess
of humanity rather than animality. Nonetheless, Oskar’s cathartic
function for the whole nation’s Vergangenheitsbewältigung, their com-
ing to terms with trauma, is full of irony. Also in that sense, in his
unflagging capacity of subverting through irony and parody, is he a
Waldgänger. In the final analysis he resembles that ancient dwarf fool
who once used to serve as a scapegoat for the community54 and whose
official duty it was ‘to jeer continually at his superiors in order to bear
their ill-luck on his shoulders. Who better fitted for such a post than
a misshapen dwarf or fool?’55 Both Oskar’s hump as a token of the
German burden of history and his eventual marginalization as a mad-
man (he narrates his whole story from the bed of a mental clinic) is
clearly a remnant of a tradition found in many cultures, when ‘at cer-
tain seasons of the year people collect all their diseases and sins and
misfortunes, and bind them upon some unfortunate animal or man
whom they then proceed to kill or drive off from the community’.56

Grass’s third novel in the Danzig trilogy, Hundejahre (Dog Years,

1963), continues the discussion of perpetrators and victims. Although
several generations of dogs take centre-stage, they are all descended
from a Lithuanian she-wolf, whose presence continues to be felt
throughout the novel.57 As the legendary criminal of the Middle
Ages, the wolf is associated with the two main characters Matern
138 Lycanthropy in German Literature

and Amsel, who, respectively, represent the perpetrators and victims.

The wolf still stands for robbery and crime in this novel as it did in
medieval times, but also for an absence of race, while race is being
bred into the many generations of dogs descended from the wolf.
Matern, whose family origins lie with medieval robbers, is described
as a permanent robber, a wolf (‘als permanenter Räuber, Wolf’, 5,
614), and his friend Amsel, the half-Jew, occupies the position of
homo sacer. As a child, he is hunted at ball games and beaten up by
Matern. Reminiscent of Otto Weininger’s image of the effeminate
Jew,58 Amsel’s body initially corresponds to the National Socialist ste-
reotype of the degenerate Jewish body. Thanks to his persistence in
playing Faustball (fistball), however, he develops the more muscular
‘Tonnenleib’ (5, 224), a body with the dimensions of a barrel, and
is starting to resemble the wolves of a nearby zoo. Although pure
nature and an adept hunter, contrary to logic, the concept of wolf
does not reflect the concept of the classical body. This is a feature of
the German shepherd, whose physique is the product of consistent
breeding (‘konsequenter Durchzüchtung’, 5, 262), and who embod-
ies purity and nobility. Owing to the ambitions for a perfection
of race (‘issen Rassehund’, 5, 447) the dog is made more pure and
noble from generation to generation, while the primal wolf denotes
the opposite of nobility and purity: in the history of superstitions
associated with the wolf he stands for the absence of morals in the
Christian sense (as he tears the Christian sheep, that is, Jesus), and,
in Grass’s novel, the wolf implies an absence of race, which is the
product of human intervention in nature. The genealogy from the
Ur-wolf via the many generations of dogs shows that human inter-
vention has slowly turned nature into culture, the ignoble into the
noble. Seen in this light, the wolf and the frequent re-lupinization
of the domesticated dogs (for example, the dog Harras) in Dog Years
evoke the homo sacer, whose impurity – of morals in the Middle Ages
and of blood in National Socialism – caused him to be cursed (sacer),
de-humanized, and who could not be sacrificed but killed by anyone
with impunity.
The symmetry between the homo sacer and the sovereign exists
also in this text. Through the images of the dog and the wolf, the per-
petrator and the victim are tied to each other reflecting the Hegelian
master–slave relationship. In particular, the hellhound Pluto/Prince,
who is descended from the wolf (Pluto, the Roman God of the
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 139

underworld), forms a link at the end of the book between Matern

and Amsel, both wolves in the biopolitical sense: Matern as the des-
potic perpetrator who knocks out Amsel’s 32 teeth, the latter being
the classical vargr as Friedlos. He is vogelfrei and to protect himself
against the scavenging birds builds scarecrows, which, on a deeper
level, refer to genocide. In all its iconoclasm, a sentence such as ‘Can
we think of a Semitic scarecrow?’ (‘Ist sie denkbar die semitische
Scheuche?’ 5, 732) evokes Heidegger’s infamous Gestell, behind
which we sense the skeletons of the mass graves. The crows too,
circling over the pile of bones in the concentration camp Stutthof,
one of the few undisguised images of the Holocaust in Grass’s œuvre,
remind us of the Vogelfreiheit of the camp inmates, of those supposed
to be rendered free through work, that is, being worked to death.
The wolf, dogs and the crows thus form a complex symbolic fab-
ric in Grass’s Dog Years. Rats, too, are a part of this. They are being
hunted and poisoned, and hunting squads (‘Jagdgruppen’) are being
formed following orders to exterminate the water rats (‘Tagesbefehl
..., demzufolge die Wasserratten erheblich vermindert wurden’, 5,
394), and to resettle them to other planets (5, 396). These are all
details that can be read in the context of the Holocaust, especially
in view of those infamous newsreels comparing Jews with typhus-
spreading rats. Once again, the Pied Piper turns up and is associ-
ated not only with Hitler but this time also with Martin Heidegger,
whose seductive language and philosophy Grass blames for leading
Germany’s gullible youth astray.59 Matern’s use of rat poison to kill
Harras, Amsel’s favourite dog, whom the Jew ‘ruins’ (5, 213) by allow-
ing him to become too wolfish, as well as Matern’s confession in a
public discussion after the war that he wants to die by being poi-
soned (5, 639) contribute to reinforcing the metaphorical symbiosis
between him as the perpetrator and Amsel as the potential victim.
How, one may ask, can this problematic blurring of the contours
around perpetrators and victims be justified? The close link described
by Agamben between the despot and the expellee, which places them
in a symmetry outside of law, serves the purpose of memory work
and the revelation of guilt. This is a process that Grass approaches
not only through the images of the dog and the wolf but, tied to the
latter, also by way of the Greek mythological image of the river of
the dead, Lethe, which obliterates the memory of those descending
into the underworld.
140 Lycanthropy in German Literature

Never has any dog … been able to learn so much about the rela-
tionship between dogs and mythology: there is no underworld
that he does not have to guard; no river of the dead whose
water a dog has drunk; Lethe, Lethe, how does one get rid of

Grass’s animal metaphors are placed in a direct context with the

Holocaust; they are part of a language meant to break open the
silence surrounding the Shoah and release memories that have been
repressed by the varnish of the miracle years after the war.
The dogs and the wolf are metaphors also for this contrast between
repression (Lethe) and memory (Aletheia). Being fed up with the past
and having the choice of direction, Hitler’s dog Prince escapes to
West Germany at the end of the war, accompanied by the sounds of
Wagner’s ‘Götterdämmerung’, and hoping for a better life than East
Germany can offer him: ‘Wolf and once again wolf: the bunker every
day! … A dog has had enough of this … What remains are the piles
of bones, the mass graves … Everyone wants to forget … the debts,
the guilt.’61 Heidegger’s arrival of unconcealment (‘Ankunft ... der
Unverborgenheit’, 5, 391) emerges in the image of the pile of bones
and the skull that Tulla finds. These passages in Grass’s novel are
teeming with allusions to Heidegger, for which Grass was criticized
at the time (see Sascha Kiefer), passages such as the contextualization
of the Nazi philosopher with the mountain of bones as a sacrificial
site (‘Opferstätte’), where ‘the pure occurs in the light by surround-
ing the pure with light and thus offering the light’.62 By discussing
Lethe in the context of Heidegger, Grass evokes the philosopher’s
own thoughts on concealment and truth in his Parmenides lectures
from the winter semester 1942/43, a time, that is, when Lethe pre-
vailed in the camps in its three forms of concealment, forgetting and
The pedigree dog is a form of Lethe in itself thanks to the success
of the breeding efforts that have stripped generations of dogs of their
wolfish nature, which Amsel wants to bring back to the light of truth
(Aletheia): ‘he ruined our dog’ (‘er verdarb unseren Hund’, 5, 213).
During the post-war years, however, Lethe shows itself in the dog
on the run from his past as a metaphor for the process of repression.
The repression of the dog’s wolf nature indicates domestication
and the glossing over of the past through the success of the miracle years.
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 141

The dog, however, also embodies that post-war melancholia that

Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich in 1967 labelled the Germans’
incapacity to mourn. This is still a case of Burton’s melancholia canina
and a variant of Walter Benjamin’s dog as melancholic, the Nasutulo
in the Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels,64 who, his nose closely to
the ground (mit ‘tiefer Nase’, 5, 517), runs away from his past, and
for whom forgetting is a ‘produktive Tätigkeit’ (productive activity;
5, 605).65 This forgetting propels the productivity of the miracle
years, for as George Steiner once phrased it so eloquently, ‘prosper-
ity is an irresistible detergent: it scours the old darkness and the
old smells out of the house’,66 and one needs to keep in mind that
the Third Reich’s ambitions for purity were silently and smoothly
replaced by the post-war efforts of cleaning the country and its
people from all traces of the war and genocide. For this too, the dog
stands at the centre of the novel, while the wolf and the hell-hound
Pluto/Prince bring the buried past back to the light of Aletheia: As
Wagner’s ‘Götterdämmerung’ forms the background music during a
public discussion in which Matern is involved, Prince/Pluto is howl-
ing persistently like a wolf (5, 651). As a mythological creature, Pluto,
who reminds us of Cerberus in Dante, thus comes full circle with his
ancestor, the Lithuanian wolf.
In conclusion, it can be stated that the image of the wolf offers
Grass a way of responding to the traumatic past while parodying the
Third Reich’s own iconography of this predator. In his Danzig Trilogy
he engages with the fictional representation of atrocities and memo-
ries that largely elude the possibility of representation. He does so
in an indirect manner, through metaphor, and by resorting to myth
and folk culture such as the folk tale. This indirect approach has led
German Studies scholars such as Ernestine Schlant to the hypoth-
esis that his texts are part of a literature that employs a language of
silence.67 In Grass’s defence, it is worth pointing out that metaphori-
cal representation is a privilege of narrative literature in general, and
that Grass is joined by other post-war authors who try very similar
things. Primo Levi, for example, in Is This a Man? (Se questo è un
uomo?, 1947) was also able to come close to the representation of his
trauma only by resorting to myth – Dante, Odysseus and Tantalus.
Another German post-war author who exploited myth and specifi-
cally the Grimm Brothers’ folktale tradition in order to represent the
Holocaust was Edgar Hilsenrath.
142 Lycanthropy in German Literature

From mass murderer to Jew: wolfman and witch in

Edgar Hilsenrath’s The Nazi and the Barber

Although there are no wolves in Edgar Hilsenrath’s neo-picaresque

novel The Nazi and the Barber (1971), this novel plays with Germanic
wolf material in two of its characters. The wolf woman Holle makes
a reappearance in this text, as does the Germanic wolfman in his
duality of sovereign and victim in the protagonist Max Schulz. At
the end of the war, when the Russians move in, we see this Nazi
mass murderer on the run from the concentration camp Laubwalde
and through the Polish forest, where he encounters Veronja, a witch
loosely modelled on the Hansel and Gretel tale. Surviving her sexual
assaults, Schulz then tells the story of his Waldgang to Frau Holle, not
Wotan’s godly wife as we have seen her in the Romantic tradition,
but a prostitute, before recreating himself as a Jew immigrating to
Israel thanks to his Semitic looks.
Although in West Germany the silence about the Holocaust was
initially broken in the documentary drama of Peter Weiss and
Rolf Hochhuth, their plays remain within the limits of realism. It
was German-Jewish authors like George Tabori, Jakov Lind, Soma
Morgenstern, and Edgar Hilsenrath whose works were first taboo
breakers in literature about the Holocaust. They did so through
humour, parody and grotesque fantasy. This difficulty of finding
an adequate language in writing about the Holocaust was a point
of discussion between Hilsenrath and Jakov Lind when they lived
in Israel. Hilsenrath, who spent the years from 1941 to 1944 in the
Ukrainian ghetto of Moghilev-Podelsk, describes this meeting with
‘Joseph Lindberg’ in his novel The Adventures of Ruben Jablonski (Die
Abenteuer des Ruben Jablonski, 1997). Lind/berg says to him:

Nowadays you have to write realistically if you want to be taken

seriously… I, on my part, write humorously with a touch of
the  grotesque. … At some point you will feel it inside you that
the time is ripe. And then you’ll sit down on your ass and start
writing. Everything must flow. It must flow out of you like a

Hilsenrath must have heeded Lind’s words because in most of his

works he too chooses a grotesque form of representation over a
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 143

realistic one. His The Nazi and the Barber is a grotesque Holocaust
novel that deliberately breaks with many of the taboos that were in
place regarding the Nazi crimes in the 1960s and 1970s. Like Grass
before him, he engages with the German fairy tale tradition, but he
far outdoes Grass in attacking the sacrosanctity of this genre. They
were considered untouchable by the Nazis due to their typically
Germanic features but also after the war they became important for
the healing process.
It has been argued that through his conflation of the sacred with
the profane, Hilsenrath tried to assert his claim to his own German
cultural past, and that writing was for him an act of revenge even,
allowing him to reclaim some of the German cultural inheritance
taken from all German Jews by the Nazis.69 Taylor is referring to the
German high culture that Hilsenrath’s use of the grotesque trans-
forms into a sort of Unterkultur, especially by displacing the Brothers
Grimm by his own fairy tale versions and by parodying Goethe’s
Bildungsroman. Max Schulz and his metamorphosis into a Jew are
the very antithesis of the high expectations of classical Bildung. A
non-Jew who by National Socialist stereotyping looks like a Jew,
Max is raped by his stepfather when he is seven weeks old. Thus psy-
chologically damaged from the very beginning, it may come as no
surprise that he becomes a Nazi and works in a concentration camp.
After the war he recreates himself as his former Jewish neighbour
and Holocaust victim Itzig Finkelstein, goes to Tel Aviv, and becomes
a well-respected barber. German publishers did not dare publish
the book in the early 1970s. Although the primary reason was its
alleged anti-Semitism, Hilsenrath’s provocative re-appropriation of
German culture may have something to do with the publishers’
reluctance to accept the novel. Especially through his use of the fairy
tales, Hilsenrath reopens a wound in German culture and throws salt
into it.
The wolf woman as witch that I discussed for Romanticism under-
goes excessive adaptation in this novel. Hilsenrath’s Frau Holle has
little in common with the benevolent side of the woman of the origi-
nal tale, who was considered a role model for all women in the Third
Reich. As an archetypal figure of Germanic mythology that has sur-
vived in the folk tale, she was also of particular interest to the Nazis
because of her connection with Wotan, the Germanic warrior god.70
Hilsenrath’s Frau Holle was inspired by the Nazis’ obsession with her
144 Lycanthropy in German Literature

origin in Norse mythology, but also her function in the Grimms’

tale as a model for the good mother and Hausfrau. The Norse god-
dess Hel was a figure associated with death and rebirth, which we
see reflected in the fairy tale’s image of the well. Through it the two
daughters, the good and diligent step-daughter who is maltreated by
her step-mother and the other, lazy and corrupt, enter Frau Holle’s
underworld and exit from it. Catering to Nazi ideology, Maria Führer
describes the Norse goddess as the one who receives the dead and
holds them captive hidden in the depths of her underworld, but
that she also holds the seeds for new life in her maternal lap.71 In
his parody of Frau Holle, Hilsenrath works with these two functions,
that of guardian of the dead and the archetype of the life-giving
mother. Her ‘mütterlich nährender Schoß’, her maternally nurturing
lap, morphs into that of a prostitute. The fact that she has only one
real leg makes her the object of sexual desire for an American major,
who is incapable of making love to two-legged women and ends up
making love to her wooden, non-Aryan leg. After he dies from too
much sex with the wooden leg, Frau Holle guards his dead body in
her ‘underworld’, her bombed-out basement apartment. It is particu-
larly through her revisionist tendencies by which Hilsenrath alludes
to the Nazis’ ideological abuse of this tale and their appropriation of
what for them was a typically Germanic myth:

‘I don’t know any Jews,’ said Frau Holle. She wanted to go on,
but the boy said: ‘They are all coming back from the camps now!’
‘You mean the ones that are still there?’ said Frau Holle. ‘Yes,’ said
the boy. ‘Did you read the papers?’ ‘I don’t read papers,’ said Frau
Holle. ‘It’s all lies anyway.’ ‘Six million murdered Jews,’ said the
boy. ‘It’s all lies, Willi,’ said Frau Holle.72

This was possibly a key passage in contributing to the publishers’

rejection of the book. It is a Waldgang parody in which man shows
himself as a wolf to man. The mythological Wild Hunt complex
appears also in this text, both in the image of Max Schulz hunting
Jews (Laubwalde) and in Holle as the wife or companion of Wotan.
Hilsenrath comments on how quickly the hunter can become the
hunted. Frau Holle/Venus, who as Tieck’s Rune Mountain has already
demonstrated, is an ambivalent figure in Germanic folklore: she is a
witch, a forest hag, but also a life-giving force; she inspires both eros
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 145

and thanatos, she is a destroyer and a healer. The fact that she rides
with the Wild Hunt may align her with wolves, the folkloric image
for demons and witches, but in Tieck’s story Holle is also a life-giving
force in the sense that she causes the death of Christian’s unhappy
self and a spiritual rebirth. The Romantics took this spiritual awaken-
ing very seriously. Tieck’s Holle/Venus may be demonic, but she is
also the wilde wip or waltminne, the wild woman of the forest with
shamanic qualities who either healed their patients or pronounced
their deaths. Holle is the mythological equivalent of these real fig-
ures, as she is one of the Valkyries who take men to the underworld
and weave their destinies (on a spinning wheel).
Hilsenrath parodies this whole concept. His Holle guards her
bombed-out basement apartment, and the spiritual awakening that
Holle can traditionally bring about becomes a grotesque transforma-
tion of a murderer into one of his victims. The Germanic fertility
goddess is debased into a prostitute, a Germanic Venus who lures
men into her underground domain. In light of her life-giving func-
tion and the Italian connection with Venus, however, there is also
a parallel association with wolves in these two cultures, as Rome’s
foundation myth of the female wolf who gave birth to Rome by
nurturing Remus and Romulus implies the wolf as both nurturer
and as prostitute; lupa in Roman dialect not only means wolf but
also prostitute. We have pointed out that the wolf is both a devour-
ing and a nurturing principle and that Venus/Holle reflects this. In
her post-1600 association with the seductress Venus, especially in
the Romantic Age, this figure is described as abducting men from
the bourgeois path of reason. She is thus closely connected with the
death of men’s former selves, which she devours, but in her erotic,
life-affirming role she partakes of the nurturing principle. This
ambivalence of nurturing and devouring is already contained in the
Grimms’ tale where Frau Holle is a goddess with the power to judge
humans. Hilsenrath picks up on this dichotomy of nurturing and
devouring in his parody of the tale. Although his Frau Holle gives
shelter to the one-legged American major, she is ultimately not the
nourishing lupa but the one who abducts and destroys. By transmog-
rifying Holle into a prostitute and Holocaust denier, The Nazi and the
Barber reveals an iconoclastic reaction to the Nazis’ perception of her
as a symbol of fertility from Germanic mythology and an archetypal
figure to be emulated by all German women.
146 Lycanthropy in German Literature

The associative proximity of the text’s Hänsel and Gretel version

to the concentration camps must have been even more iconoclastic
in the eyes of the German publishers. When Max Schulz returns
from the war, he tells Frau Holle a Hänsel-and-Gretel story that hap-
pened to him deep inside the Polish forest. This Waldgang takes on
both sinister and humorous dimensions. Hilsenrath’s forest is far
from being the emblem of national unity that the Nazis in recourse
to the Brothers Grimm’s nationalistic view of the German forest saw
in the deutschen Wald.73 His forest transcends the original danger
of the Grimm Brothers’ forest by referring to the horrors Germany
committed in Eastern European forests during the Second World
War. In these passages, Max Schulz shows his full potential of the
wolfman as homo sacer. Friedlos, without peace, he suddenly finds
himself on the run after he was employed as a mass murderer with a
licence to kill the Jews of Laubwalde. He is thus dethroned from wolf
as despot to wolf as homo sacer, a process that gives him the idea
of recreating himself as a Jewish victim after the war. This inversion
from Übermensch to Untermensch, whom anyone can kill with impu-
nity, turns him into a victim not only for Russian soldiers but also
the local population. As he is running from the Russians during the
winter, he manages to hide in the hut of an ancient Polish woman,
Veronja, who in return for giving him shelter and food demands
sexual service from him seven times a night. Hilsenrath has no qualms
about blending images from the Hansel and Gretel tale with those of
the camps. Myth and history converge, for example, in his ominous
description of Max’s approach of her cabin, whose rising smoke from
the chimney conjures up the crematoria:

All I saw at first was a roof … a slanted roof made of straw with a
short chimney of pressed clay. Black smoke rose from the chim-
ney, danced above the straw roof, got caught in the tree tops, got
detached again by the wind and was sent skyward. I followed the
smoke with my eyes, looked at the sky and got a fright. For the sky
above the straw roof looked like ice. Blue ice and a frozen sun …
Suddenly a window opened. I saw a face. The face of an old hag.
It was an ancient face … then the door opened. Slowly. It creaked.
Creaked in a strange way. ‘Like in Hansel and Gretel,’ said Frau
Holle. ‘How creepy.’ ‘Yes, I was freaking out too,’ said Max Schulz.
‘There she suddenly stood in the doorway. An ancient woman.
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 147

And she grinned in a weird way. I had never seen such a grin
before… She grinned like a cannibal.’74

Hilsenrath’s forest, however, also corresponds closely to Jünger’s

vision of the forest as ‘the great house of the dead, the seat of
destructive danger … One will find the cannibal there in transpar-
ent garment.’75 In facilitating destruction, concealment and forget-
ting, such a forest is the realm of Lethe par excellence. It is heimlich,76
but also reveals the Unheimliche, quite literally in the sense of being
not home-like, as Veronja’s hut becomes a true nightmare to Max
and not the home of a nurturer. We saw that the Grimm witch was
already a wolf woman, nurturing and devouring, using her nurtur-
ing, healing side at the moment of seduction and abduction when
she lures the children into her lair. Modelled on her, Hilsenrath’s
Veronja protects Max Schulz from his persecutors before devouring
him emotionally and sexually. The Venus’s seductive side is greatly
parodied in this novel, with the lupa using her nurturing side solely
for the purpose of destruction.
Hilsenrath must have been well aware of psychological interpre-
tations of the fairy tale witch as a devouring and not a nurturing
principle. That Veronja first appears to him as a cannibal is not only
a reference to the voracity of the Grimms’ witch and the devouring
mother archetype but can, in the context of Schulz’s sexual slavery,
also be read as a Freudian reference to the finger episode in the
Grimm original. On the seventh night of doing seven ‘numbers’
with Veronja, ‘sieben Nummern schieben’ as he calls it, Schulz has
his second heart attack, having had his first one while shooting Jews
at the edge of the mass grave. Schulz’s inversion from oppressor to
oppressed, from perpetrator to victim is now complete. The witch
has made him the kind of ‘Untermensch’ (p. 103) that he was used
to killing when he was still a member of the so-called master race.
He ends up having to clean Veronja’s oven (p. 110) where it comes to
the final showdown in which, in order to save the box of gold teeth
he has brought with him from Laubwalde, he kills her:

I smashed the skull of the witch with three strikes … Veronja’s

face … slipped to the kitchen stove, under the legs of her goat
Katjuscha who sprang towards the opening in the oven. Cold ash
fell on Veronja’s face. I picked up the coal shovel, swept together
148 Lycanthropy in German Literature

her face and the ashes, threw it all into the oven, and made a nice
little fire.77

For a moment, Veronja as a representative for all Poles who

became victims of the Nazis,78 can enjoy her position as oppressor
and take sweet revenge. Yet it is above all such props as the black
smoke, the icy atmosphere, the ashes, the coal shovel, and the
oven that are stable reminders of the Holocaust in the midst of
this carnivalesque encounter. That Schulz momentarily becomes a
victim gives him the idea central to the structure of the novel of
recreating himself as a Jewish victim after the war. Through the
death of the witch, he experiences like Hänsel and Gretel a sort of
rebirth: ‘I was walking towards spring.’79
Max Schulz’s rebirth as Itzig Finkelstein, his former Jewish neigh-
bour, can partly be seen as a sort of Holocaust denial and the repres-
sion of his own guilt. That Hilsenrath’s perpetrator recreates himself
as a victim can also be understood as a comment on Germany’s
post-war philo-Semitism. Ironically, it is this very philo-Semitism
denounced by Hilsenrath that prevents the novel from being pub-
lished in Germany until 1977. The fact that the Hänsel-and-Gretel
oven is a symbol of rebirth simultaneously pointing at the destruc-
tion in the camps moves this text onto taboo ground. The oven that
destroys human life becomes the perpetrator’s site for his recreation
as victim. If in this context the protagonist Max Schulz has been
understood to represent German society at large, it becomes possible
to fathom why this book has been unsuccessful in Germany. Despite
all the debunking of fairy tales in Germany after 1968, this sort of
transgression of the representational limits was well ahead of its time.
The very concept of the Waldgang also is parodied: Max takes flight
to the forest as a mass murderer only to be raped by the Hänsel
and Gretel-like witch. The German fairy tale forest is one of mass
murder and other perversions and thus far removed from Jünger’s
idealization in his 1951 book Der Waldgang of the forest as a place
of autonomy and self-determination. Hilsenrath’s The Nazi and the
Barber is clearly one of the strongest and most iconoclastic parodies
of the homo sacer after 1945. But it resorts to humour as a way of
working through trauma. By translating German folk culture into his
own metaphorical language and imagery Hilsenrath reappropriates
for himself this culture, which is his by birth and upbringing, and
Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945 149

which the Germans had stripped him of by victimizing him and his
family. In that sense his parody is very much an anarchic Waldgang
according to Jünger’s definition, as it offers resistance to the philo-
Semitic trends superimposed by the media and a hypocritical pub-
lishing industry. Both the text and its publication history reveal this
kind of hypocrisy of post-war German society.

In the literature about the atrocities of totalitarianism, the wolfman

can more than ever be seen in his ambivalence of tyrant and victim,
a duality already germane to the berserker, the wolf warriors with
special powers before they became outlawed. In conjunction with
Chapters 3 and 4, which also feature the Frau Holle myth and the
Pied Piper of Hamelin legend, Chapter 6 has made clear to what
extent the mythical Wild Hunt complex has, after 1945, become a
target of parody in the context of homo sacer. In these texts about
the Third Reich and the Holocaust, the wolfman has morphed into
different mythological and physiological guises, identities, and func-
tions. While the wolf appears as part of the discourse on perpetrators
and victims in Dog Years, the wolfman as a ‘wolf in hallowed places’
and as a mimic man is inscribed into the drummer Oskar Matzerath
in Grass’s The Tin Drum, a literary monument to the concept of
lebensunwertes Leben (the life that is not worth living). To come
to terms with his memory of the Holocaust and to reappropriate
German culture that Nazi Germany took from him and his family,
the German-Jewish Edgar Hilsenrath then grotesquely distorts the
‘Hänsel and Gretel’ witch and Frau Holle in their duality of nurtur-
ing and devouring men. Like the medieval wolfman, Hilsenrath’s
outlaw Max Schulz is a criminal Waldgänger, but escapes persecution
by shape-shifting from a Nazi mass murderer into a Jewish victim.
These post-war characters morph from fascist to victim, from mon-
ster to saint, from a destroyer to a healer of culture. Drawing on
his dual status of both victim of expulsion and sovereign, the texts
analyzed in this chapter satirically blur the binaries of Übermensch
and Untermensch, of perpetrator and victim, revealing the wolfman’s
split identity as he becomes a catalyst for remembering the past and
coming to terms with trauma.
These postmodern novels stand at the end of a long line of texts
in German culture featuring melancholic individuals. It is a liter-
ary trail that has started with medieval saga, becomes more intense
150 Lycanthropy in German Literature

in the picaresque tradition à la Grimmelshausen, and reaches via

the Romantic period to modernism and postmodernism. Grass and
Hilsenrath in particular are part of the picaresque tradition which
shares with more realist narratives of recent Holocaust literature (by
W.G. Sebald, for example) the link between melancholia canina and
wandering in heterotopias such as forests, heaths or islands with
their inherent condition of loss of home and identity. The homo
sacer’s loneliness in the state of abandonment is consequently a
salient feature in this literature steeped in myth, and as Jünger has
emphasized: ‘Der Waldgänger kennt eine neue Einsamkeit, wie sie
vor allem die satanisch angewachsene Bosheit mit sich bringt’ [The
Waldgänger knows a new solitude that above all satanically grown
evil brings with it.]80 It is the fate of the homo sacer in the context of
genocide to act from a position of intense loneliness, and although
the victim of abandonment may be running with the pack at times
and participating in the Wild Hunt in order to survive, the texts ana-
lysed in this book all show us lone wolves that are sovereign in their
solitude – Der Mensch ist souverän in dieser Einsamkeit.81

1. As David Hunt has shown, the almost consistently negative perception of
wolves in Western cultures contrasts markedly with the respect Central
Asian cultures have for the animal; See D. Hunt, ‘The Face of the Wolf
is Blessed, or is it? Diverging Perceptions of the Wolf’, Folklore, 119(3)
(2008): 319–34.
2. Mircea Eliade has pointed out that in myth and ritual, the wolf stands
out in Germanic culture: M. Eliade, ‘Les Daces et les loups’, Numen, 6(1)
(1959): 15–31; specifically p. 23:
Si l’on tient compte de toutes les autres contextes où le loup joue un
rôle important dans la mythologie et les rituels des Germains (ber-
serker, Männerbünde, loup-garous, and so on), on peut en conclure
que, si l’essentiel de ce complexe religieux semble bien indo-européen,
une solidarité plus accentuée se laisse déceler entre les Iraniens, les
Thraces et les Germains.

[If one considers all other contexts in which the wolf plays an
important role in mythology and the rituals of the Germanic tribes
[berserker, Männerbünde, werewolves, and so on], one must conclude
that, although the essence of this religious complex seems to be Indo-
European, a clearer line regarding this mythology runs between the
Iranians, the Thracians and the Germans.]
[SRCE](My translation)
3. With regard to the wolf in German culture, the following works
have had variable impact on this study: C. Stiegler, Vergessene Bestie:
Der Werwolf in der deutschen Literatur (Vienna: Braumüller, 2007);
B. Ehrenreich, Blood Rites: The Origins and History of the Passions of War
(London: Granta Publications, 2011), which traces the history of war-
fare from the Palaeolithic Age to today, and H. P. Duerr, Dreamtime:
Concerning the Boundary between Wilderness and Civilization, trans. Felicitas
Goodman (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985). Two timeless anthropological
studies of werewolf myths are Robert Eisler’s seminal, Man into Wolf:
An Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochism and Lycanthropy
(New York: Greenwood Press, 1951) and A. Douglas, The Beast Within:
Man, Myths and Werewolves (London: Orion, 1993), although these do not
politicize the wolfman in the context of race, war, and genocide. To this
day also, the nineteenth-century English vicar, S. Baring-Gould’s Book of
Werewolves (Ireland: Nonsuch, 1865) remains one of the most readable
and invaluable accounts of the werewolf phenomenon; more recently

152 Notes

Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy have, in their cultural history of rabies,
and drawing on the work of Juan Gòmez-Alonso, ‘Rabies: A Possible
Explanation for the Vampire Legend’, Neurology, 51(3) (1998): 856–9,
related the emergence of myths and stories about vampires and other
lycanthropes to this disease.
4. Describing the Germanic vargr as a variant of the Roman homo sacer,
Agamben draws on Rodolphe Jhering. See G. Agamben, Homo sacer:
Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press,
1995), pp. 104–11.
5. J. Derrida, Séminaire: La bête et le souverain (Paris: Galilée, 2008), trans. G.
Bennington, The Beast and the Sovereign, vols 1 and 2 (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 2009).
6. H. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt, 1973), p. 459.
7. See H. Arendt, Origins, p. 476: ‘Loneliness is not solitude. Solitude
requires being alone whereas loneliness shows itself most sharply in com-
pany with others.’ It is the war of all against all in the twentieth-century
camps where homo hominem lupus est that creates these conditions of
8. Arendt, Origins, p. 445.
9. Jiang Rong’s novel Wolf Totem (London: Penguin, 2009, [first published
2004]) describes the wolf as a model for the hunting lifestyle still cus-
tomary among Mongolian nomads. For positive images of the wolf as a
hunter, warrior, and survivor in Central Asian cultures, see also D. Hunt,
‘Face of the Wolf’, pp. 326–7.
10. The traditional perception of wolves as vermin and in competition
to humans regarding food sources has more recently also been at the
heart of the controversy over unlimited hunting of these animals in
North American wolf territory; see D. Chadwick, ‘Wolf Wars’, National
Geographic Magazine, (March 2010), p. 40: ‘[I]n 2008, Wyoming essen-
tially defined the animals as varmints, or pests, allowing virtually unlim-
ited shooting and trapping year-round.’
11. Wolves, however, seem to be entirely unpredictable; see B. Holstun
Lopez, Of Wolves and Men (London: Dent & Sons Ltd, 1978), p. 4: ‘To be
rigorous about wolves – you might as well expect rigor of clouds.’
12. McIntyre has shown how the negative associations that Europeans have
with the wolf, based on tales such as Little Red Riding Hood, have led to
the attempt of European immigrants to the USA to exterminate the wolf.
See R. McIntyre, War Against the Wolf: America’s Campaign to Exterminate
the Wolf (Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, 1995).

1 The Wolfman between History, Myth and Biopolitics

1. The ritual of putting on wolf skins survives to modernity among
some Central Asian peoples, such as the Svans, who were seen to wear
wolf-skin coats during the pre-Revolutionary period in Russia; see
Notes 153

V.V. Bardavelidze, Po etapam razvitiya drevneyshikh religioznykh verovaniya

[The Stages of Development of the Ancient Religious Beliefs] (Tbilisi: Akad.
Nauk Georgian SSR, 1957), p. 45, quoted in D. Hunt, ‘The Face of the
Wolf is Blessed, or is it? Diverging Perceptions of the Wolf’, Folklore,
119(3) (2008): 325.
2. E. Canetti, Masse und Macht (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Verlag, [1960]
2011), p. 127.
3. See B. Ehrenreich, Blood Rites: The Origins and History of the Passions of War
(London: Granta Publications, 2011), pp. 104–7. Ehrenreich discusses the
rather complex connection between the full moon night, the hunt and
women’s menstruation. On the one hand, it may signify that at the very
beginning, before gender roles were assigned in the Mesolithic Age with the
introduction of long-range weapons such as the bow and arrow, women
still participated in the hunt, especially during the full moon nights when
hunting could be prolonged beyond daylight hours. There may thus be a
deep link between menstrual blood and the killing, that is, the blood sac-
rifice of an animal. On the other hand, women’s bleeding may also have
prevented them from those prolonged hunting rituals and left these in
the hands of men, as a woman bleeding on the hunt might attract other
predators, which then interfere with the human hunt for non-predators.
These are of course all speculations, but Ehrenreich’s chapter on ‘Female
Predators’ offers an original elaboration of this phenomenon.
4. See J. Frazer, The Golden Bough (London: Penguin, 1996), pp. 538–41.
5. A. Douglas, The Beast Within: Man, Myths and Werewolves (London: Orion,
1993), p. 36.
6. D. Hunt too concludes in his research of the perception of the wolf
among Eastern European and Central Asian culture that there is a
‘correlation between the mode of life of the people and their attitude to
the wolf’ (‘Face of the Wolf’, p. 331), that the more people live outdoors,
the more positive their attitude to wolves is, while a more sedentary
lifestyle increases the fear of the wolf.
7. One of the key sources of information on wolves in Greek myth and
ritual to this day is Richard Buxton’s ‘Wolves and Werewolves in Greek
Thought’, in J. Bremmer, Interpretations of Greek Mythology (London:
Routledge, 1987), pp. 60–79.
8. Carla Mainoldi points out that it is the literature of the polis, as opposed
to, for example, the Homeric poems, that turns the wolf into the sym-
bolic antithesis of the city and its ideology; see Mainoldi, L’image du
loup et du chien dans la Grèce ancienne: d’Homère à Platon (Paris: Editions
Ophrys, 1984), p. 127: ‘Dans la littérature de la cité, … [le loup] semble
assumer toutes les connotations propres au sauvage, c’est à dire à l’animal
qui ne connaît pas la loi et pour qui la loi n’a aucune efficacité’ [In the
literature of the city the wolf adopts all the connotations that are unique
to the savage, the animal, that is, that does not know law and for which
the law has no significance.]
9. Buxton, ‘Wolves and Werewolves’, p. 64.
154 Notes

10. Lycanthropy afflicts those who believe themselves to be turning not

only into wolves, but also into other animals such as dogs (Kuanthropy),
or even cows (Boanthropy); see S. Baring-Gould, The Book of Werewolves
(Ireland: Nonsuch, 1865), p. 14.
11. M. Foucault, Madness and Civilization (New York: Random House, 1988),
p. 12.
12. Foucault, Madness, pp. 3–37.
13. Lethe, one of the five rivers of Hades, was also known as Amelys potamos
(the River Carefree/River of Unmindfulness). In the context of biopoli-
tics the name of this river contains the ambiguity of ‘carefree’ as being
without worry and not being cared for (Heidegger’s lack of Schonung that
befalls the Friedlos, the man without peace). As Jean Pierre Vernant has
shown, in Greek myth and thought, this river is closely related to the
initiation rites of youths descending into Hades. Upon drinking from
Lethe, the one to be initiated forgets everything about his/her life and
entering the realm of Night resembles a dead person; see J. P. Vernant,
Myth and Thought among the Greeks (Brooklyn, NY: Zone Books, 2006),
p. 122. Upon resurfacing and drinking from Mnemosyne, the returnee
then remembers everything s/he has seen in the other world. Lethe is
etymologically linked to Leto, the mother of Apollo Lykagenes, the God
of the banished, of wolves, himself born of the wolf (see also Lotus, the
fruit that causes forgetting). On the motif of water in Arcadian Lykaion
rituals see also Buxton, ‘Wolves and Werewolves’, pp. 69–70.
14. S. Freud, On Murder, Mourning, and Melancholia (London: Penguin, 2005),
p. 141.
15. Freud, On Murder, p. 141.
16. Freud, On Murder, p. 152.
17. M. Torgovnik, Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1990), p. 202.
18. Buxton, ‘Wolves and Werewolves’, p. 74.
19. Buxton, ‘Wolves and Werewolves’, p. 74.
20. See also M. P. Speidel, ‘Berserks: A History of Indo-European “Mad
Warriors”’, Journal of World History 13(2) (2002): 253–90, and K. R.
McCone, ‘Hund, Wolf und Krieger bei den Indogermanen’, Studien zum
Indogermanischen Wortschatz, ed. Wolfgang Meid (Innsbruck: University
of Innsbruck Press, 1987), pp. 101–54, especially p. 106.
21. McCone, ‘Hund’, p. 102.
22. See A. Orchard, Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend (London: Cassell,
1997), p. 19.
23. Speidel, ‘Berserks’, p. 271, argues that there were also a few warrior
women such as the North American Freydis.
24. A. Erler, ‘Friedlosigkeit und Werwolfglaube‘, Paideuma, 1(7) (1940):
303–17, here p. 303.
25. Martin Heidegger, Vorträge und Aufsätze (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio
Klostermann, 2000), pp. 148, 150–1.
26. G. Agamben, Homo sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Palo Alto, CA:
Stanford University Press, 1995), p. 59.
Notes 155

27. McCone, ‘Hund’, p. 112.

28. The latter appears, for example, in the myth of the Irish hero Chulainn who
as a 6-year-old boy slays a giant dog. This act earns him the name Cu (Old
Irish for dog) before he is equipped with a spear and a shield, a chariot and
horses, and starts working himself into the kind of frenzy displayed also by
the Old Norse word berserk, distorting his face into grotesque features and
threatening his own people in Emain Machae (McCone, ‘Hund’, p. 113).
29. Canetti, Masse und Macht, p. 98.
30. See C. Lindahl, J. McNamara, and J. Lindow, Medieval Folklore: A Guide
to Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2002), p. 433. In the cults
[Y]oung warriors imbued with life force fight with the characteristics
of animals, especially those of wolves, and are initiated into a warrior
band that unites them not just with other warriors but also with the
spirit of the dead warriors who had been members of the group.
31. A. Douglas, The Beast Within: Man, Myths and Werewolves (London: Orion,
1993), p. 90.
32. See C. Ginzburg, Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath in History
(London: Hutchinson Radius, 1990), p. 263; S. Greenwood, ‘The Wild
Hunt: A Mythological Language of Magic’, in Handbook of Contemporary
Paganism, ed. M. Pizza and J. Lewis (Leiden: Brill, 2009), pp. 195–223.
R. Bartlett, The Natural and Supernatural in the Middle Ages (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 80, argues that Holda or Holle,
the ‘well-disposed one’ is the Germanic equivalent of the pagan goddess
Diana, who is followed by swarms of women riding nameless animals
during her nocturnal flight. She appears for the first time in Burchart of
Worms’ Decretum around 1000 AD.
33. B. Ehrenreich, Blood Rites: The Origins and History of the Passions of War
(London: Granta Publications, 2011), p. 21; See also M. Eliad, ‘Les Daces
et les loups’, Numen, 6(1) (1959): 28: ‘Le guerrier est le chasseur par
excellence; comme celui-ci, il a son modèle dans le comportement d’un
carnassier.’ [The warrior is the hunter par excellence; like him he models
himself on the predator animal.]
34. Eliade’s argument (‘Les Daces’, p. 27) is different. He contends that the
hunt and war that involve donning animal skins is a ritual in which the
initiated evoke and incorporate the death of the predator animal while
simultaneously being reborn as such. By donning the wolf or bear skin,
the berserk imagines himself as gaining the power of the primordial beast
that used to kill early humanoids. The wolfsfreie victim, free to be eaten
by the wolf, thus becomes the wolf as sovereign who is wolfsfrei in the
sense of having the power of killing any human.
35. We clearly discern the proximity of the hunter with homo sacer in his
association with impurity as far as the Welsh tradition. In Gerald of
Wales’ legend of the Welshman Meylir (1191), the latter is able to com-
municate with unclean spirits that would appear in the form of hunts-
men pursuing human souls; see Lindahl et al. Medieval Folklore, p. 433.
156 Notes

36. See J. L. Byock, The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon
Slayer (Middlesex: Hisarlik Press, 1993), p. 5; S. Glosecki, in Lindahl et al.,
Medieval Folklore, p. 441: ‘medieval wolf lore reflects lost rites of prehis-
toric cults and clans.’
37. Byock, Saga of the Volsungs, p. 44.
38. Byock, Saga of the Volsungs, p. 45.
39. Byock, Saga of the Volsungs, p. 5.
40. See A. Guðmundsdóttir, ‘The Werewolf in Medieval Icelandic Literature’,
The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 106(3) (2007): 277–303; here
specifically p. 287.
41. Lindahl et al., Medieval Folklore, p. 39.
42. Byock, Saga of the Volsungs, p. 35.
43. Eliade, ‘Les Daces’, p. 15.
44. The motif of cannibalism as the cause of the transformation from human
into wolf recurs throughout the ages in the concrete phenomenon of ber-
serk (wolf) warriors consuming the vital organs of the slain enemy. Most
recently, this happened in the controversial scene captured on video in
which a Syrian rebel warrior cuts out the liver and heart of his enemy and
bites into the latter organ.
45. See M. Foucault, ‘Abnormal’, in Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975
(London: Verso, 2003), p. 63: ‘From the Middle Ages to the eighteenth
century … the monster is essentially a mixture … of two realms, the ani-
mal and the human … It is the mixture of two individuals … of two sexes
… of life and death.’
46. E. Klee, ‘Euthanasie’ im NS-Staat. Die ‘Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens’
(Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1999), p. 22.
47. See G. Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive
(New York: Zone Books, 2002), p. 133.
48. See P. Levi, I sommersi e I salvati (Turin: Einaudi, 2007), p. 64:

Noi soppravissuti siamo una minoranza anomala oltre che esigua:

siamo quelli che, per loro prevariacazione o abilità o fortuna, non
hanno toccato il fondo. Chi lo ha fatto, chi ha visto la Gorgone, non
è tornato per raccontare, o è tornato muto; ma sono loro, i sommersi,
i testimoni integrali …. Loro sono la regola, noi l’eccezione.

We the survivors are an abnormal minority, who by some stroke of

luck or ability have not touched the bottom. Those who did touch the
bottom, who have seen the Gorgon, did not return to tell, or returned
mute; but those, the drowned, are the true witnesses … they are the
rule, while we are the exception.

49. See Agamben, Homo sacer, p. 73.

50. Agamben, Homo sacer, p. 71.
51. E. Jünger, Der Waldgang (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1980), p. 28:
Waldgänger aber nennen wir jenen, der, durch den groβen Prozess
vereinzelt und heimatlos geworden, sich endlich der Vernichtung
ausgeliefert sieht. Das könnte das Schicksal vieler, ja aller sein – es muβ
Notes 157

also noch eine Bestimmung hinzukommen. Diese liegt darin, dass der
Waldgänger Widerstand zu leisten entschlossen ist und den, vielleicht
aussichtslosen, Kampf zu führen gedenkt. Waldgänger ist also jener,
der ein ursprüngliches Verhältnis zur Freiheit besitzt, das sich zeitlich
gesehen darin äuβert, daβ er dem Automatismus sich zu widersetzen
und dessen ethische Konsequenz, den Fatalismus, nicht zu ziehen
52. See H. Nehlsen, ‘Entstehung des öffentlichen Strafrechts bei den germa-
nischen Stämmen’, Gerichtslauben – Vorträge. Freiburger Festkolloquium
zum 75. Geburtstag von Hans Thieme (Sigmaringen: Jan Thorbecke Verlag,
1983), p. 11. In his essay on the public penal law of the early medieval
Germanic tribes, Nehlsen also equates the wolf with the Waldgänger.
53. Byock, Saga of the Volsungs, p. 93.
54. Erler, ‘Friedlosigkeit’, p. 310.

2 Carnivalizing the Ban

1. H. J. C. von Grimmelshausen, The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus
(Sawtry: Dedalus, 1999), p. 21. All references to this translation are
marked by page number in the text. Grimmelshausen, Der abenteuerliche
Simplicissimus (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2009), p. 20:
So wisset/dass ich den Wolff eben so wenig kennet/als meine
eigene Unwissenheit selbsten … Ah dau grober Eselkopp/replicirt
er hinwieder/dau bleiwest dein Lewelang a Narr … bisst schun su a
grusser Dölpel/un waist noch neit/was der Wolff für a feyerfeussiger
Schelm iss.
2. A type of short comical narrative from the late Middle Ages. It contained
pranks and was greatly influenced by the lyrics of Neidhart von Reuental
(c. 1180–c.1245), who parodied the Minnesang (courtly songs) by giving
it a peasant background.
3. J. H. Scholte, ‘Der religiöse Hintergrund des Simplicissimus Teutsch’,
Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur, 82(3) (1950):
267–90, here p. 268.
4. ‘Und wenn du Wollust und Müßiggang hinweg nimmest/vergehet diese
Kranckheit von sich selbst’ (p. 309). The original is even more specific
here by associating idleness with lust and hedonism.
5. J. Byock, The Saga of the Volsungs (Middlesex: Hisarlik Press, 1993), p. 93.
6. The Schelm’s link with the satanic principle and with the historical vargr
also reveals itself in the Anglo-Saxon term wearg, meaning both wolf and
7. ‘Fouragirn … auf die Dörffer schwaiffet/ … stilt und nimmt was man
findt/trillt und verderb die Bauren/ja schändet wol gar ihre Mägd/Weiber
und Töchter (pp. 153–4) … dass ich sehr viel stale/und desto weniger
betete’ (p. 157).
8. See C. Guillén, Literature as System: Essays toward the Theory of Literary
History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971), p. 18:
158 Notes

[The picaresque] is a type of novel that arose in Spain during the sec-
ond half of the sixteenth century. Written mostly in autobiographi-
cal form it describes the life of a vagabond and social outsider. In a
loosely structured sequence of episodes he is seen to assert himself
against a hostile and corrupt environment by using his wit as well
as morally questionable means. The world in which he lives is por-
trayed satirically. On the other hand, the Bildungsroman arose in
the last third of the eighteenth century and flourished primarily in
Germany. It is a type of novel that describes the psychological and
ethical development of the protagonist, who after many mistakes
and crises ultimately finds himself thanks to a deeper understand-
ing of his experiences, and he succeeds in becoming integrated into
9. M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays by M. M. Bakhtin (Austin,
TX: University of Texas Press, 1981), p. 159.
10. Heinrich der Glîchezâre, Reinhart Fuchs (Stuttgart: Reclam, 2011).
11. See also I. Meiners, Schelm und Dümmling in Erzählungen des deutschen
Mittelalters (München: C.H. Beck, 1967).
12. See H. J. Uther (2006) ‘The Fox in World Literature. Reflections on a
Fictional Animal’, Asian Folklore Studies, 65 (2006): 133–60.
13. Thomas Hobbes, ‘On Man’, in Man and Citizen (De Homine and De Cive),
(Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 1998), p. 40.
14. Grimmelshausen, p. 143:
Was/ich dörffte schier sagen/daß ihr Menschen eure Künste und
Wissenschafften von uns Thieren erlernt habt! Ihr fresst und saufft
euch kranck und todt/das thun wir Their aber nicht! Ein Löw oder
Wolff/wenn er zu fett werden will/so fastet er/biß er wieder mager/
frisch und gesund wird. Welches Theil handelt nun am weislichsten?
15. A. Gowland, The Worlds of Renaissance Melancholy: Robert Burton in Context
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 18.
16. W. Benjamin, Abhandlungen. Gesammelte Schriften, vol. I.1 (Frankfurt am
Main: Suhrkamp, 2011), p. 329: ‘[es] beherrscht die Milz den Organismus
des Hundes’.
17. See C. F. Heffernan, ‘That Dog Again: “Melancholia Canina” and
Chaucer’s “Book of the Duchess”’, Modern Philology, 84(2) (1986): 185–90,
here p. 187.
18. The fact that mythical and literary representations of wolfish rage and
other canine moods could very well be the result of rabies has recently
been pointed out by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy in their very read-
able study, Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus
(London: Viking, 2012). See their thoughts on the Greek lyssa in Homer’s
Iliad, a term close to lykos (wolf) and denoting ‘an animal state beyond
anger, insensate madness, a wolfish rage’ (p. 16).
19. ‘Ich bin nur verändert/wie vor diesem Nabuchodonosor/und dörffte ich
noch wol zu seiner Zeit wieder zu einem Menschen werden’ (p. 146).
Notes 159

20. G. Agamben, State of Exception (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005),

pp. 71−2. According to Karl Meuli: ‘The disturbances and violent acts metic-
ulously listed in medieval descriptions of the charivari and other anomic
phenomena precisely replicate the different phases of the cruel ritual in
which the Friedlos and the bandit were expelled from the community.’
21. M. Foucault, Madness and Civilization (New York: Random House, 1988),
p. 47.
22. Foucault, Madness, p. 230.
23. See S. Trappen, Grimmelshausen und die menippeische Satire. Eine Studie
zu den historischen Voraussetzungen der Prosasatire im Barock (Tübingen:
Niemeyer, 1994), pp. 233–5: Grimmelshausen’s novel displays the typi-
cal features of the menippea: Simplicius’s metamorphoses, his changing
luck, the utopian elements of the text, his trip to the centre of the Earth,
the scandalous and the slum naturalism of the novel, are all indicators
that the text is steeped in this tradition.
24. See also Robert Graves’ translation of Apuleius’s The Golden Ass (London:
Penguin, 1969), pp. 13–14: ‘Yet originally the ass had been so holy a beast
that its ears, conventionalised as twin feathers sprouting from the end of
a scepter, became the mark of sovereignty in the hand of every Egyptian
deity.’ The ass thus shares with the wolf that ‘mark of sovereignty’, but
also the link to the Twelve Nights, the time between Christmas and
Epiphany, the ‘mid-winter Saturnalia at the conclusion of which the
ass-eared god, later the Christmas Fool with his ass-eared cap, was killed
by his rival, the Spirit of the New Year’. The ass’s presence in Collodi’s
Pinocchio seems to stem from a specifically ‘Italian ass-cult’, but the motif
of Pinocchio going over a cliff and falling into the sea may have its
roots in conceptions of asses as cruel, lustful, and wicked (p. 13), and in
Egyptian festivals ‘in which asses and men with Typhonic colouring (i.e.,
sandy-red like a wild ass’s coat) were triumphantly pushed over cliffs’
(p. 13), thus establishing links between the early expulsion of undesira-
bles and an animal that later came to denote folly.
25. R. Eisler, Man into Wolf: An Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism,
Masochism and Lycanthropy (New York: Greenwood Press, 1951), p. 38.
26. Byock, Saga of the Volsungs, p. 35.
27. Volker Meid, Grimmelshausen: Epoche, Werk, Wirkung (München: Beck,
1984), p. 106.
28. We will encounter this figure with the wide open mouth again in Günter
Grass’s neo-picaresque novel The Tin Drum (1959).
29. See B. Sanders, Sudden Glory: Laughter as Subversive History (Boston:
Beacon Press, 1995), here pp. 225–6.
30. Sanders, Sudden Glory, p. 76.
31. ‘Es entwischte mir auch ohngefähr etwas in die Hosen/so einen über alle
massen üblen Geruch von sich gabe’ (p. 101).
32. A. Leblans, ‘Grimmelshausen and the Carnivalesque: The Polarization of
Courtly and Popular Carnival in Der abenteurliche Simplicissimus’, Modern
Language Notes, 105(3) (1990), pp. 494–511, here p. 500.
160 Notes

33. Sanders, Sudden Glory p. 207.

34. E. Fudge, ‘How a Man Differs from a Dog’, History Today, 53(6) (2003):
38–44, here p. 38.
35. Fudge, ‘How a Man Differs’, p. 42.
36. Note that there were famous attacks of this mentality by literary figures
beyond Rabelais. In 1722, for example, the Reverend Jonathan Swift
wrote his little-known satirical book The Benefit of Farting Explain’d, in
which he describes in detail the health benefits of farting, especially to
women. He argues that the suppression of farts can lead to excessive
talkativeness and that women’s tendency to suppress their farts more
than men explains why they may be more talkative than men. Moreover,
Swift says that farting should be outside of law, as it is a great promoter
of mirth and can, if undertaken by a group of people of different sizes, be
even as musical as a set of bells or organ pipes.
37. The fact that the Church castigates and suppresses beastliness in man is
reflected, for example, by the scene in Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback
of Notre Dame (1831) where Quasimodo is first shown next to the
Archdeacon Frollo. As a representative of the Church, the latter has com-
plete power over the hunchback who could easily crush the priest with
his thumb (V. Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame [London: Wordworth
Editions, 2004], p. 57).
38. ‘Der Teufel bin ich ... Ich aber lachte so schröcklich/daß es im ganzen
Wald erschallete/welches ohne Zweiffel in einer solchen finstern Einöde
förchterlich anzuhören war’ (p. 155).
39. Ich fande auch/daß Lachen eine Kranckheit ist/dann Philemon ist ja dran
gestorben/und Democritus ist bißan sein End damit inficirt gewest. So
sagen auch noch auff den heutigen Tag unsere Weiber/Sie möchten sich
zu todt lachen! Man sagt/es habe seinen Ursprung von der Leber/aber ich
glaube ehender/es komme aus übriger Thorheit her/sintemal viel Lachen
kein Anzeigen eines vernünftigen Manns ist.
[SRCE](p. 309)

40. Ich fande Leut/die waren vor Zorn kranck/und wenn sie diese Kranckheit
anstieß/so verstellten sie die Gesichter wie die Teuffel/brülleten wie die
Löwen/kratzten wie die Katzen/schlugen umb sich wie die Beeren/bis-
sen drein wie die Hund ... warffen umb sich wie die Narren. Man sagt/
diese Kranckheit komme von der Gall her/aber ich glaube/dass sie ihren
Ursprung daher habe/wen nein Narr hoffärtig seye
[SRCE](p. 308)

41. ‘Die Hoffart hielte ich vor eine Art von Phantasterey/welche ihren
Ursprung aus der Unwissenheit habe’ (p. 309).
42. ‘So befand ich/dass Fressen und Saufen auch eine Kranckheit ist’ (p. 309).
43. R. Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (New York: The New York Review of
Books Press, 2001), p. 21.
44. Fudge, ‘How a Man Differs’, p. 44.
Notes 161

45. The open mouth is, however, not just a devouring one, but also a
token of protest, of man’s use of logos, reason and thus resistance to
power mechanisms. In carnivalizing literature up to the present, we
see this ambivalence at work. While Hugo’s Quasimodo, for example,
is described as a devourer of people: ‘Don Claude Frollo. The archdea-
con! What the devil can he want with that one-eyed brute. He will be
devoured’ (Hugo, Hunchback of Notre Dame, p. 56), in Grass’s The Tin
Drum Oskar’s scream, inhuman as it may be, is in final analysis a scream
of protest against his times and, as such, the product of some kind of
human reason.
46. Another well-known text in the seventeenth century that foregrounds
this contextualization of greed and scavenging was Ben Jonson’s moral-
ity play Volpone (1606, The Fox), which teems with ‘parasites’ (Mosca, the
fly) and scavengers (Corbaccio, the crow, Corvino, the raven, Voltore, the
47. Thomas Adams, ‘Lycanthropy; or the Wolf Worrying the Lambs’, in
The Works of Thomas Adams, [1615], ed. James Nichol (Edinburgh, 1862):
pp. 109–23, here p. 123.
48. Gowland, Renaissance Melancholy, p. 17.
49. While in France Simplicius becomes a ‘parasite’ at Monsieur Canard’s
table, where, like Hermes, the trickster, he plays the lute. These chapters
quite possibly inspired Thomas Mann’s Felix Krull, another bel allemand,
who evolves into a trickster and thief while in France and who is also
compared with Hermes in regard to both his thievishness as well as his
beauty. T. Mann, Confessions of Felix Krull: Confidence Man, translated
by Denver Lindley (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1955), p. 269: Felix as
Hermes, ‘the golden mean of human stature … the god in human form’
is the very opposite of the hybrid wolfman.
50. ‘Darvon soff sie ihrem Kind zeitlich das Leben ab/und entzündet
ihr selbsten das Gehenck dergestalt/dass es ihr auch bald hernach
entfiele/und mich wiederum zu einem Witwer machte/welches mir so
zu Hertzen gienge/dass ich mich fast kranck hierüber gelacht hätte’
(pp. 442–3).
51. That lycanthropy and war are conceptually closely linked not only in
Germany in the early modern age is shown by Rossello who argues that
‘Hobbes’s contemporaries were prone to conceptualize the political and
religious turmoil leading to the English Civil War through the lens of
lycanthropy.’ See D. Rossello, ‘Hobbes and the Wolf-Man: Melancholy
and Animality in Modern Sovereignty’, New Literary History, 43(2)
(2012): 255.
52. See Eisler, Man into Wolf, p. 38: ‘The ‘Green Wolf’ of Jumièges gets his
name from the wolf’s mask, the wolfhede of the outcast in the Anglo-
Saxon laws, worn over the face, and from costume made of grass and
leaves covering the body.
53. Eisler, Man into Wolf, pp. 186–8.
54. ‘dass sich der Teuffel gern in grünen Kleidern sehen lasse’ (p. 212).
162 Notes

55. Thus copying the behaviour of actual wolves; see Eisler, Man into
Wolf, p. 130, on ‘wolves ranging the battle-fields and devouring the
unburied corpses of the fallen, and following armies like ravens and
56. See also H. J. C. von Grimmelshausen, Der erste Beernhaeuter (1670), avail-
able at: http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buch/5249/1:
57. Dje so den Ursprung des teutschgegebenen Schand-Namens Bernheuter
per etymologiam ausecken wollen, haben vermeint, dass vor alten Zeiten,
da die alten Teutschen noch auf allerhand Heuten geschlafen, diejenige
zum Spott mit diesem Namen genennet worden, die immerhin aus
Faulheit auf ihrer Bernhaut liegen blieben, und die nichts tapfers auszu-
richten begehrt. [Those who want to find out the origin of the German
derogative name Bearskinner said that in the olden times, when the
Germans still slept on all sorts of animal skins, those were thus named
derisively who stayed on their bear skins from laziness and because they
did not want to do anything courageous.]
Grimmelshausen, Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus (Frankfurt/Main:
Fischer, 1970), p. 364: ‘bey deren sich viel solches Gesinds befindet, ...
der nichts thut als fouragieren ... die ein Handwerck draus machen/
und ohne Noth auff der Bernhaut liegen ... man sollte sie zusammen
kuppeln wie die Windhund’.
58. Ich versichere dich/dass die Rauberey das aller-Adelichste Exercitium ist/
das man dieser Zeit auf der Welt haben kan! Sag mir/wie viel Königreich
und Fürstenthümer sind nicht mit Gewalt erraubt und zu wegen gebracht
worden? Oder wo wirds einem König oder Fürsten auff dem ganzen
Erdboden vor übel auffgenommen/wenn er seine Länder Intraden
geneust/die doch gemeinlich durch ihrer Vorfahren verübten Gewalt zu
wegen gebracht worden? Was könnte doch Adelicher genennet werden/
als eben das Handwerck/dessen ich mich jetzt bediene?
[SRCE](p. 370)

59. Unlike Agamben, who sees wolfishness on both sides of the power spec-
trum, a view I see supported by the varying functions for the wolf in
German literature, Derrida and Benjamin equate the wolf primarily with
sovereignty, while Hobbes’s dictum of man is a wolf to man perceives
him in the sovereign’s subjects.
60. J. Frazer, The Golden Bough (London: Penguin, 1996), p. 541.
61. M. Eliade, ‘Les Daces et les loups’, Numen, 6(1): (1959): 26.
62. Frazer, The Golden Bough, p. 673.
63. See S. Freud, ‘Totem and Taboo’, in On Murder, Mourning, and Melancholia
(London: Penguin, 2005), esp. pp. 141–2.
64. Freud, On Murder, pp. 151–2.
65. Leblans, ‘Grimmelshausen and the Carnivalesque’, p. 503.
66. See Rossello, ‘Hobbes and the Wolf-Man’, p. 257.
67. ‘Dann ich hatte einen Eckel ab aller Weiber Beywohnung und
Gemeinschafft gefast’ (p. 443).
Notes 163

68. ‘Dass ich das Gesang der Nachtigallen nit höher achtete/als ein Geheul
der Wölff’ (p. 434).
69. ‘Man hätte eine Zeitlang an meinem melancholischen Humor wol gese-
hen/dass ich halber desperat gewest ware’ (p. 452).
70. Was kan die Güte Gottes davor/wenn euer einer sein selbst vergisset/sich
der Creaturen der Welt/und deren schändlichen Wollüsten sich ergibt/
seinen viehischen Begierden den Ziegel schiessen läst/sich dadurch dem
unvernüfftigem Viehe/ja durch solchen Ungehorsam gegen Gott/mehr
den höllischen als seeligen Geistern gleich macht
[SRCE](pp. 457–8)
71. R. Mulgan (1990) ‘Aristotle and the Value of Political Participation’,
Political Theory, 18(2) (1990): 195–215, here p. 211.
72. Foucault, Madness, p. 36.
73. Wolfishness in this novel can, as long as it lasts, also be interpreted as a
stubborn form of resistance to Christian values, as an alternative form of
politics that privileges individualist transgression. See Rossello, ‘Hobbes
and the Wolf-Man’, p. 274, who argues that in Hobbes’ philosophy of
homo hominem lupus the wolfish howl is ‘a reminder of alternative forms
of politics forged under the auspices of a lupine disposition’. We will
see this insistence on individualism in the face of pressures arising from
the bourgeoisie, the Church and the state in particular in the Romantic
novella, where unlike in the Schelmenroman, this sort of wolfishness
asserts itself at the end.
74. Trappen, die menippeische Satire, p. 239.
75. Foucault, Madness, pp. 60–1.
76. Benjamin, I.1, Abhandlungen, p. 322.
77. Benjamin, I.1, Abhandlungen, p. 324.

3 Sexual Predator or Liberator

1. H. von Kleist, Die Hermannsschlacht (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1993), p. 7: ‘Es
bricht der Wolf, o Deutschland, in deine Hürde ein, und deine Hirten
streiten um eine Handvoll Wolle sich.’
2. Kleist, Die Hermannsschlacht, p. 98: der Wolf vom Tiberstrande.
3. G. Blamberger, Heinrich von Kleist. Biographie (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer,
2011), p. 371.
4. J. Zipes, The Trials & Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood (South Hadley,
MA: Bergin & Garvey, 1983), p. 34.
5. The female homo sacer occurs as early as in Greek antiquity: in the
manaeds in Euripides, for example, who worship Dionysus rather than rea-
son, and are therefore banned to the mountains outside the city. The great
classical example of a woman as homo sacer is Antigone, the one set aside
from society and interred alive in a cave where she commits suicide, induc-
ing others after her to likewise commit suicide. Her union as homo sacer
outside of human law, only obeying divine law, is with Creon, the King of
Thebes, sovereign, tyrant, who makes his own law outside of divine law.
164 Notes

6. J. Zipes, Trials, p. 69.

7. H. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt, 1973), p. 474.
8. Arendt, Origins, p. 475.
9. Grimmelshausen, Der erste Beernhaeuter (1670), available at: http://
10. Brüder Grimm, Kinder- und Hausmärchen, vol. 2 (Stuttgart: Reclam, 2007),
p. 88: ‘sah er schon aus wie ein Ungeheuer ... wer ihn sah, lief fort’. The
translations into English are mine.
11. See R. Buxton, ‘Wolves and Werewolves in Greek Thought’, in J. Bremmer,
Interpretations of Greek Mythology (London: Routledge, 1987), p. 71: ‘Before
they became fully-fledged citizens they [Arcadian youths] were obliged to
undergo a period of separation from society as “wolves,” i.e., outsiders …
Arcadian warriors wore the skins of two animals, the wolf and the bear.’
12. Grimm, Kinder- und Hausmärchen, vol. 2, p. 86: ‘solange der Krieg dauerte,
ging alles gut, aber als Friede geschlossen war, erhielt er seinen Abschied’.
The bearskin in this tale is also a reference to the soldier’s potential to be
lazy after he has been sacked. In German, this reference to idleness has
survived in the expression ‘auf der Bärenhaut liegen’.
13. A. von Chamisso, Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte (1813), (Stuttgart:
Reclam, 1980), pp. 78–9: ‘Willst du unter Menschen leben, so lerne
verehren zuvörderst den Schatten.’
14. Benjamin, I.1., p. 329: ‘Unter den Requisiten, die vor der Dürerschen
Melancholie sich drängen, ist der Hund’ [Among the requisites grouped
around Dürer’s melancholia is the dog.] Being the domesticated relative
of the wolf, the dog, however, is not only equated with melancholy (pos-
sibly for having lost his wild nature) but also with folly. This becomes
particularly prevalent in Ludwig Tieck’s play Rotkäppchen. Ein drama-
tisches Kindermärchen (The Life and Death of Little Red Riding Hood,
1800) on the wolf’s desire to kill Red Cap to take revenge on her father
who has killed the wolf’s mate. In his dialogues with a dog, he keeps
calling the latter a fool for being domesticated. Having once tried domes-
tication himself, the wolf has become intensely aware of his exile: ‘Our
first acquaintance, you may recollect/Began when you by Farmer Hodge
were kept./I then had left the woods, my kith and kind/Abandon’d, and
resolved myself to bind/Unto the body politic./I grew more docile than a
dog.’ (J. Zipes, Trials, p. 116).
15. Grimm, Kinder- und Hausmärchen, vol. 1, p. 157: ‘Rotkäppchen, sieh ein-
mal die schönen Blumen, die ringsumher stehen, warum guckst du dich
nicht um?’
16. Tricksters are traditionally found on thresholds in many cultures, in
liminal spaces between two terrains, the domestic and the uncivilized in
this case. The wolf and the witch (the hagazussa, woman on the hedge
between the domestic and the wild space) belong together under this
archetype of the trickster.
17. B. Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of
Fairy Tales (New York: Random House, 1977), pp. 175–8.
Notes 165

18. See B. Ehrenreich, Blood Rites: The Origins and History of the Passions of War
(London: Granta Publications, 2011), p. 86, on initiation rites involving
devouring animals and liberation from their bellies:
In at least some instances, females too undergo violent encounters
with beasts. In the rites of initiation into the African female secret
society of the Pangwe, one of the leaders symbolizes a leopard, who
attacks, ‘kills’ and ‘eats’ the novices. Finally the other leader ‘kills’ the
leopard and frees the novices from the belly of the first one.
19. Grimm, Kinder- und Hausmärchen, vol. 1, p. 159: ‘Der Jäger zog dem Wolf
den Pelz ab und ging damit heim.’These tales are steeped in ancient sym-
bols and rituals, and it is possible that the Palaeolithic ritual of hunters
donning wolf and bear skins for the purpose of imagining themselves as
adroit at the hunt as predator animals may still find a distant echo in the
hunter of the Grimm version who skins the wolf.
20. A. Carter, The Bloody Chamber (London: Vintage Books, 2006), p. 135.
21. K. Baschwitz, Hexen und Hexenprozesse. Die Geschichte eines Massenwahns
und seiner Bekämpfung (München: Rütten und Loening Verlag, 1963),
pp. 139–47, ‘Der Krieg gegen die alten Frauen.’
22. Baschwitz, Hexen und Hexenprozesse, p. 112.
23. Carter, The Bloody Chamber, p. 132.
24. Baschwitz, Hexen und Hexenprozesse, p. 93.
25. See Ehrenreich, Blood Rites, pp. 104–11.
26. Carter, The Bloody Chamber, p. 133.
27. Carter, The Bloody Chamber, p. 131.
28. Carter, The Bloody Chamber, p. 136.
29. Carter, The Bloody Chamber, p. 138.
30. H. W. Jäger‚ ‘Trägt Rotkäppchen eine Jakobiner Mütze? Über mutmaßli-
che Konnotate bei Tieck und Grimm’, in Literatursoziologie, ed. Joachim
Bark, vol. 2 (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1974), pp. 159–80.
31. See Zipes, Trials, pp. 99–128.
32. Zipes, Trials, p. 35.
33. See B. Holstun Lopez, Of Wolves and Men (London: Dent & Sons Ltd,
1978), p. 3: The Athabascan Indians living near Lopez’s home town of
Fairbanks, Alaska, believe that ‘wolves just naturally hate dogs’.
34. Brothers Grimm, Kinder und Hausmärchen, vol. 1, p. 107: ‘die gottlose
Hexe musste elendiglich verbrennen’.
35. Grimm, Kinder und Hausmärchen, vol. 1, p. 105: ‘Die Hexen haben rote
Augen und können nicht weit sehen, aber sie haben eine feine Witterung,
wie die Tiere, und merken’s, wenn die Menschen herankommen.’
36. J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie (Göttingen: In der Dieterischen
Buchhandlung, 1835), p. 593.
37. H. P. Duerr, Traumzeit: Über die Grenze zwischen Wildnis und Zivilisation
(Frankfurt am Main: Syndikat, 1978), p. 82.
38. In French culture, on the other hand, the witch has left the forest, per-
forms oracles, and pronounces magic formulae within the communal
166 Notes

space (la sorcière; sors, Latin for oracle); see V. de Daran, ‘Das Bild der
Hexe in der französischen Kinder- und Jugendliteratur. Das Beispiel der
Übersetzungen und Adaptationen von Hänsel und Gretel’, in M. George
and A. Rudolph, eds, Hexen: Historische Faktizität und fiktive Bildlichkeit
(Dettelbach: Röll Verlag, 2004), p. 405.
39. Grimm, Kinder und Hausmärchen, vol. 1, p. 105: ‘eine steinalte Frau’.
40. E. Timm, Frau Holle, Frau Percht und verwandte Gestalten (Stuttgart: Hirzel,
2010), p. 9.
41. Timm, Frau Holle, p. 9.
42. It should be noted, however, that there is some scepticism among crit-
ics regarding Holle as a prehistoric or even early Germanic goddess of
fertility; see for example, H. J. Uther (2013) Handbuch zu den Kinder- und
Hausmärchen der Brüder Grimm. Entstehung, Wirkung, Interpretation (Berlin:
de Gruyter, 2013), pp. 57–60 (specifically p. 59). I do not share Uther’s
scepticism and tend to agree with Duerr, especially if one keeps the close
mythical proximity between Holle and the wolf in mind.
43. She appears in literature that incorporates mythical structures as recently
as the twentieth century, in Oskar Matzerath’s grandmother in The Tin
Drum, for example, whose skirts symbolize the motherly womb. As a
location of retreat from persecution into the uterus for Oskar and his
grandfather, these skirts both protect and devour men.
44. Timm, Frau Holle, p. 3.
45. This connection between the Earth Mother and wolves manifests itself
in a wide range of fertility rituals in Europe. James Frazer discusses the
corn spirit, for example, the peasants’ fear in certain parts of Germany
of the last sheath of corn or rye that is still standing after the field has
been mown, as the wolf is suspected of hiding in it (see J. Frazer, The
Golden Bough (London: Penguin, 1996), pp. 537–41). The link between
the harvest and sacrificial burnings to appease the Earth Mother shows
itself particularly in the green wolf of Jumièges in Normandy, a man clad
all in green signifying the devil, and whom the community pretends to
burn on a bonfire. As Frazer points out, this custom may have its roots in
the actual burning of humans for the sake of cleansing the community
and guaranteeing its progress (p. 797).
46. Duerr, Traumzeit, pp. 26, 48; see also R. Bartlett, The Natural and
Supernatural in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2008), p. 80.
47. Grimm, Kinder und Hausmärchen, vol. 1., p. 104: ‘[S]ie gerieten immer
tiefer in den Wald.’
48. D. Arendt, ‘Bruder Wolf und die Lämmer’, Frankfurter Hefte: Zeitschrift für
Kultur und Politik, ed. Eugen Kogon, 36(8) (1981): 53–62; here 55: ‘Das
Wolfsbild aber ist ein Spiegelbild und eine Projektionsfigur menschlicher
49. K. Gille, ‘Der Berg und die Seele: Überlegungen zu Tiecks “Runenberg”’,
Neophilologus: An International Journal of Modern and Medieval Language
and Literature, 77 (1993): 611–23, here p. 615.
Notes 167

50. The exile of nine nights seems to point to an Indo-European link between
Germanic and the Arcadian initiation rites in the worship of Zeus Lykaios
in which youths were exiled for nine years.
51. Grimm, Mythologie, p. 375.
52. Grimm, Mythologie, p. 375.
53. Grimm, Mythologie, p. 583.
54. L. Tieck, ‘Der Runenberg’, in Phantasus, ed. Manfred Franck (Frankfurt am
Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1985), p. 208: ‘Ich bin dir so gut wie
gestorben ... dort im Walde wartet schon meine Schöne, die Gewaltige,
auf mich.’ All subsequent quotations from this source are marked as page
number in the notes. The English translations in the running text are
my own.
55. The word Sehnsucht is hard to translate. It is a specifically German
Romantic concept and literally implies to be addicted to stretching oneself.
56. Tieck, ‘Der Runenberg’, p. 188: ‘alles ward mir noch betrübter und
57. Dann löste sie das Gewand des Busens, und der Jüngling vergaß sich und
die Welt im Anschauen der überirdischen Schönheit. Er wagte kaum zu
athmen, als sie nach und nach alle Hüllen löste; nackt schritt sie end-
lich im Saale auf und nieder, und ihre schweren, schwebenden Locken
bildeten um sie her ein dunkel wogendes Meer, aus dem wie Marmor die
glänzenden Formen des reinen Leibes abwechselnd hervorstrahlten.
[SRCE](p. 192)
58. Although the mountains in this story are never specified, Tieck may
have had the Fichtelgebirge of Franconia in mind, based on his hike with
Wackenroder during the summer of 1793. See R. Safranski, Romantik. Eine
deutsche Affäre (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2009), p. 99.
59. See also R. Macfarlane, Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination
(London: Granta Books, 2003), pp. 159–60:
Romanticism fused into the imagination of altitude a new element
of attractiveness: that one was almost guaranteed enlightenment –
spiritual or artistic epiphany – by getting high. The mountain-top and
the viewpoint became accepted sites of contemplation and creativity:
places where you were brought to see further both physically and
60. Safranski, Romantik, p. 103.
61. S. Freud, Elemente der Psychoanalyse, vol. 1 of Werkausgabe in zwei Bänden,
ed. Anna Freud and Ilse Grubrich-Simitis (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer,
1978), p. 419:

Die Aufgabe … zwischen den Ansprüchen des Es und dem Einspruch

der realen Außenwelt zu vermitteln … Einerseits beobachtet es … die
Außenwelt, um den günstigen Moment für schadlose Befriedigung
zu erhaschen, andererseits beeinflusst es das Es, zügelt dessen
Leidenschaften, veranlasst die Triebe, ihre Befriedigung aufzuschieben.
All translations of Freud are my own.
168 Notes

62. ‘Ein altes Weib von der äußersten Hässlichkeit kam auf ihn zu ... wandte
sie sich um, und Christian glaubte, zwischen den Bäumen den goldenen
Schleier, den hohen Gang, den mächtigen Bau der Glieder wieder zu erk-
ennen’ (p. 204).
63. Freud, Elemente, p. 388: ‘dem die Aufgabe gestellt ist, das organische
Lebende in den leblosen Zustand zurückzuführen’.
64. ‘Ich bin dir so gut wie gestorben... dort im Walde wartet schon meine
Schöne, die Gewaltige, auf mich’ (p. 208).
65. Freud, Elemente, p. 393: ‘eine Ähnlichkeit des Zustandes nach der vollen
Sexualbefriedigung mit dem Sterben.
66. We encounter these manifestations of Dionysian femininity not only
in Tieck’s titanic woman but also in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s mountain queen
in Die Bergwerke zu Falun (The Mines of Falun, 1819), a work closely
modelled on Tieck’s story. In the final analysis, Wotan, Nietzsche’s
Dionysus, and Tieck come together through Richard Wagner, who uses
themes from Tieck’s Rune Mountain and E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Mines of Falun.
Wagner may have reworked the Romantic tradition and the motif of the
search for treasures that we find in Tieck and Hoffmann for his Wotan
and Alberich who so desires the ring of the Nibelungen; see B. K. Smith,
‘A Germanic Hero par Excellence: Richard Wagner in Paris’, in Heroism
and Passion in Literature: Studies in Honour of Moya Longstaffe (Amsterdam:
Rodopi, 2004), p. 111. But an effeminate Dionysus also appears in the
male figure of the Spielmann (piper) with whom we are familiar from
the Pied Piper of Hamelin legend, and who is associated with the Venus
Mountain in Tieck’s tale Der getreue Eckart und der Tannhäuser (Fair Eckart
and Tannhauser, 1799) from the Phantasus collection.
67. See S. Freud, On Murder, Mourning, and Melancholia (London: Penguin,
2005), p. 154: ‘It is in the Oedipus complex that the beginnings of reli-
gion, morality, society, and art coincide, in complete accord with the
finding of psychoanalysis that this complex forms the core of all the
neuroses which have so far presented themselves to our understanding.’
68. See H. Böhme‚ ‘Romantische Adoleszenzkrisen: Zur Psychodynamik der
Venuskult-Novellen von Tieck, Eichendorff und E.T.A. Hoffmann’, in
Literatur und Psychoanalyse, eds Klaus Bohnen, Sven Aage Jørgensen, and
Friedrich Schmoë (Copenhagen/Munich, Text & Kontext, 1981), espe-
cially pp. 143–9.
69. Holle also evokes Hel from Norse mythology (in the Poetic Edda), who
receives a portion of the dead in her underworld.
70. Gille, ‘Der Berg und die Seele’, p. 616.
71. In the medieval folklore of North Germany, Holle/Hulda is Wotan’s wife
and not yet equated with the seductress Venus. The Grimm Brothers’ folk
tale of Frau Holle goes back to these earlier oral versions, and at the time
of Martin Luther, she is still not viewed as a seductress. That does not
happen until the equation of Holda and Venus after 1600, when Holda
becomes increasingly associated with the Venus Mountain. Her noctur-
nal flights are a common motif in folklore and involve ecstatic journeys
Notes 169

made by the living into the realm of the dead; see S. Greenwood,
‘The Wild Hunt: A Mythological Language of Magic’, in Handbook of
Contemporary Paganism, eds M. Pizza and J. Lewis (Leiden: Brill, 2009),
p. 195. These night-flying goddesses of folklore are the predecessors of
the later witches (Greenwood, p. 198), who were often women with spe-
cial healing powers. That Holda had such powers of healing is evidenced
by one account of her from 1630 which shows her aiding the wounded
coming home from battle and binding up the lame. It also mentions
that from the front she is beautiful, from behind like a hollow tree with
rough bark; see Edgar List (1960) ‘Holda and the Venusberg’, The Journal
of American Folklore 73(290) (1960): 310. Tieck refers precisely to this
duality of joy and terror.
72. Grimm, Mythologie, p. 97.
73. Grimm, Mythologie, p. 99.
74. As Grimm points out, to go to Wotan is to die, to go to Valhalla: ‘Valhoell
and Valkyrja hängen offenbar zusammen mit dem Begriff des Wunsches
und der Wahl’ (Grimm, Mythologie, p. 101). The same holds for Holle,
even in the fairy tale version, where the two girls’ descent into the under-
world is a temporary death that leads to rebirth.
75. Tieck’s forest woman has much in common with goddesses in other
mythologies, mother figures associated with the hunt and the cycle of
life and death: the Indian Durga on the tiger, the Anatolian mountain
goddess Cybele as the commander of lions, the Hindu goddess of time
and change Kali who is wrapped in a tiger skin. Barbara Ehrenreich has
argued that as classical times (by which she means Greek and Roman
antiquity) divide men and violence from women and nurturing, ‘the
primordial goddess, huntress of beasts and consumer of blood had to be
prettified as a seductress’ (Ehrenreich, Blood Rites, p. 101). The yearning
that Christian feels for the Great Mother, both huntress and fertility god-
dess, could thus be a relic of the archaic union between hunting man and
hunting woman, of the female predator and the goddess she became in
view of the sacred character of the hunt.
76. M. P. Speidel, ‘Berserks: A History of Indo-European “Mad Warriors”’,
Journal of World History 13(2) (2002): 271.
77. Speidel, ‘Berserks’, p. 280.
78. Speidel, ‘Berserks’, p. 270.
79. See the 50th chapter in S. Brant, Das Narrenschiff (Stuttgart: Reclam,
2006), p. 179. See also S. K. Robisch, Wolves and the Wolf Myth in American
Literature (Reno, NE: University of Nevada Press, 2009), p. 227: Lust as
lupine is an allegory launched far forward from antiquity, such as the
Greco-Roman connections of the lupine and female prostitution.’
80. His lust and greed are associated with music, with woeful and gleeful
melodies (see p. 192), a motif that evokes the medieval iconography of
Satan as piper or drummer and the Pied Piper whose music also has a
direct relationship with the phenomenon of bourgeois greed and avarice.
81. ‘… wie habe ich mein Leben in einem Traume verloren’ (p. 203).
170 Notes

82. Benjamin, I.1, p. 330: ‘Alles Saturnische weist in die Erdtiefe …

Die Eingebungen der Muttererde dämmern aus der Grübelnacht dem
Melancholischen auf wie Schätze aus dem Erdinnern.’

4 Gypsies and Jews as Wolves in Realist Fiction

1. W. Raabe (1966) Sämtliche Werke, vol. 6, ‘Der Hungerpastor’ (Göttingen:
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht), p. 375: ‘Oh Unwirrsch, ... Sie haben den Wolf
in das Haus gelassen.’
2. J. Zipes, The Trials & Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood (South Hadley,
MA: Bergin &Garvey, 1983), p. 68.
3. W. Solms, Zigeunerbilder. Ein dunkles Kapitel der deutschen Literaturgeschichte:
Von der frühen Neuzeit bis zur Romantik (Würzburg: Königshausen und
Neumann, 2008), pp. 14–16.
4. M. Foucault, Madness and Civilization (New York: Random House, 1988),
p. 47.
5. Foucault, Madness, p. 48.
6. Foucault, Madness, p. 230.
7. M. Zimmermann, Rassenutopie und Genozid: Die nationalsozialistische
‘Lösung der Zigeunerfrage’ (Hamburg: Christians, 1996), p. 51.
8. These folk myths are part of nineteenth-century literature. See, for
example, Raabe, Der Hungerpastor, p. 48, where the narrator argues that
mothers were afraid of letting their kids close to Freudenstein’s base-
ment shop, warning them that innocent Christian children would be
chopped into sausages by the Jews. This motif occurs in other European
texts as well: the Jewish merchant in Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield,
who wants to eat David’s lungs and liver, as well as the figure of Fagin in
Dickens’s Oliver Twist, who kidnaps young boys and makes thieves out
of them.
9. N. Saul, Gypsies and Orientalism in German Literature and Anthropology of
the Long Nineteenth Century (London: Legenda, 2007), p. 61.
10. A. Hille, Identitätskonstruktionen. Die Zigeunerin in der deutschsprachigen
Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann,
2005), p. 87.
11. S. Tebutt, Sinti und Roma in der deutschsprachigen Literatur (New York: Peter
Lang, 2001), pp. 19–20.
12. See H. Löns, Der Wehrwolf (Hameln: Sponholtz Verlag, 2007), p. 27: ‘Es ist
Zeit, dass Herzog Georg mal mit dem Kamm über das Land geht; es hat
sich allerlei Ungeziefer angesammelt’ [It is time the Duke did something
radical about all the vermin (Ungeziefer) that has gathered here.]
13. Hille, Identitätskonstruktionen, pp. 10–11.
14. That Romanies are still accused of child stealing and child trafficking has
been recently shown by the case in Farsala, Greece, where a blonde girl whose
DNA does not match those of her purported Roma parents has been found
in a Gypsy camp. See. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57608372/
Notes 171

15. Grimmelshausen (2009) Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus (Frankfurt am

Main: Fischer), p. 364: ‘... bey deren sich viel solches Gesinds befindet’.
16. As in Hugo’s novel, in Theodor Storm late realist novella, Der Schimmelreiter
(The Rider on the White Horse, 1888), Romanies are described as aban-
doning their children. In the discussion about sacrificing something live
to the construction of the new dike to prevent it from harm, we hear the
story of a ‘Gypsy’ family selling their child to be thrown into the founda-
tion of the dike. See Theodor Storm, Der Schimmelreiter (Stuttgart: Reclam,
1992), p. 72.
17. C. Clark, ‘“Severity has often enraged but never subdued a gipsy’: The
History and Making of European Romani Stereotypes’, in The Role of the
Romanies: Images and Counter Images of ‘Gypsies’/Romanies in European
Cultures, eds N. Saul and S. Tebbutt (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press,
2005), p. 239.
18. Hille, Identitätskonstruktionen, pp. 75–8.
19. Hille, Identitätskonstruktionen, p. 81:

Landfremdes Gesindel, Zigeuner und slawische Söldner, schwed-

ische und spanische Soldaten haben in der Heide nichts verloren,
treffen die Bauern sie dort an, so sind sie vogelfrei. Drewes macht
den Zigeuner, der spionierend durch den Wald schleicht, mit einem
Stockschlag stumm. Für ihn ist der Zigeuner kein Mensch.

20. W. Raabe, ‘Die Hämelschen Kinder’, Sämtliche Werke, 9/1, p. 134: ‘[Seine]
feurig blinzende[n] Augen ..., die mehr vom Wolf als vom Menschen
hatten .... Wieder einmal war das alte Wort vom Wolf oder vom Teufel …
zu einer Wahrheit geworden.’
21. H. Spanuth, Der Rattenfänger von Hameln. Vom Werden und Sinn einer alten
Sage (Hameln: Niemeyer, 1951).
22. Spanuth, Rattenfänger von Hameln, pp. 43–4.
23. Spanuth, Rattenfänger von Hameln, p. 58.
24. Hille, Identitätskonstruktionen, p. 12.
25. Hille, Identitätskonstruktionen, p. 12.
26. Raabe, ‘Die Hämelschen Kinder’, vol. 9/1, p. 134:
Auf einer Erhöhung der Waldwiese stand er in den letzten Strahlen
der Sonne – jung und hager, halbverhungert, angetan mit bunten
Fetzen; und schwarze, straffe Haare fielen über seine Stirne und seinen
Nacken. Unter der Filzkappe, auf welcher eine zerzauste Hahnenfeder
nickte, hervor leuchteten zu den Tänzern feurig blinzende Augen
herüber, die mehr vom Wolf als vom Menschen hatten … Ein Wend!
Ein Heide! Ein hündischer Wend!

All subsequent quotations are from this edition and marked by page
number in footnotes. The translations in the running text are mine.
27. Goethe, for example, calls Mephistopheles a Schalk; Goethe, Faust, part 1
(Stuttgart: Reclam, 1993), p. 12: ‘von allen Geistern, die verneinen … ist
mir der Schalk am wenigsten zur Last. Prolog im Himmel’ [Prologue in
172 Notes

heaven; of all the spirits that negate, the Schalk is the least burdensome
to me.]
28. ‘… wieder einmal war das alte Wort vom Wolf oder vom Teufel … zu einer
Wahrheit geworden’ (p. 154).
29. See A. Orchard, Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend (London: Cassell,
1997), p. 19.
30. The Wild Hunt and the descent or abduction into mountains are motifs
that recur throughout the nineteenth century. Inspired by Ludwig Tieck’s
novellas and E.T.A. Hofmann’s Mines of Falun, Richard Wagner picks this
material up again in his 1842 romantic opera Tannhäuser, but it also
reappears in connection with the figure of the Spielmann. Specifically, in
literary attempts at a Gothic revival both in Germany and England, the
Spielmann, the flautist, inspires writers like Wilhelm Raabe and Robert
Browning to adapt the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, in which the
Wild Hunt and Venus Mountain occur in the context of the seduction
and abduction of adolescents by a male figure. What is new in the post-
Romantic era of the nineteenth century is the contextualization of race
in this material.
31. M. P. Speidel, ‘Berserks: A History of Indo-European “Mad Warriors”’,
Journal of World History 13(2) (2002): 253–90, p. 253.
32. ‘Gebt [dem Wenden] einen Knochen’ (p. 134).
33. G. Agamben (1995) Homo sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Palo Alto,
CA: Stanford University Press), p. 110.
34. Heidegger, Vorträge und Aufsätze, pp. 150−1. In his essay from 1951 on
the paucity of housing after the Second World War, Heidegger discusses
the term of contentment in relation to dwelling, freedom and peace, an
argument that is significant for the racist treatment of Kiza. Heidegger
derives the German wohnen etymologically from the Gothic word wunian
and contends that
Wunian heißt zufrieden sein, zum Frieden gebracht, in ihm bleiben.
Das Wort Friede meint das Freie, das Frye, und fry bedeutet: bewahrt
vor Schaden und Bedrohung ... geschont. Freien bedeutet eigentlich
schonen [Wunian means to be satisfied, brought to peace, living in
peace. The word Friede, peace, implies the Freie, freedom, being pre-
served from damage and threat. Freien means to spare).
35. M. Heidegger (1992) Parmenides (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University
Press), p. 144.
36. Raabe, vol. 9.1, p. 126:
[E]s war 1724 eben in der Weizenernte, als ein hiesiger Bürger,
nahmens Jürgen Meyer, des Nachmittages aus dem Felde in das
Brükkenthor kam, und einen nackenden Knaben von ohngefehr 10
bis 12 Jahr alt, mit sich herein führete, er hatte schwarz kurz krause
Haare und sahe an Farbe auf dem Leibe einem Zigeunerjungen nicht
ungleich ... diese[r] fremde Ausländer [der] küssete nach Art der
Orientaler die Erde.
Notes 173

Raabe refers to the so-called ‘Wild Boy of Hamelin, found in 1724 and
exhibited in London at the age of twelve under the taxonomic name
Iuvenis Hannoveranus and ridiculed by Jonathan Swift – quite wrongly –
as a fake’, see R. Eisler, Man into Wolf: An Anthropological Interpretation
of Sadism, Masochism and Lycanthropy (New York: Greenwood Press,
1951), p. 139.
37. M. Foucault, ‘Abnormal’, in Lectures at the Collège de France, 1974–1975
(London: Verso, 2003), p. 63.
38. See R. G. Czapla, ‘Der Rattenfänger unter dem Regenbogen’, Fabula,
39(1/2): (1998): 1–20, especially p. 10.
39. R. Browning, ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’, in Robert Browning’s Poetry, eds
J. F. Loucks and A. M. Stauffer (New York: Norton & Company, 2007), p. 104.
40. ‘… ihn hatte seine Kunst errettet, obgleich sie ihm auch nur ein elendes,
vogelfreies allen Zufällen heimgegebenes Dasein gewährte’ (p. 140), my
41. Foucault, ‘Abnormal’, p. 93.
42. ‘Bacchantisch fing die Meute an zu rasen; es war, als würde sie von dem
wunderlichen epidemischen Wahnsinn des Mittelalters, dem Veitstanze,
gepackt’ (p. 148).
43. Foucault, ‘Abnormal’, p. 94.
44. Foucault, ‘Abnormal’, p. 93.
45. Browning, ‘Pied Piper’, p. 107.
46. Browning, ‘Pied Piper’, p. 109.
47. F. Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings, eds R. Geuss and
R. Speirs (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 40.
48. Browning, ‘Pied Piper’, p. 109.
49. Eisler, Man into Wolf, pp. 33–6.
50. Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, p. 21.
51. ‘Der Rhythmus der schrillen Töne entflammte die Herzen zu einer
leidenschaftlichen Raserei … Wie einen Hund haben sie mich geschlagen’
(pp. 148, 151).
52. Agamben, Homo sacer, p. 105.
53. Euripides, The Bacchae and Other Plays (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2008), p. 51.
54. Euripides, The Bacchae, p. 58.
55. ‘Grimmig und nachhaltig war der Haß des deutschen Volkes gegen diese
fremden Stämme, die einst so tief in das germanische Land eingedrungen
waren und Besitz davon ergriffen hatten’ (p. 140).
56. Saul, Gypsies and Orientalism, p. 62.
57. Saul, Gypsies and Orientalism, p. 64.
58. Saul, Gypsies and Orientalism, pp. 70–5.
59. See, for example, G. Köttgen, Wilhelm Raabes Ringen um die Aufgabe des
Erziehungsromans (Berlin: Verlag Dr. Emil Ebering, 1939).
60. Köttgen, Wilhelm Raabes Ringen, p. 82.
61. J. L. Sammons, The Shifting Fortunes of Wilhelm Raabe: A History of Criticism
as a Cautionary Tale (Columbia, SC: Camden House, 1992), p. 35.
174 Notes

62. See, for the topic of anti-Semitism in Raabe’s Der Hungerpastor:

H. Denkler, ‘Das wirckliche Juda und der Renegat: Moses Freudenstein
als Kronzeuge für Wilhelm Raabes Verhältnis zu Juden und Judentum’,
The German Quarterly, 60(1) (1987): 5–18; J. Thuneke, ‘Es sind nicht
alle frei, die ihrer Ketten spotten: Erwiderung auf Wilhelm Raabes
Roman Der Hungerpastor in Wilhelm Jensens Die Juden von Cölln’, in
Raabe Rapporte: Literaturwissenschaftliche und literaturdidaktische Zugänge
zum Werk Wilhelm Raabes, ed. Sigrid Thielking (Wiesbaden: Deutscher
Universitätsverlag, 2002), pp. 57–80.
63. See P. Arnds, Wilhelm Raabe’s Der Hungerpastor and Charles Dickens’s
David Copperfield: Intertextuality of two Bildungsromane, ed. J. L. Sammons
(New York: Peter Lang, 1997), pp. 99–121, and W. Silz, ‘Freytag’s Soll und
Haben and Raabe’s Der Hungerpastor’, Modern Language Notes, 39 (1924):
64. Raabe, Der Hungerpastor, p. 461.
65. Raabe, Der Hungerpastor, p. 375: ‘Sie haben den Wolf in das Haus
66. Arnds, Raabe and Dickens, pp. 99–120.
67. See R. Mellinkoff (1982) ‘Juda’s Red Hair and the Jews’, Journal of Jewish
Art, 9 (1982): 31–46. Although she argues that Uriah is an unlikable
red-haired figure but not a Jew, she concedes that ‘the Jew as an evil,
red-haired figure was given its most striking delineation by Charles
Dickens’ (p. 45).
68. See also L. Jane, ‘Dickens’ Archetypal Jew’, PMLA, 73 (1958): 94–100, who
claims that Heep is most likely a Jew (p. 97).
69. Unlike in Germany and France, or even Scotland and Ireland, wolves
were extinct in England by the end of the fifteenth century. This was in
large part due to Edward I’s (reigned 1272–1307) attempt to exterminate
all wolves in England. See http://www.wolfsongalaska.org/disappear-
70. See C. Dickens, Oliver Twist (London: Wordsworth Classics, 2000), p. 295.
71. See R. Dellamora, ‘Pure Oliver: or Representation Without Agency’, in
Dickens Refigured: Bodies, Desires, and Other Histories, ed. John Schad
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996), p. 70.
72. Der Hungerpastor, p. 60:
Lerne, dass dir schwitzet der Kopf, Moses,’ sagte er sobald der Knabe
nur irgend imstande war, ihn zu verstehen. ‘Wenn se dir hinhalten an
Stück Kuchen und an Buch, so lass den Kuchen und nimm das Buch.
Wenn du was kannst, kannste dich wehren, brauchste dich nicht
lassen zu treten, und kannste an groβer Mann werden und brauchst
dich zu fürchten vor keinem, und den Kuchen wirst du auch dazu
73. See M. Richarz, Der Eintritt der Juden in die akademischen Berufe. Jüdische
Studenten und Akademiker in Deutschland 1678–1848 (Tübingen: J.C.B.
Mohr, 1974), p. vii (my translation).
74. H. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt, 1973), p. 66.
Notes 175

75. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, available at: (http://www.americannaziparty.

com/about/MeinKampf%20english.pdf), Bk1, chapter 11 [Race and
People], p. 186.
76. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 186.
77. B. Stoker, Dracula (London: Wordsworth Editions, 2000), p. 45. All subse-
quent quotations from this edition are marked by page number in the text.
78. J. Zanger, ‘A Sympathetic Vibration: Dracula and the Jews’, English
Literature in Translation, 34(1) (1991): 36.
79. O. Lubrich, ‘Dracula – James Bond: Zur Kontinuität und Variation
mythischer Phantasie in der Moderne‘, KulturPoetik, 3(1) (2003): 86.
80. Zanger, ‘Sympathetic Vibration’, p. 38.
81. Browning, ‘Pied Piper’, p. 107.
82. See H. Arendt, Origins p. 150:
Older than the superfluous wealth was another by-product of capital-
ist production: the human debris that every crisis, following invari-
ably upon each period of industrial growth, eliminated permanently
from producing society. Men who had become permanently idle were
as superfluous to the community as the owners of superfluous wealth.

5 From Wolfman to Bug Man

1. S. Baring-Gould, The Book of Werewolves (Dublin: Nonsuch, [1865] 2007),
pp. 75–6.
2. S. Freud and J. Breuer, Studies on Hysteria, reprinted, trans. and ed.
J. Strachey (New York: Basic Books, [1895] 1987), p. 6.
3. C.G. Jung, Essays on Contemporary Events: The Psychology of Nazism, trans.
R.F.C. Hull. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989), p. 2.
4. N. Lewin, Jung on War, Politics and Nazi Germany: Exploring the Theory
of Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (London: Karnac Books, 2009),
p. 213.
5. C. Jung, Essays on Contemporary Events, from here on just referred to
as ‘Wotan Essay’, p. 15f. Otto Höfler found this questionable (in ‘Über
germanische Verwandlungskünste’, Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und
deutsche Literatur, vol. 73(1/2) (1936): 109–15; 114), and argued that
Dionysus is a god of ecstasy, while Wotan is the god of the dead. One
could say against Höfler’s argument that both find themselves in the state
of unrepressed animal nature. Höfler’s reluctance to accept this equation,
though, may be grounded in the fact that he worked as a Nazi interpreter
of culture and, unlike Heidegger, did not like to admit to possible par-
allels between Greece and Germany for fear of diluting the purported
purity of Germanic mythology.
6. J. B. Lyon, ‘You Can Kill, but You Cannot Bring to Life: Aesthetic
Education and the Instrumentalization of Pain in Schiller and Hölderlin’,
Literature and Medicine, 24(1) (2005): 31–50; here especially pp. 39–41.
7. Lewin quoting Heine, p. 272.
8. Jung, ‘Wotan Essay’, p. 16.
176 Notes

9. Jung, ‘Wotan Essay’, p. 2.

10. S. Freud, The Wolf Man and Other Cases (London: Penguin, 2002), p. 227.
11. S. Vine, Literature in Psychoanalysis: A Reader (New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2005), p. 114.
12. See C. Ginzburg, The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in
the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1992). The benandanti are witches and warlocks partici-
pating in processions of the dead, the Germanic Wild Hunt equivalent.
13. M. Gardiner, The Wolf Man and Sigmund Freud (London: Penguin, 1973),
p. 205.
14. Vine, Literature in Psychoanalysis, p. 146.
15. C. Ginzburg, Myth, Emblems, Clues. Trans. J. and A.C. Tedeschi (London:
Hutchinson Radius, 1990), p. 150.
16. N. Abraham and M. Torok, ‘The Wolf Man’s Magic Word: A Cryptonymy',
reprinted in Vine, Literature in Psychoanalysis, p. 146.
17. Abraham and Torok reprinted in Vine, Literature in Psychoanalysis, p. 154.
18. R. G. L. Waite, Hitler: The Psychopathic God (New York: Da Capo Press,
1993), pp. 163–5.
19. Waite, Hitler: The Psychopathic God, p. 166.
20. Waite, Hitler: The Psychopathic God, p. 166.
21. H. Hesse, Steppenwolf, translated by Basil Creighton (London: Penguin,
2001), p. 134. All references to this edition are subsequently marked by
page number in the text. Der Steppenwolf (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp,
1974), p. 147: ‘Ich bin einer, der halb ein Mensch ist und halb ein Wolf,
oder der sich das einbildet.’
22. Hesse, Steppenwolf, p. 152.
23. ‘Keiner will den nächsten Krieg vermeiden, keiner will sich und seinen
Kindern die nächste Millionenschlächterei ersparen’ (p. 152).
24. Lewin, Jung on War, p. 212.
25. ‘Ein übler Kerl und vaterlandsloser Geselle, [der] sich über den Kaiser
lustig gemacht und sich zu der Ansicht bekannt [habe], dass sein
Vaterland am Entstehen des Krieges um nichts minder schuldig sei als die
feindlichen Länder’ (p. 105).
26. J. Herf, Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar
and the Third Reich (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1984),
pp. 130–51.
27. ‘Mit Entsetzen erinnerte ich mich an jene scheußlichen Photographien
von der Front, die man während des Krieges zuweilen zu Gesicht bekom-
men hatte, an jene Haufen ineinander verknäuelter Leichname, deren
Gesichter durch Gasmasken in grinsende Teufelsfratzen verwandelt
waren’ (p. 251).
28. ‘[Ich] spürte den Geschmack von Blut und den Geschmack von
Schokolade im Munde, einen ebenso hässlich wie den andern’ (p. 251).
29. ‘Meistens sind Tiere traurig’ (p. 148).
30. ‘Vom Wolf aus gesehen wurde dann jede menschliche Handlung schau-
erlich komisch und verlegen, dumm und eitel’ (p. 56).
Notes 177

31. ‘Neulich hast du ausgesehen, als hätte man dich vom Strick abgeschnit-
ten’ (p. 139); for the symbolism of the gallows see also A. Guðmundsdóttir,
‘The Werewolf in Medieval Icelandic Literature’, The Journal of English and
Germanic Philology, 106(3) (2007): 283, who points out that in medieval
Icelandic literature the gallows was called the vargtre, the tree from which
the wolf/outlaw was hung.
32. A. Douglas, The Beast Within: Man, Myths and Werewolves (London: Orion,
1993), p. 19.
33. ‘Der Steppenwolf stand, seiner eigenen Auffassung zufolge, gänzlich
außerhalb der bürgerlichen Welt ... aber [es] zog ihn eine starke, heimli-
che Sehnsucht beständig zur bürgerlichen Kleinwelt’ (pp. 66–7).
34. ‘Dass auch der Wolf nichts Einfaches und Anfängliches ist, sondern
schon etwas sehr Vielfaches und Kompliziertes ... (p. 83).
35. Du bist für diese einfache, bequeme, mit so wenigem zufriedene Welt von
heute viel zu anspruchsvoll und hungrig, sie speit dich aus, du hast für sie
eine Dimension zuviel. Wer heute leben und seines Lebens froh werden
will, der darf kein Mensch sein wie du und ich. Wer statt Gedudel Musik,
statt Vergnügen Freude, statt Geld Seele, statt Betrieb echte Arbeit, statt
Spielerei echte Leidenschaft verlangt, für den ist diese hübsche Welt hier
keine Heimat.
[SRCE](p. 194)

36. Note that the word ‘cynic’ is derived from Greek k̩ʋ́ωv, or ‘dog’. ‘Cynic’
literally means ‘dog-like’. On the tradition of cynicism in the Renaissance
and in light of my discussion of the connection between laughter,
mockery, the satanic, and canines, see, for example, H. Roberts, Dog’s
Tales: Representations of Ancient Cynicism in French Renaissance Texts
(Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006).
37. ‘Du wirst noch lachen lernen wie die Unsterblichen ... Hoffentlich glückt
es dir und du wirst den Steppenwolf los für heute’ (p. 228).
38. ‘[M]eine Persönlichkeit war aufgelöst im Festrausch wie Salz im Wasser’
(p. 217).
39. See R. Buxton, ‘Wolves and Werewolves in Greek Thought’, in J. Bremmer,
Interpretations of Greek Mythology (London: Routledge, 1987), p. 72.
40. Heidi Rockwood (1994) points out that ‘while the wolf figure has many
shadow characteristics, the very fact that it is never properly integrated
or left behind and accompanies Haller to the end of the novel is not
compatible with the standard individuation pattern’ (‘The Function of
Pablo in Hesse’s “Steppenwolf”, South Atlantic Review, 59(4) (Nov. 1994),
p. 50). Other critics such as E. Stelzig, Hermann Hesse’s Fictions of the Self:
Autobiography and the Confessional Imagination (Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 1988), p. 216, and E. Schwarz, ‘Hermann Hesse:
Der Steppenwolf (1927)’, in Deutsche Romane des 20. Jahrhunderts, ed.
P. M. Lützeler (Königstein: Athenäum, 1983), p. 139, have identified
Pablo as the shadow archetype, whom Rockwood, however, convinc-
ingly analyses as Mercurius, the predominant agent in facilitating Haller’s
178 Notes

individuation, which following Jung’s model, she compares with an

alchemical process.
41. S. Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle and Other Writings (London:
Penguin, 2003), p. 393.
42. ‘Aus einiger Entfernung gesehen, pflegen solche Gegensätze immer ähn-
licher zu werden’ (p. 264).
43. Nietzsche associated Dionysus with the music of Wagner, but since he is
the God of erotic intoxication among other releases of pleasure (Mozart),
Wotan as the God of war and death is a more apt figure in connection
with Wagner.
44. ‘Humor ist immer Galgenhumor, und nötigenfalls lernen Sie ihn eben am
Galgen’ (p. 274).
45. Lewin, Jung and War, p. 212.
46. Lewin, Jung and War, p. 222.
47. F. Kafka, Die Verwandlung. In: Gesammelte Werke. Erzählungen, ed. M. Brod.
Taschenbuchausgabe in acht Bänden (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1989),
p. 98: ‘War er ein Tier, da ihn Musik so ergriff? The English translations
are based on The Metamorphosis, translated and edited by S. Corngold
(New York: Norton, 1996).
48. G, Agamben, Remnants of Auschwitz. The Witness and the Archive
(New York: Zone Books, 2002), p. 133.
49. ‘Unerbittlich drängte der Vater und stieβ Zischlaute aus, wie ein Wilder ...
Es klang schon hinter Gregor gar nicht mehr wie die Stimme bloβ eines
einzigen Vaters.’ (p.72).
50. Freud, Wolf Man, p. 230.
51. Vine, Literature in Psychoanalysis, p. 154.
52. Vine, Literature in Psychoanalysis, p. 154.
53. ‘Er erkannte daraus, dass ihr sein Anblick noch immer unerträglich war
und ihr auch weiterhin unerträglich bleiben müsse und dass sie sich
wohl sehr überwinden musste, vor dem Anblick auch nur der kleinen
Partie seines Körpers nicht davonzulaufen, mit der er unter dem Kanapee
hervorragte’ (p. 82).
54. ‘… ein Fremder hätte geradezu denken können, Gregor habe ihr aufge-
lauert und habe sie beiβen wollen’ (p. 82).
55. Freud, Wolf Man, p. 237.
56. See B. J. Warneken, who has shown that the disciplining of the body
into an erect one was a sign of bourgeois emancipation, a sign of the citi-
zen’s autonomy of will over his own body, in the Age of Enlightenment;
‘Bürgerliche Emanzipation und aufrechter Gang, Zur Geschichte
eines Handlungsideals,’ in Das Argument, Zeitschrift für Philosophie und
Sozialwissenschaften, 179 (1990): 45.
57. ‘Nun aber war er recht gut aufgerichtet ... Gregor staunte über die
Riesengröβe seiner Stiefelsohlen ... während der Vater einen Schritt
machte, musste er eine Unzahl von Bewegungen ausführen’ (p. 89).
58. Eric Santner, ‘Kafka’s Metamorphosis and the Writing of Abjection’, in
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, trans, and ed. S. Corngold (New York:
Norton & Company, 1996), p. 197.
Notes 179

59. See H. Kaiser, ‘Kafka’s Fantasy of Punishment’, in The Metamorphosis, by

Franz Kafka (New York: Bantam Books, 1972), pp. 147–56, here specifi-
cally p. 156.
60. Freud, Wolf Man, p. 240.
61. See K. Garloff’s seminal essay on this topic: ‘The Jewish Crypt: W.G.
Sebald and the Melancholy of Modern Jewish Culture’, The Germanic
Review: Literature, Culture, Theory, 82(2) (2007): 123–40.
62. See also G. Steiner, Language and Silence (New York: Atheneum, 1970),
p.  121: ‘Gregor Samsa’s metamorphosis […] was to be the literal fate
of millions of human beings. The very word for vermin, Ungeziefer,
is a stroke of tragic clairvoyance; so the Nazis were to designate the
63. G. Agamben, Homo sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Palo Alto, CA:
Stanford University Press, 1995), p. 114.
64. ‘… als seien also auch diese nicht mehr zu gebrauchen’ (p. 77).
65. See E. L. Santner, On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 2006).
66. ‘Ich glaubte Sie als einen ruhigen, vernünftigen Menschen zu kennen,
und nun scheinen Sie plötzlich anfangen zu wollen, mit sonderbaren
Launen zu parieren ... Wie das nur einen Menschen so überfallen kann!’
(p. 65) (my italics).
67. W. Benjamin, Abhandlungen. Gesammelte Schriften, vol. I.1 (Frankfurt am
Main: Suhrkamp, 1991), pp. 329–30.
68. ‘Sollte ich jetzt weniger Feingefühl haben?’ (p. 76).
69. W. Benjamin, One Way Street and Other Writings (London: Verso, 1979),
p. 50.
70. ‘Ich will vor diesem Untier nicht den Namen meines Bruders ausspre-
chen, und sage daher bloβ: wir müssen versuchen, es loszuwerden.Wir
haben das Menschenmögliche versucht, es zu pflegen und zu dulden,
ich glaube es kann uns niemand den geringsten Vorwurf machen ....Weg
muss es!’ (p. 100) (my italics).
71. ‘Seine Meinung darüber, dass er verschwinden müsse, war womöglich
noch entschiedener als die seiner Schwester’ (p. 103).
72. Agamben, Remnants, p. 104.
73. Agamben, Remnants, p. 105.
74. ‘... in diesem Zustand leeren und friedlichen Nachdenkens’ (p. 103).
75. M. Heidegger, Vorträge und Aufsätze (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio
Klostermann, 2000), pp. 148, 150–1.
76. See I. Bruce, ‘Elements of Jewish Folklore in Kafka’s Metamorphosis’, in
The Metamorphosis by F. Kafka, ed. and trans. S. Corngold (New York:
Norton & Co., 1996), p. 119: ‘Life in exile is connected with uncleanli-
ness …and reaches the height of impurity in Part III’: ‘He too was com-
pletely covered with dust; he dragged around with him on his back and
along his sides fluff and hairs and scraps of food’ (Kafka, translated by
Corngold, p. 35). Iris Bruce has identified different degrees of inner exile
in the context of the metamorphosis which expresses ‘the reality of Exile’
and that ‘banishment into the prison of strange forms of existence, into
180 Notes

wild beasts, into plants and stones, is regarded as a particularly bad form
of exile’ (Bruce, p. 119).
77. Agamben, Homo sacer, p. 107.
78. E. Jünger, Der Waldgang (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1980), p. 75.
79. Jünger, p. 50: ‘Der Wald ist heimlich ... Es ist nicht minder das Verborgen-
Heimliche und rückt in diesem Sinne an das Unheimliche heran.’
80. ‘Wer hatte in dieser abgearbeiteten und übermüdeten Familie Zeit, sich
um Gregor mehr zu kümmern, als unbedingt nötig war? ... denn ihn
hätte man doch in einer passenden Kiste mit ein paar Luftlöchern leicht
transportieren können’ (p. 92).
81. ‘Besonders oben auf der Decke hing er gern; es war ganz anders als das
Liegen auf dem Fuβboden; man atmete freier; ein leichtes Schwingen
ging durch den Körper’ (p. 83).
82. Heidegger, Vorträge, pp. 150–1.
83. M. Heidegger, Parmenides (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press,
1992), p. 152.
84. Heidegger, Parmenides, p. 152.
85. Agamben, Remnants, pp. 133–4.
86. ‘Seht nur wie mager er war. Er hat ja auch schon so lange Zeit nichts
gegessen ... Tatsächlich war Gregors Körper vollständig flach und trocken,
man erkannte das eigentlich erst jetzt’ (p. 104).
87. Waite, Hitler: The Psychopathic God, p. 363.
88. Agamben, Remnants, p. 120.

6 Hitler the Wolf and Literary Parodies after 1945

1. This may remind one of other state rulers identifying with wolves, and
even Odysseus’ grandfather Autolycos, ‘the wolf itself;’ see also Jacques
Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, vol. 1, trans. G. Bennington (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 2009), p. 17: Ataturk was called the grey
wolf, Genghis Khan, the blue wolf.
2. See G. Waite (1993) Hitler: The Psychopathic God (New York: Da Capo
Press), p. 166.
3. Waite, Hitler: The Psychopathic God, pp. 162–8.
4. R. H. Watt, ‘Wehrwolf or Werwolf? Literature, Legend or Lexical Error
into Nazi Propaganda?’ The Modern Language Review, 87(4) (1992): 844.
5. This wolf cult of the National Socialists feeds itself partly on Hermann
Löns’s novel Der Wehrwolf which became a bestseller in the Third
Reich. The Wolfsangel which features in this text is a key symbol for a
Männerbund (band of men) of 33 werewolves that rise up against the
marauders during the troubled times in the Thirty Years War. It is not
all that different from the swastika-like symbol of the Nazi Werewolves,
to whom Himmler first referred in a speech of 18 October 1944
(Watt, p. 881). The Wolfsangel was originally a wolf trap but both Löns
and the Nazis used it as an instrument of intimidation and strength
(Watt, p. 882). The Nazis adopted Löns as a party icon, although he died
Notes 181

in action in 1914 (Watt, p. 882). The Löns cult went so far even that
it led to the exhumation of his remains in France and their reburial in
Fallingbostel under a stone with the Wolfsangel engraved into it. Watt
has argued, however, that the ‘Nazi Werwolf movement owes less to the
Löns novel than to the propaganda exploitation of the primitive fear of
lycanthropy which is deeply rooted in Germanic myth, legend, and the
gothic extremes of Romantic literature’ (Watt, p. 889).
6. H. Löns, Der Wehrwolf (Hameln: Sponholtz Verlag, 2007), p. 78:
Unser Hauptmann, der heiβt Wulf, und ein richtiger Wolf ist er auch,
denn wo er zubeiβt, da gibt es dreiunddreiβig Löcher. Dennso bin ich
der Meinung, dass wir uns die Wehrwölfe nennen, und zum Zeichen,
wo wir der Niedertracht gewehrt haben, drei Beilhiebe hinterlassen,
einen hin, einen her und den dritten in die Quer.
7. N. Lewin, Jung on War, Politics and Nazi Germany:. Exploring the Theory of
Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (London: Karnac Books, 2009),
p. 253.
8. Watt, ‘Wehrwolf or Werwolf?’, p. 895.
9. Waite, Hitler: The Psychopathic God, p. 425.
10. Watt, ‘Wehrwolf or Werwolf?’, p. 845: ‘Hass ist unser Gebet und Rache
unser Feldgeschrei.’
11. Watt, ‘Wehrwolf or Werwolf?’, p. 890.
12. Völkischer Beobachter, 3. April 1945, p. 1: ‘Wo jämmerliche Kreaturen
den Versuch machen sollten, aus der Reihe zu tanzen, wird ihnen die
Wehrwolfjustiz klarmachen, was die Stunde geschlagen hat.’
13. Watt, ‘Wehrwolf or Werwolf?’, p. 892.
14. Post-war German texts that have made this phenomenon of the Nazi
werewolf cult a theme are Walter Kolbenhoff’s Von unserem Fleisch und
Blut (1947), Hugo Hartung’s Der Himmel war unten (1951), Theodor
Plievier’s Berlin (1954), Uwe Johnson’s Jahrestage (1973), Christa Wolf’s
Kindheitsmuster (1977), Hermann Lenz’s Tagebuch vom Überleben und Leben
(1978), Gerd Fuchs’s Stunde Null (1981), and Horst Bienek’s Erde und Feuer
(1982), see Watt, ‘Wehrwolf or Werwolf?’, pp. 892–3.
15. Waite, Hitler: The Psychopathic God, p. 425.
16. Note the lower case ‘h’ here in Waite, p. 425.
17. See Lewin, Jung on War, p. 229.
18. Löns, Der Wehrwolf, p. 27.
19. M. Foucault, ‘Abnormal’, in Lectures at the Collège de France, 1974–1975
(London: Verso, 2003), p. 63.
20. This notion of labelling humans as parasites is closely linked to the
docility/utility principle of the bourgeois work ethic, which in the belles
lettres shows itself as early as in the picaresque tradition, the picaro being
considered a parasite.
21. See in particular Homi K. Bhabha, ‘Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence
of Colonial Discourse’, in The Location of Culture (London: Routledge,
1994), pp. 85–93.
182 Notes

22. For this link, see especially G. Agamben, Homo sacer: Sovereign Power and
Bare Life (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990), pp. 136–43.
23. P. Arnds, Representation, Subversion and Eugenics in Günter Grass’s The Tin
Drum (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2004).
24. E. M. Friedrichsmeyer, ‘Aspects of Myth, Parody and Obscenity in Grass’
Die Blechtrommel and Katz und Maus’, The Germanic Review. Literature,
Culture, Theory, 40 (1965): 240–50.
25. E. Diller, A Mythic Journey. Günter Grass’s Tin Drum (Lexington, KT:
Kentucky University Press, 1974).
26. G. Grass, The Tin Drum, trans. R. Manheim (New York: Vintage, 1990). All
subsequent references are to this edition and marked in brackets in the
text. G. Grass, Die Blechtrommel (Darmstadt: Luchterhand, 1986), p. 87:
Der Magen der Kuh aber wanderte mit dem gefangenen Kerlchen
auf den Mist und wurde von einem Wolf verschluckt. Den Wolf
aber lenkte Däumeling mit klugen Worten in seines Vaters Haus und
Vorratskammer und schlug dort Lärm, als der Wolf zu rauben gerade
beginnen wollte. Der Schluß war, wie’s im Märchen zugeht: der Vater
erschlug den bösen Wolf, die Mutter öffnete mit einer Schere Leib und
Magendes Freßsacks, heraus kam Däumeling, das heißt man hörte
ihn nur rufen: ‘Ach, Vater, ich war in einem Mauseloch, in einer Kuh
Bauch und in eines Wolfes Wanst: Nun bleib ich bei Euch.’
27. E. Timm, Frau Holle, Frau Percht und verwandte Gestalten (Stuttgart: Hirzel,
2010), p. 9.
28. H. P. Duerr, Dreamtime: Concerning the Boundary between Wilderness and
Civilization, trans. Felicitas Goodman (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985),
p. 26.
29. E. Wyrambe, ‘Der Wolf: Fabeltier und Kinderschreck’, Literarische Tiere.
Radiomanuskript, Blatt 4 (Stuttgart/SDR 1989), p. 12. As a symbol of
destruction and fruition, of death and rebirth, the wolf also appears
in the superstitious world of East Prussian folklore as a so-called corn
demon, the rye wolf who threatens the harvest; see J. Frazer, The Golden
Bough (London: Penguin, 1996), pp. 538–41. Korneff, Grass’s stone mason
in The Tin Drum reminds us of this figure. In The Flounder, too, Grass
returns to the wolf’s ambivalence between preserving and taking life. In
this novel, Palaeolithic woman steals the first fire from the sky-wolf, forc-
ing him to consume raw meat and thus turning the terrestrial wolves into
man’s mortal enemies (G. Grass [2003] ‘Der Butt’, Werkausgabe, Band 8,
pp. 66–9).
30. Diller, A Mythic Journey. p. 8.
31. Grass, Blechtrommel, p. 298: ‘Na is verständlich, weil se de Mutter war und
immer jehofft hat, dasses besser mecht werden mit ihm. Aber siehst ja: is
nich jeworden, wird überall nur rumjestoßen und weiß nich zu leben und
weiß nich zu sterben (my italics)!’ All subsequent German quotations from
this edition are marked by page number in notes or the running text.
32. E. Klee, ‘Euthanasie’ im NS-Staat. Die ‘Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens’
(Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1999), p. 22: ‘haben weder den Willen zu
Notes 183

leben, noch zu sterben. So gibt es ihrerseits keine beachtliche Einwilligung

in die Tötung, andererseits stößt diese auf keinen Lebenswillen, der
gebrochen werden müßte. Ihr Leben ist absolut zwecklos.’
33. E. Jünger, Der Waldgang (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1980), p. 28:
Waldgänger aber nennen wir jenen, der, durch den groβen Prozess
vereinzelt und heimatlos geworden, sich endlich der Vernichtung
ausgeliefert sieht. Das könnte das Schicksal vieler, ja aller sein – es muβ
also noch eine Bestimmung hinzukommen. Diese liegt darin, dass der
Waldgänger Widerstand zu leisten entschlossen ist und den, vielleicht
aussichtslosen, Kampf zu führen gedenkt. Waldgänger ist also jener,
der ein ursprüngliches Verhältnis zur Freiheit besitzt, das sich zeitlich
gesehen darin äuβert, daβ er dem Automatismus sich zu widersetzen
und dessen ethische Konsequenz, den Fatalismus, nicht zu ziehen
34. J. L. Byock, The Saga of the Volsungs: The Norse Epic of Sigurd the Dragon
Slayer (Middlesex: Hisarlik Press, 1993), p. 35.
35. W. Grönbech, Kultur und Religion der Germanen, vol. 2. (Darmstadt:
Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1976), p. 130.
36. C. G. Jung, ‘On the Psychology of the Trickster Figure’, in The Trickster:
A Study in American Indian Mythology, ed. P. Radin (New York: Schocken
Books, 1972), p. 203.
37. R. Erdoes and A. Ortiz, American Indian Trickster Tales (Harmondsworth:
Penguin, 1999), p. xix.
38. R. Buxton, ‘Wolves and Werewolves in Greek Thought’, in Interpretations
of Greek Mythology, ed. J. Bremmer (London: Routledge, 1987), p. 73.
39. L. Hyde, Trickster Makes This World (New York: North Point Press, 1998),
p. 179.
40. Hyde, Trickster, p. 185.
41. P. Stallybrass and A. White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press, 1986), pp. 22–3.
42. B. Sanders, Sudden Glory: Laughter as Subversive History (Boston: Beacon
Press, 1995), p. 243.
43. M. Bakhtin, Rabelais and his World (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University
Press, 1984), pp. 192–3.
44. C. G. Jung, ‘On the Psychology of the Trickster Figure’, The Trickster: A
Study in American Indian Mythology, ed. P. Radin (New York: Schocken
Books, 1972), p. 198.
45. ‘eher ist Oskar ein echter Jesus’ (p. 115).
46. J. Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie (Göttingen: In der Dieterischen
Buchhandlung, 1835), p. 145.
47. G. Grass, The Rat, trans. R. Manheim (New York, Harcourt, 1987), p. 41.
48. ‘... bei den Händen nahmen, die Fußspitzen einwärts schoben [und]
mich, ihren Rattenfänger erwarteten’ (p. 444).
49. ‘... denn die Unschuld ist einem fleißig wuchernden Unkraut zu ver-
gleichen – denken Sie nur an all die unschuldigen Großmütter, die alle
einmal verruchte, hasserfüllte Säuglinge waren’ (p. 415).
184 Notes

50. Oskar’s subversion by drumming can also be interpreted through

postcolonial discourse, through the concept of mimicry by which the
subaltern can practise resistance against colonial authority; see Bhabha,
‘Of Mimicry’, pp. 85–93.
51. Bakhtin, Rabelais, p. 74.
52. E. Santner, On Creaturely Life: Rilke, Benjamin, Sebald (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 2006), p. 24.
53. D. Wildmann, Begehrte Körper: Konstruktion und Inszenierung des ‘arischen’
Männerkörpers im ‘Dritten Reich’ (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann,
1998), p. 79: ‘der als gekrümmt und degeneriert gezeichnete Jude wird
zum auszugrenzenden Feindbild’.
54. See E. Welsford, The Fool: His Social and Literary History (New York: Farrar
& Rinehart, 1935), p. 61. Another excellent study of the fool is V. K. Janik
(ed.), Fools and Jesters in Literature, Art, and History. A Bio-Bibliographical
Sourcebook (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998). The tradition of the
dwarf-fool reaches back to the Egyptian Danga, a pygmy at the court of
Dadkeri-Assi, a Pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty. The Danga’s chief attrac-
tion was that he was a sort of mascot guarding against malignant influ-
ences. The Danga was also a hunchback with an enormous phallus often
represented in Graeco-Roman terra-cotta figures. Touching the hump
of a dwarf was considered a sign of good fortune. The association of
Oskar’s hump with his phallus and women’s adoration of his hump –
‘allen Frauen bedeutet Buckelstreicheln Glück’ (p. 359) [‘it’s good luck
to touch, pat, or stroke a hump’, p. 434]) – can clearly be read as a relic
of these old Roman superstitions. Politically and for the church, this
figure served as a token of good luck, diverting the Evil Eye and political
55. Welsford, The Fool, p. 74.
56. Welsford, The Fool, p. 68.
57. As for the mythological dimension of this novel, see V. Neuhaus, ‘Belle
Tulla sans merci‘, arcadia 5 (1970), Heft 3, pp. 278–95; and Dorothee
Römhild, ‘“Der Hund ist scharf und hält sicher nicht viel von Künstlern”:
Zur kynozentrischen Poetologie der Hundejahre im Spannungsfeld von
Ontologie und Ästhetik’, in A. Weyer and V. Neuhaus (ed.)‚ ‘Von Katz
und Maus und mea culpa: Religiöse Motive im Werk von Günter Grass’,
Kölner Studien zur Literaturwissenschaft, vol. 20 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter
Lang, 2013), pp. 35–47. Römhild convincingly argues that the history of
the dogs reflects the history of humanity.
58. See O. Weininger, Geschlecht und Charakter (Wien und Leipzig:
Universitätsverlagsbuchhandlung, 1920), 13. chapter, ‘Das Judentum’,
pp. 399–441, esp. pp. 406–13.
59. See S. Kiefer, ‘Frühe Polemik und späte Differenzierung: Das Heidegger
Bild von Günter Grass in Hundejahre (1963) und Mein Jahrhundert (1999)’,
Weimarer Beiträge, 48 (2002): 248:
Wie die Flötentöne des legendären Rattenfängers von Hameln können
Heideggers Sprache und Denken sowohl Nagetiere als auch Kinder – bzw.
Notes 185

jugendliche Soldaten – zu willenloser Gefolgschaft und widerstands-

loser Selbstaufgabe verleiten. Die verführerische Sprache [Heideggers]
wird entlarvt als eine der Melodien, die die Jugend dazu bringen, sich
der Führung durch den Rattenfänger Hitler zu unterwerfen.
60. G. Grass, ‘Hundejahre’, in Werkausgabe, vol. 5 (Göttingen: Steidl, 2003),
p. 475:
Nie hat ein Hund, der vom selbstgewählten Herrn nicht lassen wollte,
soviel lernen können vom Verhältnis des Hundes zur Mythologie:
keine Unterwelt, die er nicht zu bewachen hat; kein Totenfluß, dessen
Wasser nicht irgendein Hund lappt; Lethe Lethe, wie wird man
Erinnerungen los?
61. Grass, 5, 463–5: ‘Wolf und nochmals Wolf: tagtäglich Bunker! ... Da
reicht es einem Hund ... Zurück bleiben Knochenberge, Massengräber ...
Vergessen wollen alle [...] die Schulden und die Schuld.’
62. Grass, 5, 409: ‘das Reine sich im Lichten ereigne, indem es das Reine
umlichte und so das Licht stifte’.
63. Heidegger, Parmenides, pp. 104–12.
64. W. Benjamin, Abhandlungen. Gesammelte Schriften, vol. I.1 (Frankfurt am
Main: Suhrkamp, 1991), p. 330.
65. In Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke (1972), Grass describes this melan-
choly by way of the snail and Dürer‘s Melencolia I.
66. G. Steiner, Language and Silence (London: Faber and Faber, 1985), p. 170.
67. See E. Schlant, Die Sprache des Schweigens. Die deutsche Literatur und
der Holocaust (München: C.H. Beck, 2001), p. 104: ‘Es erscheint, als
könne Grass über den Holocaust und die Last der Schuld nur vermittelt
sprechen ...’ [It seems that Grass can talk about the Holocaust and the
burden of guilt only in indirect terms] and W.G. Sebald, ‘Konstruktionen
der Trauer: Zu Günter Grass, Tagebuch einer Schnecke und Wolfgang
Hildesheimer, Tynset‘, Der Deutschunterricht 35(5) (1983): 38: ‘Denn vom
realen Schicksal der verfolgten Juden wissen deutsche Literaten nach wie
vor selber sehr wenig’ [German literati know very little about the truth of
the destiny of persecuted Jews.]
68. E. Hilsenrath, Die Abenteuer des Ruben Jablonski (München: Piper, 1999),
pp. 214–16:
Heute musst du realistisch schreiben, wenn du ernst genommen
werden willst ... Ich meinerseits schreibe humoristisch mit einem Zug
ins Groteske ... Irgendwann wirst du es in dir spüren, dass die Zeit reif
ist. Und dann setzt du dich auf deinen Arsch und legst los. Alles muss
fließen. Es muss aus dir herausfließen wie aus einer Quelle.
69. J. Taylor, ‘Writing as Revenge: Reading Edgar Hilsenrath’s Der Nazi und
der Friseur as a Shoah Survivor’s Fantasy’, History of European Ideas, 20(1–3)
(1995): 439.
70. In the Third Reich it was primarily Maria Führer who tried to show the
connection between the German folk tales and the Germanic myths
186 Notes

behind them. See her book Nordgermanische Götterüberlieferung und

deutsches Volksmärchen: 80 Märchen der Brüder Grimm vom Mythus her
beleuchtet (München: Neuer Filser-Verlag, 1938).
71. Führer, Nordgermanische Götterüberlieferung, p. 82.
72. E. Hilsenrath, Der Nazi und der Friseur (München: Piper, 1990), p. 64:
‘Ich kenne keine Juden,’ sagte Frau Holle. Frau Holle wollte weitergehen,
aber der Junge sagte dann noch: ‘Die kommen doch jetzt aus den Lagern
zurück!’ ‘Du meinst – die – die noch da sind?’ sagte Frau Holle. ‘Ja, sagte
der Junge, – haben Sie die Zeitung gelesen?’ ‘Ich lese keine Zeitungen,’
sagte Frau Holle. ‘Ist sowieso alles Schwindel.’ ‘6 Millionen ermorderter
Juden,’ sagte der Junge. ‘Alles Schwindel, Willi,’ sagte Frau Holle.

The translations are mine.

73. The Nazis’ view of the German forest to an extent harks back to Grimms’
nationalistic perception of it. See Jack Zipes, The Enchanted Forest of the
Brothers Grimm: New Modes of Approaching the Grimms’ Fairy Tales’,
The Germanic Review, 62(2) (1987): 67: ‘The Volk, the people, bound by a
common language but disunited, needed to enter old German forests, so
the Grimms thought, to gain a sense of their heritage and to strengthen
the ties among themselves.’
74. Ich sah zuerst nur ein Dach ... ein schiefes Strohdach mit einem
kurzen Schornstein aus gepreßtem Lehm. Schwarzer Rauch stieg aus dem
Schornstein, kräuselte über dem Strohdach, verfing sich in den Baumwipfeln
in der Nähe des Daches, löste sich bei neuen Windstößen und stieß him-
melwärts. Ich folgte den Rauchschwaden mit meinen Blicken, guckte in
den Himmel, ohne zu wollen, und erschrak. Denn der Himmel über dem
Strohdach sah wie Eis aus. Blaues Eis mit einer eingefrorenen Sonne ...
Plötzlich ging eines der Fenster auf. Ich sah ein Gesicht. Das Gesicht eines
Hutzelweibes. Ein uraltes Gesicht ... dann ging die Tür auf. Ganz langsam
ging die auf. Und knarrte. Ganz komisch knarrte die Tür. ‘So wie bei Hänsel
und Gretel,’ sagte Frau Holle. ‘Mich gruselt’s richtig.’ ‘Mich hat’s auch
gegruselt,’ sagte Max Schulz. ‘Da stand sie plötzlich auf der Türschwelle.
Eine uralte Frau. Eine, die ganz komisch grinste. So ein Grinsen hatte ich
vorher noch nie gesehen ... Die grinste wie ein Menschenfresser.’
[SRCE](pp. 100–1)
75. Jünger, Waldgang, p. 51: ‘das groβe Todeshaus, der Sitz vernichtender
Gefahr ... Und auch den Menschenfresser wird man in durchsichtiger
Verkleidung wiederfinden.’
76. Jünger alludes to Freud on page 50.
77. Ich ... zertrümmerte den Schädel der Hexe mit drei Schlägen ... Veronjas
Gesicht ... rutschte zum Küchenherd, rutschte unter die Beine der Ziege
Katjuscha, die entsetzt gegen das Ofenloch sprang. Kalte Asche fiel auf
Veronjas Gesicht. Ich holte die Kohlenschaufel, kehrte Gesicht und Asche
zusammen, warf es ins Ofenloch, machte ein lustiges Feuer.
[SRCE](p. 117)
Notes 187

78. P. Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin,

1999), p. 217: ‘Aloysius Mazewski, the president of the Polish-American
Congress, insisted that it was Poles … who deserved second place to Jews:
his total of ten million Holocaust victims was made up of six million
Jews, three million Catholic Poles, and one million “other nationalities”.’
79. ‘Ich ging dem Frühling entgegen’, p. 118.
80. Jünger, Der Waldgang, p. 66.
81. Jünger, Der Waldgang, p. 67.
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Note: ‘n.’ after a page reference denotes a note number on that page.

abandonment, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12–24, wild woman, 145

46–9, 60, 68, 80–1, 101, 102, Wotan, 98, 102–3, 108, 123–5,
105, 112–4, 117, 118, 150 175 n.5, 193
abduction of children/youth, 6, 14, trickster, 130, 132, 164 n.16,
19, 69, 72–4, 78, 95, 134, 147, 183 n.36
172 n.30 shadow, 50, 98, 100, 103, 130,
Abraham, Nicholas and Maria 177 n.40; wolf as shadow, 107
Torok, 101–2, 109, 176 n.16 Arendt, Hannah (1906–75)
Adams, Thomas (1583–1653), 36 The Origins of Totalitarianism
(and n.47) (1951), 7, 48, 88, 175
Agamben, Giorgio n.82, 188
homo sacer, 2–26, 32, 40, 44, 49, Aristotle (384–322 BC), 29, 43–4
53, 57, 60, 62, 63, 66, 67, 70, arquebusier, 39
73, 81, 100, 101, 104–6, 109, Auschwitz, 6, 24, 116, 156 n.47,
113–6, 120, 124–6, 129–31, 133, 178 n.48
136–8, 146–50, 152 n.4, 155
n.35, 163 n.5 (female homo Babha, Homi, 126, 181 n.21
sacer), 188 Bakhtin, Mikhail (1895–1975), 27,
nuda vita (bare life), 13, 16, 59, 33, 106, 132, 136
77–8, 114 grotesque body, 31, 33–4, 130–6
state of exception, 6, 16, 23, Rabelais and his World (written in
79–81, 91, 92, 106, 118–9, 125, 1930s, published 1965), 33
159 n.20, 188 Baring-Gould, Sabine (1834–1924),
Antigone, 163 n.5 97, 151 n.3, 154 n.10, 188
anti-Semitism, 9, 14–15, 70, 74, Baschwitz, Kurt (1886–1968), 54,
84–9, 174 n.62 165 n.21, 188
anti-Ziganism, 2, 3, 9, 10, 70–4, 83, bear, 4, 16, 21, 27, 35, 39, 47–54
122–5, 180 n.5, n.6 bear skin, 39 (and n.56, 57), 77,
Apollo, 98–9, 154 n.13 155 n.34
Apuleius, Lucius (124–70 AD) benandanti (Friul folk culture), 101
Metamorphoses (The Golden Ass, Benjamin, Walter (1892–1940),
ca. 160AD), 31–2, 159 n.24, 188 136, 189
Arcadia, wolf rituals, 13, 15, 50, 107, One Way Street and Other Writings
154, 164, 167 (1928), 116, 179 n.69
archetypes, see also C. G. Jung The Origin of the German Tragic
mother, 57–8, 63–5, 127, Drama (1928), 29, 46, 67, 115,
144, 147 141, 158 n.16, 164 n.14
wild man, 65 Beowulf, 66

200 Index

Berserk, 4, 7, 10, 16–21, 27, 31–2, Peter Schlemihl’s Wondrous Story

35–6, 40, 49–50, 65–6, 73, (1813), 49, 51
76–7, 79, 80–1, 91–3, 98–100, Charivari, 30, 136, 159 n.20
103–6, 122–6, 129, 149, 151 clown, 27
n.2, 154 n.20, n.23, 155 n.28, Collodi, Carlo (1826–90)
156 n.44 The Adventures of Pinocchio
Bettelheim, Bruno (1903–90), (1883), 31
52, 189 Crystal Night, 133
Bible, wolf in, 51 cynicism, 24, 33, 77, 106, 177 n.36
Bildung, 26, 45, 72, 84, 87, 99, 143
Bildungsroman, 28, 45, 46, 84, 85, Dante, 6–7, 141, 195
143, 158 n.8, 188 Demeter, 92, 127
Binding, Karl, 23 demonization of wolf, see under
biopolitics, 1, 13, 20–26, 72–83, 96, wolf as devil and wolf and
113, 121, 139, 154 n.13 Christianity
blasphemy, profane, 32–3, 36–7, depression, 5, 24, 27, 30, 38–9, 43,
126, 130–3, 136, 143, 191 62, 67–8, 106
Brant, Sebastian (1457–1521), 67, Derrida, Jacques (1930–2004)
169 n.79, 189 The Beast and the Sovereign, 2,
Breuer, Joseph (1842–1925), 97–8, 15, 46
175 n.2, 191 Diana, goddess of the hunt, 58,
Browning, Robert (1812–89), 74, 127, 155 n.32
78–82, 95–6 Dickens, Charles (1812–70)
bürgerliches Trauerspiel (German David Copperfield (1849), 9, 70,
tragic drama, bourgeois 84–8, 170 n.8, 174 n.63
tragedy), 42, 46, 112, 141, see Oliver Twist (1838), 9, 70, 86–7,
also Walter Benjamin 170 n.8
Burton, Robert (1577–1640) Our Mutual Friend (1864/5), 86
Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Dionysus, 5, 40, 62, 80–3, 98–9,
29–30, 36–7, 42, 67, 141, 163 n.5, 168 n.66, 175 n.5
158 n.15 disgust, 110, 115–7
Buxton, Richard, 15, 153 n.7, 164 Disney, Walt (1901–66), Three
n.11, 189 Little Pigs (1933), impact on
Hitler, 122
Canadian wolf stories, 11 dogs, 8, 18, 19, 29, 30, 33–5, 38,
Canetti, Elias (1905–94) 39–40, 46, 55, 56, 76, 77, 81,
Crowds and Power (1960), 18, 159 90, 93–4, 100–4, 115, 117, 123,
carnival, 8, 9, 30–8, 39, 40, 42, 46, 137–41, 154 n.10, 155 n.28,
106, 123, 126, 130, 133, 135–6, 158 n.17, 160 n.34, 164 n.14,
148, 159 n.32, 161 n.45, 188 165 n.33, 177 n.36, 184 n.57
Carter, Angela (1940–92) donning wolf skins, 11–12, 16,
The Bloody Chamber (1979), 53–6 20–1, 32, 40, 53, 97, 152 n.1
Cerberus, 141 Douglas, Adam, 11, 105, 151
Ceres, goddess of fertility, 58 n.3, 190
Chamisso, Adelbert von Dümmling, see also fool, 25, 27,
(1781–1838) 30, 127, 158 n.11
Index 201

Duerr, Hans Peter, dreamtime, 21, Ship of Fools, 13, 15

52, 151 n.3, 182 n.28 fox, 27, 30, 47, 135, 158 n.12, 161
Durga, 58, 169 n.75 n.46, 197
Frazer, James, The Golden Bough, 11,
Edda, 59 153, 166 n.45, 182 n.29
Ehrenreich, Barbara, 11, 19, 151 n.3, freedom of wolfman, see also
153 n.3, 155 n.33 wolfsfrei, vogelfrei
Erlking, see under myth French Revolution, 9, 55
eros, 62–8, 86, 107, 144 Freud, Sigmund (1856–1939)
Eschenbach, Wolfram von (ca. Beyond the Pleasure Principle
1170–1225) (1920), 52, 62–5, 81, 96,
Parzival (c. 1205), 45 98, 191
Euripides (480–406 BC), The Bacchae Moses and Monotheism, 15
(405BC), 81–2, 163 n.5, 191 Oedipus complex, 5, 10, 14–15,
euthanasia, life not worth being 52, 63–4, 102, 109–12, 128,
lived, 23, 26, 126–30, 133, 136 168 n.67
exile, 4–5, 7, 8, 10, 12–16, 20, 21, Totem and Taboo (1913), 14–15,
29–31, 39, 44, 49–51, 53, 60, 41, 63, 83, 122, 162 n.63
85, 100, 108, 112, 113, 118, 167 Unheimlich, 110, 118–9, 147,
n.50, 179 n.76. 180 n.79,
expulsion, 2, 5–10, 13–15, 22–24, Wolf Man, 3, 9, 14, 97–103, 110,
27, 30, 34, 37, 53, 63–4, 70, 76, 112, 122, 161 n.51, 188, 191
81, 85, 95, 124, 130, 135, 149 Freytag, Gustav (1816–95)
Eyrbyggja Saga, 21 Debit and Credit (1855), 46, 84, 86,
174 n.63
Feast of Fools, 135–6 Friedlos, human without peace, 4, 6,
feral child, 78 8, 16–18, 24, 44, 50, 51, 60, 68,
fianna (Irish outlaws), 18 77, 78, 93, 120, 139, 146, 154
Fielding, Henry (1707–1754) n.13, 159 n.20
The History of Tom Jones, a Frigga, 57, see myth Holle
Foundling (1749), 28, 29, 44 Führer (Hitler as Pied Piper), 134
fool, 8, 13, 15, 25–38, 43–5, 55,
56, 67, 76, 93, 105, 106, 115, Galton, Sir Francis (1822–1911), 89
135–7, 159 n.24, 164 n.14, genocide, 2, 14, 22–24, 114, 116,
184 n.54 118, 120, 121, 124, 125, 139,
forest, 7–10, 13–14, 18, 19–24, 24–6, 141, 150, 151 n.3,
38, 41, 42, 48, 52–68, 73, 76–9, Ginzburg, Carlo, 101–2, 155 n.32,
83, 85, 103–4, 112, 119, 142–50, 176 n.12, n.15
165 n.38, 169 n.75, 186 n.73 Gobineau, Arthur de (1816–82), 89
Foucault, Michel (1926–84), 13, Goebbels, Joseph (1997–1945), 123
97, 191 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
Abnormal (1974–5), 77–9, 125, (1749–1832)
136, 156 n.45 Faust (1831/2), 40
Discipline and Punish (1975), 56 Wilhelm Meister (1796/1807), 45
Madness and Civilization (1960), 31 Gothic, 75, 82, 88, 95–6, 172 n.30,
(and n.21, n.22), 71, 78, 181 n.5
202 Index

Grass, Günter (1927–2015), 143, n.13, 172 n.34, 175 n.5, 184
149–50, 182–5, 188–92, 194–6 n.59, 192
Dog Years (1963), 4, 10, 137–41 Heine, Heinrich (1797–1856), 85,
The Rat (1986), 74 99, 175 n.7
The Tin Drum (1959), 4, 6, 8, hell, 7, 37, 138
10, 14, 37, 125–37, 159 n.28, Hermes, 37, 161 n.49
161 n.45, Hesse, Hermann (1877–1962)
Great Werewolf and Witch Hunt, Steppenwolf (1927), 3, 10, 37,
48, 70 103–8, 113, 119, 124, 176 n.21,
Greek vs. medieval wolfman, 15 177 n.40, 193
green man, 38 heterotopia, 6, 12, 13 – 15, 48, 50,
Grimm Brothers, Jacob (1785–1863) 150
and Wilhelm (1786–1859) Hexe, 56–7, 165–6, see also witch
Deutsche Mythologie (Jacob G.), 59, Hildebrandslied, Lay of Hildebrand
64, 133, 165 n.36 (ninth century), 41
Hänsel and Gretel (1812), 56–7, Hilsenrath, Edgar
59, 142, 146–9, 166 n.38, 186 The Adventures of Ruben Jablonski
n.74, 190 (1997), 142, 185 n.68
Frau Holle (1812), 9, 57–9, 127, The Nazi & the Barber, 4, 10, 106,
144–5 125–6, 129, 130, 141–50, 185
Little Red Cap (1812), 4, 9, 48–56, n.69, 193
57, 59, 61, 64, 67, 87, 110 Hitler, Adolf (1889–1945), 74, 98,
Pied Piper (1816), 75 113, 121, 126, 133, 134–40, 185
The Bear Skinner (1812), 49–54 n.59, 188, 197
The Wolf and the Seven Kids (1812), identification with wolves, 3, 10,
51–2, 64, 101 102, 106, 122–4, 128
Grimmelshausen, Hans Jacob Mein Kampf (1925/6), 88–9, 193
Christoph von (1621–76) Hobbes, Thomas, 3, 6, 27, 161 n.51,
The Adventures of Simplicius 162 n.59, 163 n.73
Simplicissimus (1668), 3, 8, 14, Hoche Alfred, 23
25–46, 70, 72, 150, 157 n.1, 159 Hochhuth, Rolf, 142
n.23, 159 n.27, n.32 Holle, see under myth
The Bear Skinner, 49, 162 n.56, Holocaust, 6, 10, 24, 103, 112–3,
n.57, 164 n.9 124–5, 132, 133–7, 139–50, 185
Gypsies, Romanies, 2, 3, 5, 9, n.67, 187 n.78, 189, 195, 196
14, 38–40, 69–96, 125, Church and – , 133
170–73, 190 Holzgangel, Holzgeher (as wolf), 38
Gypsy women, 75 homelessness, 3, 9, 27, 61, 68, 70,
72, 118
Hades, 7, 23, 42, 154 n.13 Homer, 13, 153 n.8, 158 n.18, 194
Hebbel, Christian Friedrich homo hominem lupus, 3, 6, 44–5, 152
(1813–63), 83 n.7, 163 n.73
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hugo, Victor (1802–85)
(1770–1831), 125, 138, 192 The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Heidegger, Martin (1889–1976), 17, (1832), 73, 85, 160 n.37, 161
77–9, 118, 120, 139–40, 154 n.45, 171 n.16
Index 203

hunchback, 136, see also Hugo, Victor Kandaon, 22

hunt, 2, 6–8, 11–14, 16–24, 40–4, Kipling, Rudyard (1865–1936), 7, 88
53–60, 65–7, 70–6, 80, 90–5, Kleist, Heinrich von (1777–1811),
104, 109, 113, 123, 126–8, 189
133–4, 138–9, 144, 149–50, 152 Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (1808,
n.9 and n.10, 153 n.3, 155 n.33, published 1821), 3, 9, 19, 47,
n.34, n.35, 165 n.19, 169 n.75, 55, 73, 163 n.1
172 n.30, Kleist, Field Marshal Ewald von, 134
relationship with war, 19–20 Klemperer, Victor (1881–1960), 124
hydrophobia, 43 Kunstmärchen, literary fairy tale, 3,
hysteria, 97–8, 175 n.2, 191 49, 51, 60

Icelandic saga, 8, 14, 20, 21, 24, 27, Landstreicher (vagrant), 38, 96
32, 59, 99, 108, 144, 156 n.40, laughter, 30, 33–8, 55, 106, 131, 159
177 n.31, 192 n.29, 177 n.36, 183
idiotes, 44, 115 lethe, forgetting and concealment,
impurity, moral or racial, 5, 9, 16, 42, 117–20, 139–41, 147, 154
20–23, 50, 51, 109, 118, 131, n.13, 185 n.60
138, 155, 179 Levi, Primo (1919–87), 6, 23, 121,
initiation rites, 3, 9, 16, 18, 21, 22, 141, 156 n.48
42, 43, 50–9, 128, 154, 165, 167 Levinas, Emmanuel (1906–95), 117
insania lupina, 9, 29–30, 94 lice, 54, 113, 125, see also Ungeziefer
Lind, Jakov (1927–2007), 142
Jesus, 132–3, 138 Löns, Hermann (1866–1914)
Jews, 2–4, 9, 14, 39, 46, 69–70, 72–4, The Werewolf (1910), 2, 3, 10, 73,
76, 84–91, 94–6, 104, 109, 122–5, 170 n.12, 180 n.5, n.6
112–4, 121, 131, 134, 136–9, London, Jack (1876–1916), 7
142–50, 170, 174, 175 n.78, 179 loneliness, 5, 10, 23–4, 29, 61, 85,
n.61, n.76, 185 n.67, 187, 189 88, 105, 108, 150, 152 n.7
Jung, Carl G. (1875–1961), 98–103, Lukács, György (1885–1971), 3
107–8, 124, 130, 175–6, 178, Lykaon, see under myth
183, 193
Jünger, Ernst (1895–1998) Macchiavelli, Nicolò (1469–1527)
concept of Waldgänger (1951), 7, The Prince (1513, published
23–24, 38, 53, 57, 59, 61–3, 65, 1532), 47
68, 104–5, 119, 129–30, 135, Männerbund, association of men,
137, 142, 144, 146, 148–50, 156 18, 57, 152 n.2, 180 n.5
n.51, 157 n.52, 186 n.75 Malleus Maleficarum, The Hammer of
Storms of Steel (1920), 99 Witches (1486), 22, 48, 70
Malouf, David, 7
Kafka, Franz (1883–1924), 136 Mc Carthy, Cormac, 8
A Report to an Academy (1917), 113 medieval animal epics, 26–7, 47,
Metamorphosis (1915), 3, 5, 10, 14, 105, 127
42, 69, 108–21, 125, 178, 179, Heinrich der Glîchezâre (12th
189, 190, 193, 196 century), Reinhart Fuchs, 3,
The Trial (1925), 117 27, 135
204 Index

melancholy, 9, 25, 29–34, 42, 44, Nebuchadnezzar, transformation

46–7, 49–51, 55, 65–7, 98, 108, into wolf, 30
112–3, 115, 120, 141, 149, 154 Nibelungen, 19, 20, 59, 168 n.66
n.14, 158 n.15, 160 n.48, n.51, Nietzsche, Friedrich (1844–1900),
162 n.63, 163 n.69, 164 n.14, 62, 80–2, 98–9, 103, 107,
168 n.67, 179 n.61, 185 n.65, 168 n.66, 178 n.43, see also
189, 191, 192, 196. Dionysus
melancholia canina, 9, 29, 30, 46, nomadism, 12, 60, 65, 70–2, 75–6,
51, 67, 104, 112, 141, 150, 158 83, 88, 104, 152 n.9
n.17, 192. Novalis (1772–1801), 68
menippean satire, 26, 31 (and n.23),
32, 45, 159 n.23. Odysseus, 141, 180 n.1
Mephistopheles, 51 Oedipus complex, see under Freud
Mercury, 37 Operation Werewolf (Carnival),
Mesolithic, 12, 60, 153 n.3 106, 123
metempsychosis (transmigration of Ovid, 7
souls), 11
Mitscherlich, Alexander (1908–82) pack (of wolves, Meute), 18, 20,
and Margarete (1917–2012), 141 40, 47, 72, 76, 81, 101–2,
monkey, 88, 113 133, 150
monster, monstrosity, 22, 78, 113, Palaeolithic, 8, 11–12, 58, 60, 151
117–8, 125, 136, 149, 156 n.45 n.3, 165 n.19, 182 n.29
Morgenstern, Soma (1890–1976), parasite, parasitism, 2–5, 12,
142 30–8, 45, 62, 88, 96, 108,
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus 119, 121, 125, 161 n.46,
(1756–91), 107, 178 n.43 181 n.20
mystery plays, 135 Parmenides lectures, see
myth Heidegger, 140
Erlking, 6, 19 parody, 10, 113, 126, 129,
Holle, 6, 9, 19, 56–68, 127, 142–6, 131, 135, 137, 141–5, 149,
149, 155 n.32, 166 n.40, n.42, 182 n.24
168 n.69, n.71, 169 n.74 Perchta, 57, see myth Holle
Lykaon, 5, 8, 13–15, 43, 49–50, Perrault, Charles (1628–1703), 55
103, 130 philo-Semitism, 148
Norman, 38 picaresque literature, 2, 3, 5, 8,
Norse, 59, 144 25–46, 47, 76, 104, 106, 115,
Twelve Nights, 40–1, 57, 101, 127, 126, 129, 130, 135, 142, 150,
159 n.24, 158 n.8, 181 n.20
Wild Hunt, see also Wotan, 6–7, Pied Piper, 6, 14, 74–83, 94–5,
19, 40–41, 59, 65, 75–6, 80, 94, 133–4, 139, 149, 168 n.66,
104, 123, 126, 133–4, 144–5, 172 n.30
149–50, 155 n.32, 169 n.71, 172 Plato (ca. 428–348 BC), 29
n.30, 176 n.12, 192 Ploetz, Alfred (1860–1940), 89
Pluto, 138, 141
Napoleon (1769–1821), 2, 19, 47 Poe, Edgar Allen (1809–49), 85
Native American cultures, 130 polis, 13, 44, 79, 85, 153 n.8
Index 205

Pope Innocent VIII (1432–92), Schiller, Friedrich (1759–1805), 99,

48, 70 175 n.6
psychotherapy, 97–102, 103 Schlöndorff, Volker, 135
Schwank literature, 25
Raabe, Wilhelm (1831–1910) Sebald, W.G. (1944–2001), 114,
The Children of Finkenrode 136, 150, 179, 185 n.67,
(1859), 83 191, 196
The Children of Hamelin (1868), 9, Shakespeare, William
69, 74–83, 93, 95–6 (1564–1616), 40
The Hunger Pastor (1864), 9, 46, shame, 117–8, 132
96, 84–8, 95, 170 n.8, 174 n.62, social contract, 4, 6, 13, 17, 48,
174 n.63, 188, 196, 197 79, 107
Rabelais, François (1494–1593), Sombart, Werner (1863–1941), 104
33–6, 188 spelunking, 67
rabies, 13, 29, 35, 43, 77, 152 n.3, spleen, dog organ, 29, 33, 46
158 n.18 Steiner, George, 141, 179 n.62, 196
race, racism, racial hygiene, 3, 10, Sterne, Laurence (1713–1768)
22, 23, 70, 74–7, 81–4, 88–90, The Life and Opinions of Tristram
94–6, 125, 137, 172 n.34 Shandy, Gentleman (1759–67),
rape, 53 29, 46
rats, 74, 95, 134, 139 Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850–94)
Rilke, Rainer Maria (1875–1926), Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr
114, 120, 136, 179 n.65, 196 Hyde (1886), 68, 97–8, 105,
Roman wolf, Romulus and Remus, 108, 115
12, 22, 52, 65, 145 Stoker, Bram (1847–1912)
Rong, Jiang, Wolf Totem (2004), 7 Dracula (1897), 9, 69, 89–96,
175, 194
sacred, 22–3, 37, 64, 130, 132, 133, Stuck, Franz von (1863–1928), The
136, 143, 169 n.75 Wild Hunt (1889), 123
Safranski, Rüdiger, 62, 167 n.58 Sturluson, Snorri, Ynglinga Saga, 21,
Sanders, Barry, 33 (and n.29, 30), 77, 197
131, 196 Stutthof, concentration camp, 139
Santner, Eric, 110, 114, 136, 178
n.58, 179 n.65, 196 taboos, breaking of, 15, 130, 142–3,
satire, satyr, 26, 31–3, 45, 106, 132, 145–6, 148
149, 158 n.8, 160 n.36 Tabori, George (1914–2007), 142
Saturn, 46, 67, 115, 170 n.82 Tannhäuser, 59, 168 n.66, 172 n.30
Saturnalia, 33, 40, 136, 159 n.24 Tantalus, 141
scapegoat, 115, 126, 137 Thirty Years War, 28, 30, 32, 34, 38,
Schalk, 76, 171 n.27 40, 71
Schelm, 8, 9, 25–45, 50, 76, 129, Tieck, Ludwig (1773–1853)
130, 135, 157 n.1, n.6, 195. Rune Mountain (1802), 3, 4, 14, 49,
see also trickster 60–8, 73, 75, 81, 97, 105, 108,
Schelmenroman, 26, 30, 32–36, 50, 144–5, 166 n.49, 167–9, 172
56, 104, 163 n.73. n.30, 189, 191, 193, 197
see also picaresque literature The Elves (1812), 73
206 Index

Tieck, Ludwig (continued ) Wagner, Richard (1813–83), 19, 59,

The Life and Death of Little Red 82, 107, 124, 140, 141, 168
Riding Hood (1800), 9, 55, 164 n.66, 172 n.30, 178 n.43, 196
n.14, Waldeinsamkeit, 42
trauma, 6, 10, 20, 24, 81, 102, 112, Walpurgis Night, 40
122, 126, 137, 141, 148–9 Weininger, Otto (1880–1903),
trickster, 9, 13, 19, 130–3, 161 n.49, 138, 198
164 n.16, 183, 191, 193, 195 Weiss, Peter (1916–82), 142
Twelve Nights, see under myth werewolves, 15, 18, 21, 36, 48, 50,
53–4, 66, 68, 70, 83, 85, 93,
Umfriedung, peaceful dwelling, 52, 101, 105, 106, 122–4, 151 n.2
57, 130 and n.3, 153 n.7, 154 n.10, 156
underworld, see also Hades and n.40, 164 n.11, 177 n.31, 180
Lethe, 23, 42, 50–1, 57–9, n.5, 181 n.14
107, 139–40, 144–5, 168 n.69, Wild Hunt, see under myth
169 n.74 Wilde, Oscar (1854–1900), 97–8, 118
Ungeziefer (vermin), 3, 4, 5, 10, 22, witch, 53–64, 70–2, 83, 127, 142–8,
39, 109, 113, 116, 119, 121, 155 n.32, 164 n.16, 165 n.38,
125, 131, 170 n.12, 179 n.62 169 n.71, 191–2
Unholde (witch), 56, 58–60, 127, see witness (of genocide), 23, 120, 156
also witch n.47, n.48, 188
Übermensch, 65, 126, 146, 149 wolf
Untermensch, 92, 96, 115, 126, 146, and Christianity, 2, 4, 15–7, 21,
147, 149 22, 31, 34, 65–6, 99, 132
and greed, voraciousness, 3,
vagabonds, 31, 71, 73, 126, 158 n.8 12, 27, 28, 33, 36, 40, 67, 88,
vampires, 69, 88–95, 152 n.3 105, 131
vanitas, 45 and Gypsies, 3, 9–10, 14, 38–40,
vargr, 1, 2, 4–8, 12, 16, 17, 20, 22–4, 74–80, 83, 90–6, 122–5, 170
26–7, 32, 36, 49, 53, 66, 77, n.12, 180 n.5, n.6
81–2, 92, 100, 109, 112, 114, and Jews, 2, 3, 9, 14, 69–70, 72,
125, 130, 137, 139, 152 n.4, 76, 83–8, 96, 104
157 n.6 and seduction, abduction, 6, 51–6,
vargr i veum, wolf in hallowed 73–4, 78, 95, 172 n.30,
places, 22, 32, 130, 132, 135 and war, 4, 6, 17–19, 20, 22, 155
vargtre (wolf tree, gallows), 108 n.34, 156 n.44, 190
Varus Battle, 47 as corn spirit, 11, 166 n.45
Venus, 37, 59, 60–8, 144–7, 168–9, as devil, 2, 15, 22, 32, 34, 38,
172 n.30, 189 48–50, 70, 76
Viking, 16, 24, 91–3, 100 as father, 102, 109–12
Völkischer Beobachter, 124 as nurturer, 11–12, 51–2, 137, 145
vogelfrei, 4, 17, 58, 71, 73, 77, 79, as outlaw, criminal, predator,
120, 139, 171 n.19, 173 n.40 1, 5, 8, 9, 12–13, 16–18, 21,
Volsunga Saga, see also Icelandic 28, 35, 76, 79, 92–3, 107,
literature, 8, 14, 20, 21, 24, 127, 138
27, 32 as Jungian shadow, 107
Index 207

as sovereign, 2, 4, 9, 16, 46, 100, 108, 123–5, 133, 142–4, 168

110, 122–6, 138 n.66, 168 n.71, 169 n.74,
extermination of – , 86 175 n.5
feeding on corpses, 6, 11, 22, 32, wulfshedir (wolf’s mask in Anglo-
38 Saxon outlaws), 32, 38 (and
in folktale, 51–6, 101, 126–8 n.52)
in world literature, 7
wolfsfrei, 4, 17, 35, 53, 66, 73, 77, Zipes, Jack, 48, 163 n.4, 164 n.6 and
120, 124, 155 n.34 n.14, 165 n.31, 170 n.2, 186
-woman, 61, 65, 66, 143, lupa, 147 n.73, 198
Wotan (Odin), 19, 21, 22, 36, Zeus Lykaion rites, 16, 18, 50, 107,
58–9, 64–6, 80, 82, 91, 98–103, 167 n.50