To eller tre englænderinder? Courbets maleri som idéimpuls for Blixens fortælling „De standhaftige Slaveejere“

Radka Stahr

To eller tre englænderinder? Courbets maleri som idéimpuls for Blixens fortælling „De standhaftige Slaveejere“

Číslo: 1/2020
Periodikum: Acta Universitatis Carolinae Philologica
DOI: 10.14712/24646830.2020.18

Klíčová slova: Karen Blixen; Danish literature; intermediality; ekphrasis; narrative impulse; conceptual impulse; Gustave Courbet

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Anotace: In her short stories, Karen Blixen often uses fine art as a model for describing characters or landscapes. When analyzing these references, researchers face a basic problem in many cases: how can one prove that the author meant a particular artefact when it is not explicitly mentioned in the text? Only in one case does Blixen offer us a specific indication – in the essay “Til fire kultegninger” she writes that the basic motif of the short story “De standhaftige Slaveejere” was Courbet’s painting of two young Englishwomen. This article deals with the specific reflection of Courbet’s painting Three Young Englishwomen by a Window in this short story and reveals the way the painting is reflected in the text. The analysis shows that the description corresponds to the appearance of the characters in the picture only partially; the author completes and changes the description according to her own imagination to adjust it to the plot of the short story. In this respect, the narrative potential of ekphrasis comes to the fore. However, it is not a classic narrative impulse, as formulated by Heffernan, but rather a “conceptual impulse”. The painting actually serves Blixen as a basis for a subjective idea, upon which she develops the storyline. An interesting role in this case is played by the fact that there are three Englishwomen in Courbet’s painting, while Blixen mentions only two. However, we know from the history of the painting that the third character had been painted over and was only discovered in 1931. The article thus hypothesizes whether the author intentionally refers to only two characters for compositional reasons because the absence of the third girl partially changes the impression of the painting.