The Miss von Scuderi

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Das Fräulein von Scuderi is a narrative text by ETA Hoffmann that was first printed in the paperback for the year 1820 in September 1819. Dedicated to love and friendship . An unauthorized reprint appeared in the Viennese entertainment paper Der Collector that same autumn . In 1820 the story can be found in the third volume of Hoffmann's cycle Die Serapionsbrüder, published from 1819 to 1821 in four volumes . In the following five decades, almost twenty more prints were published in German-speaking countries alone. The Fräulein von Scuderi is considered the first German crime novella and is about the investigation of a mysterious series of murders in Paris in the 17th century by the heroine who took measures against the French writer Madeleine de Scudéry (1607–1701).


Hoffmann's novella is set in the autumn of 1680. The 73-year-old Fraulein Madeleine von Scuderi is a respected poet at the court of King Louis XIV. At this time, many murders occurred in Paris, the victims of which were stabbed in the heart. They all follow the same principle: the victims are always noble men who are on their way to their lover with a gift of jewelry , and this piece of jewelry is always stolen. One now turns to the king for help. The latter consults with Miss von Scuderi. She lightly acknowledges the matter with the bon mot "Un amant qui craint les voleurs, n'est point digne d'amour" ("A lover who fears thieves is not worthy of love"), which prompts the amused king to start the investigation not to be further aggravated, also because in the recent past there were excessive persecutions in another series of murders , in which innocent people were also executed.

As a result, one night a young man brings a box with valuable jewelry (necklace and bracelets) to Fraulein von Scuderi. In the box there is a short letter on which the unknown murderer thanks the Scuderi for speaking out against the increase in the police force with her bon mot. The young lady is dismayed by the unwanted effect her verbal joke had on the criminal and asks her friend Marquise de Maintenon , the king's maitress , for help. She immediately recognizes that the ornate jewelry in the box could only come from René Cardillac, the most respected goldsmith of the time. He is summoned, confirms the assumption, falls on his knees in front of the Scuderi and asks her to keep the jewelry as a sign of his deep admiration: he had only ever thought of her in his work. Passionately he kisses "Scuderi's skirt - his hands - moaned - sighed - sobbed - jumped up - ran, like nonsensically, overturning armchairs and tables, so that porcelain and glasses clinked together, went away in great haste".

Several months pass. One day, as she was driving through Paris in the Duchess Montansier's glass carriage, the same distraught youth who had previously delivered the murderer's message and the jewelery box forced the young woman to write a note urgently asking her Bring jewelry back to Cardillac within two days - otherwise the young messenger would kill himself in her house. When the old lady made her way to Cardillac on the second day with the jewelry, she found out on arrival that his body was being taken away and that a young man, Cardillac's journeyman Olivier Brusson, had been arrested as his murderer. She takes on the completely stunned Madelon, Cardillac's daughter and Olivier's lover at the same time, and wants to help the young lovers. When the Scuderi visits the prisoner in prison, however, she is shocked to discover that Olivier is none other than the young man who once brought her the jewelery box and later the note.

Olivier is finally given the right to visit the Miss von Scuderi at home, as he has announced that he will only confess the truth to her. It turns out that he is the son of the Scuderi's former foster daughter . He explains to her that René Cardillac is the long-sought serial killer. He was never really able to part with his ornate pieces of jewelry (see below Cardillac Syndrome ) and therefore got them back after the sale with the help of his robbery in a bloody way. Olivier himself once watched him commit one of his crimes, but did not reveal anything to the police out of concern that Madelon's image of her father would be destroyed and their happiness together. In his last assassination attempt, Cardillac was finally killed by a nobleman in self-defense. He fled because he did not want to be involved in the series of murders, and Olivier then brought Cardillac's body into the house, was discovered in the process and is therefore now suspected of the murder. But he doesn't want to reveal the truth to anyone other than Scuderi, because he'd rather die than destroy Madelon's picture of her father.

However, after the Count of Miossens, the nobleman whom Cardillac had last attacked, reported to the Scuderi and supported Olivier's statements with his confession, the court, the Chambre ardente , and Judge La Regnie still hesitate to free Olivier to put. Ultimately, it is only thanks to the efforts of the Scuderi that the king is convinced of his innocence. Madelon and Olivier get married, but have to leave Paris at the king's request - the beautiful Madelon reminds the king too much of his own former lover - and move to Geneva , Olivier's original hometown.

History of origin

ETA Hoffmann's novella Das Fräulein von Scuderi is part of a collection of 19 stories, short stories and fairy tales that appeared in four volumes from 1819–1821 under the title Die Serapionsbrüder in Berlin . On the day of St. Serapion , on November 14, 1818, Hoffmann and his writer friends met again after a long break ( Adelbert von Chamisso had returned from a three-year trip around the world). This event inspired E. T. A. Hoffmann to write the title and to complete his collection. The Serapion Brothers tell each other the stories.

The events surrounding Das Fräulein von Scuderi go back to historical events, which Voltaire reports in his Siècle de Louis XIV and Johann Christoph Wagenseil in his chronicle of the city of Nuremberg . The cases of the Marquise de Brinvilliers and Catherine Monvoisin in the poison affair , whom Hoffmann knew as a lawyer from the Pitaval , also serve as a background . The romantic-realistic tale first appeared in paperback for 1820 in 1819. Dedicated to love and friendship .

The role of art

Cardillac Syndrome

Cardillac can't stand the thought that he can't keep his jewelry to himself and that others are allowed to put on his jewelry. So he kills the buyer without further ado in order to regain the jewelry and then enjoy it in a hidden space that is only accessible through a secret door. This reveals his social weakness: by going as far as murder in order not to have to share his work with the general public, he draws the extreme consequence of his selfishness.

In order to be able to make a living from their art, artists have to sell their works, that is, they have to part with them. But that is sometimes difficult for them, as their art is an important part of their identity . Even Goethe's Tasso is unable to detach himself from his poetic work, since only in it he finds himself. More modern artists often make do with carefully kept lists of buyers, occasionally with contractual rights of repurchase. Arnulf Rainer, for example, reserved the right to search for and change a sold work at any time. In this context, some psychologists refer to the Cardillac syndrome based on E. T. A. Hoffmann's novella .

Film adaptations

Radio plays




  • ETA Hoffmann: The Miss von Scuderi . In: German Novellenschatz . Edited by Paul Heyse and Hermann Kurz. Vol. 1. Munich, [1871], pp. [203] -312. In: Weitin, Thomas (Ed.): Fully digitized corpus. The German Novellenschatz . Darmstadt / Konstanz, 2016. ( digitized and full text in the German text archive )
  • ETA Hoffmann: The Miss von Scuderi. Graphic novel by Alexandra Kardinar and Volker Schlecht. With original text in one volume. New edition. Edition Büchergilde, Frankfurt am Main 2011, ISBN 978-3-940111-83-8 ( review by Jannis Plastargias in the blog pain awake ).
  • Wolfgang Pfister: The Fräulein von Scuderi from ET A Hoffmann. Text analysis and interpretation (= King's explanations and materials . 314). C. Bange Verlag, Hollfeld 2012, ISBN 978-3-8044-1934-6 .
  • ETA Hoffmann: The Miss von Scuderi. Klett-Schulbuchverlag, Stuttgart a. a. 1994, ISBN 3-12-262020-0 (booklets for literature lessons ) .
  • ETA Hoffmann: The Miss von Scuderi. Simplified version by Holger Hartmann (from the Reading Made Easy series ), Ernst Klett, Stuttgart 1972 (= Klettbuch. Volume 55911), ISBN 3-12-559110-4 .
  • ETA Hoffmann: The Miss von Scuderi. Story from the age of Louis the Fourteenth. Text and materials edited by Ekkehart Mittelberg and Dieter Seiffert. Cornelsen, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-464-12124-0 (Classical School Reading) .
  • ETA Hoffmann: The Miss von Scuderi. Story from the age of Louis the Fourteenth. (Text and commentary). With a comment by Barbara von Korff-Schmising. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2001, ISBN 3-518-18822-4 ( Suhrkamp BasisBibliothek 22).
  • Winfried Freund: ETA Hoffmann: Das Fräulein von Scuderi (= Reclam's Universal Library ; reading key for students ). Reclam, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-15-015321-2 .
  • Bernd Hesse: The crime story "Das Fräulein von Scuderi" as a mirror of E. T. A. Hoffmann's office as a judge. In: NJW . 11, 2008, pp. 698-704.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Volker Mergenthaler: Change of wardrobe. "Das Fräulein von Scuderi" in paperback, delivery work and journal (1819-1871). Wehrhahn, Hannover 2018, ISBN 978-3-86525-643-0 .
  2. Melanie Parzer: Cardillac - an intermedia translation. The novella “Das Fräulein von Scuderi” by ETA Hoffmann in comparison with Edgar Reitz's film “Cardillac” . Philosophical diploma thesis for obtaining the master’s degree, Vienna 2012.
  3. Das Fräulein von S. A new ballet by Christian Spuck based on the novella “Das Fräulein von Scuderi” by E. T. A. Hoffmann. ( Memento from May 31, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) On the website of the Stuttgart Ballet