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Clemens Brentano

Godwi or The Stone Image of the Mother - A Feral Novel is a romantic novel by Clemens Brentano , who wrote the work with interruptions from the early summer of 1798 to the beginning of August 1801. The novel was published under the pseudonym Maria by Friedrich Wilmans in Bremen , the first volume around the turn of the year 1800/1801, the second at the end of October / beginning of November 1801.


First volume

The first volume of the novel is written as a letter novel.

  • Baron Karl Godwi, the young son of a banker from Frankfurt , raves in a letter to Karl Römer, a young employee of his father, about Lady Molly Hodefield, a wealthy Englishwoman who lives in Kassel, but who sent him away after two weeks. On the way he found a wallet with valuable contents and delivered it to the loser, Baron von Eichenwehen, at whose castle he now enjoys hospitality as a reward. While the host is out riding, Godwi approaches 18-year-old Joduno von Eichenwehen (also known as Klaudia by her brother Jost), who tells him about her friend Otilie Senne, who lives in the neighboring Reinhardstein Castle with her aged father Werdo.
  • In a letter to Otilie, Joduno enthuses her friend about her newest acquaintance.
  • In a second letter to Römer, Godwi explains that he sees “happiness and enjoyment” as the purpose of life.
  • In her reply to Joduno, Otilie writes that she is worried about her troubled father and the boy Eusebio, who is being cared for at the castle. She also reports that once upon waking up she found a ring with the name "Marie".
  • In his reply to Godwi, Römer reports on a business trip to Kassel, where he witnessed the execution of a gauntlet and a performance by Landgrave Wilhelm and also met Molly.
  • Werdo Senne asks Molly in a letter to come to Reinhardstein Castle, because Eusebio is sick and longing for her. Werdo, a harper who wants to forget his grief in his poetry, also speaks enigmatically of his Marie's child.
  • Godwi reports to Römer that he is now staying with Werdo on Reinhardstein.
  • Molly answers Werdo that she would accept the invitation, but does not want to run into Godwi. She reports on her two-week love affair with Godwi and speaks out in favor of Godwi meeting Werdo's daughter Otilie. She also mentions her relationship to Godwi, the nature of which remains unclear and Godwi wants to continue to hide. During her successful singing performances, she also met Jost von Eichenwehen, the clumsy brother Jodunos, from whose contact with Godwi she does not believe.
  • Jost tells his sister (whom he calls Klaudia) about his adventures in Kassel and also about the concert singer Molly, who made no secret of her aversion to Godwi. Jost wants “a good, healthy man” for his sister, definitely not from Godwi, and many children.
  • Godwi writes to Römer that he got closer to Otilie and was also able to cheer Werdo. The love for Molly now appears to him like the love of the "naturalist for nature". Through Eusebio's singing, he finds the lost tone from his childhood and speaks to Otilie about his childhood. The stone image of his mother, who died prematurely, appears to him, whereupon he falls ill. He is cured by Otilie and Eusebio, but falls ill again when he appears again.
  • Joduno writes to Sophie Butler, a friend from years together in the monastery. She doesn't love Godwi, but she can't forget him because he has kindled an unknown desire in her
  • An Antonia Firmenti writes to Godwi's father. He is delighted that his missing brother Francesco is staying with the banker, reports details from his family history, including Francesco's love for a Cecilie and her death.
  • In his answer to Godwi, Römer evaluates his letters as a sign of a “complete crisis”, since he now writes “thirsting for tears” and “thirsting for rest”. Römer is staying with Sophie Butler and was able to read Joduno's letter to her, although Sophie did not know that he knew both Godwi and Joduno, whose arrival he was expecting.

Second volume

The second volume, divided into 31 chapters, begins with the first-person narrator going to Godwi to investigate some rumors. Godwi's wealthy father is now said to live in Italy, while Godwi himself lives in an estate near the city, where he is said to have built a magnificent tomb for a girl named Violette, who does not have the best reputation . Godwi is described by third parties as "very simple, calm and closed", with a "great sorrow". The narrator hands over the first volume of the novel written by him to Godwi, is shown around the estate by him and receives "several papers from the writing desk" concerning Godwi's family history so that the second volume is clearer.

Now the story of Godwi's mother, Marie Wellner, can be told. Marie grew up in a trading town on the Baltic Sea as the daughter of rich old Wellner and was tutored by Joseph, one of her father's employees, and a love affair between Marie and Joseph developed. The connection was reinforced with the blessing of old Wellner by exchanging gold rings. But then Joseph was sent on a business trip to America by old Wellner and after a year his letters stopped. Godwi's father, a wealthy Englishman who had settled in the town, fell in love with Marie and helped old Wellner out in a financial emergency. Out of gratitude because Joseph has meanwhile been declared dead and to meet the last wish of the terminally ill father, Marie Godwi's father marries. Godwi's father continued to run Wellner's company and Marie gave birth to a son. However, her love for Joseph remained unbroken and so she often went to the harbor with little Godwi and wept. When one day Joseph actually returned on a ship, Marie stretched out her arms to him, fell into the sea and was dead. Joseph is revealed as Werdo Senne.

Godwi then reports how his father came to Germany. As a young man, he had a relationship with Molly Hodefield, from which the later Karl Römer emerged. But then he left her to go to Germany. Molly then lived with a German nobleman who then returned to his homeland to take revenge on Godwi's father behind her back. He was killed in a duel by Godwi's father, but before that he sent Werdo Senne to England, who “made a new being” out of Molly. Then he sailed for America. But Godwi's father intercepted Werdo's letters to Marie and finally forged his death certificate.

After his return and the death of Mary, Werdo allied himself with the daughter of an official. She gave birth to their daughter Otilie, but died after giving birth. In his grief, Werdo withdrew to Reinhardstein Castle. Molly went to Germany, near Werdo. On her trip, she provided obstetrics to Cecilia, an Italian woman. Cecilia gave birth to the boy Eusebio, but died in childbirth. Molly found the child's father Francesko Fiormonti, a painter, a job with Godwi's father and raised the child for two years before entrusting it to Werdo. Karl Römer was sent to his birth father in Germany without parents. Franzesko achieved that Werdo and Molly reconciled with Godwi's father and forgave him for his misdeeds. Moved by this, he handed over his company to his son Karl Römer and successfully campaigned for Joduno's hand.

In a surprising turn of the plot, Godwi now sends his father, Werdo and Molly, Franzesko, his son Eusebio and Otilie, now in love with Franzesko, to Italy with the farewell request: "Happy journey ... for God's sake won't come back." The first-person narrator asks Godwi for forgiveness and vows: "I don't want to do it again."

Fragmentary continuation

Brentano writes a nine-chapter continuation of the novel that has remained, from which the famous, extremely powerful poem “Zu Bacharach am Rheine” is known, which speaks for the first time about Lore Lay .

In the fragmentary sequel, Godwi tells - the narrator Maria suddenly dies on the way - how he finds the 15-year-old Violette and becomes the lover of her mother, the frivolous Countess von G. This turns Violette against her mother and Godwi finally leaves them to return years later. In the meantime the French Revolution had destroyed the count's castle and made mother and daughter whores. In the castle ruins he meets the orphaned Violette, who asks him to "kill" him. The two become a couple for a short time, but one morning he finds them in his garden, singing in the middle of the flowers, but no longer recognizing him, only to die soon afterwards.

The fragment concludes with some news about the living conditions of the deceased Maria. Communicated by someone who stayed behind. The author of these messages and several of the poems inserted in them is Stephan August Winkelmann, a friend of Brentano . A contribution written by Achim von Arnim for this appendix was not printed at the time and appeared for the first time in 1978 as part of the Frankfurt Brentano edition.

Early Romanticism

  • Night! Night! you impenetrable, eternal, you loving beloved, you summit of infinite depth, you rest of perfection (104).
  • Only the greatest and healthiest and most joyful can become a great poet ... (112).
I have life all
With every sunset
Kissed goodbye
And every sleep is death. (136)
  • ... all knowledge is the death of the beauty that dwells in us ... (138).
  • As we had taken a few steps through the bushes, we were under the great oak; I remember never having seen such a pillar of heaven; it gushed out of the earth like an immense stream, and scattered its green flames into the sky (277).
  • Here Godwi took a little silver hunting horn from the wall and put a few bright blows into it, which ran like flames up the dome through the green walls. The tones are a wonderful living breath of darkness, I said, how everything rustles and lives and speaks to us in the secret hall through which the tones flashed like glowing pulse beats. Godwi said that the tones are the life and the shape of the night, the sign of everything invisible, and the children of longing (282).


  • Otilie goes to Godwi's side and sings:
Speak from a distance
Secret world,
Who love themselves so much
Joined me. (175)
  • Georg, the servant, sings:
A fisherman sat in the boat
His heart was so heavy
His sweetheart had died
He'll never believe that. (383)
  • Violette sings the song of the Lore Lay :
To Bacharach am Rheine
If a sorceress lives
She was so beautiful and fine
And tore away a lot of hearts. (486)

Several of Godwi's verses are influenced by Ovid's Metamorphoses ; Brentano obviously used a versed paraphrase of the Metamorphoses from 1631.


  • Brentano (quoted in Schulz, 432) sees his Godwi as a strange brouillon [sketch] , not without any content .
  • in the summer of 1801 to Savigny : "I have ... become so tired ... that I can hardly drag myself to the bad end of my novel" (Vordtriede, 253, 10th Zvo).
  • in the winter of 1801/1802 to the doctor Stephan August Winkelmann : "But Godwi contains a lot of good things, ... I will learn from them" (Vordtriede, 92, 1. Zvo).
  • On January 11, 1802, Brentano writes from Marburg about the Godwi to Ludwig Tieck : "... it is like a father to me who produced a sick, crippled child that is sometimes not understood and mostly despised ..." (Vordtriede, 92, 5 . Zvo).
  • on February 28, 1802 from Marburg to the publisher Friedrich Wilmans: "... I learned to write from him [Godwi] ..." (Vordtriede, 92, 11th Zvo).
  • at Christmas 1802 from Düsseldorf to Achim von Arnim : "My fate is written aloud in Godwi, ... but I also find in it that the whole book has no respect for itself ..." (Vordtriede, 92, 3rd Zvu).


Friedrich Schlegel
  • In a letter dated April 3, 1800, Christoph Martin Wieland recommended the publisher Wilmans to publish the novel.
  • Friedrich Schlegel writes in his copy dedicated by the author in the ancient form of z. B. in Roman antiquity also for biting epigrams (e.g. in Martial) typical distichons:
A hundred spankings in the front of the ass, you should be allowed to
Friedrich Schlegel testifies to this, as do other excellent ones.
Schlegel is still collecting signatures.
  • In 1847 Joseph von Eichendorff praised the folk songs inserted in the first volume as well as the profound seriousness of the lecture and continues: "... then the poet ... the deadliest boredom, disgust and disgust for it, and he immediately destroys what he created in the first volume, in the second volume relentlessly again through the bitterest irony. "
  • According to Werner Bellmann (in Lüders, 128), Godwi met with “sharp rejection” from most contemporaries. Self-critical statements by the author and judgments by contemporaries are documented in: Frankfurter Brentano-Ausgabe (FBA), vol. 16, pp. 606–614.
  • Pfeiffer-Belli (Pfeiffer-Belli, 48-51, 72-80) works out the break between the first and second volume. The first volume, “carried by a youthful, passionate breath” contains both poetry and reflection. But the “innermost sanctuary of the whole book”, the image of the mother, is petrified. The satire in the second volume is rampant. The poet Brentano moves "in a beautiful and ugly chaos of action and feelings".
  • Feilchenfeldt (Feilchenfeldt 21-33) documents stages in the development of the novel. From early summer 1798 to early autumn 1799 Brentano reads from the novel several times to his future wife Sophie Mereau in Jena . In the spring of 1800 he introduced Dorothea Schlegel to Godwi . The first volume will go to press in the late summer of 1800. The second volume is being produced under time pressure. In the summer of 1801, at a meeting in Göttingen, the publisher Friedrich Wilmans urged Brentano to complete the second volume. Achim von Arnim received a copy of the second volume from Brentano on December 7, 1801. Arnim considers the work to be successful and reacts a year later (Schultz, 69): The “broken lute” does not sound “happy news”. According to Guido Görres , the novel went unnoticed and became a “good part of the maculature” (Schultz, 69, 12th Zvu).
  • Schulz (436) raises the question of the blasphemy regarding the Holy Family in Godwi : "Godwi" means "like God". Godwi's mother is called "Marie", whose first love is called "Joseph". The Virgin Mary is also called Annonciata (Annunciata = Annunciation ). - See also FBA 16, p. 625 on the naming.
  • Riley sees the Godwi as the "self-expression of a ... cheeky ... youth in search of himself".
  • Kang writes in his dissertation (36): "The novel 'Godwi' should be a romantic, confused formlessness, as Brentano called a 'wild novel' in the subtitle of his novel."
  • Alfred Kerr received his doctorate in 1893 (Schulz, 432) with the dissertation Godwi. A chapter of German romanticism . online at archive.org


  • The novel was published in 1978 as part of the Frankfurt Brentano edition (FBA vol. 16, with text and source-critical commentary, edited by Werner Bellmann) and in 1995 in Reclam's Universal Library (edited by Ernst Behler).


  1. Volume 1 bears the year 1801 on the title page. Volume 2 has been handed down with two different title pages; the print title bears the year 1802, the engraved title the year 1801. Volume 16 of the Frankfurt Brentano edition [FBA] provides precise information on the publication dates.
  2. See Frankfurter Brentano-Ausgabe (FBA) vol. 16, p. 593f.
  3. FBA vol. 16, ed. by Werner Bellmann.
  4. Riley, 99, 3. Zvo
  5. FBA 16, p. 606.
  6. Riley, 98, 18. Zvo


  • Wolfgang Pfeiffer-Belli: Clemens Brentano. A romantic poet's life. Herder publishing house, Freiburg im Breisgau 1947. Direction de l'Education Publique GMZFO
  • Benno von Wiese : Brentano's “Godwi”. Analysis of a "romantic" novel. In: B. v. W .: From Lessing to Grabbe. Studies on German Classical and Romanticism. Düsseldorf 1968. pp. 191-247 and 353-357.
  • Werner Bellmann: Godwi or the stone picture of the mother . In: Detlev Lüders (Ed.): Clemens Brentano 1778–1842 . Exhibition in the Free German Hochstift. Frankfurt a. M. 1978. pp. 127-145.
  • Konrad Feilchenfeldt : Brentano Chronicle. Data on life and work. With illustrations. Carl Hanser, Munich 1978. Series Hanser Chroniken, ISBN 3-446-12637-6 .
  • Werner Vordtriede (ed.): Clemens Brentano. The poet about his work. dtv Munich 1978 (© 1970 Heimeran Verlag Munich), ISBN 3-423-06089-1 .
  • Elisabeth Grob: The wild speech in Brentano's “Godwi” and L. Sternes “Tristram Shandy”. Bern / Frankfurt a. M. 1980.
  • Gerhard Schulz : The German literature between the French Revolution and the restoration. Part 1. The Age of the French Revolution: 1789–1806. Munich 1983. pp. 431-438. ISBN 3-406-00727-9 .
  • Helene M. Kastinger Riley : Clemens Brentano. Metzler Collection, Vol. 213. Stuttgart 1985. ISBN 3-476-10213-0
  • Hwa-Jeong Kang: The idea of ​​artist and genius with Clemens Brentano. Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 1996, pp. 35-39, ISBN 3-631-30665-2 .
  • Hartwig Schultz : Clemens Brentano. With 20 illustrations. Reclam, Stuttgart 1999. Series of literature studies. Universal Library No. 17614, ISBN 3-15-017614-X .
  • Thomas Borgstedt: Early Romanticism without Protestantism. On the independence of Clemens Brentano's 'Godwi' novel . In: Yearbook of the Free German Hochstift 2002, pp. 185–211.
  • Uwe Wirth: The author as editor and writer. Perspectives on the paratexts of Brentano's “Godwi”. In: Yearbook of the Free German Hochstift 2006, pp. 245–277.
  • Rita M. Lennartz: Staging the reading. The interplay of book design, narration and metaphor in Brentano's “Godwi”. Schöningh, Paderborn / Munich / Vienna / Zurich 2010, ISBN 978-3-506-76938-1 .

Quoted text edition

  • Clemens Brentano: Godwi or the stone picture of the mother. Edited by Ernst Behler. Reclam, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-15-009394-5 .

Web links