In: KulturPoetik 2005, Heft 2


Michael Niehaus


Die Figur der Giftmischerin als Fall der Literatur




The second volume of the Neue Pitaval, a set of famous criminal cases collected in the middle of the nineteenth century, brings together the stories of four female poisoners. The first of them, the famous Marquise de Brinvilliers who, with her accomplice, poisoned several members of her family under the Ancien Régime, can be seen as an aristocratic practitioner. But, the middle class female poisoner appears as an isolated case defying aetiological exposition. Gesche Gottfried in particular, who for no good reason murdered more than a dozen people, members of her family and friends remains an enigma. A prey to a kind of poisoning complex, she assumes the impossible prerogative of fate.