The Adventure of the German Student

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The Adventure of the German Student was written by Irving Washington (1783 - 1859). It is an example of early American Gothic Enlightenment. This short story is about Wolfgang, a German student's encounter with the woman in his dream. He unknowingly makes love to the ghost and seems to have committed necrophilia.


Wolfgang was so upset that he became insane and died in a madhouse in Paris. The story does not end here. The reader is left with doubts about the identity of the storyteller. Since the narrator came upon this tale in the madhouse, how reliable is his personal account of his witness What was the narrator doing in the asylum This thesis states that Washington used the techniques of Gothic Enlightenment to mock at the supernatural elements in Gothic tales.
The literary scholar Andriano says that The Adventure of the German Student is most probably a story in the category of Gothic Enlightenment. (Andriano 70). The supernatural element is explained away by hinting that the narrator and the personal account witness are unreliable. Wolfgang is discredited as being insane so his personal account may not be true. His mental state is challenged as a consequence of narrating his tale of wedding night nuptials with a corpse. Wolfgang however, says that the animated corpse has rendered him insane. The narrative says; 'The student burst into a frenzy. ...
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