ALCHEMICAL THEMES AND GNOSTIC MYTH IN ALFRED DOEBLIN'S NOVEL "WALLENSTEIN"
BROWN, BARRY ALAN
Doctor of Philosophy
This study identifies structural themes for analysis in relation to the mythopoeic contours of Alfred Doblin's "historical" novel Wallenstein. While its extensive historical and quasi-historical material conforms to empirical facticity, its fictional structure (or mythic aspect) reveals a modern gnostic myth of enlightenment and salvation countered by forces of darkness and chaos. The introductory chapter outlines bio-graphical conditions including Doblin's extensive research and planning before the writing of the novel. Partially on the basis of factual evidence, partly because of the coherent and intricate design of the novel, the "automatic" or spontaneous fallacy is rejected. Recent critical literature pertinent to Wallenstein and mythic elements in Doblin's works are examined. Finally, Doblin's own aesthetic theory of the genre and his reaction to the initial critical reception of Wallenstein are discussed in the context of the alchemical-esoteric images which are present to a limited degree even in Doblin's non-fictional writings. Chapter II presents a summary of the number symbolism imbedded in the novel's chapter and book divisions and gives a synopsis of the origins and traditions of numerology, astrology, Pythagoreanism, and gnosis as they pertain to the interpretation of the novel. The names of the polar figures of Ferdinand II and Wallenstein have gematric numeric roots which correspond to the numerical roots of the book divisions (1-5-5-5-5-1). The Valentinian gnostic myth of cosmogony integrates imagery and symbolism of the oriental salvation and mystery religions and offers a syncretistic doctrine both of dualism in the existential world and of the promise of man's mystic reunification with God. Fictional elements of knowledge, ignorance, love, and the metamorphosis of the main figure Ferdinand become the focus of the analytical third and fourth chapters. Figurative language, mythical and mythological material and religious allusions give the keys to the interpretation of Doblin's epic structure which has its center in the exemplary case of the fictional Emperor Ferdinand. The discussion presents a system of symbols and metaphors which are directly linked to alchemical and gnostic principles and arcana. In modern psychological terminology borrowed from Herbert Silberer and Carl Gustav Jung, Ferdinand's mythical metamorphosis functions as an example of introversion and re-birth of the personality. The newly transformed Emperor possesses freedom, resultant vitality, and understanding of self and world through his gnostic revelation. Chapter V shows the poetic structure of the chthonic counterpart to Ferdinand, i.e. Wallenstein. On the literal level, Wallenstein is portrayed as a ruthless and genial organizer of force. While this facet conforms to historical reality, Doblin mythifies the figure through frequent metaphors and imaginary-apocalyptic scenes. Commensurate with the Ferdinand-symbolism, Wallenstein's exposition is demonstrably informed with number symbolism.