Confessions of a Poisoner, Written by Herself
Translator(s): Raleigh Whitinger, Diana Spokiene
Pages: xliii & 199 pp.
"Whitinger and Spokeine’s work is a valuable contribution to the project of bringing lesser-known works to the attention of students and scholars."
Sarah V. Eldridge, MLR
"For students in German, comparative literature, and women’s studies, [Confessions is] excellent in the quality of the translation and in the thoroughly researched introduction."
Gisela Brinker-Gabler, Binghamton University
In Berlin, 1803, readers rushed to their bookstores and libraries to learn more about Countess Charlotte Ursinus, who had murdered several people with poison and was now in prison. To their surprise, Confessions of a Poisoner, Written by Herself turned out to be not an account by this serial killer but a novel, its author anonymous and its pages filled with promiscuous sex, sharp social criticism, and dark humor.
In their introduction to the translation, Raleigh Whitinger and Diana Spokiene show how Confessions was written in response to a literary tradition (Richardson, Rousseau, Goethe) and how, in its questioning of the submissive images and roles of women, it anticipates feminist fiction of a century later. Whitinger and Spokiene also review the critical arguments about whether the author was a man or a woman.