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11 - Clara: Robert’s Posthumous Androgyne

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 November 2021

Joe Davies
Affiliation:
Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford
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Summary

In this chapter, Clara and Robert are shown to have embraced the Androgyne principle in their romantic relationship and marriage. Theorized by Jakob Boehme and adopted by the Jena romantics, the Androgyne ideal promoted the fusion of marital partners as well as gender-fluid behaviours in the name of spirituality. Of particular interest are Clara’s deeds in the period following Robert’s institutionalization in March 1854. Instead of decreasing her commitment to idealized matrimony, she deliberately strengthened it and maintained that outlook, even after Robert’s death in July 1856, until the end of her own life in 1896. This chapter investigates several questions: Why? What informed and motivated Clara’s actions? Were they simply displays of female heroism and/or conjugal fidelity? Whose interests were being served? What did her decisions imply about her perceptions of gender and gendered conduct? And why were her choices accepted, socially and culturally? The Schumanns’ correspondence and diary entries, published statements issued by Clara, and reviews of her playing are analysed in social-historical context. In her role as Robert’s posthumous Androgyne, Clara brought together diverse strands: their bond, certainly, but also philosophical-literary beliefs about perfect love, set within a Lutheran Pietist cultural framework that promoted female strength.

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Clara Schumann Studies , pp. 223 - 245
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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