Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Tubby Schaumann has been called Raabe’s masterpiece and is placed among the important German novels of the nineteenth century. Raabe himself referred to it as his best work. Given the lack of translations, however, Raabe is not well-known in English-speaking countries.

The use of narration in the first person is a technique anticipated by his early work, Die Chronik der Sperlingsgasse (1856; the chronicle of Sperling Street), in which the narrator also reminisces about past experiences. This technique was further developed in Raabe’s mature work Braunschweig (1870-1902; Brunswick), which is the basis of his reputation as a nineteenth century German novelist. This is Raabe’s so-called Brunswick trilogy of which Tubby Schaumann is a part, along with Alte Nester (1879; old nests) and Die Akten des Vogelsangs (1896; the Vogelsang documents). The same first-person narrative technique connects all three novels, although Tubby Schaumann is considered the best of them, with its complexity of narrative form through interrelated perspectives.

Raabe’s work was written during the period of German Realism (1850-1890), and Tubby Schaumann clearly focuses on the everyday reality experienced by the individual. His realism includes criticism of the society in which he lives. When Schaumann reveals the truth about the murder, the community judgment is revealed as false, and the...

(The entire section is 527 words.)