19XX, DEC 26
Rejoice, aficionados, and gather 'round! -- it is with the utmost pleasure that we of the D.D. Drosselmeyer Literary Institute announce the discovery of a new manuscript.
Discovered recently by students at the Gold Crown Academy for the Arts, it is unknown how such a precious document could evade our notice for so long. Scholars place it near the end of Drosselmeyer's career timeline, before his untimely demise. Confirmed through rigorous testing to be written in the master's own hand, this piece seems to be a later draft of his thought-to-be-incomplete final opus, "The Prince and the Raven". Incomplete no more, this new draft boasts a more robust plot, and -- truly unique to the master's usual tone, and in stark contrast to his declining mental health at the time of its commitment to paper -- ends quite happily ever after.
One of the lucky students that was present at the discovery of the manuscript, Autor Silberhaus, had this to say in a letter to our editors:
"It was my great pleasure as a descendant of this great man to have discovered this great discovery [sic]! Although this edition lacks the tragic gravitas of the original, I feel it is safe to say that my discovery will push the study of Drosselmeyer's vast oeuvre forward by many decades. Truthfully it is my belief that an author of such magnitude [cont., pg. 6B]"
Some have criticized "The Prince and the Raven" as an aimless wandering tragedy, lacking cohesion. Indeed, as is the case with Iago of Shakespeare's "Othello", some have identified the Raven himself as the author's avatar, embodying -- if you will -- the devil, rather than the god, in the machine, and the author's desire to have a tragic end to his story. Drosselmeyer's well-known predilection toward chaotic misfortune in his works certainly lends weight to this theory.
However, this departure from his standard form makes the hard-fought happy ending all the sweeter for the dashing Prince Siegfried and his newly-beloved Princess Kraehe; the dangerous, yet conflicted daughter of the Raven King himself. Her tyrannical father demands she make a monster of her beloved, to bind Siegfried's heart and make the prince's power his. But, Kraehe cannot help but fall desperately in love with the only man who has shown her true kindness. Her own dark passions drive her to nearly destroy her lover -- in Drosselmeyerian literature, this is normally the point where the Princess would drive a dagger through her beloved's heart, muse distantly on the futility of it all, and then follow the Prince into the abyss. In this manuscript, however, we see the pair emerge triumphant above the Raven King's defeated body, and ride off amidst cheers from the grateful townsfolk.
And indeed there are many more characters to be introduced, or even re-introduced, to the eager reader. Siegfried's loyal Knight was, of course, previously an almost pathetic character that tilted at windmills in his attempts to be useful and was killed off immediately for his pains. He makes a return here as a determined, heroic warrior-poet, and -- while Drosselmeyer still seems to be at odds with his character, both admiring and tormenting him for his tenacity -- he now serves as a full-fledged foil to Siegfried, in search of his own purpose in life.
Mr. Silberhaus had this to add:
"[...] The literary world is really all too focused on minor players; it is the bigger picture, the overarching mythos, that begs examination! Not that I accuse Herr Drosselmeyer of such a thing, of course, he is simply commentating on the times; in fact, in his previous works [cont., pg. 6D]"
Several other characters enjoy expanded roles: Siegfried's lovably eccentric mentor Herr Katze, the enigmatic automaton Edel, and even the previously nameless Blacksmith. However, no other character has as much loving detail paid to them as the beautiful, courageous Princess Tutu. In the original manuscript, she warranted barely a line of text -- her name a whimsical nod to Drosselmeyer's well-known patronage of the art of dance, she is a lovesick pixie that Siegfried encounters who sacrifices her life for the love of him, though he is unable to return the same affection. However, this new draft catapults her to a massively expanded role -- indeed, even surpassing Siegfried himself! This news has delighted students of feminist literature. Professor of Germanic Literature at Humboldt University, Hershel Schildkröten, had this to say:
"...clearly the character of Princess Tutu was meant to represent the Prince's absent mother and his nascent sexual awakening, as supported by the nurturing egg imagery surrounding her. Her destiny to disappear at her proclamation of love is symbolic of the sublimation of the self involved in motherhood; the smooth roundness of the egg she is birthed from is of course symbolic of the moon phase, and thus [cont., pg. 7A]"
The Princess Tutu of Drosselmeyer's original draft was little more than a digression in the narrative, easily forgotten by casual readers. Here, she is the true heroine of the work. Drosselmeyer has always delighted in tapping on the reader's window, in breaking the fourth wall to deliver precious quips of his particular brand of wit. In this light, the Raven's Scheherazade gambit -- escaping from one story to hide in another (the reader's own world!) -- is a natural progression of form. In a move that is a thoughtful examination of the very method of storytelling, Siegfried shatters his own heart to pin down the Raven; halting the evil king, but the prince as well -- locking the story forever in stasis. Here is where Princess Tutu shines: she realizes that only by escaping from the story cycle entirely will the Raven's tyranny end. Her path is clear; she must journey, cursed to the form of a tiny duckling -- obviously a nod to Andersen's fairytale, and a classic example of the hero-turned-animal fairytale archetype-- to free both the prince and the evil king from their bonds, all while carrying the heavy knowledge that her only thanks will be to fade from existence.
Her work is both helped and hampered by Siegfried's Knight, whose devotion to the care of his liege has consumed him. Tutu is able to sway his heart to her cause -- and indeed, sway his heart to her -- by her empathy and elegant expression toward him and the beleaguered townspeople who have been consumed by Siegfried's own stray emotion, remnants from his sacrifice. Tutu's deft understanding of others' emotion is tragically ironic when one realizes that it is Tutu's inability to express her own emotions to Siegfried that is her own downfall. Drosselmeyer cleverly mirrors the situation with Tutu's duck curse -- when she gives into her own, shall we say "fowler" emotions, she is thrown out of her girl body and into a form with no voice at all.
It is through the Knight's support that Tutu is able to overcome her fears and surrender the source of her power to Siegfried's cause -- though rather than fade away in her forever-unrequited love, the deep emotional bonds she forms with the Knight allow her to live on in her duck form. Had Drosselmeyer's life not been cut cruelly short, we may have seen a continuation of their tale! Alas, it is now the task of reader's own imagination.
More somberly, this manuscript gives us a glimpse into the master's mind during the final years of his career. The sinister, axe-bearing cloaked men that are bent on ending Tutu's quest to move the story forward can be seen as an anthropomorphic representation of Drosselmeyer's depression and failing health. In his diary entries he often spoke of "the dark cowled figures [...] forever lingering at the edge of my sight, waiting for their director's cue" (Vol IV, Collected Journals). His subsequent passing now lies in stark contrast to the ending for his last great opus.
Any Drosselmeyerian would be pleased at the felicitous discovery of this manuscript alone, but with the help of Gold Crown Academy student Fakir Stahlbaum, the D.D. Drosselmeyer Literary Institute was able to secure copies of several works previously available only in fragments, or thought lost to the ages1. Many of these books are heavily damaged by the ravages of time, but as their restoration proceeds their text should be made available to the anxiously-awaiting public. Though we were unable to reach him for an interview, we extend our warmest thanks and a membership to our fine Institute to the young Mr. Stahlbaum. Parenthetically must this humble journalist note that Mr. Stahlbaum's family name is linked to the Drosselmeyer family tree -- truly it would be a privilege to have such an addition to our society! We extend a grateful hand.
This news brings the year to a triumphant close -- the Journal Ballabile will keep faithful Drosselmeyerians up to date on publication release dates, and will continue to print the finest literary critiques on the master's work.
"All children that love stories come, gather 'round..."
1 We sincerely apologize for the typographical error that resulted in the omission of Mr. Silberhaus' efforts.