Most commentators on Grillparzer's "Der arme Spielmann" have regarded Jacob as a secular saint, a man of good will and transcendent vision. This view dominates the literature from Adalbert Stifter's appreciative review to several of the most recent interpretive essays. For example, Robert Browning considers Jacob a prelapsarian artist whose art must remain incomprehensible to the fallen around him. Both Browning and Peter Schaublin deduce a kind of pure, spiritual harmony from Jacob's avoidance of dissonance while improvising. Though conceding that ·Jacob is " simple-minded" and that " the Spielmann's own direct narrative already makes the reader ambivalent about him," John Ellis characterizes Jacob as entirely honest and incapable of compromise where his art is concerned, a marked contrast to the insincere, coldly efficient narrator. (Ellis dismisses the question of Jacob's sainthood as irrelevant.) Bruno Hannemann likewise emphasizes the dissimilarity between the exploitive, boastful narrator ("ein Mundheld") and the generous Spielmann ("ein tatiger Mensch").



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