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Monatshefte

Volume 105, Number 1, Spring 2013 Table of Contents

Articles

Patrick Fortmann
Miniaturizing the Revolution: Political Fantasy, Theatricality, and Sovereignty in Goethe’s Comedies Der Groß-Cophta, Die Aufgeregten, and Der Bürgergeneral
Abstract:
Between 1791 and 1793, Goethe became increasingly concerned with the upheaval unfolding to the West of Weimar, responding to it with a series of plays, Der Groß-Cophta, Die Aufgeregten, and Der Bürgergeneral, which transpose the revolution to rural Germany and transform it into comedy. Contemporary audiences as well as modern critics have by-and-large shunned the plays. This article makes a case for a reassessment, arguing that the comedies may be provincial in setting, schematic in script, and minimalistic in cast but pointedly identify the imagination as the primary force pressing for political change. Goethe’s comedies of the revolution respond to this constellation threefold—by denouncing revolutionary fantasies as a scam created by demagogues to fool the gullible; by exposing the theatricality inherent in the revolutionary undertaking; and by branding the apostles of liberty as tyrants in waiting. As Goethe, in each play, pits the lord of the land against a contender, he not only catalogues the sources of sovereign authority but also establishes a disturbing parallel between the sovereign and the con-artist, thus pointing to the foundation of sovereignty in fiction. (PF)

 

Hartmut M. Kaiser
Ist Gretchen eine Kindsmörderin?
Abstract:
Goethe’s vote to retain the death penalty for infanticide (1783) influenced his subsequent work on Faust (1788–1808), in particular his evolving concept of Gretchen. Proceeding from some of Goethe’s comments and his significant changes in the Prison-scene, I analyze the chronology of Part I and claim that its inconsistencies disappear when read as lasting from Easter to early May, insufficient time for Gretchen to give birth. The ambiguous Prison-scene does not contradict this finding and the scene Bergschluchten where Gretchen reappears as penitent contains no references to infanticide. Goethe realized around 1800 that his expanding concept of Faust required a second part; simultaneously he decided to turn Gretchen into an agent for Faust’s salvation. Lifting the crime of infanticide from her (but not her sinful relationship with Faust) implies that Goethe, the poet, accepted the decision of Goethe, the statesman, that infanticide is a serious crime, far more so than falling in love with a man who made a pact with the Devil. That the poet needed some twenty years to concur with the statesman indicates how difficult a decision it was. (HMK; in German)

 

Angel Valentinov Angelov
Metropolis und Exotik: Heinrich Heine über Léopold Robert und Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps
Abstract:
The author argues that Heine outlined an imagined geography of Europe via reference to a number of paintings, divided into historical (France, England) and national exotic (Italy, Tirol, the Pyrenees). Heine’s social and historical actuality did not exclude the creation of ideological and non-historical images. Heine over-interpreted Alexandre Gabriel Decamps’s genre painting “Cadji-Bey, chef de la police de Smyrne, faisant sa ronde” as an image of injustice; the image represents a world that is not only devoid of civilization but degenerate and bestial. Animal resemblance denies history to that world. Finally, the author explores the significance of the gaze from outside in addressing exoticism in the works of Decamps and Léopold Robert and the way in which looking from the outside may create exotic images derived not from foreign cultures, but from the peripheries of European countries. (AVA; in German)

 

Daniela Hempen
Grünender Wald, gebannter Ort und Palast der Fee: Zum Verhältnis zwischen Mensch und Natur in Franz Grillparzers Melusina,
Abstract:
This article examines the relationship between humans and nature in Franz Grillparzer’s Melusina (1823). In contrast to the hunting forest, the aristocracy’s playground, untamed nature appears as a largely inaccessible and frequently hostile ‘otherworld,’ populated by mythological animals, such as the White Stag and the nymph, and comprised of topical places, such as the locus amoenus. Grillparzer uses nature elements integral to medieval tales of the Mahrtenehe and to early modern and romantic tales of Melusina—such as the hunting forest, the medieval wilder walt, as well as the locus amoenus and locus terribilis—to present his audience with a new view of nature. Most importantly, the nymph Melusina herself becomes the symbol and voice of untamed nature. Although impossible to control, nature can still become a victim of civilization. In the successful relationship between Raimund and Melusina Grillparzer demonstrates that the dichotomy between civilization and untamed nature can be overcome if humans accept nature on its own terms, much as the lover Raimund comes to accept Melusina. Raimund’s changed view of Melusina is a reflection of the growing movement to value and protect the natural world and thus of the emerging Naturschutzbewegung in 19th century Germany and Austria. (DH; in German)

 

Samuel Clowes Huneke
The Reception of Homosexuality in Klaus Mann’s Weimar Era Works
Abstract:
Although Klaus Mann has long been recognized for his antifascist works written in exile, his earlier Weimar texts have only recently received serious scholarly attention. Noted for the prominent role that homosexuality plays in them, these works have been frequently cited as an example of and influence on Weimar culture, particularly its gay elements. However, no rigorous study has yet attempted to trace the reception of homosexuality in Mann’s literature in the 1920s and early 1930s. This article seeks to determine the reception of these texts in selected contemporary general and gay periodicals in order to demonstrate that the homosexual content of Mann’s literature was widely received in the Weimar Republic. Interwar critics noted his works not only for their depictions of the Nachkriegsgeneration, but also for their vivid and realistic homosexual content. Mann’s works placed same sex desire, depicted in an affirmative light, squarely in front of Weimar readers, asking them to consider the place of gay men and women in their society. (SCH)

 

Tom Kuhn
Brecht reads Bruegel: Verfremdung, Gestic Realism and the Second Phase of Brechtian Theory
Abstract:
Brecht’s interest in Bruegel is widely testified, but no one has asked quite what the playwright and theorist saw in the pictures of the Flemish master. This article tracks Brecht’s reception, from a putative first encounter in 1936 and through his own notes on the pictures, and demonstrates how closely Brecht’s reading of Bruegel may have entwined with his contemporary reflections on Verfremdung, Gestus and “cognitive realism,” as also with the theatre projects of the later exile period. There are particularly close relationships, for example, between Bruegel’s Dulle Griet and Mutter Courage and Der kaukasische Kreidekreis. Through the gaze of the modernist dramatist, Bruegel comes across as an artist of political cunning whose works demand a complex (even dialectic) cognitive process in order to read and decipher them. He is, like Brecht, both a satirist and a realist. His paintings are full of inversions designed to unsettle the onlooker’s conventional views, full of political hints and separate little narrative episodes to tease. What Brecht discovered in Bruegel and in the detail of Bruegel’s pictures was to have far-reaching consequences, both for the formulation of his theory and for the look and practice of his theatre. (TK)

 

Book Reviews

Agazzi, Elena und Erhard Schütz, Hrsg., Heimkehr: Eine zentrale Kategorie der Nachkriegszeit. Geschichte, Literatur und Medien (Christopher Wickham)

Balmer, Susanne, Der weibliche Entwicklungsroman. Individuelle Lebensentwürfe im bürgerlichen Zeitalter (Carol Strauss Sotiropoulos)

Beebee, Thomas O., Citation and Precedent: Conjunctions and Disjunctions of German Law and Literature (Ralph Grunewald)

Corngold, Stanley and Ruth V. Gross, eds., Kafka for the Twenty-First Century (Andreas Härter)

Damert, Klaus, Rufmord klassisch. Gottfried August Bürger. Volksdichter und radikaler Demokrat (Klaus L. Berghahn)

Dammann, Günther, Hrsg., B. Traven. Autor—Werk—Werkgeschichte (Alan Corkhill)

Fliedl, Konstanze, Marina Rauchenbacher und Joanna Wolf, Hrsg., Handbuch der Kunstzitate. Malerei, Skulptur, Fotografie in der deutschsprachigen Literatur der Moderne. (Sabine Gross)

Geller, Jay, The Other Jewish Question: Identifying the Jew and Making Sense of Modernity (Rebekah Slodounik)

Glaser, Elvira, Jürgen Erich Schmidt und Natascha Frey, Hrsg., Dynamik des Dialekts—Wandel und Variation (Jürgen Macha)

Gramaccini, Norberto und Johannes Rößler, Hrsg., Hundert Jahre “Abstraktion und Einfühlung”. Konstellationen um Wilhelm Worringer (Marcus Bullock)

Hennenberg, Fritz, Orff-Studien (Vera Stegmann)

König, Jan C.L., Über die Wirkungsmacht der Rede. Strategien politischer Eloquenz in Literatur und Alltag (Sonja Boos)

Leeder, Karen and Robert Vilain, eds., The Cambridge Companion to Rilke (Ernst Grabovszki)

Liston, Andrew, The Ecological Voice in Recent German-Swiss Prose (Sabine Wilke)

Lothe, Jakob, Beatrice Sandberg, and Ronald Speirs, eds., Franz Kafka: Narration, Rhetoric and Reading (Doreen Densky)

Mathäs, Alexander, ed., The Self as Muse: Narcissism and Creativity in the German Imagination, 1750–1830 (Brian Tucker)

Mehigan, Tim, Heinrich von Kleist: Writing after Kant (Elystan Griffiths)

Mergenthaler, May, Zwischen Eros und Mitteilung. Die Frühromantik im Symposion der “Athenaeums-Fragmente” (Gerhart Hoffmeister)

Newman, Jane O., Benjamin’s Library: Modernity, Nation, and the Baroque (Rolf J. Goebel)

Saße, Günter, Auswandern in die Moderne. Tradition und Innovation in Goethes Roman Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre (Ansgar Mohnkern)

Uerlings, Herbert und Iulia-Karin Patrut, Hrsg., Postkolonialismus und Kanon (Stefan Hermes)

Voigt, Stefanie, Erhabenheit. Über ein großes Gefühl und seine Opfer (Christoph Weber)

Wolf, Norbert Christian, Kakanien als Gesellschaftskonstruktion. Robert Musils Sozioanalyse des 20. Jahrhunderts (Mark M. Freed)

Zinn, Andreas, Bildersturmspiele. Intermedialität im Werk Bertolt Brechts (Kristopher Imbrigotta)