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Monatshefte

Volume 91, Number 2, Summer 1999 Table of Contents

Texts and Documents

Claudia Anita Becker
German American
Claudia Anita Becker, born in 1959, began her studies in Germany and continued in the U.S., earning graduate degrees from Bowling Green State University and the University of Southern California. She has taught at the University of Trier, USC, Pepperdine University, and the University of Illinois in Chicago, making her home in Chicago since 1992. Her areas of interest have included not only linguistics, applied linguistics, foreign-language acquisition, and teaching methodology, but also creative writing. With this poem, she makes her debut in Monatshefte. (CLN) (In German and English)

Articles

Karin Schutjer
The Persistence of Sympathy in Kant’s Aesthetics
Abstract:
One of the most important legacies of Kant’s Third Critique is its social or interpersonal trajectory, arising from Kant’s claim that taste amounts to a kind of communal sense (Gemeinsinn). Kant intends aesthetic experience to enact something like an encounter with an alien subjectivity, yet his preferred stage for this drama of alterity is a non-human nature. This article thus investigates the peculiar status of other human beings, in particular other human bodies, in Kant’s text. Kant sets out to imagine a free form of community uncorrupted by the heterogamous forces of identification and desire. His account is full of aesthetic fantasy spaces that claim to have an intersubjective cast as part of a deeper structure but shut out, sometimes quite awkwardly, the sensory reality of other human beings. I show how persistently his arguments and images are indeed disrupted by the lure of sympathy with human bodies. (KS)

 

Lisa C. Roetzel
Positionality and the Male Philosopher: Freidrich Schlegel’s “Über die Philosophie. An Dorothea”
Abstract:
“Über die Philosophie. An Dorothea” (1798) represents one of Friedrich Schiegel’s earliest theoretical attempts to feminize romantic philosophy. In locating philosophical discourse in a conversation between himself and his later wife Dorothea Veit, Schlegel borrows from the sociable interactions of the literary salon and personalizes the exchange. The resulting intimate philosophy, where Dorothea is portrayed as the personification of the romantic philosopher, challenges philosophical and gender conventions. However, Schlegel’s preeminent role in the essay as narrator and commentator invites questions concerning the implications of his appropriation of the feminine. The current feminist discussion of positionality, which theorizes the shifting positions of meaning and desire occupied by women, assists in the discussion of the efficacy and limitations of Schlegel’s gender critique. (LCR)

 

Joyce S. Walker
Sex, Suicide, and the Sublime: A Reading of Goethe’s Werther
Abstract:
This essay applies the eighteenth-century aesthetic of the sublime and the beautiful to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 1787 novel, Die Leiden des jungen Werther, while examining its implications for notions about gender. It proceeds from the idea that Rousseauean concepts of both femininity and masculinity derive from the currency of this aesthetic dichotomy, and that these ideas serve to illuminate Goethe’s text. Accordingly, the movement from the beautiful to the sublime is reflected in Werther’s consciousness and projected onto nature, embodied in the transition from Homer to Ossian, and epitomized in Werther’s relationship to Lotte. Ultimately, the move from the beautiful to the sublime suggests another facet of the much-disputed meaning of Werther’s suicide and the enigma of Lotte’s fate. (JSW)

 

Horst Lange
Goethe’s Strategy of Self-Censorship: The Case of the Venezianische Epigramme
Abstract:
Goethe’s Venezianische Epigramme come to us in essentially two forms: a manuscript version (often sexually explicit, religiously blasphemous, or politically subversive), and a published version (the end result of a conspicuous act of self-sensorship). This article shows that the excluded poems are integral to the meaning and composition of the cycle because they express its fundamental concern most explicitly, namely that major institutions of government, religion, and morality are based on fraud (Betrug). Consequently, Goethe’s self-censorship, pre-empting the intervention of government censors, is not neutral to the agenda of the lyric cycle, but rather risks obliterating it. In response to this problem Goethe inscribes into the poems a theory of esoteric and exoteric poetic discourse, and devises his exoteric poetry, the published cycle, in such a way that it becomes transparent to two facts: there is a constituting esoteric discourse behind it, and it is the reality of censorship which is keeping the esoteric hidden. (HL)

 

Liane Bryson
Romantic Science: Hoffmann’s Use of the Natural Sciences in “Der goldne Topf”
Abstract:
Although E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776–1822) characterized mesmerism, or animal magnetism, as a malign force in “Der Magnetisur,” he was considerably more positive in his subsequent work, “Der goldne Topf.” Examination of Hoffmann’s correspondence and texts indicates that, while the former work alludes to G. H. Schubert’s (1780–1860) Ansichten von der Nachtseite der Naturwissenschaft (1808), only the latter work could truly have been informed by a reading of Schubert’s text. Anselmus’s progress through the tale can be understood as an ever-deepening series of mesmeric trance inductions, corresponding to the six levels of magnetic sleep described in C.A.F. Kluge’s (1782–1844) Versuch einer Darstellung des animalischen Magnetismus als Heilmittel (1811). Anselmus’s ultimate arrival in Atlantis is a representation of Schubert’s belief that humanity’s lost sense of harmony with nature could be regained through the use of animal magnetism. (LB)

 

Kurt Fickert
The Identity of “Der Genosse Schriftsteller” in Johnson’s Jahrestage
Abstract:
The multileveled narration in Johnson’s Jahrestage is as complex as its text is copious. The narrator, both intradiegetic and extradiegetic, has a roster of assistant narrators; among these Johnson employs a first-person storyteller and on occasion the protagonist’s (Gesine Cresspahl’s) daughter. The most active of these fellow-writers, however, is the character “der Genosse Schriftsteller,” who undertakes to record Gesine’s memories, also the newspaper articles she reads in the New York Times, and her dialogues with her daughter. But he oversteps the bounds of the role of amanuensis since he also depicts his own experiences as a narrator, including his conversations with Gesine, his observations of the real-life fellow-author Martin Walser while in New York, and his impressions of a lecture given by the real-life Uwe Johnson. Critics have tended to simplify the narrative stance in Jahrestage, neglecting the abrupt changes in pronoun reference: third-person to first, ambiguous first-person plural intrusions; and, in their reluctance to assign Gesine’s fellow-writer a role in the fiction, they have failed to acknowledge the fact that Johnson, along with a few other authors, broke a path to the postmodern novel. (KF)

 

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