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Title: Psychologische Kunststûcke : Schwärmerkritik in Goethes Dramen und Prosa (1775-1786)
Author: Kaminski, Johannes Daniel
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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My thesis aims to develop a better understanding of Goethe's works written during his first Weimar decade. In research, this period has been consistently underestimated and is generally regarded as a rather unproductive epoch of Goethe's literary career. By positioning Goethe's works of 1775-86 within the intellectual discussions of the late Enlightenment, my approach is devoted to the historical and hermeneutic analysis of the interplay between anthropology and literature. Chapter one takes into account the problematic heritage of enthusiasm, thus relying on the methodology of conceptual history. After Martin Luther coined the term, it underwent many changes and kept adapting with the changing fashions of philosophy. But whilst German late Enlightenment thinkers intended to transcend this terminology, the enthusiast had already become a common figure in Gottschedian theatre, hence encouraging writers to explore further both his social and his psychological deficiencies. As a consequence, the 'harmonious pattern of typical figures' ('harmonisierende Typenkonstellation') emerged in order to provide a model of therapy and healing. However, the following generation of writers, amongst them Goethe, shed a critical light on this approach. Examining the heritage of the critique of enthusiasm in Goethe's thought, the second chapter interprets examples of Goethe's literature in the light of his 'realist therapy'. Briefe aus der Schweiz present a new attitude towards landscape which immunises the individual against the dangers of enthusiasm. The second edition of Werther stresses its outline as a historia morbi, thus deepening the reader's empirical understanding of the world. The third chapter focuses on the musical comedies Lila and T rittmpb der Empfindsamkeit. Their female protagonists are marginalised by the people around them, who cannot make sense of their self-imposed isolation and death wishes. It is argued that eventually they develop a highly aestheticised way of self-expression ill order to distinguish themselves positively from their banal surroundings. Chapter four is devoted to a thorough analysis of the fragmentary novel Wilbelm Meisters theatralische 5 endung. The text is approached within the framework of a late Enlightenment genre, the anthropological novel. In the course of the argument an important difference to this genre is diagnosed as the Sendungs realist elements become more prominent than the narrator's judgemental perspectives on the enthusiast Wilhelm. By employing this literary style, Goethe develops a more appreciative attitude towards his deficiencies. Alongside a conclusion which sums up this thesis's findings, Chapter five glances briefly forward to suggest how enthusiasm still plays a role in Goethe's works of the 1790's and to indicate what features set them apart from the literature produced during his first Weimar decade.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available