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Title: Goethe and the nobility as characterisation and presentation of self
Author: Jackson, Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2015
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Goethe had a complex and evolving relationship with the nobility, for reasons which can in part be inferred from his biography. This thesis, however, is primarily concerned with examination of relevant texts, and is largely confined to the years before the journey to Italy in 1786. The first three chapters cover the period before his arrival in Weimar. This is followed by an account of the relevant works from the first Weimar decade (1775-1786), with some biographical detail. The main weight has fallen on Wilhelm Meisters theatralische Sendung, a text which is still sometimes undervalued, and has a rather limited bibliography. It is naturally a more direct reflection of his social attitudes than the three major plays associated with the decade, which however have been given separate, more cursory treatments in the three final chapters. General themes include the emergence of Goethe from immature, or at least inherited, stereotypes of the nobility, first towards an attempted alliance between it and the ‘Genie’ of the Sturm und Drang, and then to a more detailed critique made possible by personal experience. The final phase (final, that is, within the limited time frame) was the formation and development of an internal ideal of nobility with an increasingly tenuous relationship with social and political reality. Goethe’s picture of nobility as performance and presentation of self is considered, and its links, for the non-noble author, with theatre and theatrical role performance. Other recurring themes include court manners and their value, both inherently and as an analogue of the heightening which for Goethe was essential to art, court life as a paradigm of social life in general, and the related subject of flight from society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN0080 Criticism ; PT Germanic literature