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Affecting Grace

Affecting Grace: Theatre, Subject, and the Shakespearean Paradox in German Literature from Lessing to Kleist

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 296
  • Book Info
    Affecting Grace
    Book Description:

    Affecting Graceexamines the importance of Shakespeare's poetry and plays within German literature and thought after 1750 - including its relationship to German classicism, which favoured unreflected ease over theatricality.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6415-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-25)

    Theatre and subject are virtual opposites, the latter (in its modern sense) being a function of the ego, which arises in the interest of concealing a division within the self. A psychological formation, the subject has its aesthetic equivalent in the classical object, the plastic fulness of which works to counteract that division. The antonym of the classical object is a theatre predicated on the split between the self, which hides from view, and that which steps readily into the light but is self-consciously inauthentic. The theatre of Shakespeare is occupied throughout with the mechanisms of self-presentation and with the...

  6. Chapter One Mercy and the Spirit of Commerce: Shylockʹs Shadow in the Age of Disinterest
    (pp. 26-43)

    In 1782 Francesco Guardi carried out a series of paintings documenting the ceremonies surrounding the visit to Venice of two members of the Russian high nobility. HisGala Concert(Figure 1) is the most accomplished of these and is thought by many to be the crown jewel of Guardi’s ampleoeuvre.With characteristically loose brushwork the painter maintains the many celebrants in their formal separation while enveloping the whole in a dense, almost turgid atmosphere. Three elevated rows of musicians (students from the womenʹs conservatory) seem beyond the reach of the long shadows, which suffuse the scene with a sense...

  7. Chapter Two Judging Adam: Theatre and the Fall into History
    (pp. 44-64)

    The words with which Portia entreats Shylock to be merciful could just as well be addressed to Kleistʹs Frau Marthe, who enters the scene as a more fully comedic avatar of archaic vengeance. The antiquated forms of punishment she would have the court mete out are compatible with the state precipitated by the Fall, which her jugʹs destruction, being coeval with Judge Adamʹs injury, re-enacts. Her counterpart to Shylockʹs bond, the jug symbolizes the promise, now broken, embodied by the order whose stability is the subject of the scene she re-creates verbally (an emperor crowning his son before an assembled...

  8. Chapter Three The Virtue of Things: Meissen Porcelain and the Classical Object
    (pp. 65-85)

    The town of Meissen, which makes a fortuitous appearance in Canterburyʹs chronicle of French royal succession, was also to become the legendary birthplace of European porcelain. Long coveted by monarchs, porcelain, particularly as it developed subsequent to its reinvention by German artisans around 1700, offers a window onto the general shift in sensibilities away from the mystery and severity of the Baroque towards the levity and mannered ease of the Rococo. It parallels the growing popularity of the idyll, with its miniature effects, its airy eroticism, and its secular version of prelapsarian innocence. Porcelainʹs delicate and translucent aspect commended it...

  9. Chapter Four Poison and the Language of Praise: From Hamlet to Miss Sara Sampson
    (pp. 86-110)

    The noxious mix of poison, pitch, and brimstone that Böttger uses to evoke the years of suffering he endured at the furnace is germane to the commingling of meanings that converge on the ʺofferingʺ (Opfer), in which role he, in a gesture of abject obeisance, casts himself. His claim that he would as soon ingest snake venom as eat marzipan brings poison into proximity with those fruit-shaped compounds of sugar and bitter almond. A foil for his professed asceticism, these colourful confections share with porcelain a delight in artifice and ephemeral pleasure. Böttger, however, associates the results of his labours...

  10. Chapter Five Architectural Fantasies: Bellotto in Dresden, Goethe in Strasbourg
    (pp. 111-145)

    In the spring of 1771 Goethe, on the mend after a long illness, and aching to escape the sphere of his fatherʹs influence, rode the mail to Strasbourg, where he would convalesce and study law. His first act upon alighting – so he reports in his autobiographyDichtung und Wahrheit(Poetry and Truth) – was to rush towards the great Gothic cathedral at the heart of town. The worldʹs tallest building at the time, the massive church had been visible for miles. Goethe describes his encounter with the medieval colossus in the impassionedVon Deutscher Baukunst(On German Architecture), which...

  11. Chapter Six Sovereign Innocence: Schillerʹs ʺWalkʺ and the Naive Spectator
    (pp. 146-177)

    At the heart of his poem ʺDer Spaziergangʺ (1800), a two-hundred-line elegy in which an extended walk frames a meditation on Western history, Schiller quotes Simonidesʹ epitaph for the Spartans who fell at Thermopylae:

    ʺWanderer, kommst du nach Sparta, verkündige dorten, du habest Uns hier liegen gesehn, wie das Gesetz es befahl.ʺ (97–98)¹

    ʺWanderer, if you reach Sparta, proclaim there that you saw Us lying here, as the law commanded.ʺ

    The only formal citation in ʺDer Spaziergang,ʺ and positioned near the centre of a poem noted for its ʺarchitectonic balance,ʺ² Simonidesʹ lines are structurally, aesthetically, and thematically pivotal. Their...

  12. Chapter Seven Caught in the Act: The Comedic Miscarriage of Kleistʹs Broken Jug
    (pp. 178-216)

    Following his almost somnambulistic passage through the successive epochs of Western culture, the wandering subject of SchillerʹsDer Spaziergangawakens to find himself in a landscape of exile. The garden, with its hedges and walkways, lies far behind him. Massive rocks tower above him now, his progress hampered by sheer drop-offs on every side. His barren surroundings correspond to a heightened state of reflection. First-personal pronouns abound at the poemʹs beginning in the form of classical apostrophe, proclaiming an intimacy between the speaker and his world. Yet only at the apex of his journey, as a mark of isolation, does...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 217-222)

    Erich Auerbachʹs presence throughout this project, if unexpected, arises from the same paradox governing the German embrace of Shakespeare, which entailed the absorption of the self-exteriorizing theatricality of Elizabethan stagecraft into a modern, self-sufficient subject. The emergence of an agent who bears his audience within is contemporaneous with the philosophical shift that grounded the capacity for aesthetic experience in personal autonomy. That a markedly anti-Baroque sensibility would accompany this shift is obvious given the sheer subjugation integral to Absolutism, of which the Baroque was the official style. Auerbachʹs place in this discussion stems from what may be described as a...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 223-256)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 257-270)
  16. Index
    (pp. 271-280)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 281-281)