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Edinburgh German Yearbook 6

Edinburgh German Yearbook 6: Sadness and Melancholy in German-Language Literature and Culture

Mary Cosgrove
Anna Richards
Volume: 6
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Edinburgh German Yearbook 6
    Book Description:

    Established, commissioned, and edited by the Department of German at the University of Edinburgh, the 'Edinburgh German Yearbook' is the only peer-reviewed German Studies publication that each year invites scholarly contributions on a single topic of current challenge to the field. Focusing on 'Sadness and Melancholy in German-language Literature and Culture,' volume 6 investigates the often subversive function and meaning of sadness and melancholy in German-language literature and culture from the seventeenth century to the present where, arguably, it has fallen from the heights of melancholy genius and artistic creativity of earlier epochs to become the embarrassing other of a Western civilization that prizes happiness as the mark of successful modern living. Interrogating the distinction between sadness as an anthropological constant and melancholy as a shifting cultural discourse, the contributions explore how different authors use established literary and cultural topoi from melancholy discourses to comment on topics as diverse as war, religion, gender inequality, and modernity. As well as essays on canonical figures including Goethe and Thomas Mann, the volume features studies of sadness in lesser-known writers such as Betty Paoli and Julia Schoch. Contributors: Per Brandt, Peter Damrau, Kristian Donko, Svenja Frank, Jens Hobus, Stephen Joy, Johannes D. Kaminski, Franziska Meyer, Richard Millington, Karin S. Wozonig. Mary Cosgrove is Reader in German at the University of Edinburgh. Anna Richards is Lecturer in German at Birkbeck College, University of London.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-842-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction: Sadness and Melancholy in German-Language Literature from the Seventeenth Century to the Present: An Overview
    (pp. 1-18)
    Mary Cosgrove

    Sadness is a common human mood; its causes can be many and varied. At face value, it is a normal emotional response to challenging life experiences, such as the death of a loved one or the end of a meaningful relationship. Sadness is often considered pathological, however, if it arises without a clear and identifiable cause and lingers indefinitely as a negative mood that colors the individual’s perception and experience of the world.¹ From antiquity to the late nineteenth century, the common term for this pathological version of sadness was “melancholy” or “melancholia” and it was typically described in medical...

  4. Tears That Make the Heart Shine? “Godly Sadness” in Pietism
    (pp. 19-34)
    Peter Damrau

    Literary critics have shown that German Pietism’s emphasis on the display of a wide range of emotions provided an important background to the sentimental and psychological literature of the eighteenth century.¹ This form of emotional religiosity also had the potential to contribute to an exaggerated sense of sadness in its followers.

    Pietism placed a strong emphasis on the active participation of the laity, and many Protestant believers became more interested in a form of Christianity that touched the heart than the scholarly approach of the orthodoxy. Pietism promoted the idea that true faith could be perceived and experienced through spiritual...

  5. Poetry of the Heart as Complicity with the Logos? Female Articulations of Sadness in Goethe’s Lila and Der Triumph der Empfindsamkeit
    (pp. 35-52)
    Johannes D. Kaminski

    Excessive sadness is the distinguishing feature of the heroines Lila and Mandandane in Goethe’s Lila (1777, 1778, 1788) and Der Triumph der Empfindsamkeit (1778).¹ Although these plays are usually described as Singspiele² (often translated as musical comedies), both lack the entertaining appeal which, in the eighteenth century, made this genre so popular amongst all strata of society.³ The numerous arias and duets in Lila and Der Triumph der Empfindsamkeit are not intended as pure entertainment for the audience, but as a means to articulate the heroines’ solitude, lamentations, and death wishes. In addition, Der Triumph der Empfindsamkeit contains farcical elements,...

  6. Produktive Negativität: Traurigkeit als Möglichkeitssinn um 1800
    (pp. 53-70)
    Kristian Donko

    Im Zuge der tiefgreifenden gesellschaftlichen und kulturellen Wandlungsprozesse ab der zweiten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts erfährt die Semantik der Traurigkeit wesentliche Erweiterungen und Umdeutungen.¹ Nicht zuletzt korreliert dies mit der “Entdeckung” des modernen Individuums sowie dem umfassenden Neuarrangement der Diskurse über Gefühle und Empfindungen in dieser Epoche. Traurigkeit erscheint hierbei als eine Form der krisenhaften Selbstwahrnehmung des Individuums. In zeitgenössischen Quellen markiert daher Traurigkeit vielfach ein spezifisch modernes Empfinden existenzieller Verunsicherung, dem die Spannung zwischen Anspruch und Wirklichkeit der Individualitätserfahrung zugrunde liegt. In diesem Sinne spiegelt Traurigkeit eine Modernitätserfahrung schlechthin wider, nämlich jene der Kontingenz, also die stets präsente Möglichkeit...

  7. Die Schwester Lenaus? Betty Paoli und der Weltschmerz
    (pp. 71-94)
    Karin S. Wozonig

    Die Lyrikerin und Journalistin Betty Paoli (1814–94) ist heute nur mehr Expert(inn)en der österreichischen Literatur bekannt, zu ihren Lebzeiten aber erfreuten sich ihre Gedichte großer Popularität.¹ Paoli wurde nicht nur mit Annette von Droste-Hülshoff verglichen,² sondern auch mit Nikolaus Lenau, dem sie 1841 ihren ersten Gedichtband widmete. In einer Rezension von 1851 vertieft sich der Vergleich zu einem Verwandtschaftsverhältnis, denn die Rede ist hier von Betty Paoli als der “Schwester Lenaus [. . .], wie sie mit vollem Rechte wohl heißen mag”.³ Im Folgenden werde ich diesen Vergleich näher untersuchen und mich dabei auf die genderspezifischen Zuschreibungen von Weltschmerz...

  8. “Immer wieder kehrst du, Melancholie”: Plotting Georg Trakl’s Poetic Sadness
    (pp. 95-112)
    Richard Millington

    “Seine dreifaltige Seele trug er in der Hand, / Als er in den heiligen Krieg zog. // — Dann wußte ich, er war gestorben.”¹ Else Lasker-Schüler wrote these lines in a heavily theologized tribute to fellow poet Georg Trakl (1887–1914) a year after his early death. They draw attention to one of several important distinctions between the Austrian Trakl and the Berlin-based expressionist contemporaries with whom anthologists and scholars have often associated him. Emotional coolness in the articulation of horrific or terrifying scenes is a common feature in the poetics of such leading representatives of “dark” or “apocalyptic” expressionism...

  9. Die Lust am Unendlichen: Melancholie und Ironie bei Robert Walser
    (pp. 113-134)
    Per Brandt and Jens Hobus

    In Robert Walsers Texten lassen sich zwei scheinbar widersprüchliche Phänomene beobachten: melancholische Gesten und ironische Verfahren. Obwohl Melancholie und Ironie divergierende Tendenzen haben, konvergieren sie in entscheidenden Punkten, zum Beispiel in ihrer sprachkritischen Haltung und in ihrer unabgeschlossenen Reflexivität. Zudem kann die Lust am ironischen Spiel leidvoll und das melancholische Leiden lustvoll sein. Der vorliegende Artikel ist dem Zusammenhang von Melancholie und Ironie bei Walser gewidmet.

    Dieter Borchmeyer hat für die moderne Literatur eine “Dialektik von Melancholie und Heiterkeit” festgestellt. “Die Heiterkeit bedarf des Hintergrundes der Melancholie. Lösen sie sich aus ihrem polaren Wechselbezug, so verflacht jene zu beschönigender Unterhaltsamkeit,...

  10. Melancholy Echo and the Case of Serenus Zeitblom
    (pp. 135-150)
    Stephen Joy

    Thomas Mann suffuses with sadness and lament his telling of Doktor Faustus: Das Leben des deutschen Tonsetzers Adrian Leverkühn, erzählt von einem Freunde.¹ As the final clause of the novel’s subtitle makes clear, the author’s aspiration to produce a cultural etiology of German fascism depends above all on the fictional biographer Serenus Zeitblom, whose writing constitutes a double act of mourning — for his beloved friend, the composer Adrian Leverkühn, and for the destruction of Germany around him during the Second World War. At the allegorical juncture of these two histories are Zeitblom’s narrative interventions, which draw out the mournfulness...

  11. Melancholy in Wilhelm Genazino’s Novels and Its Construction as Other
    (pp. 151-172)
    Svenja Frank

    One of the most profound explorations of sadness, melancholy, and boredom in the landscape of contemporary German literature is evident in the works of Wilhelm Genazino (1943–), a prolific writer based in Frankfurt am Main who won the Georg Büchner Prize in 2004. Genazino’s breakthrough work was the trilogy Abschaffel (1977), which tells the story of the eponymous protagonist, Abschaffel, a bored and melancholy man who despises his job as a bureaucrat in a transportation company, cannot forge lasting relationships with women, has hypochondriac tendencies, and ends up in the final part of the trilogy being treated in a...

  12. The Past Is Another Country and the Country Is Another Past: Sadness in East German Texts by Jakob Hein and Julia Schoch
    (pp. 173-192)
    Franziska Meyer

    Among German-language publications of the last ten years, a series of deeply sad prose works, and their themes of dying, death, and loss, stand out. Autobiographical or fictitious farewells to parents include Georg Diez’s Der Tod meiner Mutter (2009) and Sabine Peters’s story Abschied (2003), in which a daughter chronicles the aging and death of her authoritarian father. These are joined by what Dieter Lamping terms “fiktionale Sterbegeschichten,” such as Ludwig Fels’s novel Reise zum Mittelpunkt des Herzens (2006), the story of a heterosexual couple’s last day together that ends with the man’s death from cancer. Mariana Leky’s tragicomic novel...

  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 193-193)