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Dagmar C. G. Lorenz

Stereotypical characters that promoted the Nazi worldview were repurposed by antifascist authors in Weimar Germany, argues Dagmar C.G. Lorenz. This is the first book to trace Nazi characters through the German and Austrian literature. Until the defeat of the Third Reich, pro-Nazi literature was widely distributed. However, after the war, Nazi publications were suppressed or even banned, and new writers began to dominate the market alongside exile and resistance authors. The fact that Nazi figures remained consistent suggests that, rather than representing real people, they functioned as ideological signifiers. Recent literature and films set in the Nazi era show that “the Nazis”, ambiguous characters with a sinister appeal, live on as an established trope in the cultural imagination.
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Oscar Wilde in Vienna

Pleasing and Teasing the Audience

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Sandra Mayer

Oscar Wilde in Vienna is the first book-length study in English of the reception of Oscar Wilde’s works in the German-speaking world. Charting the plays’ history on Viennese stages between 1903 and 2013, it casts a spotlight on the international reputation of one of the most popular English-language writers while contributing to Austrian cultural history in the long twentieth century.

Based on extensive archival material, the appropriation of Wilde’s plays is placed against the background of political crises and social transformations. Within an environment positioned – like Wilde himself – at the crossroads of centre and periphery, tradition and modernity, Sandra Mayer unravels the mechanisms of cultural transfer and canonisation.
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The Radical Enlightenment in Germany

A Cultural Perspective

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This volume investigates the impact of the Radical Enlightenment on German culture during the eighteenth century, taking recent work by Jonathan Israel as its point of departure. The collection documents the cultural dimension of the debate on the Radical Enlightenment. In a series of readings of known and lesser-known fictional and essayistic texts, individual contributors show that these can be read not only as articulating a conflict between Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment, but also as documents of a debate about the precise nature of Enlightenment. At stake is the question whether the Enlightenment should aim to be an atheist, materialist, and political movement that wants to change society, or, in spite of its belief in rationality, should respect monarchy, aristocracy, and established religion.

Contributors are: Mary Helen Dupree, Sean Franzel, Peter Höyng, John A. McCarthy, Monika Nenon, Carl Niekerk, Daniel Purdy, William Rasch, Ann Schmiesing, Paul S. Spalding, Gabriela Stoicea, Birgit Tautz, Andrew Weeks, Chunjie Zhang
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Since the tumultuous events of 1989/1990, writers, cultural practitioners and academics have responded to, reconstructed and reflected upon the process and enduring impact of German reunification. This bilingual volume provides a nuanced understanding of the literature and culture of the GDR and its legacy today. It explores a broad range of genres, combines perspectives on both lesser-known and more established writers, and juxtaposes academic articles with the personal reflections of those who directly experienced and engaged with the GDR from within or beyond its borders. Whether creative practitioners or academics, contributors consider the broader literary and intellectual contexts and traditions shaping GDR literature and culture in a way that enriches our understanding of reunification and its legacy.

Contributors are: Deirdre Byrnes, Anna Chiarloni, Jean E. Conacher, Sabine Egger, Robert Gillett, Frank Thomas Grub, Jochen Hennig, Nick Hodgin, Frank Hörnigk, Therese Hörnigk, Gisela Holfter, Jeannine Jud, Astrid Köhler, Marieke Krajenbrink, Hannes Krauss, Reinhard Kuhnert, Katja Lange-Müller, Corina Löwe, Hugh Ridley, Kathrin Schmidt.
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Shakespeare as German Author

Reception, Translation Theory, and Cultural Transfer

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Shakespeare as German Author, edited by John McCarthy, revisits in particular the formative phase of German Shakespeare reception 1760-1830. Following a detailed introduction to the historical and theoretical parameters of an era in search of its own literary voice, six case studies examine Shakespeare’s catalytic role in reshaping German aesthetics and stage production. They illuminate what German speakers found so appealing (or off-putting) about Shakespeare’s spirit, consider how translating it nurtured new linguistic and aesthetic sensibilities, and reflect on its relationship to German Geist through translation and cultural transfer theory. In the process, they shed new light, e.g., on the rise of Hamlet to canonical status, the role of women translators, and why Titus Andronicus proved so influential in twentieth-century theater performance.

Contributors are: Lisa Beesley, Astrid Dröse, Johanna Hörnig, Till Kinzel, John A. McCarthy, Curtis L. Maughan, Monika Nenon, Christine Nilsson.
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Curtis L. Maughan

Abstract

For more than a decade, Gerhart Hauptmann dedicated himself to a scholarly and artistic engagement with Shakespeare and his works, Hamlet in particular. The essays, addresses, adaptations, drama, and autobiographical novel that resulted from Hauptmann’s avid pursuit of the Hamlet mythology constitute a multimedia act of cultural transfer that signals a progressive, pan-European impulse within the history of German Shakespeare reception. At the center of Hauptmann’s reconstruction of the Danish Prince lies the image of an unfinished Torso, which, like the statue in Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s Beschreibung des Torso im Belvedere zu Rom, cries out to its audience to be made whole again.

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Lisa Beesley

Abstract

German intellectuals rediscovered the works of William Shakespeare in the late eighteenth century, giving rise to some of the most enduring German translations, some of which are still considered the best foreign language renditions of Shakespeare’s works today. Two of the most famous of these are translations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Christoph Martin Wieland’sEin St. Johannis Nachts-Traum (1766) and August Wilhelm Schlegel’sEin Sommernachtstraum (1797). This article compares the strategies that Wieland and Schlegel employed in order to address some of the most difficult portions of the text, such as specific cultural references not immediately accessible to Germans, and instances of wordplay that resist simple translations. These two texts are situated in the Enlightenment discourse of the dynamic process of dialogue and intellectual exchange, focusing on progress acheived not through ordo ordinatus (order of the ordered, completed order), but ordo ordinans (active, incomplete ordering). Schlegel built on Wieland’s translation in the spirit of this discourse, while inviting future translators to make further improvements and continue the conversation.

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Astrid Dröse

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Using paradigms of more recent research on cultural transfer, this study examines Schiller’s Shakespeare-reception in the context of the “saddle” period of “Shakespeare-mania.” The focus here is on Schiller’s reworking of Macbeth which sought to demonstrate the compatibility and confluence of the Ancients and the Moderns in what can be called a “poetics of hybridity”; that is, the mastering and ennobling of Shakespeare through the process of making the tragedy more like that of the Ancients. This process of transformation was, in fact, a programmatic trait of the Classical Schiller, for which his Macbeth-adaptation provides a paradigmatic example. Especially relevant are Schiller’s reworking of the witches’ szenes, to which contemporary critics immediately reacted. His reworking of the scenes deviated markedly from previous German versions by Chr. M.Wieland, G.A. Bürger, and J.J. Eschenburg in terms of choreography, costumes, form and content. The detailed analysis of these transformations here underscores the poetological-aesthetic signficance of Schiller’s adaptation.

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Christine M. Nilsson

Abstract

Since the beginning of the Shakespeare reception in German in the mid-eighteenth century, the original works of the great British dramatist were not only linguistically transferred into another language but also formally transformed according to the needs of the audience of the time. After the horrors of World War ii, Friedrich Dürrenmatt turned Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus into a “comedy” to demonstrate the absurdity of human existence. In 1987, Heiner Müller wrote anatomie titus. fall of rome: a shakespeare commentary on the violent mechanics of the empires not of antiquity but of our own era. This article focuses on Schändung (2005), another Titus-rewriting, by Botho Strauss. As the paratext “Übermalung” (overpainting) indicates, this adaptation emphasizes the visual dimension of a stage. Normally, the analysis of a dramatic text is the subject of literary studies, whereas elements of mis-en-scène – such as sets, costumes, props, acting style, sound, and movement – are the prerogatives of performance studies. My approach, however, is interdisciplinary. It draws on literary, drama, and performance theory in an effort to expose dramaturgical aspects of adaptation. Analogous to close reading, I employ “close looking” to examine the major hand-motif that is mentioned around eighty times in Shakespeare’s original play. My dramaturgically informed reading of Schändung elucidates the transfer of literary tropes to the theatrical semiotics of the modern stage. In the process, adaptation appears as a new form of theater text, which recontextualizes Shakespeare’s early tragedy within the aesthetics of modern German “Regietheater” (Director’s Theater).

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Till Kinzel

Abstract

The Brunswick (Braunschweig) professor of literature and philosophy, Johann Joachim Eschenburg (1743–1820), occupies an important place in the history of the German reception of Shakespeare. His work as a translator, taking up the task of completing Wieland’s project of translating all of Shakespeare’s plays, is supplemented by his keen theoretical interest in aesthetic and poetological questions. Influenced by friends like Lessing, Eschenburg took up a critical position towards Gottschedian as well as Voltairian classicism while moderately pushing towards a late enlightenment conception of literary aesthetics that would accomodate a more nuanced appreciation of alleged errors in Shakespeare’s plays. Eschenburg’s participation in the polemical battles fought about the evaluation of Shakespeare and the correct principles of literary criticism presents a fascinating case study of eighteenth-century critical practices. In this chapter, Eschenburg’s philological views concerning Shakespeare’s genius and his errors and his penchant for a polemical defense of Shakespeare against his detractors will be considered on the basis of his 1787 book Ueber W. Shakspeare, the first scholarly monograph on the poet written in German, as well as of some essays Eschenburg appended to his translations.