Persistence of Folly
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Persistence of Folly

On the Origins of German Dramatic Literature
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Joel B. Lande
Signale: Modern German Letters, Cultures, and Thought
eBook Typ:
Adobe Digital Editions
eBook Format:
Adobe DRM [Hard-DRM]

Joel B. Lande’s Persistence of Folly challenges the accepted account of the origins of German theater by focusing on the misunderstood figure of the fool, whose spontaneous and impish jest captivated audiences, critics, and playwrights from the late sixteenth through the early nineteenth century. Lande radically expands the scope of literary historical inquiry, showing that the fool was not a distraction from attempts to establish a serious dramatic tradition in the German language. Instead, the fool was both a fixture on the stage and a nearly ubiquitous theme in an array of literary critical, governmental, moral-philosophical, and medical discourses, figuring centrally in broad-based efforts to assign laughter a proper time, place, and proportion in society.

Persistence of Folly reveals the fool as a cornerstone of the dynamic process that culminated in the works of Lessing, Goethe, and Kleist. By reorienting the history of German theater, Lande’s work conclusively shows that the highpoint of German literature around 1800 did not eliminate irreverent jest in the name of serious drama, but instead developed highly refined techniques for integrating the comic tradition of the stage fool.

Part I The Fool at Play: Comic Practice and the Strolling Players
1. Birth of a Comic Form
2. Strolling Players and the Advent of the Fool
3. Practice of Stage Interaction
4. The Fool's Space and Time
Part II Fabricating Comedy and the Fate of the Foolin the Age of Reform
5. Making Comedy Whole
6. Biases in Precedent
7. Sanitation and Unity
8. Comedic Plot, Comic Time, Dramatic Time
Part III Life, Theater, and the Restoration of the Fool
9. Policey and the Legitimacy of Delight
10. The Place of Laughter in Life
11. National Literature I: Improvement
12. National Literature II: Custom
Part IV The Vitality of Folly in Goethe's Faustand Kleist's Jug
13. Faust I: Setting the Stage
14. Faust II: Mirroring and Framing in the Form of Faust
15. Faust III: The Diabolical Comic
16. Antinomies of the Classical: On Kleist's Broken Jug