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From Goethe to Novalis

Studies in Classicism and Romanticism: "Festschrift</I> for Dennis F. Mahoney in Celebration of his Sixty-Fifth Birthday

Wolfgang Mieder

This Festschrift in honor of Dennis F. Mahoney’s sixty-fifth birthday is somewhat different from the standard Festschrift: rather than present essays from various authors, this Festschrift collects twenty-one of Mahoney’s most important English-language publications on German Classicism and Romanticism published over the past thirty years. Mahoney is the author and editor of many articles and books in German and English, among them Die Poetisierung der Natur bei Novalis (1980), Der Roman der Goethezeit (1988), The Eighteenth Century and Uses of the Past (1992), The Critical Fortunes of a Romantic Novel: Novalis’s «Heinrich von Ofterdingen» (1994), The End of Enlightenment (2000), Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis) (2001), and Literature of German Romanticism (2004).
Mahoney has taught German language, culture, literature, and film at the University of Vermont for thirty-five years, and has received national and international recognition. On campus he has been a champion of international education, advising students about studying abroad, setting up an exchange program with the University of Augsburg, and inviting students and colleagues from Germany to Vermont. He has received an Excellence in Teaching Award, an Award for Outstanding Contributions to International Education, and he was the first American to be named president of the International Novalis Society.
The title of this Festschrift captures Mahoney’s life-long occupation with this rich period of German cultural, intellectual, and literary life. The essays display his erudition and expertise on such subjects as the multifaceted Age of Goethe, including the continuing discussion of the nature of the Bildungsroman and the influence of the French Revolution. The essays deal primarily with Goethe, Schiller, and Novalis, but Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Georg Forster, Caroline von Wolzogen, Jean Paul, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Achim von Amim, and others are discussed as well. These individual essays are representative of Mahoney’s accomplishments as a literary scholar – and a remarkable professor, colleague, and friend.
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Chapter 7. On the Periphery of Weimar Classicism: Passion, Patriarchy and Political Machinations in Caroline von Wolzogen’s Agnes von Lilien (1797) and Barbara Honigmann’s Eine Liebe aus nichts (1991)


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Passion, Patriarchy and Political Machinations in Caroline von Wolzogen’s Agnes von Lilien (1797) and Barbara Honigmann’s Eine Liebe aus nichts (1991)

In his keynote address for the 1999 conference “Why Weimar?” Dan Wilson contended that the idealised depiction of the duchy that fostered Weimar Classicism as a fountainhead of liberal humanism has led literary scholars, in particular, but also Germans looking for favourable images for their country’s history to draw a clear separation between the glorious cultural past of “Weimar” and the horrible political past represented by “Buchenwald.” Without intending any crass equation of these two phenomena, Wilson argued for the need to challenge “the separation of politics and culture implicit in the Buchenwald-Weimar opposition by re-historicising Classical Weimar through its political conflicts.”1 One year later, at an international symposium on the topic of German-Jewish Literature of the 1990s, Karen Remmler observed that the growing longing in German public discourse for a cosmopolitan cultural identity had led in part to a “Romantisierung der sogenannten deutsch-jüdischen Symbiose.”2 To be sure, the very location of this latter conference at Berlin-Wannsee provided a warning against too hasty a reclamation of selected aspects of cultural heritage without the simultaneous consideration of their embeddedness in socio-political history; indeed, in his contribution ← 85 | 86 → to this symposium Hartmut Steinecke pointed out that the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification had an emotional impact on Jews...

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