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Harlequin Besieged

The Reception of Comedy in Germany during the Early Enlightenment

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Volkmar Sander

This study presents the set of audience expectations for German comedy that obtained within the growing literary public sphere of the 1740's. Reviews of isolated plays are used to generate a hypothetical «horizon», which is then tested in an examination of three complex debates of «scandalous» comedies. As important was the participation of texts in the reception process, whereby authors could not only react to public criticism but also try to guide it. The goal is a better understanding of what the emerging middle class expected of its literature at this early stage.