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The Novels of Johann Karl Wezel

Satire, Realism and Social Criticism in Late 18th Century Literature

Series:

Volkmar Sander

On the assumption that satirical literature formulated an important perspective of actual conditions prevalent in the social, philosophi- cal and political aspects of life in 18th century Germany, the author examines the reasons for the poor reception of satire in Germany and the ensuing difficulties confronting J.K. Wezel in presenting his own thoughts to his contemporaries as the English satirists had done in England. The discussion focuses on Wezel's criticism of the major literary movements of the time as well as on philosophical convictions and social attitudes which supported these movements, including the impact of new economic theory from England and various experimental political structures under debate. Wezel is seen as the foremost German satirist of the time and his other prose contributions, including an «anthropological» novel and a «bourgeoise» epic establish Wezel as an important unorthodox thinker whose stubborn realism reveals a new context for 18th century literary studies.