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From Gottsched to Goethe

Changes in the Social Function of the Poet and Poetry


Marvin Bragg

A study beginning with the formative influence of Lutheranism, as interpreted by Thomasius and Wolff, upon German society. The ethical and aesthetic motivation of the poet, accordingly, was to instruct the average reader in a moral structuring of his life. Literature, quite willingly, held to these constraints. However, a growing awareness of the aesthetic dimensions of literature began almost immediately in the objections of Bodmer & Breitinger to Gottsched's first formulations. Klopstock and Lessing marked the final overcoming of the tenets of the Enlightenment. Hamann and Herder provided the theoretical basis of a new aesthetic revolution, but the culminating accomplishment was provided by the literary example of Goethe. With Goethe, Germany had captured the impetus of world literature.
Contents: Lutheran background & literary aesthetics of Enlighten- ment, trends toward reform, new theories of Hamann & Herder, Goethe in his growing literary Awareness, his theories, and practical literary examples.