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Towards a Paradoxical Theatre

Schlegelian Irony in German and French Romantic Drama, 1797-1843

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Yifen Tsau Beus

This book investigates the impact of Friedrich Schlegel’s concept of irony on the formation of the dramatic theories and theatrical practices of German and French dramatists of the early Romantic period by focusing on two aspects of Schlegel’s redefinition of irony: the harmonious mixture of buffoonery and seriousness and the concept of self-reflectivity. According to Schlegel, Romantic irony transforms poetry (in its broadest sense; that is, Poesie) into witty, self-skeptical, and thus, meta-poetic works. As German and French playwrights and theorists attempted to realize new Romantic ideals in poetry and theatre, they paved the way for modern literary discourse and many artistic movements. This study of Schlegelian irony opens an essential – and often overlooked – perspective on the major texts of German and French Romantic drama while establishing clear guidelines for defining Romantic drama and its revolutionary effects on the theatre and the other arts.