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Reference: Cotter, Robert Edmund., (1991). Aspects of philistinism in nineteenth-century German literature. DPhil. University of Oxford.Citable link to this page:


Aspects of philistinism in nineteenth-century German literature Subtitle: Eichendorff, Keller, Fontane

Abstract: The thesis aims to explore philistinism as a Germanliterary topos, in the nineteenth century. It begins with anexamination of the extra-literary metaphorical usage of keywords like Philister and proceeds to a summary of its impacton writers in the period. By so doing, I have tried topresent an image of the developing tradition of the literarydepiction of philistines. The main part of the thesis isdevoted to three writers - Richendorff, Keller, Fontane -whose work presents us with contrasting responses to theproblem of philistinism.Unlike previous investigations, my approach is not onlythrough explicit linguistic and visual markers, but alsoimplicit depictions of philistines in the work of the threewriters. To achieve this, attention is focussed on tone andliterary devices, comic mode, irony, metaphor. I aim therebyto show the function of philistinism in these writings, ananalysis not previously attempted.Eichendorff's work is shown to be imbued witha fundamental antithesis between the lives of Dichter andPhilister, so comprehensive as to include eschatologicalimplications. In Keller we notice a questioning of such adichotomy, an unwillingness to acquiesce in its distinctionsand an emphasis on society in determining the worth of hischaracters. Fontane's work represents the most radical reassessmentof the Romantic position and displays a clearshift from categorical thinking to a pervasive ambivalence.Whilst philistinism is an issue for all three writers, thedifferences in their approach and consequent portrayals arerevealing: my Epilogue suggests that their different modes ofpresentation reflect changes of ethos from Romanticism torealism, which in turn reflect changes in social values overthe course of the nineteenth century. The interest of thepresent thesis is its demonstration that such changes can, inGerman literary culture, be so precisely observed in thechanging treatment of the topos of philistinism.

Type of Award:DPhil Level of Award:Doctoral Awarding Institution: University of Oxford Notes:The digital copy of this thesis has been made available thanks to the generosity of Dr Leonard Polonsky

Bibliographic Details

Issue Date: 1991Identifiers

Urn: uuid:fa741b6d-6e13-4587-9369-2a477651cb24

Source identifier: 602369776 Item Description

Type: Thesis;

Language: eng Subjects: 19th century Criticism and interpretation German literature History and criticism Philistinism in literature Tiny URL: td:602369776


Autor: Cotter, Robert Edmund. - institutionUniversity of Oxford facultyFaculty of Medieval and Modern Languages and Literature - - - - B



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