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Reception of Goethe’s image in the literature of the postmodern era

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2019. Vol. 8. No. 2. Pp. 118-128.
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Ishimbaeva G. G.
Bashkir State University
32 Zaki Validi Street, 450076 Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia


The article is devoted to the question of understanding Goethe’s image in the literature of the last quarter of the 20th century. The analysis of P. Hack’s “A Discussion in the Stein Home about the Absent Mr. Goethe”, M. Kundera’s “Immortality” and H. M. Enzensberger’s “Down with Goethe! A Declaration of Love” made it possible to draw general conclusions about the specificity of the reception of Goethe’s image in the literature of the postmodern era. Different genre-related works (monoplay, novel, play) give a portrait of Goethe - a private person, perceived by the philistine environment and revealed in his relations with women. The heroine of the Hack’s play Charlotte von Stein is unhappy in family life, she perceives the relationship between a man and a woman in terms of the war of the sexes, builds the tactics of Goethe’s attachment to himself and defeats, which serves as a psychological explanation for the main line of the non-traditional Goethe image. In Kundera’s novel Bettina von Arnim, a girl who is hysterically in love with Goethe, became famous for the poet’s invented love story for her. On this basis, Kundera’s own strategy was built, which synthesizes truth, fiction and speculation, destroying stereotypical ideas about German genius. Kundera to a certain extent influenced the image of Goethe in Enzensberger’s play, where fictional heroines act. The proximity of attitudes is manifested both in the way of understanding the personality of the classic of German literature, and in the way of creating the text - through the reproduction of various narrative discourses using the method of editing “foreign” texts. As a result, using the discourses of Goethe’s contemporaries and relying on documentary sources, the authors create a non-canonical image of Goethe, ironically caricature and desacralize it. The discursive strategy of creating texts has led to the destruction of traditional stereotypes of perception of the great German poet. The irony, which has become the hallmark of the art of the postmodern era, serves in the books of P. Haсks, M. Kundera and H. M. Enzensberger as a way of rethinking established concepts and patterns, revising traditional cultural myths.


  • • Goethe
  • • Hacks
  • • Kundera
  • • Enzensberger
  • • reception
  • • postmodern irony


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