Johann Christoph Gottsched considers Molières comedy Le Misanthrope in the preface of the first volume of the Deutsche Schaubühne as a ‚masterpiece‘ due to its specific modelling: the scenery is located in a noble space and avoids every kind of despicableness. Furthermore, he emphasizes that this comedy is worth imitating, because it discusses a specific moral-ethical problem, namely a rhetorical-moral problem: what signifies the rhetorical ideal of honesty and how acts an honest speaker? Thus, Johann Christoph Gottsched, as editor of the Deutsche Schaubühne and Luise Adelgunde Victorie Gottsched as translator of the comedy, propound a new understanding of Alceste as an honest character, who is neither comic nor tragic, but always just himself.
The subject matter of this article is Gottsched’s strategy to deal with literary tradition in the course of his reforming theatre. Not only does he heavily rely on his predecessors’ thoughts and their failures for his arguing towards a new generation of literary production for dramatizing but also there is an intertwined textual dependence between his theoretical text Versuch einer Critischen Dichtkunst and the implementation and discussion within the Deutsche Schaubühne as a collection of exemplary plays.
The first volume of Die Deutsche Schaubühne published in 1742 ends with the one-act comedy Die Widersprecherinn, a translation of L’Esprit de Contradiction by Charles Dufresny. The play was successfully performed by the Comédie-Française since the day of its premiere in 1700, usually after the presentation of a longer drama consisting of three or five acts. By introducing the comedy as „artiges Nachspiel“ in his preface, Gottsched referred to this practice-related positioning as well as to certain moral qualities of the play. The paper discusses the relevance of this one-act comedy within the concept of the drama collection compiled by Gottsched by reflecting the context of origin and the changes conditioned by specific demands on a German translation of the comedy.
The article examines Johann Christoph Gottsched’s anthology Die Deutsche Schaubühne (The German Playhouse) and discusses both its paratextual legitima and its influence on other compilations such as Ludvig Holberg’s Die Dänische Schaubühne (The Danish Playhouse). Dealing with the anthological practices helps to reveal the specific contemporariness of the collected plays. Finally, the German translation of Holberg’s early comedy Jean de France not only negotiates those temporal references, it is also concerned with cultural differences and transfers, national stereotypes and the dominant French tradition within the development of European theatre.
Luise Gottsched’s comedy The Testament, first published in Die Deutsche Schaubühne (Vol VI, 1745), was a successful stage play in the middle of the 18th century – despite Lessing’s criticism. It is also controversally discussed in research: Some regard the drama as a classic example of Saxon type comedy („Sächsische Typenkomödie“), while feminist research has interpreted it as a subversive protest play. Allegedly, Luise rebelled against her husband’s authority here. This article concentrates from a comparative perspective on the intertextual Molière references of the comedy and places the drama in its social and historical context. As a result, The Testament can be seen as a German „Lustspiel“ that combines the traditions of European comedy in a virtuoso manner and at the same time presents an ambivalent plea for female enlightenment.
Johann Christoph Gottsched is well known as the main representative of the classicistic, so called heroic tragedy in Germany till today and especially as an epigone of Pierre Corneille’s roman tragedies. In contrast to the opinio communis the paper examines the references to Corneille’s tragicomedy ‚Le Cid‘ which evidently serves as a paradigmatic model for Gottsched’s own modelling of the ‚zivile Tragödie‘ in Die Deutsche Schaubühne. Within the framework of the anthology’s poetological paratexts the characters of Corneille’s drama represent the emancipation from a class-bound ethos which is characteristic for the heroic tragedy. In fact Gottsched refers to Corneille’s controversially debated drama to establish a tragedy that follows universal, civil ethical rules of behaviour. As a consequence the poetological and dramatic works of Gottsched need to be revised from a literary historical perspective.
Joseph Addison’s tragedy Cato premiered in 1713 to largely enthusiastic reactions of the London playgoers. This article examines, on the one hand, Addison’s play as a discourse of political liberties and personal freedoms in which contemporary London is presented as the mirror-image of the late-republican Rome, an image which did resonate with the contemporary Zeitgeist. On the other hand, Cato’s tragedy on the merits and the price of liberty is presented in fairly formal way which nonetheless invited the criticism of Johann Christoph Gottsched. This paper seeks to re-assess Gottsched’s points of critique by offering a re-reading of the tragic elements in Addison’s play – namely the death of the republic rather than its protagonists.
Gottsched’s tragedy Agis, König zu Sparta (1745) has been characterized as a dramatic „Fürstenspiegel“ based on the principles of Aristotelian poetology. This paper argues instead that Agis constitutes a hybrid form between the so called ‚example‘ and the ‚error‘ mode (hamartia). The adolescent, tragic hero Agis IV. is caught between a righteous but gullible idealism on the one hand and a blind adoration for his predecessor Lycurgus on the other, which ultimately leads to his failure due to an excess of virtue. Thus Agis shows the underestimated complexity and ambivalence of Gottsched’s dramatical work and his ‚political aesthetics‘ overall.
The article proposes to read the anthology Die Deutsche Schaubühne edited by Johann Christoph Gottsched between 1741 and 1745 as a contribution to a controversy about the appropriate modelling of dramatic genres during the Frühaufklärung. In the meantime its poetological significance may only be brought to mind adequatly if its dynamic, dialogical and at least dialectical relation to Gottsched’s other writings, especially the Critische Dichtkunst and his dramatic works, is considered. Furthermore the compilation refers to French, Danish and English examples of early modern period’s drama which in fact replace ancient poetics and ancient drama. So as a result the anthology can not be portrayed as a practical application of normative, classicistic poetics, but as an autonomous, initiatory contribution to outline the modern German drama.