Hat Goethe in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre Shakespeare ein Denkmal gesetzt? (German Edition)

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The productivety of the early s abated in Weimar -not surprisingly, given Goethe's many other responsibilities- but it by no means collapsed. Here he wrote many of his best-loved ballads, songs, reflective nature lyrics, and love poems. While the sublime, irony, folk-song qualities, pathos, and broad humor of his earlier poetry often persist, there I also a new reflectiveness that moderates the emotion of the earlier poems.

He worked intermittently on Egmont ; translated, which he had began shortly before leaving Frankfurt; on successive versions, mainly in prose, of Iphigenie auf Tauris , published in its final blank verse version in translated as I phigenia: A Tragedy, ; and on Torquato Tasso , translated, He also wrote Wilhelm Meisters theatralische Sendung Wilhelm Meister's Theatrical Mission, , a lively fragement about the state of the German theather.

Goethe at age 30; oil painting by G. The pressure of all these competing interests finally became too great, and Goethe fled to Italy, leaving Carlsbad in secret early in the morning of September 3, He recorded his impressions at a time in a diary for Frau von Stein; later he drew heavily on this diary for his Italienische Reise ; translated as Travels in Italy , In his reflections on Italy and his experiences there the interests and developments of the previous twelve years coalesce and become clearly articulated.

Goethe had always expected to complete his education with a journey to Italy, as his father had, and twice before he had almost set out on that journey. The trip came to signify for him a rebirth, not only into a new life but into what he was always going to become: at several levels it was a journey of self-recovery. But it was in no sense a journey into himself, for his main concern was to look at objects as much as possible for themselves -at the rocks and the plants; the customs, theatricals, and festivals of the people but never their feelings or political concerns ; architecture, sculpture, and, to a lesser extent, painting.

Apart from brief stays in Venice and Naples and a tour to Sicily, Goethe spent all of his time in Rome, visiting galleries and monument to study painting and sculpture. For most of his stay he socialized only with the German art colony, especially with Wilhelm Tischbein and Angelika Kauffmann. He revised an completed Egmont, Iphigenie auf Taurus , and part of Torquato Tasso for the edition of his works that was underway ; he also added two scenes to the version of Faust he had composed before he left Frankfurt for Weimar, and selected from his Faust material scenes that he published in preliminary form as Faust: Ein Fragment Goethe on his Italian journey, ; oil painting by J.

Egmont is still concerned with the tragedy of the genius too great for the world around him and with the problem of his consciousness, but from the opposite point of view from that of Die Leiden des jungen Werthers. Comparing himself to a sleepwalker, Egmont, prince of Garve, refuses to be self-conscious, refuses to be interpretable, or to interpret the behaviours of others.

Immensely popular with the people of the Netherlands, who are suffering under the rule of Philipp II of Spain, Egmont ignores warnings that neither his rank, his record of service, nor his standing with the people can save him when the regime decides he is too dangerous. Rejecting all intrigue, he walks blindly into a trap set by the wily Duke of Alba; but, like Goetz von Berlichingen, he finds freedom just before his death in a vision of his mistress, Klaerchen, as Freedom personified.


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The classicism of this play may best be identified in its symbolic, operatic, yet still intensely psychological language and themes. Goethe was no longer imitating Shakespeare but had absorbed him into a new dramatic form of his own making. Iphigenie auf Tauris combines the same intense psychological concerns with a symbolic form derived less from Shakespeare than from Euripides.

Goethe is generally understood to have internalized and psychologized Euripides' drama, in which Orestes comes to barbarian Taurus in search of a statue of Apollo's sister and finds his own sister there. By making the furies invisible and by reinterpreting the oracle so that Orestes and Iphigenie do not have to steal the statue of Diana, Goethe has indeed collapsed the mythological level of the action into the human level; but at the same time by replacing Euripdes' deux ex machina with humans telling the truth, interpreting, and granting grace, he has raised the human level to the mythological: by their acts Iphigenie, Orestes, and the king of Taurus have civilized the world.

The end of this play anticipates Faust in its celebration of the creative power of the human mind and will. In Italy Goethe recasts the play into blank verse. The meter had been established in German drama by Lessing in Nathan der Weise ; translated as Nathan the Wise, ; Goethe showed it capable of a sublimity and complexity of diction previously achieved only in the classical meters of Klopstock and of his own Pindaric hymns.

The power and flexibility of Goethe's new dramatic language emerges fully in Torquato Tasso , which he finished revising after he returned from Italy in the spring of The play shows Renaissance poet Tasso when he has just completed his great epic, La Gerusalemme liberata. He is unable to come to terms either with the real political world embodied in the statesman Antonio Montecatino, or to find a satisfactory relationship with his inspiring ideal, the princess Leonore d'Este, sister of his patron, Duke Alfonso.

Caught in complex intrigues, both real and imagined, Tasso attempts to fight a duel with Antonio and is placed under arrest by the duke; later, he impulsively embraces the princess. Seemingly abandoded by the duke and the princess, he turns to Antonio for support as he sinks into madness. The blank verse and the Renaissance setting frame a much more objective version of the problem of Egmont.

Egmont's freedom and lack of selfconsciousness apear here as the idealism of the poet, who is above the vagaries and political demands of the real world. Tasso's oppposite, the consummate courtier Antonio, is not seen as evil, as Alba was in Egmont , but rather as the other half of Tasso's incomplete personality.

Faust was later to speak of the two souls in his breast, the one that sought the heavens and the other that clung to the world. The two women in the play, both named Leonore, are likewise complementary personalities; bound together by their love for Tasso and for one another they seek to draw Tasso in opposite diretions. By placing his hero between embodiments of his own drives toward the ideal and the real, Goethe transformed his earlier realistic psychologie into a symbolic representation of psychological analysis.

As a result, he was able to dispense with the Shakesperean mob scenes he used so effectively in Egmont ; in Torquato Tasso the psychological aspects appear visible on the stage instead of being mirrored in minor characters. Thus it is that despite their seeming lack of stage action Iphigenie auf Taurus and Torquato Tasso are among the most compelling plays in the German language. Goethe returned from Italy as, he declared, an artist.

Karl August relived him of all official obligations, except the directorship of the court theather, which was officially established in , and of libraries and natural-historical and artistic collections in the duchy, including those at the University of Jena. Goethe returned to emotional dislocations and resentments occasioned both by the change he had undergone and by his decision to go to Italy alone and in secret.

Most severe among these was the rupture with Frau von Stein, who could not forgive his having left her -let alone his open installation of a mistress, Christiane Vulpius, in his house shortly after his return. Only in the mid s was any relationship with Frau von Stein re-established, and then on a rather distant basis. Christiane bore Goethe several children, only one of whom-Julius August Walther, born in survived, and remained her companion until her death.

Christiane Vulpius, who became Goethe's mistress in and his wife in ; pastel drawing by F. Indeed, he lived thereafter in a world of ideas and intellectual activities rather than in a world of events. Even the Italian journey, which he treasured for the rest of his life, was important to him as a remembered experience: he was not at all pleased when the duke dispatched him to Venice in , though he used the time to learn more about Venetian paintings.

In Weimar he devoted his energy to studies of all sorts. In addition frmo his early interest in geology, botany, and comparative anatomy he became passionately interested in optics, and in he began publishing increasingly anti-Newtonian essays about the theory of color and scientific method in general.

Much of his time was devoted to studying Kant, Plato and Homer. His other major area of interest was art. The more academic development of his interests was reflected in his new friendships with the educator and statesman Wilhelm von Humboldt and the art historian Hans Meyer; the latter, whom he had met in Italy, lived in his house from until The French Revolution was the one political event that necessarily impinged on Goethe's life, not only because it was a topic of constant interest in all circles but also because the duke, who had entered the Prussian army, insisted that Goethe accompany him on campaigns to France in and to the Rhine in He continued his optical and artistic studies while trudging around after the army; his refusal to be submerged in military activity enabled him to present a clear picture of the daily reality of the campaigns.

Goethes' literary output in the early s was relatively sparse. The verse epic Reineke Fuchs ; translated as Reynard the Fox, does so more effectively. This translation and adaption into hexameter of a Low German version of the old story of the fox at the court of the lion is the first result of Goethe's study of Homer.

The poem describes the gradual acceptance of a German visitor into the Roman world of history, love, art, and poetry. As the poet takes possession of his Roman beloved, so too does he enter into the cultural heritage represented by Rome to the eighteenth century and everything represented by the south to the Gothic north. Written in the elegiac couplets of Propertius, Catullus, and Ovid, and in their frank manner, the poems transmute their Roman predecessors with the same facility and success as Goethe's classical plays appropriate their predecessors.

They created something of a scandal when they were published but are now recognized as the greatest love poems of the generation. The year marks the beginning of Goethe's friendship with Schiller. Schiller had come to Jena in as professor of history on an appointment arranged by Goethe, but the older poet had had two reasons for keeping his distance from the newcomer: not only had Schiller made his reputation as a powerful Sturm und Drang poet a decade after Goethe had renounced the movement, but he had recently given up poetry for immersion in Kant.

Only in did a conversation after a lecture in Jena bring the two together into what rapidly became a mutually supportive and productive relationship. Much of Goethe's energy in the following years was devoted to Schiller's journal Die Horen , published from to , and then to his own successor journal, Die Propoylaen , published from to The program of these journals and of the poets' other work together was nothing less than the establishment of a classical German literature in the sense that the literature of fifth-century Athens had been classical: a literature that both represented and shaped a nation.

While neither poet ever really spoke for or influenced the nation in the way to which they aspired, their mutual encouragement and criticism resulted in the greatest masterpiece of both men's careers. Their excitement and productivety derived, however, not only from their friendship but also from the simultaneous emergence, largely under Goethe's supervision, of the University of Jeana as the major center in Germany for the study of philosophy and science.

Drawn there also for frequent visits were Wilhelm von Humboldt and his brother, the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. Goethe himself frequently visited Jena to attend lectures and discussions on philosophy, science, and literature. His scientific and literary studies continued unabated, with extensive reading in Greek literature and under the influence of A. Schlegel, renewed study of Shakespeare and the discovery of Calderon.

He also devoted much time to running the court-theater-producing, directing, and training the company boeth in the great modern repertory created by Mozart, Lessing, Schiller, and himself and also in the classics from the Greeks through Shakespeare and Racine. Even more than in Frankfurt in the s Goethe was at the center of German intellectual life.

His poetic achievement in all areas in this period is stagering. But his most important work in this genre is Hermannund Dorothea ; translated as Hermann and Dorothea , a hexameter idyll in nine cantos. About an innkeeper's son in a small German town who courts a refugee fleeing the French, the poem constitutes Goethe's most important poetic response to the revolution. At the same time its delicately ironic double vision, in which its characters appear both as limited, very German bourgeois and yet also as Homeric figures, makes the poem the paradigmatic achievement of Goethe's classicism.

Goethe's prose narratives of the s are no less remarkable. But it is more important for formal reasons than for its content: it established the novella as a significant genre in German literature, and the fairy tale with which it concludes was the inspiration and model for similar works into the twentieth century.

He had begun the revision in , but the most significant part was completed in in the first flush of his friendship with Schiller. As the new title suggests, the novel no longer deals just with the theater but explores the modes of being that are open to a thoughtful member of the middle class at the close of the eigheenth century. In this respect the novel is like Die Leiden des jungen Werthers , but Wilhelm's problem is not the destructive unity of a worl projected by his own solipsism; it is, rather, how to make sense out of a world and circumstances which seem to lack any coherence whatsover.

The paradigmatic example of the European Bildungsroman, Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre follows its hero through a series of love affairs from late adolescence to early manhood as he flees his wealthy middleclass home to become an actor, outgrows the narrow circumstances of the German theater, and joins a secret society composed mainly of landed aristocrats committted to developing new forms of stability in a changing world. First the theater, a traditional metaphor for life, then the mysterious secret society of the power provide the focus for Wilhelm's journey through art and poetry toward active participation in the world.

The novel encompasses a vast range of individuals, character types, settings, episodes, and kinds of narrative, as well as inserted songs. The Romantics immediately hailed the novel as an immeasurable great achievement and then, in a series of imitations, struggled with the challenges it posed. The novel sums up and combines, as no single English novel before Charles Dicken's late works did, the achievements of Fielding, Sterne, and Goldsmith; although it was fashionable for English novelists in the nineteenth century to depolore Goethe's novel for its loose morals, it established the tradition of the Bildungsroman on which they all depend.

Faust is Goethe's best-known work of the s. The core of the tragedy of Margarete had been written in prose before Goethe left Frankfurt; a manuscript of this version, known as the Urfaust original Faust , was discovered and published in Parts of this version plus the two scenes composed in Italy had been published in as Faust: Ein Fragment. From to , with Schiller's encouragement, Goethe rewrote the existing scenes, expanding some of them, and added the prologues, the pact scenes, and the Walpurgis Night segment to complete Part I of the drama, which was published in He introduces several important changes in the old legend of the scholar who makes a pact with the devil Mephistopheles: his Faust seeks not power through knowledge but access to transcendent knowledge denied to the human mind; the pact is transformed into a bet under the terms of which Faust will be allowed to live as long as Mephistopheles fails to satisfy his striving for transcendence.

Most significantly, Goethe makes the second half of Part I into a love tragedy: Faust seduces Margarete, an innocent young girl who embodies for him the transcendent ideal that he seeks; she is condemned to death for killing their infant, but at the last moment, as Faust and Mephistopheles abandon her in prison, a voice from above declares that she is saved.

Faust , in typical Romantic fashion, conflates Neoplatonism, which opposes a transcendent mind to an immanent world, with Kantianism, which opposes an internal subject to an external object; thus, sometimes Faust has two souls, one of which longs for transcendence, the other for the world the Neoplatonist version of the Romantic dialectic , and at other times he feels imprisoned within himself and unable to apprehend the world outside his mind the Kantian version of the Romantic dialectic. Both sets of oppositions are resolved in play or art. Faust's pact with the devil commits him, a striver after transcendent absolutes rather like Werther, to submerge himself restlessly in the reality of the world, like Wilhelm Meister.

His opposing souls come into brief moments of harmony with one another but in moment that, by the terms of his pact with Mephistopheles, must not last. The tragedy of Part I, and the tragedy of Margarete, is that the eternities of the spirit must be subject to the destruction of time if they are to be perceived in the world. Similarly, the Faust theme, which Lessing and after him the Sturm and Drang movement had identified as the quintessential German theme, becomes in Goethe's treatment a bond to link Germany to the European tradition.

At the same time the unreflected neoclassical definition of tragedy in the early version is transformed into a renovation of non-Aristotelian forms, ranging from mystery play and Corpus Christi play to eighteenth-century operetta. In Faust Goethe established yet again a new genre, a world theater of such complexity that it has had few successors -certainly none of equal stature. The death of Schiller in and the defeat of the Prussians at Jena in mark another major turning point in Goethes life. The concentration of leading German intellectuals at the University of Jena gradually dispersed, so that Goethe's loose ties to the younger Romantik generation were maintained at an increasins distance.

Furthermore, his sympathy with Napoleon, his insistence on the independence of art from politics, and his unorthodox social and religious attitudes alienated him from an ever-increasing portion of his public; by the time of his death he was clearly Germany's greatest, but not its most popular, writer. Nevertheless, for the next thirteen years Goethe continued his activities in art, history, science, and literature at what for anyone else would be considered a prodigious rate. He maintained his interest in classsical art, wrote a biography of Philipp Hackert, an artist he had known in Italy, and took great interest in the emerging talents of Caspar David Friedrich and Philipp Otto Runge.

Through his friendship wih Sulpiz Boisseree, his early interest in Gothic art was reawakened; from until his death he edited a journal, Ueber Kunst und Alterthum On Art and Antiquity , devoted to these interests. He collected manuscripts and coins, and began reading more widely in history. He also became more conscious of his own historic role, perhaps partly as a result of being summoned to meet Napoleon in Around this time Friedrich von Mueller began keeping records of his conversations with Goethe, and Goethe started writing his autobiography.

The first installment, Dichtung und Wahrheit , appeared in Apart from the information this work offers about Goethe and his interpretation of himself, it is important for the view of his times that it contains. Goethe's great contribution to the development of autobiography was his recognition that the individual can only be understood in his historical context and that all autobiographical writing is historiography.

Goethe worked steadily in the five years following Schiller's death to complete his vast. Zur Farbenlehre ; translated as Goethe's Theory of Colours, , which he sometimes called his single most important work. It consists of three parts: an exposition of Goethe's own theory of color, a polemic against the Newtonian theory that white light is a mixture of colors, and a collection of materials on the history of color theory from antiquity to Goethe's own time. While Goethe's theory has never been accepted by physicists, his insight on the perception of color have been influental, as has his recognition that scientific ideas are conditioned by their historical contexts.

As in art, Goethe's taste in literature remained open to Romantic influence; to his continuing interest in Shakespeare and Calderon he added the medieval German epic the Nibelungenlied. He also followed the work of the new generation of poets, inside and outside of Germany, with great interest. In the theater he produced a series of plays by Calderon, stimulating hereby a lasting revival of his works; in addition, he produced plays by younger Romantic dramatics, such as Heinrich von Kleist and Zacharias Werner.

He continued writing court masques, but only one major dramatic work, the operatic fragment Pandora As in his autobiographical and scientific writings, historical context had become indispensable to Goethe. Before Schiller's death Goethe had begun planning a sequel to Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre that was, however, to be a cycle of novellas rather than a novel. The title refers metaphorically to the capacity of certain elements to displace others during chemical reactions. A young girl, Ottilie, and an unnamed captain arrive at the estate of Eduard and Charlotte, and a double displacement ensures: Eduard and Ottilie are attracted to each other, as are Charlotte and the captain.

When Charlotte gives birth to her and Eduard's child, it bears, paradoxically, the features of Ottilie and the captain, with whom the spouses have committed adultery only in spirit. The situation is resolved only when Ottilie forbids Eduard to divorce Charlotte and then starves herself to death.

The novel retraces the concern of Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, but in a more abstract and symbolic fashion, as a third-person narrative with only inserted, impersonal diary passages and a full-scale inserted novella. Eduard is a middle-aged Werther who has survived the loss of his beloved Charlotte to marry her on the rebound from her first marriage. Confronting his selfishness and subjectivity is an inscrutable moral law embodied in a powerful natural environment and in the equally inscrutable Ottilie. The novel subtly leaves open to question the extent to which this law is not inherent in nature, but projected by the characters themselves.

With its paradoxical double adultery, its frank treatment of divorce, its suicide, and its apparent apotheosis, the novel scandalized most of its readers' despite its undeniable and significant influence in the nineteenth century, especially in England and America, it only became a respectable object of study in the twentieth. It is now considered one of Goethe's major works. Goethe's wife died in ; the following year their son August married Ottilie von Pogwisch , who then ran the household she and August shared with Goethe.

Also in Goethe resigned as director of the court theater after some forty years of supervising Weimar's theatrical life. Werner, like the sailors he admires, has sacrificed his welfare to objectivity for the promise of great financial reward. Wilhelm, by contrast, as Werner points out, has earned nothing materially, yet there is something to be admired in the person he has become. Nonetheless, for all the benefits they may attribute to their realist and idealist viewpoints, it turns outs that Wilhelm and Werner each lack individually a desirable personal trait that the other possesses.

Werner admires Wilhelm precisely for what he does not have: health. The idealist Wilhelm, by contrast, is constantly focused on the question of his identity and developing his talents, and yet he is unable unlike his friend to be an agent in society. Neither Werner nor Wilhelm can finally insist on the correctness of his position.

Their respective commitments—one involving an abiding belief in the world of objects, the other a singular trust in the self—force them to sacrifice one half of an essential part of their humanity, for humans as Hegel notes are neither exclusively universal objective or particular, but fundamentally both. Schlegel in the Tower have serious flaws that make them less than admirable.

There can be no rest, but only continual striving. Sorg, 77 Finally, it is because of Lothario that Wilhelm becomes involved in the deliberate deception of Lydie. He takes her away from Lothario by wagon ostensibly because Therese would like to see her. His idealism in such extreme situations, in other words, is a precursor to tyranny and, finally, death.

The author was an idealist and a realist. He was an artist, but also very much a businessman. Although the narrative leaves Wilhelm and Werner in their respective ideological corners, it does, nevertheless, hint at their possible reconciliation. In , for example, the illustrious writer was put in charge of finance reform in Weimar and acquitted himself admirably.

Februar Kovac, Neither has an existence that the reader can wholeheartedly support, and yet each has clearly realized something of distinct value in his own way of life. Although each appears to do precisely the opposite of the other and imagines that it can exist only by keeping the other at a distance, each nevertheless has the other as its condition. Walther Mitzka, 21 Berlin: De Gruyter, Such individuals are the reflective idealists we have been discussing, who long to discover their innate talents and further give priority in cognition to the faculty of reason.

But, they also embrace society in its objective character because it is the realization of their essence, which is also to say: the actualization of their freedom. Anna Bostock Cambridge, Mass. The protagonist, that is, who mistakenly believes that he should pursue a career in the theater and who is, furthermore, finally manipulated into entering the Tower, lacks a concept of his own freedom, a concept, more precisely, which is simultaneously informed by his own particular conscious sense of who he is as a rational being and a set of principles that promote his i.

Sie entsagten kurz und gut dem Theater, zu dem Sie doch einmal kein Talent haben. Man spricht viel vom Theater, aber wer nicht selbst darauf war, kann sich keine Vorstellung davon machen. Mit welcher Heftigkeit wirken sie gegeneinander! Hegel comments on this situation when he writes: "The simple reaction of ingenuous emotion is to adhere with trusting conviction to the publicly recognized truth…But this simple reaction may well encounter the supposed difficulty of how to distinguish…what is universally acknowledged and valid in them.

Thus, the subject who is already disadvantaged because he cannot order his drives, also frequently does not benefit from the positive support of social influences that would properly guide him. Feeling, rather than reason, determine individual action. The individual's drives are excited by contingencies that "take the shape of the will.

Eisler —determine the individual's will in such a way that he believes that the contingencies are his will. Arbitrary freedom, therefore, does not merely involve the capacity to choose among objects. As Hegel shows, it also concerns the subject being determined by those objects. As Hegel writes, "It is inherent in arbitrariness that the content is not determined as mine by the nature of my will, but by contingency; thus I am also dependent on this content, and this is the contradiction which underlies arbitrariness. In both cases, the figures unreflectively and thus irrationally submit themselves to the logic of their objects.

Thus, while the subject is a free decision-maker, his freedom is nevertheless negative. Despite the double indeterminacy that defines his existence, however, the individual must nevertheless somehow make his way through life. In a world of enormous uncertainty, options abound.

And, the individual—despite his lack of assurances—must commit himself. The prototype of the genre, Lehrjahre, as well as its most well-known exemplars, describe protagonists who unsuccessfully struggle to reign in their arbitrary wills, a circumstance that is well expressed by their tendency to constantly travel.

Hegel also calls what he means by a yardstick, "The rational that is the highroad which everyone follows and where no on stands out from the rest. The particularity and universality of the will are realized together in the same moment when the individual comprehends his will and, as a result, has freedom as his object. The modern dilemma of arbitrariness is not overcome simply when the rational will emerges and becomes the dominant social force.

Reason is the "yardstick" that the individual requires to free himself from his arbitrariness and social contingency insofar as it is present in self- consciousness and in his surroundings. Arbitrariness is therefore not seen as a limitation, but as constitutive of existence and, therefore, requires no further explanation. Any decision Wilhelm makes— including his decision to reject society—is consequently viewed as an expression of his most basic nature.

Yet, because the critic understands arbitrariness as constitutive, he also puts himself in a double-bind, for he is unable to further identify a common thread that connects the protagonists in their antipathy to the world. As discussed, Hegel views the subject as more than the sum of his drives. While he sees arbitrariness as characteristic of the modern individual, he does not consider it to be constitutive of subjectivity. Because he believes that the individual is fundamentally rational, it is only a matter of time before his arbitrariness is overcome.

His arbitrariness persists and, since he never discovers his rational essence, he remains incapable—to paraphrase Hegel— of superseding the contingencies of his experience to his universal will. The former is equally deleterious as a romantic and therefore for Hegel a contingent idea, which reflects the arbitrariness of his thinking, however, it is only in regard to the latter that Wilhelm attributes a negative influence. While his rejection of society is an acknowledgment of its determinative character, he does not also recognize that his freedom which he believes would result from the fulfillment of his original wish can only be achieved in the environment he despises.

The Enlightened Eye- Goethe and Visual Culture - Evelyn K. Moore

The contingencies that negatively affect him must be overcome by the rational will, for true freedom involves the unity of subjectivity and objectivity. It is a genre that depicts the individual struggling to find his rationality. As Hegel writes: It necessarily follows that our inner voice may either come into collision with society or conform with it.

The human being does not stop short at the existent [dem Daseinden], but claims to have within himself the measure of what is right; he may be subjected to the necessity and power of external authority, but 84 Hegel, The individual wants to discover "what is right" within himself. He moreover desires to live in a society that confirms his nature. The genre is reduced to being little more than a collection of narratives about subjects who embark upon paths of self-discovery in a hostile world.

The reader serves as a witness to the discontentment of the various protagonists, without being able to definitively say what connects them. Just as Antigone buries her brother because she feels the need to follow an eternal law, cf. Utilitarianists in the early nineteenth-century thus continued to argue that a human being is neither principally moral nor were his interests best served when he did his part to uphold a putative natural hierarchy.

He is, in other words, hard wired to maximize his utility. If humans are not in fact defined by their rational self-interest, as the Utilitarianists argued with Smith, they at least demonstrated during this historical period considerable affirmative evidence. The economic historian Karl Pribram, accordingly, sees the nineteenth-century as the dawn of a new era of economic reasoning that took hold on all levels of society.

The mass of people, now free of traditional social limitations, saw themselves as individual actors who could improve their lives through prudent action. The spirit of rational self- interest exceeded commerce and was as much in evidence in the government employee who sought promotion as the capitalist who aspired to double his money. Both individuals invested their time and resources in ways that allowed them to get ahead. I will use the term homo oeconomicus to convey the type of economically minded individual that Pribram sees entering the scene at the beginning of the nineteenth-century.

In the novel, he may be found under a variety of guises, which include the capitalist, but also the government employee and, finally, the artist. The rise of the homo oeconomicus, in all his forms, reflects more than a change in thinking, but a fundamental transformation towards a new kind of society.

Charles P. The creative flourishes Lee would add to his work, in other words, were not rational, or driven by self-interest, but rather done in the spirit of giving or altruism. The artist moreover requires that his community validate his wastefulness. He does not utilize economic reason, but indeed breaks with it by using his powers of imagination. I will elaborate upon the notion of art as a kind of productive waste by introducing the Greek terms poeisis and praxis.

The growth of mechanization, the increase in the size of the wage labor force, and the general shift in the locus of production from villages to the city were among the factors that brought an end to a way of life that had endured for centuries. In modern society, the individual was alone as never before in supporting himself and in his search for self-discovery. It further is an endeavor that benefits everyone, rather than just the individual interested in his own personal gain. The relationship between the artist and the public is thus a mutual affirmation of a shared moral center.

X , b New York: Penguin Books, The means of his activity are irrelevant so long as they are personally advantageous. He is not bound to society in an organic way because his work is egotistical and also lacks genius, which makes it culturally inconsequential. The homo oeconomicus thus may be understood in terms of his utilization of money, yet he may be equally identified with respect to his use of language.

The principal difference between economic individuals lies in the currency they endeavor to maximize. Economic behavior is rational activity insofar as it accords with the organizational demands of a particular social setting. An economy places limitations on how its particular resources e. He is, as a result, exceedingly conventional. The homo oeconomicus considers his pursuit of his rational self-interest to be the ultimate expression of his freedom and yet his conformity to convention reflects an abandonment of autonomy.

Turgot similarly observed that money constitutes a type of language: "Money has this in common with measures in general, that it is a type of language, differing among different peoples in everything that is arbitrary and conventional, but of which the forms are brought closer and made identical, in some respects, by the- relation to a common term or standard.

J Turgot, The Economics of A. Turgot, trans. Groenewegen The Hague: Nijhoff, Martinus, Bolz, "Friedrich D. He is a capitalist, whose activity is informed by a utilitarian philosophy aimed at increasing profits. When we read that the lumber salesman uses the savings garnered by six factories in order to build a seventh and, further, that he would even sell the roofs off his buildings in order to make a profit, the extreme degree of his rational self-interest is obvious. Indeed, freedom to the lumber salesman is made possible by the conventional norms that constitute the marketplace and the practices of modern production.

An economic frame of mind offers the only promise of a safe harbor in life. Non-egoists are romantic souls that are a burden to society and a threat. In the lumber salesman, the schoolmaster and the provincial governor, Adam Smith finds his nineteenth-century spokesmen, as each perceives the individual within the framework of market capitalism, selfishly vying to maximize his utility. It, moreover, spells the difference between being an outcast or a full member of society.

The civil servant exhibits the same rational self-interest we find with the lumber salesman: He also exploits the conventions of the institution to which he is employed in order to provide for his personal welfare. His behavior is not frenzied, but, on the contrary, consists in deliberate idleness. The civil servant hence addresses his rational self-interest according to the concept of decreasing marginal returns.

The homo oeconomicus, in the guise of a civil servant, is here defined by his conscious choice not to act. The word, therefore, describes individual lethargy and the lassitude of an entire system. And, just as the capitalist marketplace is maintained through hectic monetary transactions, the economic structure of the government is perpetuated through conscientious inactivity. Victimized by a lost family fortune, we read that he paints in order to meet expenses, not out of a desire to be creative. His creativity has been adapted to producing works that sell and, as result, to the painstaking process of artistic miniaturization.

His artistic instinct has thus been reigned in in order to accommodate a forty square inch frame. Erikson does not view himself to be alone in his economic approach to art. Heinrich further learns that artists in Munich are forced to adjust to the pressures of market forces.

Art will no longer be beholden to questions of taste, but instead depend merely upon the existence of an algorithm. This prospect simplifies the artistic process to such a degree that anyone will be able to experience it. His survival depends upon his ability to figure out the formula that best addresses the demands of commerce. In summary, the three types of homo oeconomicus we have just described all think in terms of their rational self-interest, but what is more, their economic reasoning has become normative.

Bolz in which personal disclosure becomes all but impossible. Since true creativity defies convention, the individual artist who strives for originality must be able to use his medium in novel ways. Because of his lack of respect for economy, the artist has long been viewed as a threat to society. Martin Nicolaus London: Penguin Classics, His behavior constitutes a response to an inner need to represent the world and give it meaning.

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By satisfying to his creative urge, he also enriches conventional discourse with a new metaphor. He does not appear to be as mindful of the dictates of classroom behavior as his fellow students. The novel demonstrates here that the price of unconventional behavior28 is social alienation, if not corporal punishment. Accepting the meaning of school, however, would be an exercise in self-negation for the protagonist. The schoolmaster, therefore, recognizes the practical necessity of the homo oeconomicus, but he does not convince the reader that the lifestyle he represents is in fact socially desirable.

His will and the will of the community are the same, which also explains why he has greater moral standing than the lumber salesman in the debate over the road. His artistry was, furthermore, not formulaic, as, for instance, in the world Erikson envisions, but eccentric: Every one of his buildings carried his own individual stamp.

Hannah Arendt, who equates subjectivity with economically defiant action, argues that society must allow room for individuals to be non-economical. Arendt, further, asserts that modern society must provide for a kind of social space that will allow the subject to give voice to his uniqueness: In order to be what the world is always meant to be, a home for men during their life on earth, the human artifice must be a place fit for action and speech, for activities not only entirely useless for the necessities of life but of an entirely different nature from the manifold activities of fabrication by which the world itself and all things in it are produced.

The predominance of economy in all areas of existence bans those activities which, although 44 Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition Chicago: University of Chicago Press, The market requires individuals who will perpetuate its rules, just as the government needs individuals who do not question the status quo. Yet, in an age that reserves praise for the homo oeconomicus characterized by his willing submission to conventional practices the notion that each human life is exceptional has been lost. In cautioning Heinrich about his intended profession, the chairman who oversees the inheritance proceedings speaks of an era when the practice of making things and individual creativity were united.

The aristocracy has traditionally understood the need for transgressing the limits of economy. The narrator remarks in hindsight that the city seemed to glow. The country is poor, without doubt, but it would be equally poor without painting or statuary, and in this way it has at least gained a lasting importance. I have always sincerely admired him, and his name will remain great He is the art patron of the century It has no other end than itself.

Adrian Williams Oxford: Clarendon Press, Similarly: Why cannot society dispose of its surplus wealth by simply giving it away? Why would it have thought that in the beginning a mode of acquisition such as exchange had not answered the need to acquire, but rather the contrary need to lose or squander? The classical conception is now questionable in a sense. The ultimate objective of the potlatch is for one tribe to offer another a gift of such exorbitance that it cannot be outdone. In other words, a tribe must recognize the value of non- economic expenditure with regard to its surplus.

It also suggests the possibility that what is most natural to a human being may not be to stay within the closed circle of utility, but to offer up the excess remainder of his resources, especially those beyond his immediate care. His legacy, therefore, is not simply preserved in the monuments he constructed, but in their public validation. Despite the poverty of his monarchy, King Ludwig spent his wealth in ways that today would be inconceivable. Poiesis, then, resembles the process of giving birth.

The Enlightened Eye- Goethe and Visual Culture - Evelyn K. Moore

Christopher Gill London: Penguin Books, Because such objects represent truth, moreover, their efficacy is both universal and eternal. Poiesis is to be contrasted with praxis. The reproducibility of the objects generated through praxis nullifies their beauty61 and thus their ability to procreate beyond themselves.

The object produced through praxis contains its end within itself. Beauty is only given birth to in beauty. Lee chose to ignore economic reasoning and, in doing so, created timeless art. Instead, he takes up an extreme position against the point of view represented by the homo oeconomicus. These obverses are represented in the chapter by Erikson, on the one hand, whose marriage has resulted in his employment as a shipping executive and Heinrich, on the other, who selfishly retreats within himself as an abstract artist. Heinrich turns away from economy completely in order to take refuge within the depths of his interiority.

Heinrich decides to dispense with the possibility of leading a socially meaningful existence, where his artistry has value in a community that embraces it however eccentric it may be and, by extension, him. Thus, despite his dependence on his fellow citizens, Lee does not refrain from expressing himself in ways that might otherwise alienate him from his community. Only under these respective existential conditions is the child or individual able to be non-economical wasteful without running the risk of being socially excluded. Erikson describes a future world in which creativity gives way to art generated using an algorithm and thus a time in which society rejects individual waste.

By submitting to convention, however, and forgoing the opportunity to commit wasteful acts, the artist also abandons the Oedipal journey in which he metaphorically returns to his mother through his artistic sublimations. The waste that fortified his bond with his mother alienates him from society later in life. His waste is a moral offense. Monetary extravagance is a sublimation of childhood anal eroticism. On the one hand, the child obstinately withholds and releases his feces increasing erotic stimulation ; on the other, the mother tries to induce him to restrain himself.

The child and the mother enter into moral battle of wills over how and when use should be made of the bowels, which is also to say, when the libido should be satiated. By willfully defecating, the child has the ability to provoke his mother. Paradoxically, the wastefulness that the mother censures and which, accordingly, carries the risk of permanently alienating her, is also carried out by the child as a means of calling her to his side. In other words, the transgressive behavior that drives a wedge between the child and his mother also has the effect of re-uniting them.

Just as the child acquires an increasing sense of his own abilities by causing an object to appear and disappear at will, his willful retention and expulsion of his waste similarly allows him to master his environment in making the mother appear. Peter Gay W. They are characterized by their willingness to conform. The homo oeconomicus does not act in order to attract moral approval or censure—that is to be loved—but rather to disappear.

The other reason relates to the fact that the capitalistic marketplace represents a moral vacuum. As a result, I suggest that the oppression of the modern individual as portrayed by Heinrich is not strictly economic in nature, but further concerns the obvious fact that economic judgments are not moral judgments. By the end of the novel, the protagonist becomes a homo oeconomicus himself. Schiller, furthermore, did not submit to convention or bow to economic pressure, but instead allowed his natural instincts to guide him. The quality Heinrich admires most in Schiller is the quality he suppresses in himself, because his existence as an artist is untenable.

In closing, I would like to add the psychologist Erik Erikson to the list of theorists who believe that non-economy should have a prominent place in society. Erikson expands the scope of Freundian psychoanalysis to include the impact of modern mechanization on individual development. Erikson, thus, does not wholly blame the moral imperatives of the superego for all that ails the individual, but extends his theoretical scope to include the impersonal demands of industrial life.

Erikson introduces the concept in his Identity and the Life Cycle by highlighting an episode from the life of George Bernhard Shaw, when the dramatist abruptly left a career in business, severed his contact from his peer group, and avoided any direct political activity. It permitted him to realize his gifts as a writer and gave him the opportunity to make sense of the world in his own way. Shaw was fundamentally opposed to his environment and the limitations it imposed and took pains to make a life for himself. His example illustrates the underlying conflict 78 Erikson, The antagonistic quality between the adolescent, who desires his freedom, and society, which seeks to uphold its conventions, would then decrease, if not disappear.

Such experimentation, in other words, should be sanctioned by society. While an indefinite period of 81 Ibid. His dream of a world that is free of oppression will have become reality. Kafka, so Benjamin argues, explores the darkest recess of Jewish guilt in order to illuminate it. His work gives Jewish guilt a name, forcing the world to take notice. As much as Kafka is a Jew, he is also someone whose urge to creatively describe the world around him exceeds the issue of faith insofar as it also reflects an effort to come to terms with the alienating forces of the modern economy.

Since system theory specifically avoids deliberations of human sentiment or the issue of personal ambition, Karl should not be understood in 3 System theory sees social behavior as communicative behavior. Economy, as I will discuss, reflects not merely a specialized area of activity, but a specific type of communication that belongs only to it as a system.

Karl, instead, is identifiable in the novel as someone who shows the tendency5 to be a social outsider. Rather than participating in the kinds of the communications he encounters in America, he prefers to observe them. This is particularly true with respect to the communicative distinctions of economy. The social system economy, whose communications are limited to financial matters, can, in the end, only see what it can see. Having just arrived off the boat from Europe, he has no friends or acquaintances and he exhibits a tendency to view those he meets in America skeptically.

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The economy, unable to tolerate the social outsider, must either assimilate him—getting him to observe as he must if he is to be a part of its operations—or banish him outright. Max Brod, vol. From the start of the novel, there appears to be little doubt about which of the two in America will have the upper hand.


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  • Kapitalismus ist ein Zustand der Welt und der Seele. Kafka thus appears to view the modern economy as an oppressive, turbulent force that moves of its own accord and from which escape is all but impossible. Karl is ultimately banished from his new home, not because he flouts some assimilated moral imperative, but, more prosaically, because he does not speak the language of economy.

    The protagonist has just arrived in his new home following a lengthy sea voyage from Europe and is about to embark upon his new life: Karl trat Wenn man die Augen klein machte, schienen diese Schiffe vor lauter Schwere zu schwanken The harbor itself shows an enormous density of traffic. Other vessels rock left and right from the weight of their cargos The pulse of unbridled capitalism appears to be everywhere. Its autopoiesis, therefore, relates to its ability to reproduce itself, not biologically like the cell, but rather as a particular mode of communication. Oliver Jahraus Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam jun.

    The economy reproduces itself through communicating individuals. The repercussions for the individual who participates in the economy are grave, however, because the way in which the social system views the world becomes the way in which its individual participants view it. In the latter two instances, however, the communication terminates. To summarize, then, autopoeisis occurs in the social system economy because of contingent communications, but these communications also imply a specific type of seeing.

    When cargo is shipped a particular way, a certain kind of technology is used, or new workers are hired, questions of money invariably come into play. Thus, when the various social systems freed themselves communicatively from the meddling of extraneous influences, such as the Church and the aristocracy, by establishing once and for all the boundaries that defined their essential differences—that is, by deciding what should be included in their communicative operations e.

    If the social system is to function—if, in other words, it is to see—than it must insist on its right to operate blind. The modes of communication he is able to make out will tell him which social systems successfully reproduce themselves and which do not. By identifying his predominant mode of communication—which involves what and how he communicates—the social system in which he participates may be isolated. It is not the putative stabile object whose essence might be identified through phenomenological arguments. The real is a communicative event that passes almost as soon as it occurs.

    The question to be answered about Karl, then, specifically relates to the communication in which he participates and his ability to do so. America, however, forces upon Karl a different communicative reality. Ich will Sie nicht hier haben. What, then, is true for a crewmember of a ship, who follows a specific chain of command, is equally true for any participant in a social system. The kinds of communicative selections that are possible depend upon the social system.

    A social system dictates how its participants can observe the world and how they cannot. Nevertheless, racist organizations that distinguish between e. The protagonist falsely sees the country as primarily a military power, not an economic one. Nevertheless, it is because Karl participates in this social system, and the discursive leveling effect of social rank is not present, that he is especially vulnerable to not observing America in way that is understandable to others.

    Wie oft sind Sie von dort hierher in die Hauptkassa gelaufen Since the social system economy bars alternate modes of communication as a result of its binary code i. It will be recalled that the prisoners in the cave are forced to look at the shadows before them because of their binds; Socrates, who relates the tale, however, is able to distinguish between what the prisoners can see and what they cannot see. The difference between those about whom the story is told i. On the one hand, the prisoners only see what they see.

    They cannot, however, simultaneously recognize how they see e. On the other hand, Socrates is able to observe not only what the prisoners see, but also how they see and, as a consequence, what this kind of seeing keeps from view. Because Karl does not make economic distinctions, he similarly, finds himself outside of the social system economy i.

    Since language, however, interpenetrates between social systems and psychic systems, it lends itself to observations about both what enables the social system to cope with its environment and what enables the individual as a psychic system to cope with his environment. The second order observer as opposed to the first order observer may dispute the social legitimacy of a social system and thus, by extension, the basis of the lives of those who participate in its coded discourse. He was nevertheless not ignorant about how the factory was run.

    He was able to observe the factory without being part of it—indeed, specifically because he was not part of it. See Franz Kafka, Briefe, , ed. Kafka realized that if he were forced to supervise the business, he would have to forfeit the kinds of distinctions that made him a writer. Kafka valued above all being able to observe what those who engaged in the family business could not.

    Like all systems, economy operates blind. Second order observations carry with them an implicit threat, for there is always the possibility that the second order observer will make his observations known, either to his object or to the public. The passage indicated illustrates how the second order observer represents a threat to the first order observer, who prefers to see what he sees.

    Whereas the woman may be viewed as a first order observer who adjusts herself to the communicative demands of a particular system, Karl, by contrast, demonstrates the threat he poses as a second order observer. To a second order observer, such as Karl, the nativity scene does not convey a divine presence, but rather a sense of helplessness. Her aggressiveness expresses the deep resentment first order observers have for meddling outsiders. Furthermore, the first order observer that Karl observes as a second order observer is the uncle.

    As a product of capitalism, the desk proves to be not a desk at all, but a commodity. The second order observer is a threat because he is aware that a system can only successfully operate by making distinctions which effectively blind it to other possible observations. As an author, moreover, he was also in a position to exert influence from the outside that may have significantly changed how the factory was run or even closed it down. In order to more fully appreciate the exact source of the tension between Karl and his uncle, it is necessary to consider their relationship more closely.


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    • The decision is made that he will live with his relative, who is an influential shipping magnate. The designation, therefore, expresses the close alliance, in the New World as in the Old, between politics and economics. Der Onkel kam ihm aber auch in jeder Kleinigkeit freundlich entgegen und niemals musste Karl sich erst durch schlechte Erfahrungen belehren lassen, wie dies meist das erste Leben im Ausland so verbittert. Nimms nicht zu schwer. Geradezu selig bin ich auch nicht, trotz dieser unbegreiflich alten Stadt. See Kafka, Briefe, The power of the second order observer lies in his ability to view from the outside, which includes looking downward from above.

      The onus lies on the second order observer to bring together in consciousness the dispersed fragments of a foreign reality. The pedestrians on the street below, by contrast, simply take for granted the basic fact of their experience. And, to the extent that an outsider is able to successfully communicate what he sees, he can affect social change. The uncle thus needs his nephew to be an ally. Karl auf dem Balkone antraf. Communication allows two people to build up their expectations, which, in turn, reduces the degree of contingency to their relationship.

      In order to appreciate the role the problem of double contingency will play between Karl, as a second order observer, and the uncle, as a businessman, we should first consider how communication enables Karl and the uncle to overcome the double contingency present in their initial meeting. Double contingency is surmounted in communication.

      The problem of double contingency in the novel, however, is more urgent than this early scene would suggest, for the familial mode of communication that initially brings Karl and the uncle together cannot hold. His very identity as an uncle, furthermore, is highly dubious. The uncle, thus, does not seem to need simply ally, but an heir. Luhmann suggests how 42 There is no evidence supporting the fact that the uncle is related to Karl.

      Indeed, once Karl arrives home with the uncle, the problem of double contingency appears insoluble because Karl and the uncle do not share the same distinctions. The problem of double contingency, however, does not completely represent a lost cause for the uncle, for he may still yet resort to other means to assure that he and his nephew arrive at a consensus that is agreeable to him.

      Specifically, if Karl is to be his ally or for that matter his heir the uncle must somehow convince him to make the same kinds of distinctions he makes. Socialization boils down to how the individual copes, not what society does to him. Society, consequently, cannot expect that it will have an immediate impact on individual behavior. He can, however, expose his nephew to kinds of communication that are particularly relevant to his business and hope that the protagonist undertakes the necessary cognitive re-structuring on his own.

      In the novel, the uncle consequently makes sure that Karl experiences enough coincidences related to his business that he will one day become part of it. Europeans are therefore better off in America forgetting what they know. One process follows upon the next as readily as any words in a communicative exchange. By being part of the social system economy, the uncle is not is a position to judge it in a meaningful way. After thirty years in America, he has no comprehensive overview of his company, not simply because of its size, but because of his total immersion in its recursive processes.

      While the uncle can see the speed of his operations, he is not in a position to comment on it. The uncle affirms here that economy does not make room for family and that, as result, neither can he. Almost as soon as the narrative signals that Karl may indeed manage to preserve his freedom from the uncle insofar as he physically leaves New York, he decides that he needs to return to him. Ich habe vier Klassen His aporia, thus, resolves itself in a surprising moment of clarity.

      Karl las bei ihrem Licht. Communicatively, it is a short leap between mere cognizance of difference and making that difference i. Jeder ist willkommmen! Wir sind das Teater, das jeden brauchen kann, jeden an seinem Ort! Overcoming Alienation through Asymmetrical Erotic Exchange in Felix Krull The failure of "Bildung" is assured under the modern economy because the opportunity for social integration is denied at the very point of human interaction: where money changes hands.

      Money mediates between people without promoting in them a sense of their common bond and thus acts as a buffer, which only exacerbates their spiritual separation. Media of exchange have not always been without true symbolic import: In ancient Greece, before the advent of the money economy around B. Money, by contrast, is merely an intermediary between one individual and another. For me money is the other person. In the novel, the protagonist either has no money, steals it, or comes into by impersonating someone else.

      Instead, I want to suggest, more radically, that Felix is a capitalist insofar as he personifies money and to the extent that he continually re-invests in himself as a kind of capital. Marx notes that money can speak any language and become whatever anyone wants it to be.

      Felix, as I will show, possesses just these traits as a character in the novel. The decisive moment for Felix in his own liberation from his alienated existence comes when he is initiated by Mme. The condition of illusory equality between individuals is accompanied by an equally illusory equality of objects, which only occurs because the objects have been monetarized. The leveling process of capitalistic exchange is total, affecting both the exchanging parties and their objects.

      Asymmetric exchange, by contrast, involves a type of interaction in which people come together because of their differences. They also do not relate to each other as equals, but rather in terms of their asymmetry. Along with upholding the differences between individuals, asymmetric exchange further allows for differences between the objects of exchange.

      Thus, whereas objects in a capitalist economy are potential equivalents because of the convention of price, objects exchanged in an asymmetrical relationship maintain their uniqueness, which, in turn, allows the participants in the exchange to give specific expression to themselves. The reason for this is that the exchange is not carried out in an ideological vacuum as it would be under capitalism , but is instead underwritten by a universal principal of humanity.

      Asymmetric exchange is not simply carried out for the individuals themselves, but also for society, which explains its essentially ethical character. Asymmetric exchange has epistemological implications, since it challenges the premise of traditional metaphysics that the knowable truth is situated in an ideal realm of perfect forms cf.

      Appearances are significant in asymmetric exchange because they bring people together despite their differences. They may in fact be deceptive because superficial as Zouzou at one point argues , but they also permit the essential asymmetry between individuals to be overcome and even embraced. His reputation as a literary theorist largely rests on the claim that formal similarities exist in literary and economic semiology. To paraphrase Marx, economic semiology is the money of his creative mind.

      Firstly, Felix is a personification of money: He can become anything anyone wants him to be, without, at the same time, having an intrinsic value of his own. Secondly, Felix is a capitalist to the extent that he sees himself and his personal traits in terms of their social worth, and thus 4 Shell, Karl Schlechta. Mann also finally shows through Felix the way to overcome the very monetary logic written into most of his story by introducing the possibility of a type of non-capitalistic exchange based upon non-equivalence. Critics of Felix Krull have traditionally limited their analyses to illuminating either the rather conspicuous parallels between the protagonist and the Greek god Hermes e.

      The author was indeed enamored with the god Hermes and was likely familiar with Jungian psychology, but his return in the s to the story of Felix Krull after thirty years, while in exile in the United States, appears to have been motivated by more than intellectual enthusiasm. In taking up the storyline once again while living in 6 See for instance: Donald F. The qualities that Felix shares with the ancient Greek god Hermes are thus more productive when intepreted by taking into account modern man, specifically, in his money form under capitalism.

      A person, however, who is conscious of his monetary character and views himself as a resource for investment, is more than simply money: He is a money form that is able to re-invest in itself. Under modern capitalism, the individual and not just products of consumption has a market value that can accrue when he enhances those traits that are prized most.

      Fischer, He is Hermes as living currency. The pervasive ancient Greek coin, the tetradrachmen, similarly shows a small owl, whose eyes have exaggerated size and a mesmerizing appearance. In the prostitutes Felix finds kindred spirits and models of self-improvement. In his capacity as living currency, Felix comes to resemble less an ordinary tetradrachmen than a golden coin.

      Firstly, Felix becomes a pimp. He serves as a go-between that brings people together, yet enforces their alienation by intervening when the sex act the commodity runs its course. Felix would appear to want to be in the same room as Rosza when she is at work, not only to voyeuristically watch her, but also to emerge from his hiding place and intercede after the john has been satisfied. Along with his golden appearance, the protagonist shares an additional quality with money: ambiguity.

      Money has the potential to become nearly any conceivable object and, thus, has unlimited representative power. He often models for his artist-godfather in the nude, his naked form presenting itself to Schimmelpriester as a kind of blank canvas. Although Felix is able to disguise himself to look like anyone he chooses, more fundamental to his ambiguity is his skin. At the turn of the twentieth- century, writers such as Franz Kafka and Sylvia Plath underscored the enigma of the face and questioned the connection between bodily skin and subjectivity.

      Similarly, there was widespread debate among economists of the time about going off the gold standard. Both artists and economists, then, were either resigned to, or willing to accept, living in a world in which surfaces were not reliable signifiers. Central to both authors is the enigma of face and body skin. Felix is therefore not principally subject or object, but surface. As a result of his ambiguity, he is able to present himself as a locus of desire. Marco Polo, for instance, relates how the Chinese used paper money, "as if it were real gold.

      Jede andere Lehre ist Betrug. It further suggests that life without deception would be unthinkable. If the economy is to function, people must believe that their money has value. In the world of economy, this phenomenon caused the stock market to crash in In either instance, the disappointment is real and often profound.

      Art and money make similar demands on the individual to believe. Presumably because he is no longer able to convince people that he is who he says he is, the protagonist ultimately ends up in prison. The public is apparently not ready, as the artists and the economists of the era would have it, to accept living in a world in which an image does not correspond to essence.

      In other words, can a surface be a surface and have value as a surface. It is not suggested here that there be a return to a situation in which surfaces vouch for value, but rather that the circumstance be considered in which surfaces are value and valued in themselves. In order to reflect on the prospect of a world where deception is viewed positively, rather then as a threat, it is necessary to focus on the process of exchange. Money has already been described as reflecting an illusion of value.

      In capitalistic society, however, money is responsible for another illusion: equivalence. If money, then, is no longer believable or creditworthy , not only will people not desire it, but exchanges based on equivalence will not occur. But that which mediates my life for me, also mediates the existence of other people for me. For me, it is the other person.

      The result is alienation. Felix does not have any meaningful relationships with others as a capitalist because, in his money form, he only reflects others desires back at them: He resembles 15 Marx, Marx similarly writes: If I long for a particular dish or want to take the mail-coach because I am not strong enough to go by foot, money fetches me the dish and the mail-coach: that is, it converts my wishes from something in the realm of imagination, translates them from their meditated, imagined or willed existence into the sensuous, actual existence—from imagination to life, from imagined being into real being.

      In effecting this mediation, money is the truly creative power. Lord Kilmarnock sees in Felix a potential gay lover; Ms. Twentymann views him as a kind of gallant knight that will rescue her from her tormenting parents; and Mme. His ability to speak foreign tongues is not innate, but rather comes from some unknown origin.

      Marx proposes that mankind will overcome the problem of alienation once the individual learns how to articulate his love in a meaningful way—as an expression of himself and in a manner that demonstrates his sympathy for mankind. He writes: Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust, etc Every one of your relations to man and to nature must be a specific expression, corresponding to the object of your will, of your real individual life.

      If you love without evoking love in return — that is, if your loving as loving does not produce reciprocal love; if through a living expression of yourself as a loving person you do not make yourself a beloved one, then your love is impotent — a misfortune. His view that humans should relate to each other in their specific expressions points to a type of exchange that takes qualitative differences into account, both between the objects and those exchanging them. Marx thus argues for a kind of exchange in which an overarching principle of humanity based on universal love coincides with, and indeed legitimates, human encounters rooted in difference.

      Love should be the unifying idea that simultaneously permits individuals to be individuals and to experience each other as such. Marx, accordingly, proposes that the problem of alienation can be surmounted 17 Marx, It is necessary to consider the possibility of humans exchanging as humans, which is to say, in their differences and not in terms that are mediated by the market. I will, therefore, demonstrate how the restoration of individual value to the objects of exchange has universal significance insofar as the parties acquire sympathy, and love, for each other.

      The notion of value may be understood in terms of the proposition that objects are effectively the same according to the measure of price; value may also take into account that all objects are qualitatively different and thus incomparable. Where value is relative, as in the first instance, the individual cannot claim to have a personal connection to the object he presents.

      Since the object ostensibly has the same value as any other, he does not personally vouch for it as something originating from himself. It is due to the recognition of qualitative differences in the act of exchange that furthermore encourages the exchanging individuals to have sympathy for each other. First, by the end of the novel, Felix overcomes alienation through asymmetrical exchange because he is finally able to represent his own desire. His asymmetrical exchanges reveal that, instead of being the passive surface upon which others project their desire, he is now the one desiring.

      The protagonist therefore does not act egoistically, since his actions are ultimately aimed at achieving a state of universal oneness. In abandoning his money form, the protagonist also joins the realm of humanity. Under feudalism, different classes therefore interacted with each other on the basis of their social differences, while they also simultaneously shared the same idea of a natural order rooted in the universal ethic represented by Christianity. The basic contours of the principle of asymmetric exchange may be found in the relationship between the lord and the tenant.

      A unity of opposites would mean stasis and the end of life. Individuals, in other words, must believe in their exchanges that a coin, or piece of paper, has a value that it in reality does not possess. A word, similarly, does not have an inherent value, but rather one is ascribed to it. It implies, instead, belief in the other. More precisely, one individual 23 Ibid. As already discussed, when the lord offers his property to a tenant under feudalism it is both as a particular landholder and as someone who also affirms the Christian ethic. The property as well the services in return therefore has both individual and universal significance at the same time.

      Every word, every piece of currency, should, in a sense, be a homagium. Earlier, I expanded upon the usual interpretation of Felix with respect to his resemblance to the Greek god Hermes by arguing that the protagonist resembles Hermes in his modern guise as living currency. He is a pimp and, in the hotel in Paris, a liftboy. In connection with the interest to understand how the spiritualization of language may help the individual overcome alienation, I want to add another mythical aspect to the traditional mythological interpretation of the novel.

      I, therefore, propose that Felix overcomes his alienation in the story when he realizes his affinity with Eros, the god of love. Oberstleutnant von Stralenheim! Herr Adelebsen! On the other hand, the passage highlighted above presents asymmetric—or erotic—exchange—as a response to the problem of alienation. We also have Felix qua Eros, who endeavors to bring opposites together.

      Hermes and Eros, therefore, must join together in common cause in the protagonist. Apostolos N. Eros, in other words, must be present and re- presented in order to be effective. In erotic interactions, by contrast, language takes on a different form. In order to build a truly beautiful bridge, in other words, one must also believe in the idea of human unity. Nevertheless, with regard to his intent, there is a clear distinction between the beautiful bridges that he builds before the last third of the novel and those afterwards. In this role, he also demonstrates a profound sense of connectedness to his fellow man.

      Felix builds beautiful bridges, not just for himself, but for all mankind. And, as his brief erotic interlude with Zouzou attests, Felix does not want sexual fulfillment so much as to be trusted—indeed, to be loved. Because homophilic, the asymmetry of sexual relations was not due to a difference in gender, but rather age and social status. Asymmetry is further evidenced in terms of the active and passive roles assumed by the parties: the adult is the pursuer or lover erastes , on the one hand; the adolescent boy is the pursued or beloved eromenos , on the other.

      Poets frequently employed the equestrian metaphor of yoking to signify this very event. The fact that it normally took place in such central pedagogical institutions as the gymansium and the symposium suggests its full integration into Greek civic life. The bond that developed between the adolescent and 39 Ibid. Here in Athens our conventions are much better Erotic exchange was a form of sozialization that placed a premium on surfaces. The period of erotic exchange that was so crucial to ancient Greek society seems to come to an abrupt halt with Plato.

      It has already been discussed how erotic exchange was a social practice in ancient Greece in which truth, as it relates to Greek citizenship, was revealed through appearances. For Socrates, virtue is not engendered through the play of surfaces between the lover and the beloved. It is located in the mind alone. Diotima refutes the idea that virtue is generated out of an asymmetrical relationship, as we have described above, and 44 Ibid. The unique fragmented halves represent the individual holders and also express their states of incompleteness.

      The symbolon fragment gestures towards a unity that can only be realized when it is extended to someone else holding a different, yet matching, fragment. But my view is that love is directed neither at their half nor their whole unless However, the presence of the good in the individual before he has relationship with someone else necessarily quashes his desire. The usual dynamic between the lover and the beloved that is invigorated by their asymmetry is sapped of its energy, for the virtuous lover no longer feels the need to chase his young counterpart.

      He is already complete in himself. He explains how Socrates has spurned him and says of one of their encounters Then I threw my arms round this god-like and amazing man, and lay there with him all night long. When he is not engaged with an interlocutor in the dialectic, he prefers to be alone. Plato arrives at the end of an historical era, marking for our purposes the point of transition between the dominance of erotic social practices in which truth is born out of the asymmetry of human relations and the advent of the dialectic, in which truth is always at least one step beyond the realm of humanity.

      As Plato has it, human beings are always alienated from truth. The story may thus be seen as a metaphor for capitalistic exchange because it depicts a kind of exchange that allows for absence. Gyges sees beauty, but beauty i. Gyges, in short, breaks with the ritual of erotic exchange. The tradition of erotic exchange is violated in one instance involving the gaze sight and, in the other, the faculty of hearing. See M.

      Horkheimer and T. Both epistemological frameworks signify an end to the idea that value obtains through human interaction. The individual must shoulder the burden in discovering truth. Jay notes how Western society has moved away from the ocularcentrism of the ancient Greeks to an extreme supicion of vision in twentieth-century French philosophy.

      As already discussed, Felix is shown from the beginning of the narrative to be alienated from the world. Employed in a luxury Parisian hotel as a liftboy and a waiter, he is a go-between, who serves people without entering into any substantive relations with them. He epitomizes the modern condition of alienation because he interacts with others as a fetishized commodity, letting the social marketplace determine his value. As the money form that re-invests in itself, Felix is a metaphor for modern capitalism.

      The protagonist, however, also overcomes his alienation when Mme. After helping 50 This scene comes after they have already crossed paths at the French border control, where Felix stealthily makes off with her jewel box. In the same vein, the reader notices that although Mme. Felix Krull is no exception in this regard.

      The asymmetry of the encounter between Felix and Mme. While Mme. The items the protagonist steals away with from Mme. In antiquity, such gifts were given in order to symbolize that the child had died and been reborn a man. After his humiliation and subsequent submission to Mme. An erotic atmosphere is, furthermore, indicated throughout the scene. His desire, therefore, is not strictly narcissistic, but extends beyond himself to the world at large. Language is the medium par excellence for enabling interlocutors to become conscious of their common humanity.

      Speech does more than simply bring people together in the act of communication, however. The individual can in fact become aware of his basic need for community insofar as he is able to recognize the same need in others, specifically, through their speech. Mit wahrem Eifer hat die Natur diese ihre eine, ihr teuere Grundidee verfolgt A vitreous and slimy little clump of organic matter first conjoined with others and then untold millions.

      It also, however, eradicates the episodic aspect of time that is inherent, not only to theatrical performances, but human existence more generally. He mortgages what he sees as the true value of his performance in order to free himself financially, thus making money the measure of his experience. When acknowledged in their momentary character, every word becomes a memento mori. Instead, he wants to overcome his feeling of alienation to her. Berliner Ausgabe, ed. Siegfried Seidel, vol. He also immediately speaks of love following his arrival in Lisbon.

      Their opposition is further described at the start of the tenth chapter in the context of a tennis match. It is the surface. He thereby 64 His false persona and his deceptions, as a result, are also not be judged according to metaphysical concepts. Vielen, vielen Dank For Felix, it is as a small step between recognizing beauty in an object and being able to experience love. Zum Beispiel die Liebe Indeed, the church is where they have their first kiss. In zarten Spuren und Andeutungen ihres Daseins durchzieht sie die ganze Welt.

      They also aid the individual in surmounting his sense of alienation from the world in general. Felix remarks on how the traditional handshake enforces, rather than mitigates, feelings of separation between people: Die Menschen geben einander die Hand Felix, by the same token, sees that the handshake has become little more than a convention that serves more to keep humans apart than to bring them together. By the end of chapter ten, the reader notices that the conventional handshake has come to mean much more to Zouzou than a thoughtless pressing of the hands.

      His portraits, which he refrains from showing until the very last moment, recall those other objects we have discussed which mark the end of a transaction and finally consummate a lasting bond. Lastly, in Greek mythology, Hermes gives his lyre to Apollo as a symbolon, or token, to connote their eternal friendship. In closing, I want to suggest that Mann, too, presents a symbolon to his reading public in the form of his novel. Itself a beautiful fragment, Felix Krull arouses our desire and, ultimately, breaks our defenses so that we consent to meeting the author half way in the oleander bush, as it were in order to make the fragment whole.

      It represents the promise of unity.