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The rhetoric of Goethe's Erlebnislyrik

Kelly, Stephen Peter; (2003) The rhetoric of Goethe's Erlebnislyrik. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Goethe's early lyric poetry tends to figure in literary history for its thematic (and often biographical) expressivity. By contrast it is the aim of this thesis to pay particular attention to the particular linguistic achievement that makes that poetry possible. This thesis examines the expressive means by which Goethe communicates thoughts and experiences within poetry. I want above all to notice the conduit by which the energies of experience, and reflections upon that experience, become articulate. I first undertake a brief survey of philosophical ideas and linguistic developments that form a context for the poetry readings. I next examine the poetry of Barthold Hinrich Brockes, and some of Herder's writings. These disparate figures both contextualise and prefigure the emergence of Goethe's lyric genius - the former, because his poetry conveys the physical appearance of nature in remarkable detail; and the latter, because he insists on the essential complicity of language in experience. To situate my readings within a critical context, I then chart several critical approaches, and note points of divergence and disagreement between my readings and those of others. The main body of the thesis offers detailed readings of several Sesenheimer Lieder, Willkommen und Abschied, and Maifest. And I look across the period of Goethe's early creativity (the mid-1770's), including both poetry and excerpts from his scientific writings of this time. The aim here is to chart issues of language, of experience, and of poetic self This is undertaken in the belief that the range of his poetry is unified by his characteristic sensibility, by his amazing creativity which has as its source a profound trust in the wholeness of human experience and in the patterns and structures of the organic living process. And finally, I look at several of Goethe's later poems, in an attempt to hear the consistent resonance of his poetic voice.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The rhetoric of Goethe's Erlebnislyrik
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics; Linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10100959
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