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The old and the new : Art, society, and cultural change in Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, Keller's Der Grüne Heinrich, and Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus

Potter, Martin Gabriel; (2003) The old and the new : Art, society, and cultural change in Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, Keller's Der Grüne Heinrich, and Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores three novels: Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, Keller's Der Grüne Heinrich, and Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus. It suggests that what they have in common is a concern to understand the relationship between art, the artist, and society, with art being at issue in terms of the artist's psychology, the forms, genres and modes of art itself, and ways in which art is received socially as a product by its actual or potential audience. There is a conceptual framework which both explicitly and implicitly informs the theme of the interplay between art, the artist's psychology, and society: it is that of the old and the new. All three novels endeavour to understand problems arising from social and cultural change, and arrive at no confident judgements with respect to them. The energies of the new may be subversive and disorienting, but might also imply vitality and creative possibilities. Wilhelm Meister seeks to reconcile the specialization of the modern world with his deeply rooted aspiration towards wholeness. Heinrich Lee discovers that his emotional, erotic, artistic and professional life is undermined at every turn by the abstraction and fragmentation of the modem world. Adrian Leverkühn finds that the attempt to achieve a radically modern form of creativity exacts an intolerable price in human and social terms. To read the three novels comparatively is to bear witness to a historical narrative about the pressures acting upon the bourgeois subject in the late Eighteenth Century (Goethe), the mid and late Nineteenth Century (Keller), and the first half of the Twentieth Century (Mann).

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The old and the new : Art, society, and cultural change in Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, Keller's Der Grüne Heinrich, and Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus
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; Mann, Thomas; von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10100962
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