Academic journal article German Quarterly

Codierungen von Liebe in der Kunstperiode

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Codierungen von Liebe in der Kunstperiode

Article excerpt

Hinderer, Walter, ed. Codierungen von Liebe in der Kunstperide. Wurzburg: Konigshausen & Neumann, 1997.342 pp. DM 58.00 paperback.

This collection of essays takes as its starting point Niklas Luhmann's Liebe als Passion. Zur Codierung von Intimitdt (1997). As the title of the present volume suggests, the focus is on the discourse of love during Romanticism. In eleven essays, including one by the editor, the contributors attempt to address their topic. An introduction by Hinderer completes the volume. It does not have a bibliography or an index. A "Synopsis" written in (sometimes-tortured) English follows the introduction.

Unlike many collections of essays by different authors, these essays are all thematically connected and interested in exploring love during the period indicated. Unfortunately, however, many of them suffer from considerable monotony and predictability. Many commonplaces about Romantic love are proven again and again. The problems may be the lack of diversity among the writers and the fact that not enough contemporary theoretical work has been consulted-studies on gender, for example, and on discourse theory.

At issue is Luhmann's argument that love is not an emotion, but a communicative code with rules designed to express feelings. Romantic texts attempt to harmonize erotic and Platonic love, and friendship. Many of the essays collected here do not, however, explore the semantics of love, but rather are impressionistic in their presentation of well-known Romantic texts. Also, as Hinderer notes in his concluding essay, materials in addition to belles lettres need to be examined, such as journals and lexica. Studies have shown that journals, for example, were widely read and influenced communication and modes of behavior. The argument made in English Studies that the new social marriage contract entered into by women and men about this period might also have brought unique insights into the investigation of the Romantic discourse of love.

Peter Fuchs, a sociologist and former student of Luhmann's, gives the collection its theoretical impetus in the opening essay. Fuchs suggests that Romantic love stresses the form of the communication, not the content. Reading literature becomes more important than lived experience. …

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