Academic journal article German Quarterly

Nur um Himmels Willen Keine Satyren...Deutsche Satire und Satiretheorie des 18. Jahrhunderts im Kontext von Anglophilie, Swift-Rezeption und asthetische Theorie

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Nur um Himmels Willen Keine Satyren...Deutsche Satire und Satiretheorie des 18. Jahrhunderts im Kontext von Anglophilie, Swift-Rezeption und asthetische Theorie

Article excerpt

Kammerer, Herald. Nur um Himmels Willen keine Satyren ... Deutsche Satire and Satiretheorie des 18. Jahrhunderts im Kontext von Anglophilie, Swift-Rezeption and asthetische Theorie. Heidelberg: Winter, 1999. 353 pp. and 6 illustrations. DM 88.00 paperback.

This book, a 1998 dissertation from Munich University, distances itself from the dominant scholarship in German literature on satire, which has mainly relied on "official" definitions of satire claiming normative and didactic intentions for the satirical writers. After providing a careful outline of the current research on satire, both in German and in Anglo-American contexts, Kammerer shows that this "official" approach involves a contradiction. In eighteenth century Germany, Jonathan Swift was considered the exemplary satirist and while he was admired greatly for his individualism, wit, humor, and spleen despite his uncompromising sharpness and aggressive tone, his contribution to the theory of the genre remained ignored in the scholarship of Germanistik. Satire in German literature was conceptualized only in unifying pedagogical terms, as if addressed to the society as a whole, or reduced to the service of the Enlightenment's education program without ever taking laughter, pleasure, or specific sensory aspects into account. Because of their fixation on normative and didactic purposes, German definitions and theories of satire have, according to Kammerer, neither done justice to Swift's path-breaking use of this genre, nor to the praxis of German satirists whose work also exceeds such unnecessary narrow boundaries. Kammerer develops his own pragmatic approach to satire inspired by Swift and a sensualist aesthetic that is increasingly gaining attention in eighteenth-century studies. He focuses on three German texts: Jonathan Karl Wezel's novel Belphegor (1776), Gottfried August Burger's Munchhausen (1788), and Georg Christoph Lichtenberg's Ausfuhrliche Erklarung der Hogarthschen Kupferstiche (1794-99).

The first part of the book offers a detailed report on the German scholarship on satire that he then contrasts to Anglo-American literary approaches. Against the dominant model of satire in German scholarship, interpreted as a means to transmit bourgeois ideology while addressing the public sphere as defined by Kosellek, Habermas, and Vierhaus, Kammerer argues that satire rather works within an individualistic anthropology as suggested by Hobbes, or as described in the work of Locke, where the notion of society has different connotations. Whereas Kosellek, Rabener, Riedel, Waser and others claim that the satire is non-political ("Anspruch auf Uberparteilichkeit" [27]) and altruistic ("allgemeine Menschenliebe"), the same authors take issue with the aggressive tone of satires which does not fit this norm. Also the entry for satire in Zedler's UniversalLexikon (vol. 34, 1742) includes warnings against satires that do not keep to the expectation of public peace. …

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