Grillparzer's Libussa: The Tragedy of Separation

By William C. Reeve | Go to book overview

Grillparzer Libussa
The Tragedy of Separation

In Grillparzer's Libussa William Reeve provides an important interpretation of a work that has received little detailed attention from European and American critics.The play has been dealt with in a broader context in numerous monograph-length overviews or introductions to Grillparzer, but this is the first time that it has received the careful consideration it deserves. Reeve not only offers a close textual analysis of the drama focusing on the theme of separation but shows how Libussa and its author fit into the development of the history of ideas in nineteenth-century Europe.He contends that Grillparzer's work anticipates Bachofen, Nietzsche, Freud, Neumann, and Lacan.

Using Freudian psychoanalysis, Neumann's investigation of the female archetype, and anthropological studies, Reeve argues that Grillparzer's tragedy portrays the struggle between matriarchy and patriarchy, nurturers and warriors, and rural and urban cultures. Since Libussa proves unable to overcome the gender bias of her male subjects, the play concludes with a symbolic statement of masculine superiority as man and woman remain intellectually and physically apart. Reeve's analysis draws parallels with Grillparzer's other two completed posthumous tragedies, Ein Bruderzwist in Habsburg and Die jüdin von Toledo, relating his findings to the greater context of nineteenth-century German drama.

WILLIAM C. REEVE is professor of German studies, Queen's University.

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Grillparzer's Libussa: The Tragedy of Separation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Grillparzer's Libussa - The Tragedy of Separation *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Introduction *
  • The Inescapable Paternal Legacy: Act One *
  • Cooperation/Integration Versus Competition / Separation: Act Two *
  • Likes Repel: Act Three *
  • Jockeying for Position and Apparent Reconciliation: Act Four *
  • The Final Separation(s): Act Five *
  • Conclusion: Variations on a Theme *
  • Notes *
  • Works Cited *
  • Index *
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