The Shepherd, the Volk, and the Middle Class
Title Details

300 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

Series: Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture

Series Vol. Number: 210

Imprint: Camden House

The Shepherd, the Volk, and the Middle Class

Transformations of Pastoral in German-Language Writing, 1750-1850

by Elystan Griffiths

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
  • Reviews
Analyzes the transformation of German-language pastoral from a portrayal of the idyllic lives of herdsmen into a vehicle for the concerns and aspirations of the middle class.
European pastoral tradition traces its roots to Theocritus's Idylls and Virgil's Eclogues, which portrayed herdsmen pursuing love and art. While the lives of shepherds, or of country folk generally, remain the ostensible subject of pastoral, Elystan Griffiths argues that in the German context after 1750 its central concerns were those of an emergent, nationally minded, creative middle class. These concerns became increasingly urgent in the face of the upheaval of the French Revolution and the need to respond to the rise of capitalist modernity. The Shepherd, the Volk, and the Middle Class traces how pastoral was transformed in the work of major German-language authors, including Gessner, "Maler" Müller, J. H. Voss, Goethe, Kleist, Mörike, and Nestroy, into a vehicle for serious moral, political, and social questions. Debates raged about whether present-day shepherds were fit to appear in literature, or whether the objects of pastoral should, rather, be the idealized shepherds of Arcadian prehistory or early Biblical times. Pastoral was thus bound up with cultural and political questions surrounding the relationships between the classes, the state of the peasantry, the nature of art, and most fundamentally the social constraints of the thinking subject amid the emancipatory promise of the Enlightenment.
Introduction: Pastoral as a Way of Not Looking at the Country
Pastoral in the Enlightenment: Salomon Gessner's Idylls
"Wo giebts dann Schäfer wie diese?": Friedrich "Maler" Müller's Idylls of Cultural Renewal
Johann Heinrich Voss's Experiments with an Enlightened Idyll
Goethe and Schiller's Engagements with Pastoral: Facing the Post-Revolutionary World
Heinrich von Kleist: The Promises and Illusions of Pastoral
Pastoral in the Age of Capital: Eduard Mörike and Johann Nestroy
Conclusion

ELYSTAN GRIFFITHS is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in German Studies at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of the monographs Political Change and Human Emancipation in the Works of Heinrich von Kleist (2005) and The Shepherd, the Volk, and the Middle Class: Transformations of Pastoral in German-Language Writing, 1750-1850 (2020). Along with David Hill, he published the first complete edition of J.M.R. Lenz's writings on social and military reform, based on extensive manuscript holdings in Kraków, Berlin and Riga. He is currently working on a project on the relationship between obedience and agency in German culture of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

"With his multilayered analysis, Griffiths has made the idyll newly accessible for social-historical readings. His book reminds us emphatically that it is still worthwhile to read this only apparently apolitical genre with precise attention to its social significance." Annika Hildebrandt, ZEITSCHRIFT FÜR GERMANISTIK

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9781640140646

May 2020

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9781787446762

May 2020

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Title Details

300 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

Series: Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture

Series Vol. Number: 210

Imprint: Camden House