The Emergence of the Modern German Novel

The Emergence of the Modern German Novel

Christoph Martin Wieland, Sophie von La Roche, and Maria Anna Sagar

Claire Baldwin


Camden House



A study of the rise of the German novel viewed from a feminist standpoint.
This book treats both the literary history of the modern German novel and theoretical considerations about gender and 18th-century narrative strategies. It attempts to overcome a two-fold division in scholarship by treating Christoph Martin Wieland's Geschichte des Agathon and Sophie von La Roche's Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim, the two novels generally considered to be foundational in the development of the German Bildungsroman, in conjunction, rather than as examples of unrelated traditions, and by considering the reciprocal influence of fictional and theoretical writing dealing with the developing genre of the modern German novel. Baldwin also examines Wieland's Don Sylvio and Maria Anna Sagar's Karolinens Tagebuch and analyzes how gender as a relative construct functions in each of the four texts. In so doing she shows how the new German novel of the 1770s aligns reading and narrative practices with gendered attributes to establish narrative authority and cultural legitimacy for the new stories of identity they explore. The interpretations proceed from an analysis of the ways that reading and narration are represented in the novels, and in their poetological prefaces, to show that the texts take up, challenge, and contribute to contemporary literary and social theories of the novel.

Claire Baldwin is assistant professor of German at Colgate Unversity in Hamilton, New York.


May 2002
1 black and white illustrations
272 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571131676
Format: Hardback
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, LIT003000
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Table of Contents

The Powers of Desire: The Debate on the Novel in Eighteenth-Century Germany
The Pleasures of Fiction: Christoph Martin Weiland's Der Sieg der Natur über die Schwärmerey oder Die Abentheuer des Don Sylvio von Rosalvades Don Sylvio von Rosalva
Seductive Strategies and the Promise of Knowledge: Wieland's Geschichte des Agathon
A Story of Her Own: Sophie von La Roche's Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim
Narrating Nothing: Maria Anna Sagar's Karolinens Tagebuch ohne ausserordentliche Handlungen, oder gerade so viel als gar keinegar keine
Epilogue: Caveat Lector
Works Consulted


(A)n in-depth analysis of recently emerging authors . . . . (T)he chapters provide a neat snapshot of a decade's worth of literary productivity in Germany . . . . (Recommended) for graduate students and scholars, it should be at the top of the acquisitions list for research libraries. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

The author delves into the major literary debate of this period from a new angle. Her approach reveals the similarity of ... genres thought vastly different.CHOICE

The methodological aspiration of the study... is to combine literary history with the study of women's writing. Baldwin makes important contributions in both these areas. EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FICTION

Gracefully written, knowledgeable about key literary debates of both the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries, fresh in its presentation of familiar material, and effective in making the 18th-century novels sound appealing to 21st-century readers. MONATSHEFTE

This is a good, useful, and accessible study which provides essential analysis in the area of genre theory and definition at a seminal time in the history of the novel. GOETHE YEARBOOK

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