Read or Download Die Agora von Athen: Women's Religions in the Greco-Roman World: A Sourcebook - download pdf or read online. It is a considerably improved and entirely revised variation of a publication initially released in as Maenads, Martyrs, Matrons, Monastics. The publication is a suite of translations of fundamental texts appropriate to women's faith in Western antiquity, from the fourth century BCE to the 5th century CE. Die makedonische Armee - bis v. Makedonische Hegemonie und Reichsbildung 4.
Download e-book for iPad: Antiquity serves as a reference element for varied different types of self-understanding in Western cultural and highbrow heritage. This compendium explores the productiveness of such limits by way of examples taken from diverse eras and disciplines. Nor could the nuns receive the sacraments according to the old rites. Caritas died there in aged sixty-six, a woman whose learning was made possible by her life as a nun. He therefore was to be the sole fount of knowledge for his wife, should she need instruction. In consequence only those women who came from an intellectual family, in whose discussions and reading they were allowed to participate, had a chance of acquiring learning.
But were there not important women Reformers? Certainly there were women who worked and fought to further the cause of the Reformation. As the sixteenth century progressed, however, the formation of theological faculties in the new Protestant universities meant that religious interpretation was taken back into professional and therefore male hands and was carried on in an institution to which women by definition were not admitted.
One of the main complaints of Anna Ovena Hoyers was precisely the exclusion of women from theological debate. The Reformation in the German-speaking world ensured, however, that at least one book in the vernacular was accessible to women — the Bible. German women were never forbidden to read the Bible for themselves as English women were in the Act of Parliament promulgated in On the positive side, we might single out two institutions which actually fostered writing by women, particularly in the latter half of our period: Women and literature As well as the social and historical factors mentioned above, there were literary constraints on women too.
The novel purveyed lies and was furthermore a dangerous foreign import. Secular love poetry, based as it was on Petrarch or on the Latin poets, contravened conventions about the sexual purity of women. If we put all these factors together, it is obvious what the bulk of writing by women must consist of: Let us now examine each of these areas in turn.
As just mentioned, verse is the pre-eminent genre employed by women. Poems can be small in scale and unpretentious in theme and form; they do not need the long-term concentrated work of a novel or the co-operation of actors and the existence of a theatre before they can be realized. They are complete in themselves, they can be produced in private and even women had familiar models to emulate: Biblical psalms in translation, hymns in the vernacular, satirical verse on broadsheets, didactic verse in emblems and on gravestones, folksongs, as well as the occasional poetry familiar to all at weddings, christenings and in funeral sermons.
Of all forms poetry was the one women could most easily practise in private and without censure. To illustrate this we shall look briefly at the work of four female poets: The marriage appears to have been a happy one and she bore her husband at least nine children. He died in and in the course of the next ten years, Hoyers lost a large part of her fortune through law-suits and taxes.
It was, however, her deviant religious views which led to her unsettled existence from and her ultimate refuge in Sweden. The movement towards Reform, itself so revolutionary and anti-orthodox in the early Reformation years, had hardened into two institutionalized churches, Lutheran and Calvinist. The same faculties pronounced on which sects and writings were to be banned as heretical. It is clear that by the s Hoyers was reading a great deal of such banned material which circulated secretly among believers. They were both called to order by the Lutheran authorities and had to flee, first to other towns in Schleswig-Holstein and afterwards to Denmark.
Hoyers was able to remain in the area under the protection of the Dowager Duchess Augusta of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp and carried on holding private prayer meetings and worship as before. On the death of her uncle in she lost her last family protector and from seems to have moved around in North Germany. We know that she was in Sweden by , accompanied by five of her children, though the exact date of her arrival there is not certain, and that by now her financial circumstances were straitened. However, in she came under the protection of Maria Eleonora, Queen Mother of Sweden, who allowed her to live on one of her estates until her death in As a life history of a woman and a non-conformist in the early modern period her story would be fascinating in itself.
Even more interesting is that her emergence as a non-conformist in religious matters also marked The early modern period her emergence as a writer. Her second was her verse rendering of the Book of Ruth, which appeared in Sweden in Today she is chiefly known for her Geistliche und weltliche Poemata Religious and secular poems , an anthology which contains the two above-mentioned works as well as twenty-one others and which appeared in Amsterdam in A Stockholm manuscript put together by her sons Caspar and Friedrich Wilhelm after her death contains a further forty-seven poems.
Clearly these were to be used by a congregation as part of their worship and are characterized by a clarity and simplicity of diction, a heartfelt piety and a regularity of form reminiscent of Luther himself. She indeed saw herself as standing in direct descent from Luther, both in her criticism of clerical abuse and in her composition of hymns for actual liturgical use.
She was born in Greifswald as the daughter of a lawyer of standing and education who served at the court of Boguslav XIV in Stettin and later became mayor of Greifswald. The Thirty Years War meant that Schwarz and her siblings spent the years —31 not in Greifswald but in Fretow on the coast.
It is clear that in her studies and in her poetry, which she must have begun to write at about the age of ten, she had the full support of her widowed father and of her brother. By the time of her death at the age of only seventeen, Schwarz had written some eighty poems, a fragment of a drama entitled Susanna and part of a pastoral novel.
Her poems, showing skilful use of such forms as the sonnet and the alexandrine, deal with a much wider range of themes than was usual for women, even later in the century. Of course she writes religious verse and occasional poetry but there are many poems on the theme of friendship and, surprisingly for a woman and a young woman at that, at least a quarter of her verse is Petrarchist love poetry.
It would appear that when a talent such as that of Schwarz is given the necessary encouragement and education it can vie with the poetry of male contemporaries. The poetry of Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg makes this point even more forcefully. This Austrian Protestant aristocrat lost her father at the age of seven, whereupon her step-uncle Hans Rudolf von Greiffenberg became her guardian.
He was also her first teacher and taught her the classical languages as well as French, Italian and Spanish.
A History of Women's Writing in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
She read works on ancient and modern history, law, politics, astronomy, alchemy, theology and philosophy as well as the European literature of her day. Her Protestantism meant that she and her family had to make long journeys to attend services at important religious festivals, usually to Western Hungary. After the death of her younger sister and only sibling, Greiffenberg had what she considered an important mystical revelation at Easter in Pressburg Bratislava. Among her friends in the educated Protestant aristocracy was Johann Wilhelm von Stubenberg, a notable translator from French and Italian who had widespread connections with the intelligensia of his day.
She showed him her poems; he acted as her literary mentor and adviser and put her in contact with the poet and scholar Sigmund von Birken —81 , who had settled in Nuremberg in Meanwhile Hans Rudolf, her step-uncle, had declared his long-standing wish to marry her and put her under great pressure to agree, though he was almost thirty years her senior. They were too nearly related for this marriage to be lawful in Austria and when Greiffenberg finally gave in, they had to be married in Bayreuth in After their return to their estates at Seisenegg in Austria in , however, Hans Rudolf had to spend a year in prison on a charge of unlawful cohabitation.
They bear witness to a deeply religious woman who longed for the solitude and the leisure to pursue her studies, her writing and her devotions, but who was constantly forced to abandon them either to help run the house and estate or to entertain the loud jolly company her husband enjoyed. Of all women writers in the early modern period Greiffenberg is the only one to be the subject of sustained research and discussion. These poems are remarkable by any standard.
The physical world is seen as a set of ciphers which have to be decoded to arrive at the spiritual meaning. To do this she employs such tightly controlled forms as the sonnet and pushes language to its boundaries by creating unexpected compounds and by the use of emphatic prefixes. One is reminded of Gerard Manley Hopkins, who was driven by the same urge to express the unexpressible and who finds himself having to mould and distort language in the same way. From her own point of view and that of her contemporaries her principal achievement as a writer was not her poems but her four extensive series of religious meditations in prose, interspersed here and there with poems, on the incarnation and early life of Jesus , His suffering and death , His teachings and miracles and His life and prophecies Margaretha Susanna von Kuntsch had no such like-minded associates to encourage her literary endeavours.
She explains that though her own inclinations led her to learn Latin and French and other branches of knowledge, her parents were more farsighted than she and decided that such occupation was more suited to a great lady than to a woman of the middle rank and so she had to give up her studies. At eighteen she married Christoph von Kuntsch, also an official of the Altenburg court.
With the exception of a period of three years at the beginning of her married life, she spent the rest of her days in Altenburg where she had grown up. Most of her poetry takes exactly that form we outlined above as virtually pre-determined in the case of a woman writer of the period: What strikes the reader is the extent to which her mind is preoccupied with the theme of death to a degree unusual even for a Baroque poet. Not only is there a large number of references to death, even in the birthday poems for her husband, and of poems on the topic itself but a heart-rending intensity is revealed in her treatment of the subject.
Remarkable in this regard is the series of poems on the deaths of her own children, whose names and precise ages to the day she lists in her curriculum vitae. She had fourteen pregnancies of which only one child, her daughter Margaretha Elisabeth, lived to adulthood. Two of the pregnancies ended in miscarriages, two were stillbirths, two were premature and no less than five others died at less than a year old. Two others died aged seven and nine respectively. In a skilfully turned poem she compares the courage needed by the warrior Agamemnon in battle with the far greater courage needed to cope with the loss of his child, and then contrasts herself, now the mother of nine dead children, both to Agamemnon and to Timantes, who like herself, is attempting to depict grief in art.
If he was unable to limn the pain of another, how can she present her own heartbreak? She ends her poem: It is clear that these women were active in various non-conformist religious groups throughout the seventeenth century, something we have already seen in the case of Hoyers. One of the best-known of these spiritual autobiographies is that of the noblewoman Johanna von Merlau, more commonly known by her married name of Johanna Eleonore Petersen.
She tells the story of her life up to the birth of her first son in vivid detail: For her this outward narrative is the framework for what really concerns her, namely, her spiritual development. She learns to depend absolutely on God and to see His hand in all things and as her spirituality becomes more and more inward and her own inclinations more ascetic, she finds the social role she is required to play, for instance, at court, deeply distasteful. Had either of these women belonged to a different religious grouping, the convent would have been the obvious refuge.
Johanna von Merlau, however, has to marry and her struggle to accomplish this and yet remain true to her religious ideals constitutes a constant thread in her narrative. Once she is married to Petersen and can express her spirituality in sympathetic surroundings, she then develops visionary and prophetic gifts.
As an exploration of emotions and spirituality and in its insistence on their primacy over the happenings of daily life, this autobiography anticipates the eighteenth century. She addresses her memoirs ostensibly to her children but maintains that her intention is not didactic.
Rather she is writing in order to commune with herself, to have someone to talk to in the loneliness of her widowhood. The sheer length of her account means that the reader is given a full and detailed picture of the customs, religious observance and daily life of the German Jewish community of her day. She displays the same piety, the same trust in God, the same resignation in adversity as her Christian contemporaries, but in contrast to them was clearly treated by her husband as an equal partner in his business with whom he discussed every negotiation, every financial deal, to such an extent that she was able to take over the business on his death.
Prose fiction by women in this period takes second place behind the autobiographical writings just discussed. Julia, for instance, maintains that since the novel is a form of literature which actually purveys lies, women are particularly susceptible to corruption by it. Virtuous books present wise and true precepts in a pleasing and digestible manner. The debate is decided in favour of Angelika. Sibylle Ursula delayed marrying to devote herself to her writing. Among other things she translated one of the Latin writings of the Spanish Humanist Juan de Vives into German and wrote a five-act play and a series of spiritual meditations Geistliches Kleeblatt, but it is for her contribution to the novel that she is chiefly known today.
It is thought that when Sibylle Ursula married belatedly in at the age of thirty-four she handed her work over to her brother who revised and reordered parts of it, added to it and gave it to his old tutor Sigmund von Birken to edit. In the year of their marriage she and her husband published the first volume of the pastoral novel Die Kunst-und Tugend-gezierte Macarie The artistic and virtuous Macarie , in which to an extent they describe their own love story.
The novel tells the history of the shepherd Polyphilus who sets off to find honour and falls in love with the beautiful and learned Macarie. Before he can win her, however, he must first learn to see through the sham glamour of court life and the emptiness of power before he can retreat to the commu- The early modern period nity of shepherds and live a life of virtue and literary endeavour with his beloved Macarie.
If the first part was the work of both the Stockfleths, the second part, which appeared in , was written by Maria Katharina alone and is generally agreed to be both more profound in its ideas and of much greater literary merit than the first part on which the couple collaborated. If there is little prose fiction by women in this period, there is even less drama. The only milieu which was at all propitious in this regard was the court. It is untitled and not quite finished but is modelled on the martyr dramas of the age in which a virtuous woman, exposed to the untrammelled lust and unscrupulous wiles of an evil man, is prepared to lose her life rather than her virtue.
Though only twenty-two at the time of her marriage, she took her role as step-mother to four young children, as wife of a man of learning and artistic interests and as consort to the ruler of a duchy very seriously. She herself composed and wrote and was a central figure in the cultural life of the court. She was also the author of a considerable quantity of religious verse.
The first of these is a short opera: Lastly there is the five-act prose drama Ein Freudenspiel von dem itzigen betrieglichen Zustande in der Welt A comedy on the present deceitful way of the world; In his discussion of Ein Freudenspiel in the same article Roloff points out that the Duchess is here using drama to analyse and pass judgement on one of the burning issues of her day: Sophie Elisabeth sets up two princes and two courts, the one Machiavellian, scheming, violent and unscrupulous, the other peace-loving, just and honourable and shows how, in spite of a series of intrigues, virtue wins out in the end.
It is an allegorical and didactic drama which is doubly fascinating because it reflects with great subtlety the political theories of the day and because it is written by the consort of a ruler to be performed in front of him and his court by, among others, his own children, future rulers and consorts of rulers themselves. But much material in manuscript form is still to be unearthed in court archives. Given the difficulties faced by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century women who wanted to write, it seems almost a miracle that they wrote at all.
The dawning of a new age, in which women might officially be acknowledged to have talents which could be trained and furthered, in however limited a way, is marked by the appearance at the beginning of the eighteenth century of three works by men which celebrated women writers: With a considerable admixture of nationalist feeling, the three authors want to prove that German women are as capable of learning and literary talent as those of any nation. The Enlightenment is on the horizon.
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Part II The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries lesley sharpe 3 The Enlightenment The period covered in this chapter saw the decisive emergence of the female writer and of a female reading public. Literacy expanded considerably in the German states during the eighteenth century, including literacy among women, whose education had frequently been neglected, and the reading of imaginative literature as a leisure activity gained respectability among the expanding middle classes. Whereas at the beginning of the period even literate women rarely read anything beyond household manuals or works of religious edification, by the end of the eighteenth century male commentators were voicing concern about the sorry effects of the Lesewut reading mania that had gripped the female middle classes.
The period to was a time of change in the traditional image of woman and the roles ascribed to her. In the first half of the century, it was fully accepted that men should have authority over women and that in the hierarchy of the household women should be subordinate. In the predominantly rural and small-town communities in the German states the nuclear family had not yet developed and women were important to the economic success of the extended household see Hausen ; the skill, industry, thrift and practical sense of the German Hausmutter were greatly prized.
Thus popular channels of Enlightenment thinking, for example the moral weeklies modelled on English periodicals such as The Spectator and The Tatler, took up the cause of the improvement of education and the expansion of edifying reading  48 lesley sharpe for women see Martens. By the end of the century the ideal middle-class woman was gebildet, acquainted with a range of imaginative and informative literature, though anything but gelehrt, academic or learned. Yet by the end of the century women found themselves in a new kind of straitjacket.
The ideal image of woman was now based on the mother of the nuclear family, a social unit that was becoming increasingly the norm as town life and the professional middle class expanded.
The wife of the lawyer, professor, administrator or magistrate was not economically active but rather responsible for the good management of the household and for the creation of domestic warmth and harmony. She was now to be more of a companion to her husband, and a source of basic education and emotional stability to their children. The nature of the relationship between the sexes became the subject of intense discussion.
Secular ideas based on the emerging scientific disciplines and supported by theories of education and political and social development those of Rousseau being perhaps the most influential displaced old religious prejudices against women but introduced new stereotypes. The relationship between the sexes was held to be one of complementarity, and accompanying this notion was an increasingly rigid conception of the contrasting sets of attributes of the sexes, often known as Geschlechtscharaktere. Anatomy, physiology and anthropology were used to support the notion that women were essentially different from men not only in body but also in mind and should pursue only those activities compatible with their calling Bestimmung as Gattin, Hausfrau und Mutter spouse, housewife and mother.
The resulting theories of the separate spheres of male and female activity, which determined the relations between the sexes well into the twentieth century, sprang from this intense preoccupation with gender roles in the later part of the eighteenth century. Thus, while literacy and reading among women greatly increased in the second half of the century, new culturally determined restrictions were being placed on the exercise of that literacy.
The great expansion of the reading public in Germany brought an intensive preoccupation on the part of male writers with aesthetics and the poetological assumptions underlying literary creation. Though women were writing and publishing in ever greater numbers by the last decades of the century, recognition of their achievements was hampered by the changing theories of literature, from the idea of poetry as a craft The Enlightenment that could be learned to the more inspirational model culminating in the Geniekult.
As the emphasis shifted increasingly to the psyche of the artist and to the particular confluence of conscious and unconscious, of reason and imagination in the act of creation, so women were increasingly excluded. Women might show evidence of skill and talent within the lesser genres but genius, the divine spark, tended to be regarded as vouchsafed exclusively to men see Battersby, esp. Women writers in the eighteenth century constantly had to manoeuvre for the space left them by male writers and literary arbiters, basing the justification for their participation in literary activity on the didactic value of their work.
While they are represented in the lyric and the drama, women particularly exploited the novel, the didactic short story and the lively and well-written letter, forms that were more fluid and lower in the hierarchy of genres, and their exponents therefore arguably less of a threat to male writers. Christiana Mariana von Ziegler grew up in a wealthy and prominent Leipzig family. By the age of twentyseven she was a widow twice over and had lost also the two children from her marriages.
Having returned to her parental home in Leipzig, she was in the position as a wealthy widow to make that home a meeting place for the literary and musical world. She furnished Bach, who came to take up his position as Kantor of the Thomasschule in , with the texts for a number of his cantatas. One of the literary figures she helped to prominence was the young scholar Johann Christoph Gottsched, who was determined to raise the status of German language and literature by a programme of reform.
Her first collection of poetry, Versuch in Gebundener Schreib-Art An exercise in verse , was published in In she published a collection of letters, Moralische und Vermischte Send-Schreiben. Addressed to several of her good and close friends , and in Vermischte Schriften in gebundener und ungebundener Rede Miscellaneous writings in verse and prose. Her collections of poems range from religious verse to occasional poems, pastoral poems and satirical and didactic verse. You may rave wildly and bellow like the hound of hell — they will sit undisturbed on fair Pindus.
Ziegler herself had to suffer a good deal of ridicule and invective the more she came to prominence. It is clear that she considered women every bit as intellectually competent as men, as we can judge from her reply to a female friend whose daughter shows an interest in learning: In this same letter she even goes as far as to suggest that women should not be excluded from professional and public life, the reward most men have from their studies.
This was a profoundly revolutionary idea, however, and if she had clung to it she would no doubt have lost the sympathy of the male supporters on whom she and all women who wished to publish depended. Brought up in an educated middle-class family, she rebelled in both word and deed against the roles she felt were forced on women.
Her main collection of poetry, Poetische Rosen in Knospen Poetic rosebuds; , shows her fluency and versatility in the German language. It contains many conventional religious and occasional poems but also indicates her conscious adoption of unconventional personae.
She first came to fame as the result of a poem written in praise of Prince Eugene and his Hussars. Her life too reflected this desire for expansion out of the conventional female roles. It was on one such ride that she drowned while crossing a bridge. It conveys the excitement of her voyage of discovery with a compelling immediacy: Drama and theatre In the first half of the eighteenth century two women were of decisive importance in laying the foundations of a renaissance of the German 51 52 lesley sharpe theatre.
Both were allies of the dominant literary arbiter, Gottsched, but both were superior to him in imagination and literary talent. Caroline Neuber was the daughter of an Erfurt lawyer, whose harshness drove her to flee from home in with her suitor, later her husband, Johann Neuber, and join the Spiegelberg troupe of actors.
These latter catered for the limited artistic demands of their audiences with a mixture of low comedies and historical costume dramas the Haupt- und Staatsaktion , with comic interludes provided by the ubiquitous comic figure, whether the Italianate Harlekin or the indigenous Hanswurst. There were few fixed texts; the actors worked to a scenario and improvised in accordance with it. The life of the actor or actress was extremely insecure. Competition between the travelling companies was fierce, and actresses had a dubious moral reputation; in the court theatres they provided a source of mistresses for the ruling aristocracy.
Even before she met Gottsched, Frau Neuber had already begun to try to raise the quality of the theatre by using fixed texts, though she was reputedly a very skilled extemporizer. Gottsched had taken upon himself the reform of the theatre, with the aim of bringing literary drama and the stage together in Germany in order to create the conditions for a flowering of German drama based on classical principles, to which end he encouraged translations of the works of the French classical stage to supply the company with plays. Caroline Neuber provided the perfect ally for him.
Not only did she subject herself and her company to the discipline of learning fixed texts, and verse texts to boot, but she tried to introduce a less florid acting style to complement the elevated tone of the plays. Eduard Devrient credits her with the creation of the first German school of acting Devrient, p. For all her reforming zeal, though, Frau Neuber remained flexible. The reformed repertoire was not large enough to sustain the troupe, so she retained some of the old plays, cleansed of their vulgarity and of some The Enlightenment of their low comedy.
Yet it was a daring enterprise to challenge and educate the taste of the theatre-going public.
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Audiences began to desert her, and a few years later she broke with Gottsched. The revival of German theatrical life from the s onwards is nevertheless a tribute to the efforts of Caroline Neuber, and if by her last years on the stage her style seemed old-fashioned this is proof of how far the reforms had been successful.
She ended her days, though, in very reduced circumstances, dependent on the charity of well-wishers. As the daughter of a Danzig doctor, Luise Culmus enjoyed a much wider and more intellectually adventurous education than most girls of her station, learning English, French, geography, mathematics and music from members of her family. Her correspondence with Gottsched before their marriage shows her maturity, intelligence and willingness to learn, but also — and this quality is evident to the end of her life — her subordination of all her talents and energies to him.
For Gottsched comedy was primarily satirical and aimed to ridicule human shortcomings with the purpose of correcting them and encouraging wisdom and virtue. He also demanded a certain realism in speech, commensurate with the lower social standing of comic, as opposed to tragic, figures. The unities must be observed, the time of the action ideally not running over about ten hours. The play must have five acts and involve an element of mystery or intrigue that is resolved at the end. Her plots are, in the main, too simple to sustain a five-act play. She retains to some extent the use of comic names to denote virtues and vices, and yet in probably her best original comedy, Das Testament The Will , she tries to move beyond black and white contrasts and point the moral in more conciliatory terms.
While the pretensions of the Dorfjunker are made to look ridiculous, the chief lesson has to be learned by Herr Wilibald, who is finally persuaded that his desire to marry above himself is foolish and unnecessary in a man of his talents and wealth. The implication is that the sensible and unpretentious German family has virtues enough without adopting foreign manners.
Das Testament deals with the attempts of a brother and sister to secure a handsome legacy from their wealthy aunt. Their sister, the sensible and honourable Caroline, treats her aunt with honesty and respect and is rewarded with a legacy when the will is read, though the aunt confounds them all by deciding in the end to remarry. These qualities are also evident in her most famous adaptation, Die Pietisterey im Fischbeinrocke. Frau Gottsched transposes the action with complete success to Germany and aims the satire at the Pietists, who were influential in her native Danzig.
So controversial was the subject matter that the play, published anonymously, was not only never performed but was actually banned in some states. Her attitudes as reflected in her writings and in her letters are conservative. What one might tentatively say is that comedy gave her the opportunity to show some female characters as more independent and less governed by social custom than most actual women could afford to be. No women later in the century left such a mark on theatre and drama as Frau Neuber and Frau Gottsched. Women continued to be active, however, both on the stage and as dramatists.
Actresses wrote for the professional theatre and women wrote for the flourishing amateur theatrical life, but little of this work was published, and what was published usually appeared anonymously or was presented as a translation. It was not until well into the nineteenth century that the work of women dramatists became essential to the theatrical repertoire. The emergence of letter-writing The period to saw the large-scale expansion of letter-writing, with both men and women conducting vast correspondences, often with people they never met face to face.
The letter became a demanding and 55 56 lesley sharpe cultivated form of writing in an age in which the development of the affective life and the cult of friendship brought an increased need to communicate thoughts and feelings. The Pietist tradition had also left a legacy of reflection and self-examination that found expression in the letter. As a culture of letter-writing emerged, women were frequently encouraged to put their literary talents to use in this activity and they often excelled at the spontaneous, lively, communicative letter. Both Gottsched and, more influentially, Gellert saw women as having the simplicity and directness of style to make the letter combine naturalness and literary value.
Of the vast quantities of letters written by women, only a small fraction survives. These, however, provide increasing evidence as the century progresses of the accomplishment of women in this genre; and this becomes even more apparent in the Romantic period. Naturally, the cultivation of a correspondence was confined to the aristocracy and the prosperous middle classes.
Letters provided then as now a means of maintaining friendships. Travel for women was uncommon and difficult and letters helped to enlarge the world for female correspondents. They also gave women the opportunity to report and reflect on their daily existence and relationships and thus provided a means of self-expression. The letter created also a small public for its writer, for apart from such private matters as love letters, it was rarely written for the recipient only, but was passed round, read aloud in excerpts and passages were even copied.
We can see the change in the possibilities of the letter as a communication of the personality and affective life if we look at the first published collection of letters by a German woman. In fact they still owe much to an older school of letter-writing that laid stress on discussion of an issue and logical composition. The recipients of the letters are not named because the interest is in the issues rather than in the personalities — whether girls should be allowed to study, how to bring up children, whether quarrels over rank are important, whether it is important for sons to be sent abroad.
The letters combine a lively style with practical wisdom but by comparison with letters written later in the century are anything but personal confessions.
Ziegler was concerned to show that women could write a sensible, intelligent and entertaining letter. The Enlightenment While Ziegler was publishing that first collection, young Luise Culmus had embarked on her correspondence with her future husband, Gottsched. These letters were recognized as fine examples of the genre by her husband but she forbade publication during her lifetime. They show a serious but also witty and intelligent correspondent, whose letters are written in a precise and elegant style.
Her early letters show her eagerness to learn from her prominent suitor, her willingness to respond to his guidance in the matter of her reading and also her deference to his opinion. While responding in a lively manner to all his reading suggestions, she is quickly put in her place if she oversteps the mark and she accepts this. In her later letters to her friend Dorothea von Runckel Frau Gottsched shows a much greater need to unburden herself. She expresses her melancholy and disappointment with the restraint that already characterized her youthful letters: My summer is past; the rough autumn gathers the fruits of the seasons past and I have no desire to linger long into the rapidly approaching winter.
Yet such was the resonance for the next generation of their relationship that she became almost a mythical figure. Meta Moller came from a well-situated Hamburg family. While her two elder sisters made conventional marriages, Meta opted for the unusual course of marrying for love a man who had no recognized profession. Though she never strove to be learned, she was well-read and intelligent, and her letters and posthumously published writings show her own, sadly undeveloped, poetic talent.
All of her letters reflect her ability to capture her mood and to speak with an arresting directness to the recipient, but it is in her correspondence with Klopstock that we see her creating in the letter form a method of capturing an intense emotional 57 58 lesley sharpe relationship. What gave the Klopstock—Meta relationship its power for future generations was the combination of romantic love and religious sentiment. Their letters, and hers to him in particular, are evidence of a communion of souls in which the reciprocity of love is woven together with Christian spirituality.
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Meta Klopstock had the rare talent of finding words to express her happiness, while not disguising the pain she felt at their frequent separations: Thank goodness that at least I still have that. But how infinitely sweeter it would be to have you with me! I miss you most of all when I come home in the evening, for I am catching up now on all the visits I neglected on your account.
O how inexpressibly sweet it was to know that I would find you in my room! Meta helped to establish a correspondence between her husband and the English novelist some few months before her death and her letters to Richardson show how even in a foreign language she was able to convey spontaneity and depth of feeling: Though I love my friends dearly, and though they are good, I have however much to pardon except in the single Klopstock alone.
He is good, really good, good at the bottom, in all his actions, in all the foldings of his heart. I know him; and sometimes I think if we knew others in the same manner the better we should find them. For it may be that an action displeases us which would please us, if we knew its true aim and whole extent. None of my friends is so happy as I am; but no one had the courage to marry as I did. They have married, — as people marry; and they are happy, — as people are happy.
The Enlightenment Better known for her patriotic odes, religious and occasional poems and for her gift of rapid improvisation, she fascinated Berlin society when she was brought there in from her native Silesia. Born into humble circumstances, and neglected by her mother on account of her plainness, she was taught to read and write as a child by a great-uncle. Divorced by her first husband in possibly the first divorce among subjects of her station in Prussia , she was forced to leave her home and her two children, while already expecting a third child.
Under family pressure she then married a tailor who drank, fathered four children and beat her. Through commissions for occasional poems she began to use her extraordinary facility for writing verses to supplement her meagre income. The emergence of this Naturtalent aroused great curiosity in Berlin. She gained the support of the philosopher Sulzer and of the poets Ramler and Gleim, the latter a constant friend and adviser in spite of the difficulties caused in the early months of their relationship by her unrequited love for him.
It was he who attached to her the name of the German Sappho and tried to secure her financial future by having an edition of her collected poems printed in It brought in 2, Thalers, more than any literary work before it, though that windfall did not in fact guarantee her an easy life and she frequently suffered acute shortages of money thereafter. The designation of Anna Luise Karsch as a Naturtalent sprang from the longing in some literary circles for a poetry that was not the product of learned deliberation and the study of rules, and from the desire to believe in a pre-civilized world, where poetry sprang spontaneously from the lips of the poet.
Her letters to Sulzer describing her earlier life are stylized to fit that idealized vision of country life. Once introduced by Gleim to the language of rococo dalliance, Karsch takes this into her poetry and her letters to him. Yet it is clear that for her this is not mere role-playing, and her own emotions break through the gallant language. When Gleim makes it clear that he does not intend an actual romantic involvement her pain is evident in her directness: Sagen Sie von Ihrer kalten Freundschaft, was Sie wollen.
The word love was there before the word friendship, and to me it has such sweetness in it that I must give it preference. Take care never to make love ridiculous in my eyes again! Now that I am no longer spurred on to write poetry to provide my next meal nothing has the overwhelming power to inspire me so much as love. Yet her ability to make verses on any and every occasion was for others what made her a Naturtalent. In fact, her most prominent poems, for example her odes to Frederick the Great, owe more to the Baroque tradition than to any spontaneous style of her own, genuine though her veneration for the king might have been.
The arguments surrounding Anna Luise Karsch illustrate well the poetological controversies of the day. They indicate also how difficult it was for her contemporaries to place her and their consequent tendency to overlook what was really of value in her work. The healthy man is wasteful with the juice of the grape; to the lips of sick man the wine he cannot drink tastes refreshing even in his dreams. Sophie La Roche and the emergence of the woman novelist Sophie La Roche is a key figure in the emergence of the German woman of letters.
She was also, with Anna Luise Karsch, one of the first German women whose writing was an important source of income for her family and thus her career brings us into the period when a reading public was forming, whose interests and tastes increasingly shaped what was offered by publishers.
Though famous in her day, Sophie La Roche was neglected after her death by the nineteenth-century literary historians whose judgements formed the canon of eighteenth-century works, because much of her output was primarily for women readers and was often didactic in intention. Yet her energy and range are impressive. However, it is true that her style seemed old-fashioned as time passed and her range of tone and expression was limited. Sophie La Roche enjoyed the benefits of being brought up in an academic family, the daughter of a doctor, who taught her to read and write.
Her education was supplemented in her teens by an Italian doctor, Gian Lodovico Bianconi, a friend of her father, to whom she became engaged and who instructed her in mathematics, singing, Italian and art. Her reading and literary interests were further cultivated by her cousin Christoph Martin Wieland, later to become one of the most prominent writers of the German Enlightenment, to whom she was engaged for a time.
Though again no marriage ensued, Wieland later brought her to the public eye by encouraging her to finish and publish her first novel. She constantly returns in 61 62 lesley sharpe her work to her belief that women should acquire through suitable reading a store of useful knowledge about the world around them. In this respect she belongs to the Enlightenment tradition, despite all the sentimental qualities of her works. For her and her heroines, moral goodness goes hand in hand with a character-building awareness of the world.
It satisfied contemporary demands for a measure of realism, some depth of psychological motivation and an appeal to the emotions, while providing outer action that was fast-moving and exciting. It is fitting that the first great novelistic success for a woman should come from a novel in letter form, for, leaving aside the influence of Richardson, the letter was, as we have seen, a type of writing in which women in the eighteenth century excelled and which gained from naturalness and liveliness of style.
Her father is an ennobled officer, her mother a member of an old aristocratic family. An orphan at eighteen, Sophie is brought to the court of D. Sophie attempts to cling to the principles of her upbringing while not being experienced enough to see how she is being compromised. After seeking rescue in what turns out to be a sham marriage to the rake Derby she enters a period of testing when all that she relied on is removed. While possessed of extreme moral sensitivity, Sophie does not collapse under the weight of her misfortunes.
She does not pine away but rather seeks useful activity. We are meant to see the happy ending as a vindication of goodness and courage by a benevolent providence, but La Roche also reveals, probably contrary to any conscious intention, the vulnerability of a woman without male protectors. Her next novel, Rosaliens Briefe —81 , though very popular, already has a more prescriptive tone. One of them, uncharacteristically for her time, devotes herself to scholarship.
This then is the feminine counterpart to the contemporary cult of idealistic male friendships. By such examples we see Sophie La Roche trying to stretch the frontiers of female experience and activity. Her travel writing documents journeys to countries such as France, Switzerland, Holland and England, and combines information, anecdote and personal impressions in an easy, mellifluous style.
Instead of marrying she begins a school for girls with a young widow and is entirely fulfilled by this activity — another female utopia, created by a widow who is glad to be 63 64 lesley sharpe free and a woman who commits herself to celibacy in pursuit of her vocation. The next generation of women writers was encouraged by the example of Sophie La Roche. However, few novels by women in the eighteenth century, interesting evidence though they may supply about attitudes and depictions of women, come close to her achievement. The prime example of the novel as vehicle for a deeply conservative view of woman is Elisa, oder das Weib wie es seyn sollte ; Elisa, or what women should be like , usually attributed to Wilhelmine Karoline von Wobeser though external evidence suggests the possibility of a male author or a man working with a woman — see Gallas and Heuser, pp.
Elisa is forced by family pressure to renounce her true love and enter into a marriage with a cold, boorish tyrant, who squanders their fortune and entertains a mistress. This novel was immensely successful, went into six editions and provoked numerous variations on its themes and title. Its popularity is a reminder that although in Romantic circles a more progressive view of women was entertained, such a view was far from being shared by the majority of men or women. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Konvenienz Luise.
A contribution to the history of social propriety; Both novels show a remarkable honesty in their depiction of the heroine. Luise can be seen as a negative counterpart to Elisa. Also forced by family pressure to make an unsuitable match, she is by nature excessively sensitive and prone to illness. The stresses of her situation drive her to madness and even though she tries repeatedly to find a way of making her husband happy, both by devotion and by good sense, she is trapped and at the mercy of his selfishness, folly and brutality. Huber reveals the terrible dependency of her heroine on an indifferent husband and an insensitive The Enlightenment family in which the daughter is a burden to be off-loaded as soon as possible.
A boarding school story; , another considerable popular success, which satirizes the German fashion for adopting French manners and education. The result is the loss of her simple goodness and destruction of her moral character. As well as showing a strongly anti-French and anti-court tendency, the novel reflects the contemporary fear that women are endangered morally by knowing too much. The warning example here is the head of the school, Madame Brennfeld, who combines philosophical freethinking with snobbery and a moral insouciance fatal to her charges. A second novel appeared in , in which the repentant Julchen is reunited with her father.
Unger produced this mainly because of the stir caused by the original work and by the appearance of an anonymous sequel by another author. It is instructive to compare the attitudes in these novels with the assumptions that underlie the emerging Bildungsroman. Women were increasingly required by the end of the century to be gebildet, that is cultivated and moderately well-read.
However, Bildung as an ideal embodied in the Bildungsroman is primarily related to male experience and possibilities and thus the female Bildungsroman has seemed to some critics a contradiction in terms. Whereas the male hero goes out into the world as a kind of representative figure and grows to maturity and insight through experience, the openness to change and receptivity to life that are the preconditions of the maturing process in men are presented as problematic and even hazardous for women see also Gallas and Heuser; Touaillon.
A contrast to the didactic tone of much fiction by women is provided 65 66 lesley sharpe by the work of Benedikte Naubert, which is only just receiving new critical attention. Her speciality became the fairy tale and, most importantly, the historical novel, which she pioneered in Germany both with her own novels and through her many translations. Her technique of presenting a fictional family history against a historical background influenced Sir Walter Scott. Her main concern as a novelist is in swiftness and abundance of action. A story for feeling hearts; the focus of attention is the series of misfortunes that separate and of adventures that then reunite the young lovers, a pattern she was to use many times, while setting her novels in a wide variety of countries and periods.
These encouraged, as we have noted, female literacy and informative reading. While numerous journals aimed at a female readership sprang up in the following decades and women were frequent contributors to them, the first journals to be edited by women for women began to appear in the late s and 80s. It ran for only two years —4 and the reasons for its discontinuation are not clearly established.