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Benjamin's LibraryModernity, Nation, and the Baroque$
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Jane O. Newman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801476594

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801476594.001.0001

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Inventing the Baroque

Inventing the Baroque

A Critical History of Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Debates

(p.23) 1 Inventing the Baroque
Benjamin's Library

Jane O. Newman

Cornell University Press

This chapter first considers the ways in which Benjamin read the Silesian plays precisely not as the “tragic dramas” of John Osborne's English-language translation, but rather as “mourning-play” texts that differed significantly from ancient tragedy in Benjamin's mind. It then examines the art historical debates pertaining to the Renaissance and the German Baroque and how they articulated a new periodicity of style that involved the collectivity of the nation in important ways. The chapter next turns to contemporary definitions of a specifically literary German Baroque by critics Fritz Strich and Arthur Hübscher. Their discussions mirrored the art historical conversations by striving to locate the essence of a German literary tradition in an autonomous national sensibility and canon of forms. Benjamin's Baroque dipped into and was part of these several discussions of the Baroque as a “heroic” national age.

Keywords:   tragic dramas, mourning-play texts, ancient tragedy, art historical debates, German Baroque, German literary tradition, Benjamin's Baroque

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