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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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Melancholy Germans

Melancholy Germans

War Theology, Allegory, and the Lutheran Baroque

(p.138) 3 Melancholy Germans
Benjamin's Library

Jane O. Newman

Cornell University Press

This chapter calls attention to the commentary that the Tragic Drama offers on the afterlives of the Lutheran Reformation in both the seventeenth century and in Benjamin's own time. It is at the center of his concern in some of the most esoteric and mystifying parts of his study, namely the sections on melancholy and on the allegorical emblematics of the texts that he describes as having been written by specifically “Lutheran” playwrights. The chapter also takes Benjamin's reading of Andreas Gryphius's shockingly literal allegorical play, Catharina von Georgien Oder Bewehrete Beständigkeit (Catharine of Georgia; or, Constancy Defended) (1657), in the context of the confessional stew created by Benjamin's contestation of Aby Warburg's scholarship, and explains his understanding of the horrific consequences for life in the “creaturely” world of the Lutheran allegorical logic he thinks informs the play.

Keywords:   Lutheran Reformation, Lutheran playwrights, allegory, melancholia, Catharine of Georgia, Lutheran allegorical logic, Lutheran Baroque

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