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The Case of LiteratureForensic Narratives from Goethe to Kafka$
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Arne Höcker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501749353

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501749353.001.0001

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Literary Reference and Authorship

(p.93) 4 Conclusion
The Case of Literature

Arne Höcker

Cornell University Press

This chapter explains that, without any doubt, Goethe's and Moritz's novels as well as Schiller's and Kleist's novellas are part of today's German literary canon. But just as certainly, this literary canon did not yet exist around 1800. It cannot even be assumed that the writers of these texts considered themselves literary authors. Werther and Anton Reiser conceal Goethe's and Moritz's authorship, and instead frame their novels by means of a fictitious editorship. In Schiller's and Kleist's novellas, the reference to the truthfulness of the story and the historically documented origin of the material have a similar function. What might have been the premises of and motivations for writing about cases for Goethe, Moritz, Schiller, and Kleist when we assume that they did not write as literary authors? The reading of their cases as literary fiction obscures the fact that these novels and novellas might just as well be understood as vehicles for lawyers, medical doctors, pedagogues, and philanthropists to inform each other about the legal and mental status of the individual and, thus, to continue the medical and legal traditions of thinking, arguing, and writing in cases. And yet the close reading of these texts shows that in them the representation of cases began to change.

Keywords:   Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Karl Philipp Moritz, Friedrich Schiller, Heinrich von Kleist, German literary canon, literary authors, fictitious editorship, literary reference, literary fiction, authorship

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