Die Tücke des Politischen. Goethes Schelme im Licht der französischen Revolution. - Public lecture by Prof. Joel Lande (Princeton University), current fellow with the Traveling Forms-project. Wed, Jun 26, 17.30h - Center for Cultural Inquiry / Bischofsvilla.

This talk (in German language!) concentrates on the texts that Goethe wrote in the early aftermath of the French Revolution and that critics have largely dismissed as mediocre relics of a literary epoch otherwise replete with major accomplishments. I argue that texts like Der Groß-Cophta, Der Bürgergeneral, and Reinecke Fuchs exhibit a profound interest in the processes that precipitate social and political demise. Irrespective of their aesthetic rank, these texts represent Goethe's tortured effort to comprehend the violent tumult engulfing France and neighboring German-speaking territories in the early 1790s, some of which he experienced firsthand. Drawing on a range of generic conventions, Goethe depicts a series of rogues as the protagonists of social disintegration, as confidence men whose charlatanism and guile make evident the finitude of social order.