Chapter

Goethe’s Iphigenie Between Germany and the World

Edith Hall

in Adventures with Iphigenia in Tauris

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392890
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979257 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195392890.003.0010

Series: Onassis Series in Hellenic Culture

Goethe’s Iphigenie Between Germany and the World

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The most important reception of IT in cultural history is Goethe's verse tragedy Iphigenie auf Tauris (1786). Goethe's Greeks do not rob the barbarians of their unique statue. The victory won in all earlier versions of the play by guile and force is replaced by persuasion and the achievement of consensus. This shift has been the source both of the enormous admiration Goethe's play has elicited, from the founding father of Esperanto (Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof) among others, and also, since the 1960s, of criticism from a postcolonial standpoint. The chapter traces the identification with the play of the emerging German state and National Socialism, and its impact on Gerhart Hauptmann's Iphigenie in Delphi (1940). But it also argues that in Iphigenie Goethe was struggling with the tension between German nationalism and his more progressive urge, a product of the radical Enlightenment, to encourage the global creation of a new Weltliteratur which could transcend all national and racial categories.

Keywords: Goethe; Iphigenie auf Tauris; Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof; Esperanto; Gerhart Hauptmann; Iphigenie in Delphi; Esperanto; National Socialism; German nationalism; Radical Enlightenment; Weltliteratur

Chapter.  9819 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Literature

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