Transcendental Masturbators: Jean Paul's <i>Siebenkäs</i>

in Uncivil Unions

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780226136936
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226136950 | DOI:
Transcendental Masturbators: Jean Paul's Siebenkäs

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter illustrates how a critic of early Romanticism, Jean Paul, could precisely mobilize the problematic in exploding the Romantic metaphysics of marriage. Siebenkäs found Jean Paul leveling a more general critique at the Romantics and at Fichtean Idealism. This novel has been called “the first German marriage novel.” It appeared at a time in which the theory of marriage and the theory of self-consciousness were curiously intertwined. Jean Paul's critique of philosophical language threatened the self-understanding of German Idealism, construing it as a radicalization rather than a partial repudiation of the Enlightenment. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Wahlverwandtschaften showed that a married couple has sex while committing imaginary adultery. The erotics in the Wahlverwandtschafte imagined the four partners (real and imaginary) in four different sexual arrangements.

Keywords: marriage; Jean Paul; Romantic metaphysics; Siebenkäs; philosophical language; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Wahlverwandtschaften

Chapter.  10439 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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