Journal Article

Heinrich von Kleist's Notions of Happiness: Texts and Contexts

Alan Corkhill

in Forum for Modern Language Studies

Published on behalf of Court of the University of St Andrews

Volume 45, issue 3, pages 305-324
Published in print July 2009 | ISSN: 0015-8518
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1471-6860 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fmls/cqp048
Heinrich von Kleist's Notions of Happiness: Texts and Contexts

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The study charts and evaluates Heinrich von Kleist's changing attitude to happiness (Glück) during the author's short lifetime and situates this thinking in the intellectual discourses of his day. Three textual sources serve this objective: key pronouncements in Kleist's seminal treatise Aufsatz, den sichern Weg des Glücks zu finden and in letters to his fiancée, half-sister and close friends, as well as happiness tropes in the novellas Das Erdbeben in Chili and Die Marquise von O… . It will be shown that Kleist's philosophy of happiness embraces intense speculation about the ontology and teleology of happiness and the relationship of happiness to virtue ethics, especially against the background of Kantian epistemology and moral philosophy. In turn, what we might term Kleist's sociology of happiness is strongly evidenced by a preoccupation in his correspondence with issues of gendered and domestic happiness.

Keywords: von Kleist; Heinrich; happiness; moral philosophy; gender relations; German literature

Journal Article.  10297 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Literature

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