Starting from Walter Benjamin's insight into the importance of marital dissolution in Die Wahlverwandtschaften, this article argues that the work is one in which divorce is an omnipresent narrative possibility that Goethe's novel is fascinated by, but ultimately shies away from. The compulsive discussion, and avoidance, of divorce in the novel is examined in the context of the legal, ideological, and social framework in place at the time it appeared. The article concludes by demonstrating the central role that Die Wahlverwandtschaften played in debates about divorce reform in the 1840s and again at the end of the nineteenth century.
|Number of pages||19|
|Journal||Modern Language Review|
|Publication status||Published - Oct 2011|