The avoidance of divorce in Goethe's Die Wahlverwandtschaften

Karl Leydecker

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    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1054-1072
    Number of pages19
    JournalModern Language Review
    Volume106
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

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