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Mock-Epic Poetry from Pope to Heine$
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Ritchie Robertson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199571581

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571581.001.0001

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Mock Epic Domesticated: Goethe's Herrmann und Dorothea

Mock Epic Domesticated: Goethe's Herrmann und Dorothea

(p.198) 6 Mock Epic Domesticated: Goethe's Herrmann und Dorothea
Mock-Epic Poetry from Pope to Heine

Ritchie Robertson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Goethe's verse narrative of 1797 uses Homeric metre and similes to portray life in a German small town feeling the distant impact of the French Revolution. It follows Wieland in offering a positive moral model, but also treats its characters humorously; how and to what degree has been a subject for critical debate, and here a nuanced reading is suggested. The chapter also examines Goethe's relation to Homer, arguing that although he was fascinated by the Iliad, he was also repelled by its grim emphasis on warfare and suffering, and that he was much more attached to the Odyssey, on which his poem's presentation of domestic life is based. Attention is also given to J. H. Voss's domestic idylls in Homeric hexameters, which Goethe admired, and to the problem of interpreting Homeric language in eighteenth‐century English poetry, in order to illustrate the difficulties of knowing when Goethe is being jocular or serious.

Keywords:   Goethe, Herrmann und Dorothea, French Revolution, Homer, Iliad, Odyssey, Voss

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