The Misanthrope Essay

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In the following essay, Jauss offers "an interpretation of the literary history" of The Misanthrope and considers it "against the background of the history of the concept of character. "

Our newly revived historical anthropology starts from the premise that despite its apparent immutability human nature in fact has a history and, further, that this history-the sediment of constantly reformulated and superseded projects in the process of human self-determination-can be understood as man's second nature. The literary historian can best illustrate what is meant by this formula by tracing changes in the presentation and interpretation of moral character types. No matter how timeless these characters may seem in comedy and moral reflection, they have not always been a part of Western tradition. They first appear at a later stage of Greek literature, in the new comedy of Menander, after Theophrastus had drawn up the first characterology based on observation...

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This section contains 6,779 words
(approx. 17 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Misanthrope Study Guide
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The Misanthrope from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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