- Rebellion und Bändigung der Lust: Dialogische Inszenierung konkurrierender Konzepte vom glücklichen Leben (1460–1540)
This monograph is very well organized and clearly written. The introduction states the goals of the study, explains why it is limited to dialogues, letters, and speeches, and recapitulates the findings of each chapter. Each chapter ends with a summary of results of the examination of the texts within it. A concluding summary states clearly and succinctly the significant points made in the work as a whole. Nevertheless, it is difficult to find an appropriate characterization for it.
Though purporting to originate with a discussion of philosophical arguments about pleasure and ultimate happiness as they appear in a variety of Latin and German texts in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, there is very little philosophical analysis of these arguments and no effort to identify the sources from which the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century authors may have drawn them. Instead the author speaks constantly of Pflicht- und Tugendethik, Lustethik, medieval sin-lists and the like — leaving it to the reader to supply whatever content he or she thinks these terms should have. Similarly, arguments are called "Stoic,""Epicurean," "Aristotelian" with no indication of what such terms might mean. The author's primary concern, as suggested by the subtitle, is the literary Inszenierung, as she calls it, of the various positions taken in disputes about pleasure and happiness. Her object is to adduce from a literary critical perspective the ways in which literary dialogue in early modern times is manifested in staged disputes about pleasure around 1500. Authors are said to repeatedly inszenieren this or that idea. But the "important structures" through which this staging is effected are rarely discussed in any useful detail. Nor is the reader informed why this "staging" is significant. Even the concept of "dialogue" is not very clearly defined: it includes not just explicit dialogues, but dialogic elements within other literary forms, in particular "letters" and "orations" (though not sermons). Similarly the chronological limits bracketed in the subtitle are readily breached. The author begins in chapter 2 with a prologue examining the early fourteenth-century Ackermann aus Böhmen with its dispute between a bereaved Farmer and Death, and concludes in chapter 6 with an epilogue on the anonymous Lalebuch of 1597. In the intervening three chapters there is a chronologically ordered sequence of brief discussions [End Page 685] of numerous works: Poggio's De miseria humanae condicionis, his "Letter of Consolation" to Cosimo di Medici, letters exchanged among Hermann Schedel, Heinrich Lur, and Leonhard Gessel, Conrad Celtis's address to the University at Ingolstadt, Leonardo Bruni's Isagogicon moralis disciplinae, Aeneas Silvius'sSomnium Fortunae and its German translations, Rudolph Agricola's Vita Petrarchae, Lorenzo Valla's De voluptate, Cosma Raimondi's Defensio Epicuri and Johann Gottfried's German translation of it, Aeneas Silvius's Historia de duobus amantibus and Niklas von Wyle's German translation, Conrad Mutianus's correspondence with various persons between 1505 and 1515 on beata tranquillitas, and Erasmus's Colloquia: Epicureus, Proci et puellae, Adolescentis et scorti, Virgo misogamos, and Cyclops sive evangeliophoros. As might be expected, only a few points are plucked from here and there to illustrate whatever point the author wishes to make.
The only substantial discussion of any one work occurs in chapter 4, which could be considered the center of the book and the argument. Attention is focused on only three works: Erasmus's Moriae Encomium, More's Utopia, and the anonymous romance Fortunatus, with the first two receiving the most detailed examination. The author views these works as raising "skeptical questions" about the good life which receive "pragmatic, though somewhat brittle, answers" in the German-language works considered in chapter 5: Eberlin von Ginsberg's Wolfaria, Cantiuncula's Von der wunderbarlichen Innsel Utopia, Sebastian Franck's translation of the Moria, and, in conclusion, the Magelone.
The author covers a huge range of work and the treatment of...