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Goethe Yearbook 241 Gail K. Hart, Friedrich Schüler: Crime, Aesthetics, and the Poetics of Punishment. Newark: U of Delaware P, 2005.183 pp. On 9 May 1805 Schiller died in Weimar, and two hundred years later, in 2005, an avalanche of new books on the author appeared in Germany to commemorate the anniversary. Only a few new publications on Schiller came out in the United States on this occasion, and Gail Hart's book on aspects of crime and punishment in the author's work is of particular relevance. She is right in observing that Schiller in his literary writings frequently addressed penal tactics and executions, but with an ambivalence or outright distaste that is unusual for his time. Different from Kant, Schiller never formally entered the eighteenth-century debate on punishment and reform. In contrast to Kant, Schiller did not accept the quid pro quo rule:"Hat er aber gemordet, so muss er sterben.'To the contrary: crime without punishment is a topic the author seems to be particularly interested in. It is very likely, Hart writes, that Schiller's interest in crime without punishment began in his own experiences, as an absolutist subject. In Foucault's terms, she discusses Schiller's upbringing at the Karlsschule. In the eyes of Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg, Schiller was a criminal because he wrote against the prohibition of the duke, and he fled Württemberg unlawfully. In his essay "Die Schaubühne als moralische Anstalt betrachtet," Schiller believed the theater could have an effect on the audience regarding its moral improvement, and he wished the stage could usurp the court's authority. His early theory had a very practical streak. What he wanted to do is to turn the tables: make the theater a more humane correctional institution than the duke's schools could ever have been. Later, the idea of a direct utility of literature and art will give way to Schiller's theory of an indirect route of aesthetic education. Hart might have referred to Reinhart Koselleck's book Kritik und Krise when discussing the moral intentions of the German stage. Koselleck shows that Schiller was, in regard to the belief in moral improvement, in sync with eighteenth-century Enlightenment thinking in general. In connection with young Schiller's flight from Württemberg, the story of Christian Friedrich Schubart is retold. The duke's intention was to "reform" Schubart by way of incarceration, using new psychological methods, especially that of complete isolation. Schiller, a great admirer of Schubart, did everything to avoid this fate. In her discussion of the drama Maria Stuart, Hart convincingly analyzes the "undepiction" of Maria Stuart's decapitation. At great length she narrates the story of the historical event of the Scottish queen's beheading, one of the most gruesome executions in England's history. Schiller instead has Leicester—an unreliable , i.e., distraught narrator—report only indirectly about the horrible scene. In Schiller's reception the story of Maria Stuart turns into a tale of composure, the famous confrontation between the two formidable queens not withstanding. When Maria Stuart has to face her death, she exits the stage, again a model of composure. In the case of Diefungfrau von Orleans Schiller goes a step further in showing a hero whose "crimes" are not followed by punishment. Joan of Arc's spectacular punishment disappears under Schiller's pen. Again Gail Hart shows the differences between the historical figure and the heroine Schiller created. Due to the misrepresentation of her gender and her heresy—enormous transgressions in the fifteenth century—she was executed by fire. Schiller had the records of the trial before him but decided to radically idealize Joan of Arc: Johanna would die of injuries received on the battlefield. In Wilhelm Tell the 242 Book Reviews protagonist commits a murder, but gets away with it, is never punished. This drama is an overwhelmingly positive valuation of a murder. IsTeIl a murderer out of "Notwehr"? Is he a "Selbsthelfer" who takes the law into his own hand? Hart delivers a subtle analysis of several important aspects involved here: protecting the father's honor, the life and honor of his family, the freedom of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-9087
Print ISSN
0734-3329
Pages
pp. 241-242
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-13
Open Access
No
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