Anna Louisa Karsch became known as "the German Sappho" in the early 1760s and she performed this social and poetic role self-consciously to develop and market her public literary persona. In poems written for the public, Karsch performs the role of Sappho to position herself aesthetically as a female poet of tender sentiment and natural genius. She strives to balance an embrace of Sappho as poetic ancestor with an assertion of difference and independence from her, pointedly distancing herself from the image of the female poet inspired by passionate love. The specific German "fictions of Sappho" of the mid-eighteenth century—namely, her image in the popular imagination, the philological consideration of her fragments, and the interpretation of Sappho in vying aesthetic theories—provide an important context for the dimension that the Sappho-persona brings to Karsch's poetic self-fashioning.


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pp. 62-97
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