Epistemological Asymmetries and Erotic Stagings: Father-Daughter Incest in Heinrich von Kleist's The Marquise of O...
- Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature & Culture
- University of Nebraska Press
- Volume 12, 1996
- pp. 71-86
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Focusing on the scene of reconciliation between the heroine and her father, the article traces the epistemological, erotic, and aesthetic impact of father-daughter intimacy in Kleist's Die Marquise von O.... While the protagonists rely on bourgeois notions of sexuality, daughterhood, and family bonds that allow them to ignore the libidinal dynamics at home, the reader is asked to reflect on the difficulties of distinguishing between emotions and eroticism within an intimate early nineteenth-century family. This epistemological asymmetry is paralleled by aesthetic ambiguities. By presenting father-daughter desire in the scene of reconciliation as a quotation from contemporary theater and tableaux vivants, the novel not only parodies dramatic traditions, but also reveals the erotic impact of successful theatricality. (IMKF)