It must be emphasized that, for Hrotsvit, the figures of Mary and the 15 16 margaret ives and almut suerbaum reformed Mary Magdalene genuinely represented a higher concept of womanhood. Although in Abraham and Pafnutius it is acknowledged that men, too, can be chaste, in other plays the male characters are depicted as being at the mercy of their carnal appetites. Dulcitius is so ablaze with passion that, attempting to enter the prison of the virtuous Christian sisters after nightfall, he mistakenly embraces pots, pans and culinary utensils and becomes covered in dirt and grime.
Even worse, Callimachus plans to violate the tomb of Drusiana, although — of course — he is prevented from doing so. A good example is Gallicanus, where the eponymous pagan general is inspired by Constantia, daughter of the Emperor Constantine, to give up his hopes of marrying her and, like her, adopt a vow of chastity. All this may not appeal greatly to modern tastes, but it has to be seen in the context of its time as a powerful campaign for the enhancement of the status of women.
Such a campaign was not without its dangers. Hrotsvit tells us that she sometimes had to blush with shame because, in the course of her dramatic dialogues, she occasionally had to depict the distasteful passions of forbidden love and reproduce unseemly conversations. From an inserted introductory letter to her benefactors it is evident that Hrotsvit only completed this collection of plays after she had gained the express approval of her mentors, who praised and encouraged her.
Since there was no established theatre in the tenth century, her plays were probably not performed. That even these moves towards Christian drama were, however, highly controversial is highlighted by remarks included in the Hortus deliciarum Garden of delights by Herrad of Hohenburg in The Middle Ages the late twelfth century. A compendium of reading matter for the education of nuns, compiled by the abbess of a convent in Alsace and famous for the way in which it integrates text, illustration and musical notation into an overall programme of the essentials of Christian doctrine as well as for the many minute details of everyday life contained within its structure, it voices strong reservations against the introduction of religious drama on the grounds that there is potential here for liturgical seriousness to degenerate into frivolous play.
Nevertheless, Hrotsvit may justifiably be seen as a pioneer of German drama. She went on to compose a short history of the convent of Gandersheim, where she had spent most of her life, and a life of Emperor Otto I. This piece of commissioned official biography shows most clearly the esteem in which she must by then have been held, and in dealing with contemporary matters, Hrotsvit had to rely on her own individuality as a writer — an existence which, despite all acknowledged difficulties, she clearly enjoyed.
She may be identical with the highly respected anchoress Ava whose death in is recorded in the annals of the monastery at Melk. If so, this is another example of a woman for whom the seclusion of the religious life offered the freedom to write, although the epilogue also stresses the encouragement and advice received from her sons. Her oeuvre, written for a lay audience interested in devotional reading, but unable to do so in Latin, consists of a group of five narrative poems which together form a history of human salvation through time.
She begins with the life of St John the Baptist, the precursor of Christ, moves on to a vividly narrated life of Christ, and concludes — in short poems on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Anti-Christ and the Last Judgement — with a vista of the end of the world and the possibility of salvation. Her narrative style is vivid, especially when she describes gestures and settings, giving us the first German account of the ox and ass surrounding the manger in the Nativity scene. At times, the way in which she evokes images appears reminiscent of religious drama.
In an Age of Faith such as the Middle Ages, the claim that one had a God-given talent to depict the lives of the saints and martyrs or to proclaim the Gospel had to be respected. Similarly, a woman who claimed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit could not be dismissed out of hand, even if her revelations challenged traditional notions. Of noble birth, she reports in an autobiographical fragment that she experienced her first visions at the age of three and, clearly a gifted child, she was placed by her parents at the age of eight in a convent of the Benedictine order where she received her education.
In she was unanimously chosen as Mother Superior and some five years later, in , took the decisive step of revealing her prophetic insights to the world. A voice told her to write down what she had seen in her visions: Employing a scholarly monk to help her with Latin grammar, she began work on her first book Scivias Know the ways , and during a visit of Pope Eugene to Trier sent him some extracts from the manuscript, which obtained his blessing.
Armed with this authority, she completed Scivias, which she divided into three parts, the first containing visions of God the Father as creator of the universe, the second concentrating on Christ and His message of salvation, and the third — on the analogy of the Trinity — focusing on the power of the Holy Spirit to shape and transform our lives. After this Hildegard went from strength to strength. Her interest in plants and animals, coupled with her keen The Middle Ages powers of observation, also enabled her to produce two scientific manuals, the first, Physica Physics , being a handbook on nature, while the second and better-known Causae et Curae Causes and cures , a textbook on medicine, contributed to her reputation as a physician and healer.
Recognized in her own lifetime as a person of great spirituality and wisdom, she did not hesitate to comment on contemporary events or to rebuke kings and princes. Hozeski also quotes the opinion of the Dominican theologian Matthew Fox that, had she been a man, Hildegard would have been one of the most famous people in the history of humanity.
Be that as it may, Scivias certainly has the authoritative tone of a new Revelation.
Sachbücher für jede Gelegenheit
The visions are followed by detailed commentaries: At the end of the world, according to Hildegard, the elements will be destroyed: For all their force and power, however, Hildegard maintains that she received her messages not in a state of ecstasy, but from a deep source within her soul. In this she differed from other religious women who, particularly in the following century, experienced in dreams or trance-like states what they describe as a rapturous union with Divine Love.
Foremost among these ecstatic visionaries writing in Germany is Mechthild von Magdeburg, who was probably born sometime between and and who died at Helfta in Unlike Hildegard, she was not formally professed as a member of a religious order, but settled in Magdeburg as a beguine, and wrote not in Latin, but in the vernacular.
Mechthild, too, writes out of a profound conviction that God Himself had chosen her as a new apostle. Like Hildegard, she claims that she was commanded to write her book. It is not, however, an easy book to follow. It has, she says, to be read at least nine times, and always with due reverence and humility. Its central message is that it is natural for the soul to crave God, but God Himself also craves the human soul, and in the highest states of ecstasy a mystic union becomes possible.
Thus, as her title suggests, God is an ever-flowing radiance, an ever-buoyant flood-tide, the Divine illuminates the soul as sunlight shining upon gold or water, the Divine music is a music to which all hearts must dance. This is, even for its time, bold and unconventional language, and it offended a good many people.
Different though these two remarkable women were, Hildegard and Mechthild do share certain features. Like Hrotsvit, both denigrate their authorship. There may, however, be subtle irony at work here. By conceding their weakness, both women acknowledge the structure of the patriarchal society in which they lived, while at the same time evoking scriptural sanction for their activities.
It is precisely because, as women, they are of low degree and thus more humble and obedient that the Holy Spirit has deigned to reveal to them new ways of truth and love. Both could cite here the words of the Magnificat Luke 1: Versed as she was The Middle Ages in liturgy and Church tradition, Hildegard seems to have seen some of the topoi of theological debate not as abstract concepts, but as larger-than-life allegorical figures, many of them female. It is through the purity, humility and obedience of Mary that the Incarnation, and hence the Redemption, is possible.
Following on from this it is only through a feminine response to the Divine Nature that Creation itself comes into being. If Hildegard thus draws the attention of her contemporaries to the feminine principle inherent in the Divine mystery, Mechthild von Magdeburg personalizes it in the account of her own relationship with God.
Her God is no stern authoritarian, sitting in judgement. He is, rather, an ardent wooer of the human soul, delighted if the latter reciprocates his feelings. Yet not all human souls surrender to these endearments. Indeed, only the truly humble can be truly receptive, and these are much more likely to be women rather than men. Mechthild is often quite emphatic that it is difficult for men per se to find God.
Sachbücher, die zu Herzen gehen
Both Hildegard and Mechthild speak out very strongly against the male-dominated Church establishment of their day, which they condemn as corrupt and anti-Christian. Yet her face was spattered with dust and her robe torn. Mechthild is no less extreme. Crown of Holy Church, how tarnished you have become! Your precious stones have fallen from you because you are weak and you disgrace the holy Christian faith.
Your gold is sullied in the filth of unchastity, for you have become destitute and do not know true love. Another vivid source of controversy is the explicit sexual language. It may well be that medieval times were not as prudish or as squeamish as our own. Hildegard, in her medical treatises, writes quite openly about menstruation and other gynaecological topics, although admittedly in Latin. Yet her vision of Ecclesia assaulted by Antichrist, again in Latin, verges on the pornographic. And after this ecstasy the soul sighs with all her might, so that the whole body is shaken.
Elisabeth also wrote a life of St Ursula which contributed to the widespread veneration of that saint in the Cologne area. In the convent of Helfta, as already mentioned, Gertrud The Middle Ages von Helfta, Gertrud von Hackeborn, and Mechthild von Hackeborn all wrote treatises on the religious life, stressing in particular the virtues of obedience and humility and initiating the adoration of the Sacred Heart as a special form of Christian devotion.
All these works are in Latin. From all this it can be seen that women made a very substantial contribution to religious thought and practice during the medieval period and in doing so explored many forms of literary expression. History, biography, theology and medicine are among the scholarly topics covered by their works, while the prophetic visions and rhapsodic flights of the soul towards Heaven, whatever their cause or origin, resulted in devotional poetry and meditation of outstanding beauty and eloquence. Yet, as the Age of Faith receded, much was overlooked or forgotten.
Even today, their views are not always regarded as acceptable. The attempt, from Hildegard onwards, to work out a theology of the feminine which sees certain aspects of the great drama of Creator and Creation as essentially female is still regarded in some circles as verging on heresy or even blasphemy. Nevertheless, its presence as an underground current in German mysticism, literature and thought cannot be questioned. It is of course ironic that Faust, in his very masculine goal-orientated striving, fails to understand this as he rushes headlong through life.
Apart from the religious houses, the secular courts are the other important sphere in which German literature developed, and again, women play their part, even if not in quite the same way as in France. In the twelfth century, with the rise of secular literature as courtly entertainment in France, it is again female patrons — often French-born wives of German noblemen — who are influential in introducing these new developments into Germany, but whereas in France, noblewomen are writers as well as patrons, there is no evidence for women taking such an active role as writers in Germany.
This is more than the desire of an educated noblewoman for appropriate reading matter, since the genre of the chanson de geste had been used in France as a literary means to justify political power of the ruling family; through her mother, Mathilde was almost certainly aware of the way in which literary patronage could be used thus to enhance the importance of the secular courts. In the development of French courtly literature, the central concept is that of amour courtois courtly love. The love-relationship is expressed in images and metaphors drawn from the contemporary social structures of feudal service, so that the lady assumes the part of the liege-lord in whose power it lies to grant favours and acknowledge the service of the vassal.
Although the theme itself is quickly taken up in German literature, it is adapted only in forms which suppress the potential tension between such an elevated image of the all-powerful feudal lady, and the actual political and social reality of male domination over women. Whereas in France women could occasionally wield considerable political power in their own right, and were also able, as writers and poets for The Middle Ages example Marie de France or the trobadora Beatriz de Diaz , to comment on the problems of women, or, as rulers and patrons, to feature as the supreme judge in cases of fictional amorous disputes, there is no evidence for parallel developments in Germany.
During the same period, she also engaged in literary activity and translated four French chansons de geste into German prose. These beginnings were developed further by Eleonore of Austria also known as Eleonore of Scotland, since she is the daughter of James I of Scotland. Her achievements were acknowledged by Andreas Silvius Piccolomini, one of the most important German humanists at the time.
Pontus und Sidonia, the love-story of the prince of Galicia and his future bride, quickly achieved widespread literary success, and its special appeal lies not so much in the adventures of the chivalrous hero as in the extended and often vivid depictions of courtly ceremony and everyday life. Pontus is well-bred, courteous and possesses exquisite table manners, and he marks the shift towards a truly modern novel which features an early aristocrat instead of the traditional knight.
In a period when only those manuscripts which had a legal, political or bureaucratic relevance were systematically preserved, it is a matter of pure chance if writing by women is preserved in manuscript form. While there are more manuscript letters, diaries and chronicles in court and convent archives than was formerly thought, it is published writing by women which had the greatest chance of survival.
The poetry of Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg was first published thanks to her guardian, step-uncle and later husband Hans Rudolf von Greiffenberg, Sibylle Schwarz was published thanks to her tutor Samuel Gerlach and it was a grandson who published the work of Margaretha Susanna von Kuntsch. In the two latter cases publication was posthumous, so the writers had no control whatever over the published form of their work. It is at least probable that the male relatives or mentors instrumental in the publication edited and emended the texts, so that the final product does not have the status of the oeuvre of a modern woman writer.
We must also assume that these male editors selected which works to publish and that they may have suppressed material which did not conform to the forms and themes considered suitable for women. Sometimes a male writer gives an intimation of activity by women in an area where it is in general unsuspected. Even where women published their work, it can be difficult nowadays to establish its authorship.
Women took refuge under pseudonyms, for example Aramena, the still unknown author of the novel Die Durchlauchtigste Margaretha von Oesterreich which appeared in Hamburg in One must in general be aware of the existence of a writer before either looking for or finding work by that writer — the problem of the invisibility of women. Systematic searching will undoubtedly reveal authors hitherto unknown to us.
It can therefore be seen that the printed material actually known to us at present represents only an unknown proportion of what women actually wrote. Social and historical factors Since pregnancy accounted for the high mortality of women between the ages of twenty and fifty when compared to men, female biology must be taken into account when discussing literary production. Even those women who were childless were fully occupied with the endless tasks of early modern housekeeping.
Many women, it is clear, simply did not have the leisure or the conditions in which to write. The early modern period We must also ask whether they were literate in the first place. Around five to ten per cent of the total population in sixteenth- and seventeenthcentury Germany is estimated as being literate, though it is not always easy to define what literate means. While this percentage varied from region to region and increased as the period progressed, we can assume that literacy was highest among upper-class men and lowest among lower-class women.
This was true of girls of all social classes. Girls of the aristocracy and middle class were more likely to be educated at home than sent to school and where girls did go to school — something which was usually only possible in the towns anyway — a few hours a day for a maximum of two years was often considered sufficient. Knowledge in general, apart from a knowledge of housekeeping, was considered unnecessary, indeed burdensome to girls.
There was furthermore the fact that Latin was the learned language of the age, the language of science, of educated discourse, even of literature, and that well into the eighteenth century the majority of all writing published in the German-speaking world was in Latin. Few women knew Latin and if they tried to learn it were told, as Kuntsch was by her parents in the s, that this was more suitable for a great lady than for a middleclass girl, whereupon they had to give it up again.
Since all educated men of the period wrote in Latin, sometimes instead of but virtually always as well as in German, one whole aspect of the literary life of the period was by definition closed to women. Women were also debarred from undertaking the kind of travel which was a standard part of the education of young men who aspired to learning.
But what of the Renaissance? Surely this meant an opening up of learning and a dissemination of it via the printing-press, a new stress on the individual and his or her development and a questioning of timehonoured assumptions? Surely the ideals of learning for its own sake and artistic endeavour embraced both men and women equally? It is well known that the Renaissance in France, Italy, England, Spain and other countries produced numerous learned and cultivated women. North of the Alps in the German-speaking world, Agrippa of Nettesheim — was the first German Humanist to sum up the debate on women, their abilities and their rights in his De nobilitate et praecellentia foeminei sexus Women are capable of learning and of literary production and Agrippa is able to support this with quotations from the Bible and the Ancients.
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A scholar of even greater prestige, namely Erasmus of Rotterdam ? Barbara Pirckheimer was the eldest child of Dr Johannes Pirckheimer and the sister of the distinguished Humanist Willibald Pirckheimer. At the age of twelve she was sent to the convent of the sisters of St Clare in Nuremberg, the so-called Klarakloster, noted for its learning and holiness and as a school for patrician girls. Here she took the veil around and by at the latest she had adopted the name of Caritas. She was a woman of great learning, adept in Latin, well known to the Humanists of her day, with many of whom she corresponded.
In she was elected abbess of the convent. Three of her younger sisters who had also become nuns served their convents in the same capacity. But in the German-speaking world the Renaissance led to the Reformation and Caritas Pirckheimer herself provides an excellent illustration of the negative effects of the Reformation on those women seeking an intellectual life. The Reformation was indeed a movement intended by Luther and other early Reformers to empower the ordinary person in the pew, to take religion out of the exclusive control of a priestly class and to open it up even to the unlettered believer, to put the Bible in the vernacular into the hands of all and to stress the importance of the laity over the clergy as enunciated in the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.
Such an apparently democratic movement, it seems, must have empowered women. Luther gave marriage such a central importance in his moral and social teaching that he went so far as to present marriage and childbearing as the only destiny for women in Ein Sermon von dem ehlichen Stand A sermon on the married estate; ; and Vom ehelichen Leben On married life; , though he was well aware that child-bearing could lead to the death of the mother, as the Predigt vom Ehestand Sermon on the married estate shows.
The celibate life of clerics and nuns was frowned upon and the convents were to be thrown open. If we bear in mind that the convent was the only space available to women where they could be completely free of their biology and where they were not just allowed but encouraged to read, write, study and pray, we can see what a retrograde step this was for them. By the Klarakloster was fighting for its existence in Reformation Nuremberg.
Through the agency of Melanchthon in the convent was allowed to continue in existence but was doomed to extinction because of a prohibition against the admission of novices. Nor could the nuns receive the sacraments according to the old rites. Caritas died there in aged sixty-six, a woman whose learning was made possible by her life as a nun. He therefore was to be the sole fount of knowledge for his wife, should she need instruction. In consequence only those women who came from an intellectual family, in whose discussions and reading they were allowed to participate, had a chance of acquiring learning.
But were there not important women Reformers? Certainly there were women who worked and fought to further the cause of the Reformation. As the sixteenth century progressed, however, the formation of theological faculties in the new Protestant universities meant that religious interpretation was taken back into professional and therefore male hands and was carried on in an institution to which women by definition were not admitted. One of the main complaints of Anna Ovena Hoyers was precisely the exclusion of women from theological debate.
The Reformation in the German-speaking world ensured, however, that at least one book in the vernacular was accessible to women — the Bible. German women were never forbidden to read the Bible for themselves as English women were in the Act of Parliament promulgated in On the positive side, we might single out two institutions which actually fostered writing by women, particularly in the latter half of our period: Women and literature As well as the social and historical factors mentioned above, there were literary constraints on women too.
The novel purveyed lies and was furthermore a dangerous foreign import. Secular love poetry, based as it was on Petrarch or on the Latin poets, contravened conventions about the sexual purity of women. If we put all these factors together, it is obvious what the bulk of writing by women must consist of: Let us now examine each of these areas in turn.
As just mentioned, verse is the pre-eminent genre employed by women. Poems can be small in scale and unpretentious in theme and form; they do not need the long-term concentrated work of a novel or the co-operation of actors and the existence of a theatre before they can be realized.
They are complete in themselves, they can be produced in private and even women had familiar models to emulate: Biblical psalms in translation, hymns in the vernacular, satirical verse on broadsheets, didactic verse in emblems and on gravestones, folksongs, as well as the occasional poetry familiar to all at weddings, christenings and in funeral sermons. Of all forms poetry was the one women could most easily practise in private and without censure. To illustrate this we shall look briefly at the work of four female poets: The marriage appears to have been a happy one and she bore her husband at least nine children.
He died in and in the course of the next ten years, Hoyers lost a large part of her fortune through law-suits and taxes. It was, however, her deviant religious views which led to her unsettled existence from and her ultimate refuge in Sweden. The movement towards Reform, itself so revolutionary and anti-orthodox in the early Reformation years, had hardened into two institutionalized churches, Lutheran and Calvinist. The same faculties pronounced on which sects and writings were to be banned as heretical. It is clear that by the s Hoyers was reading a great deal of such banned material which circulated secretly among believers.
They were both called to order by the Lutheran authorities and had to flee, first to other towns in Schleswig-Holstein and afterwards to Denmark. Hoyers was able to remain in the area under the protection of the Dowager Duchess Augusta of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp and carried on holding private prayer meetings and worship as before. On the death of her uncle in she lost her last family protector and from seems to have moved around in North Germany. We know that she was in Sweden by , accompanied by five of her children, though the exact date of her arrival there is not certain, and that by now her financial circumstances were straitened.
However, in she came under the protection of Maria Eleonora, Queen Mother of Sweden, who allowed her to live on one of her estates until her death in As a life history of a woman and a non-conformist in the early modern period her story would be fascinating in itself. Even more interesting is that her emergence as a non-conformist in religious matters also marked The early modern period her emergence as a writer.
Her second was her verse rendering of the Book of Ruth, which appeared in Sweden in Today she is chiefly known for her Geistliche und weltliche Poemata Religious and secular poems , an anthology which contains the two above-mentioned works as well as twenty-one others and which appeared in Amsterdam in A Stockholm manuscript put together by her sons Caspar and Friedrich Wilhelm after her death contains a further forty-seven poems. Clearly these were to be used by a congregation as part of their worship and are characterized by a clarity and simplicity of diction, a heartfelt piety and a regularity of form reminiscent of Luther himself.
She indeed saw herself as standing in direct descent from Luther, both in her criticism of clerical abuse and in her composition of hymns for actual liturgical use. She was born in Greifswald as the daughter of a lawyer of standing and education who served at the court of Boguslav XIV in Stettin and later became mayor of Greifswald. The Thirty Years War meant that Schwarz and her siblings spent the years —31 not in Greifswald but in Fretow on the coast. It is clear that in her studies and in her poetry, which she must have begun to write at about the age of ten, she had the full support of her widowed father and of her brother.
By the time of her death at the age of only seventeen, Schwarz had written some eighty poems, a fragment of a drama entitled Susanna and part of a pastoral novel. Her poems, showing skilful use of such forms as the sonnet and the alexandrine, deal with a much wider range of themes than was usual for women, even later in the century. Of course she writes religious verse and occasional poetry but there are many poems on the theme of friendship and, surprisingly for a woman and a young woman at that, at least a quarter of her verse is Petrarchist love poetry.
It would appear that when a talent such as that of Schwarz is given the necessary encouragement and education it can vie with the poetry of male contemporaries. The poetry of Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg makes this point even more forcefully. This Austrian Protestant aristocrat lost her father at the age of seven, whereupon her step-uncle Hans Rudolf von Greiffenberg became her guardian.
Sachbücher von Prominenten
He was also her first teacher and taught her the classical languages as well as French, Italian and Spanish. She read works on ancient and modern history, law, politics, astronomy, alchemy, theology and philosophy as well as the European literature of her day. Her Protestantism meant that she and her family had to make long journeys to attend services at important religious festivals, usually to Western Hungary. After the death of her younger sister and only sibling, Greiffenberg had what she considered an important mystical revelation at Easter in Pressburg Bratislava.
Among her friends in the educated Protestant aristocracy was Johann Wilhelm von Stubenberg, a notable translator from French and Italian who had widespread connections with the intelligensia of his day. She showed him her poems; he acted as her literary mentor and adviser and put her in contact with the poet and scholar Sigmund von Birken —81 , who had settled in Nuremberg in Meanwhile Hans Rudolf, her step-uncle, had declared his long-standing wish to marry her and put her under great pressure to agree, though he was almost thirty years her senior. They were too nearly related for this marriage to be lawful in Austria and when Greiffenberg finally gave in, they had to be married in Bayreuth in After their return to their estates at Seisenegg in Austria in , however, Hans Rudolf had to spend a year in prison on a charge of unlawful cohabitation.
They bear witness to a deeply religious woman who longed for the solitude and the leisure to pursue her studies, her writing and her devotions, but who was constantly forced to abandon them either to help run the house and estate or to entertain the loud jolly company her husband enjoyed. Of all women writers in the early modern period Greiffenberg is the only one to be the subject of sustained research and discussion.
These poems are remarkable by any standard. The physical world is seen as a set of ciphers which have to be decoded to arrive at the spiritual meaning. To do this she employs such tightly controlled forms as the sonnet and pushes language to its boundaries by creating unexpected compounds and by the use of emphatic prefixes. One is reminded of Gerard Manley Hopkins, who was driven by the same urge to express the unexpressible and who finds himself having to mould and distort language in the same way. From her own point of view and that of her contemporaries her principal achievement as a writer was not her poems but her four extensive series of religious meditations in prose, interspersed here and there with poems, on the incarnation and early life of Jesus , His suffering and death , His teachings and miracles and His life and prophecies Margaretha Susanna von Kuntsch had no such like-minded associates to encourage her literary endeavours.
She explains that though her own inclinations led her to learn Latin and French and other branches of knowledge, her parents were more farsighted than she and decided that such occupation was more suited to a great lady than to a woman of the middle rank and so she had to give up her studies. At eighteen she married Christoph von Kuntsch, also an official of the Altenburg court. With the exception of a period of three years at the beginning of her married life, she spent the rest of her days in Altenburg where she had grown up.
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Most of her poetry takes exactly that form we outlined above as virtually pre-determined in the case of a woman writer of the period: What strikes the reader is the extent to which her mind is preoccupied with the theme of death to a degree unusual even for a Baroque poet. Not only is there a large number of references to death, even in the birthday poems for her husband, and of poems on the topic itself but a heart-rending intensity is revealed in her treatment of the subject.
Remarkable in this regard is the series of poems on the deaths of her own children, whose names and precise ages to the day she lists in her curriculum vitae. She had fourteen pregnancies of which only one child, her daughter Margaretha Elisabeth, lived to adulthood. Two of the pregnancies ended in miscarriages, two were stillbirths, two were premature and no less than five others died at less than a year old. Two others died aged seven and nine respectively.
In a skilfully turned poem she compares the courage needed by the warrior Agamemnon in battle with the far greater courage needed to cope with the loss of his child, and then contrasts herself, now the mother of nine dead children, both to Agamemnon and to Timantes, who like herself, is attempting to depict grief in art. If he was unable to limn the pain of another, how can she present her own heartbreak? She ends her poem: It is clear that these women were active in various non-conformist religious groups throughout the seventeenth century, something we have already seen in the case of Hoyers.
One of the best-known of these spiritual autobiographies is that of the noblewoman Johanna von Merlau, more commonly known by her married name of Johanna Eleonore Petersen. She tells the story of her life up to the birth of her first son in vivid detail: For her this outward narrative is the framework for what really concerns her, namely, her spiritual development. She learns to depend absolutely on God and to see His hand in all things and as her spirituality becomes more and more inward and her own inclinations more ascetic, she finds the social role she is required to play, for instance, at court, deeply distasteful.
Had either of these women belonged to a different religious grouping, the convent would have been the obvious refuge. Johanna von Merlau, however, has to marry and her struggle to accomplish this and yet remain true to her religious ideals constitutes a constant thread in her narrative. Once she is married to Petersen and can express her spirituality in sympathetic surroundings, she then develops visionary and prophetic gifts. As an exploration of emotions and spirituality and in its insistence on their primacy over the happenings of daily life, this autobiography anticipates the eighteenth century.
She addresses her memoirs ostensibly to her children but maintains that her intention is not didactic. Rather she is writing in order to commune with herself, to have someone to talk to in the loneliness of her widowhood. The sheer length of her account means that the reader is given a full and detailed picture of the customs, religious observance and daily life of the German Jewish community of her day. She displays the same piety, the same trust in God, the same resignation in adversity as her Christian contemporaries, but in contrast to them was clearly treated by her husband as an equal partner in his business with whom he discussed every negotiation, every financial deal, to such an extent that she was able to take over the business on his death.
Prose fiction by women in this period takes second place behind the autobiographical writings just discussed. Julia, for instance, maintains that since the novel is a form of literature which actually purveys lies, women are particularly susceptible to corruption by it. Virtuous books present wise and true precepts in a pleasing and digestible manner. The debate is decided in favour of Angelika. Sibylle Ursula delayed marrying to devote herself to her writing.
Among other things she translated one of the Latin writings of the Spanish Humanist Juan de Vives into German and wrote a five-act play and a series of spiritual meditations Geistliches Kleeblatt, but it is for her contribution to the novel that she is chiefly known today. It is thought that when Sibylle Ursula married belatedly in at the age of thirty-four she handed her work over to her brother who revised and reordered parts of it, added to it and gave it to his old tutor Sigmund von Birken to edit. In the year of their marriage she and her husband published the first volume of the pastoral novel Die Kunst-und Tugend-gezierte Macarie The artistic and virtuous Macarie , in which to an extent they describe their own love story.
The novel tells the history of the shepherd Polyphilus who sets off to find honour and falls in love with the beautiful and learned Macarie. Before he can win her, however, he must first learn to see through the sham glamour of court life and the emptiness of power before he can retreat to the commu- The early modern period nity of shepherds and live a life of virtue and literary endeavour with his beloved Macarie. If the first part was the work of both the Stockfleths, the second part, which appeared in , was written by Maria Katharina alone and is generally agreed to be both more profound in its ideas and of much greater literary merit than the first part on which the couple collaborated.
If there is little prose fiction by women in this period, there is even less drama. The only milieu which was at all propitious in this regard was the court. It is untitled and not quite finished but is modelled on the martyr dramas of the age in which a virtuous woman, exposed to the untrammelled lust and unscrupulous wiles of an evil man, is prepared to lose her life rather than her virtue. Though only twenty-two at the time of her marriage, she took her role as step-mother to four young children, as wife of a man of learning and artistic interests and as consort to the ruler of a duchy very seriously.
She herself composed and wrote and was a central figure in the cultural life of the court. She was also the author of a considerable quantity of religious verse. The first of these is a short opera: Lastly there is the five-act prose drama Ein Freudenspiel von dem itzigen betrieglichen Zustande in der Welt A comedy on the present deceitful way of the world; In his discussion of Ein Freudenspiel in the same article Roloff points out that the Duchess is here using drama to analyse and pass judgement on one of the burning issues of her day: Sophie Elisabeth sets up two princes and two courts, the one Machiavellian, scheming, violent and unscrupulous, the other peace-loving, just and honourable and shows how, in spite of a series of intrigues, virtue wins out in the end.
It is an allegorical and didactic drama which is doubly fascinating because it reflects with great subtlety the political theories of the day and because it is written by the consort of a ruler to be performed in front of him and his court by, among others, his own children, future rulers and consorts of rulers themselves. But much material in manuscript form is still to be unearthed in court archives.
Given the difficulties faced by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century women who wanted to write, it seems almost a miracle that they wrote at all. The dawning of a new age, in which women might officially be acknowledged to have talents which could be trained and furthered, in however limited a way, is marked by the appearance at the beginning of the eighteenth century of three works by men which celebrated women writers: With a considerable admixture of nationalist feeling, the three authors want to prove that German women are as capable of learning and literary talent as those of any nation.
Sachbücher: informativ und unterhaltsam
The Enlightenment is on the horizon. Part II The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries lesley sharpe 3 The Enlightenment The period covered in this chapter saw the decisive emergence of the female writer and of a female reading public. Literacy expanded considerably in the German states during the eighteenth century, including literacy among women, whose education had frequently been neglected, and the reading of imaginative literature as a leisure activity gained respectability among the expanding middle classes.
Whereas at the beginning of the period even literate women rarely read anything beyond household manuals or works of religious edification, by the end of the eighteenth century male commentators were voicing concern about the sorry effects of the Lesewut reading mania that had gripped the female middle classes.
The period to was a time of change in the traditional image of woman and the roles ascribed to her.
In the first half of the century, it was fully accepted that men should have authority over women and that in the hierarchy of the household women should be subordinate. In the predominantly rural and small-town communities in the German states the nuclear family had not yet developed and women were important to the economic success of the extended household see Hausen ; the skill, industry, thrift and practical sense of the German Hausmutter were greatly prized.
Thus popular channels of Enlightenment thinking, for example the moral weeklies modelled on English periodicals such as The Spectator and The Tatler, took up the cause of the improvement of education and the expansion of edifying reading  48 lesley sharpe for women see Martens.
By the end of the century the ideal middle-class woman was gebildet, acquainted with a range of imaginative and informative literature, though anything but gelehrt, academic or learned. Yet by the end of the century women found themselves in a new kind of straitjacket. The ideal image of woman was now based on the mother of the nuclear family, a social unit that was becoming increasingly the norm as town life and the professional middle class expanded.
The wife of the lawyer, professor, administrator or magistrate was not economically active but rather responsible for the good management of the household and for the creation of domestic warmth and harmony. She was now to be more of a companion to her husband, and a source of basic education and emotional stability to their children. The nature of the relationship between the sexes became the subject of intense discussion. Secular ideas based on the emerging scientific disciplines and supported by theories of education and political and social development those of Rousseau being perhaps the most influential displaced old religious prejudices against women but introduced new stereotypes.
The relationship between the sexes was held to be one of complementarity, and accompanying this notion was an increasingly rigid conception of the contrasting sets of attributes of the sexes, often known as Geschlechtscharaktere. Anatomy, physiology and anthropology were used to support the notion that women were essentially different from men not only in body but also in mind and should pursue only those activities compatible with their calling Bestimmung as Gattin, Hausfrau und Mutter spouse, housewife and mother. The resulting theories of the separate spheres of male and female activity, which determined the relations between the sexes well into the twentieth century, sprang from this intense preoccupation with gender roles in the later part of the eighteenth century.
Thus, while literacy and reading among women greatly increased in the second half of the century, new culturally determined restrictions were being placed on the exercise of that literacy. The great expansion of the reading public in Germany brought an intensive preoccupation on the part of male writers with aesthetics and the poetological assumptions underlying literary creation. Though women were writing and publishing in ever greater numbers by the last decades of the century, recognition of their achievements was hampered by the changing theories of literature, from the idea of poetry as a craft The Enlightenment that could be learned to the more inspirational model culminating in the Geniekult.
As the emphasis shifted increasingly to the psyche of the artist and to the particular confluence of conscious and unconscious, of reason and imagination in the act of creation, so women were increasingly excluded. Women might show evidence of skill and talent within the lesser genres but genius, the divine spark, tended to be regarded as vouchsafed exclusively to men see Battersby, esp. Women writers in the eighteenth century constantly had to manoeuvre for the space left them by male writers and literary arbiters, basing the justification for their participation in literary activity on the didactic value of their work.
While they are represented in the lyric and the drama, women particularly exploited the novel, the didactic short story and the lively and well-written letter, forms that were more fluid and lower in the hierarchy of genres, and their exponents therefore arguably less of a threat to male writers.
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Christiana Mariana von Ziegler grew up in a wealthy and prominent Leipzig family. By the age of twentyseven she was a widow twice over and had lost also the two children from her marriages. Having returned to her parental home in Leipzig, she was in the position as a wealthy widow to make that home a meeting place for the literary and musical world.
She furnished Bach, who came to take up his position as Kantor of the Thomasschule in , with the texts for a number of his cantatas. One of the literary figures she helped to prominence was the young scholar Johann Christoph Gottsched, who was determined to raise the status of German language and literature by a programme of reform. Her first collection of poetry, Versuch in Gebundener Schreib-Art An exercise in verse , was published in In she published a collection of letters, Moralische und Vermischte Send-Schreiben.
Addressed to several of her good and close friends , and in Vermischte Schriften in gebundener und ungebundener Rede Miscellaneous writings in verse and prose. Her collections of poems range from religious verse to occasional poems, pastoral poems and satirical and didactic verse. You may rave wildly and bellow like the hound of hell — they will sit undisturbed on fair Pindus. Ziegler herself had to suffer a good deal of ridicule and invective the more she came to prominence.
It is clear that she considered women every bit as intellectually competent as men, as we can judge from her reply to a female friend whose daughter shows an interest in learning: In this same letter she even goes as far as to suggest that women should not be excluded from professional and public life, the reward most men have from their studies. This was a profoundly revolutionary idea, however, and if she had clung to it she would no doubt have lost the sympathy of the male supporters on whom she and all women who wished to publish depended.
Brought up in an educated middle-class family, she rebelled in both word and deed against the roles she felt were forced on women. Her main collection of poetry, Poetische Rosen in Knospen Poetic rosebuds; , shows her fluency and versatility in the German language. It contains many conventional religious and occasional poems but also indicates her conscious adoption of unconventional personae.
She first came to fame as the result of a poem written in praise of Prince Eugene and his Hussars. Her life too reflected this desire for expansion out of the conventional female roles. It was on one such ride that she drowned while crossing a bridge. It conveys the excitement of her voyage of discovery with a compelling immediacy: Drama and theatre In the first half of the eighteenth century two women were of decisive importance in laying the foundations of a renaissance of the German 51 52 lesley sharpe theatre. Both were allies of the dominant literary arbiter, Gottsched, but both were superior to him in imagination and literary talent.
Caroline Neuber was the daughter of an Erfurt lawyer, whose harshness drove her to flee from home in with her suitor, later her husband, Johann Neuber, and join the Spiegelberg troupe of actors. These latter catered for the limited artistic demands of their audiences with a mixture of low comedies and historical costume dramas the Haupt- und Staatsaktion , with comic interludes provided by the ubiquitous comic figure, whether the Italianate Harlekin or the indigenous Hanswurst. There were few fixed texts; the actors worked to a scenario and improvised in accordance with it.
The life of the actor or actress was extremely insecure. Competition between the travelling companies was fierce, and actresses had a dubious moral reputation; in the court theatres they provided a source of mistresses for the ruling aristocracy. Even before she met Gottsched, Frau Neuber had already begun to try to raise the quality of the theatre by using fixed texts, though she was reputedly a very skilled extemporizer. Gottsched had taken upon himself the reform of the theatre, with the aim of bringing literary drama and the stage together in Germany in order to create the conditions for a flowering of German drama based on classical principles, to which end he encouraged translations of the works of the French classical stage to supply the company with plays.
Caroline Neuber provided the perfect ally for him. Not only did she subject herself and her company to the discipline of learning fixed texts, and verse texts to boot, but she tried to introduce a less florid acting style to complement the elevated tone of the plays. Eduard Devrient credits her with the creation of the first German school of acting Devrient, p. For all her reforming zeal, though, Frau Neuber remained flexible. The reformed repertoire was not large enough to sustain the troupe, so she retained some of the old plays, cleansed of their vulgarity and of some The Enlightenment of their low comedy.
Yet it was a daring enterprise to challenge and educate the taste of the theatre-going public. Audiences began to desert her, and a few years later she broke with Gottsched. The revival of German theatrical life from the s onwards is nevertheless a tribute to the efforts of Caroline Neuber, and if by her last years on the stage her style seemed old-fashioned this is proof of how far the reforms had been successful. She ended her days, though, in very reduced circumstances, dependent on the charity of well-wishers. As the daughter of a Danzig doctor, Luise Culmus enjoyed a much wider and more intellectually adventurous education than most girls of her station, learning English, French, geography, mathematics and music from members of her family.
Her correspondence with Gottsched before their marriage shows her maturity, intelligence and willingness to learn, but also — and this quality is evident to the end of her life — her subordination of all her talents and energies to him. For Gottsched comedy was primarily satirical and aimed to ridicule human shortcomings with the purpose of correcting them and encouraging wisdom and virtue. He also demanded a certain realism in speech, commensurate with the lower social standing of comic, as opposed to tragic, figures.
The unities must be observed, the time of the action ideally not running over about ten hours. The play must have five acts and involve an element of mystery or intrigue that is resolved at the end. House of Night - Versucht: Kurz s Korrektur Schule. Reihe Moderation in der Praxis, Bd.
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