Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kotzebue!!! Ermordung

Kotzebue is assassinated
On this date in 1819 Goethe recorded the following in his diary: "Kanzler von Müller die Nachricht von Kotzebue!!!! Ermordung." It is interesting how slow news traveled in those days: Kotzebue was murdered three days before in Mannheim. Three days for news to travel 216 miles (346 km).

August von Kotzebue was a very popular writer and dramatist in his day. In an article on world literature and literary history from 1930, Fritz Strich writes that the concept of world literature "posits criteria of supranational appreciation and dissemination," but goes on to note that, if this criterion is observed, then Kotzebue is "more of a world literary author than Goethe, ... [Edgar] Wallace with his detective stories more than Cervantes with his Don Quixote. In such a case it might offer a way out if one says: Kotzebue and Wallace do not belong to world literature because they do not belong to literature to being with."

Kotzebue was a conservative and his death was a political assassination by a nationalist student. The authorities used the event to crack down on the universities and the press.

An interesting fact: Jane Austen saw a play by Kotzebue, The Birthday, at Bath in 1799. The theatrical in her novel Mansfield Park is based on an adaption of the play by Elizabeth Inchbald. Since it includes sex outside of marriage, kissing, and illegitimacy, it was no wonder that Sir Thomas Bertram was very upset when he unexpectedly returned home and discovered the young people making preparations to perform it.

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