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"Selbstmord begehen zu wollen ist wie ein Gedicht zu schreiben": eine psychoanalytische Studie zu Goethes Briefroman "Die Leiden des jungen Werther"
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of German.
1999 (German)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study is an interpretation of Goethe´s epistolary novel "Die Leiden des jungen Werther" ("The Sorrows of Young Werther") from the perspective of psychoanalysis, in particular object relations theory (ORT). On the one hand, it attempts to investigate which fantasies, conflicts and emotions in the text are treated and manipulated by the author. On the other hand, it tries to establish how these fantasies, conflicts and emotions, particularly the latent sense of the text, can be recognized, manifested and interpreted by the reader. In this effort, a number of methods are used, including both traditional text analysis and psychoanalytic methods adapted to the study of literature - above all counter-transference analysis. These methods are combined principally with psychoanalytical object relations theory, especially Donald Woods Winnicotts concept of the transitional object, in order to examine and explain subjectivity as an instrument of perception in psychoanalytical textual interpretation. With the same goal in mind, certain aspects of the author's life are explored. An overview of psychoanalysis as applied to literature, as well as an introduction to various psychoanalytical theories (such as narcissism, borderline and suicide theories), are presented for the benefit of readers without a basic knowledge of psychoanalysis.

The main part of the study focuses on the interpretation of the novel "Die Leiden des jungen Werther", in particular on the interpretation of the character of Werther. By means of counter-transference it is established that the search for a self-identity and the longing for a mother are created in the literary imagination of the author and together form the central fantasy of the text. The intense preoccupation with object relations and transitional phenomena in the text proves that its underlying structure is predicated on the dialectic of rigid boundaries and limitless emotions. Against the backdrop of a growing proximity-distance conflict in the text, the author's unconscious vision of coalescence can be shown to exist in the humiliation and separation experienced by the character of Werther. Finally, the point is made that at the end of "Die Leiden des jungen Werther" this vision of coalescence in the literary imagination of the author is fulfilled in the fictitious hereafter of the text.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International , 1999. , 274 p.
Stockholmer germanistische Forschungen, ISSN 0491-0893 ; 56
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-64026ISBN: 91-22-01826-3OAI: diva2:454368
Public defence
1999-05-28, 10:00
Available from: 2011-11-07 Created: 2011-11-07 Last updated: 2012-12-13Bibliographically approved

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