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p. 845. Tragedylocked

  • Ritchie Robertson


Goethe lived in a great age of tragedy-writing. Goethe’s place in this tradition is assured by his most famous work, Faust; its two parts are subtitled respectively the First and Second Parts of the Tragedy. ‘Tragedy’ outlines the tragic themes of Goethe’s work: frequently there is a central character with exceptional gifts, and a charismatic appeal to the people around him, trapped in a world that is too small for him, and brought low by the intrigues of lesser people. Goethe’s Torquato Tasso (1790) is also discussed, which differs from a familiar model of tragedy as it lacks catharsis. In rejecting catharsis, Goethe has brought art dangerously close to reality.

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