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Article

L. Tieck's Universaldramen: Traditional narratives as the basis for genre experiments

PONTE. 2019. Vol. 75. No. 3.

The article analyses how L.Tieck understood the phenomena of the traditional narratives. The article discusses the views Tieck had upon the chapbook, and its adaptations in his works, particularly the drama based upon popular material. Three of his dramatic works of that type, «Life and death of the St. Genivieve» (1800), «Emperor Octavian» (1808) and «Fortunatus» (1815), especially the first one, initiated new genres of German Romantic drama called Universaldrama (drama of the universe), which are typologically close to mystery play. Tieck's literary program combined both the rejection of contemporary mass literature and the productive replacement of it with examples of new Romantic art. The contradiction between reality and fiction, which is accentuated in Tieck's comedies, weakens in his Universaldramen. The main theme of his plays is the interpretation of religion as a way to comprehend the world. The poet creates a kind of genre complex, where the drama of historical process is ironically removed. This is the basic principle of his two first big plays – “Life and death of the St. Genivieve” and “Emperor Octavian”. His last play, “Fortunatus” is, however, rather a generalizing "ironic construct" which combines elements of several traditional genres and, at the same time, is a parody of the genre he created.