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Überlegungen zu Friedrichs des Großen ‚De la littérature allemande‘

Jürgen von Stackelberg


Pages 471 - 477



Frederick the Great’s manifesto De la littérature allemande (“On German Literature”), written in French and published in 1780, has always been dismissed as a shallow and incompetent assault upon non-classicist literature and especially upon the contemporary German “Sturm und Drang”. My essay, however, tries to show that this reading of De la littérature allemande misses the point. Frederick the Great’s text was not intended as a critical inventory of contemporary German literature but rather tries to outline the possibilities of a future in which German literature and language – supported by enlightened monarchs – could reach classical status. In my reading, Frederick the Great’s text thus becomes an 18th-century German example of those cultural manifestos which in the 16th and 17th centuries promoted the perfection of French language and literature.

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