The Debate about Shakespeare's Character, Morals, and Religion in Nineteenth-Century Germany

in Critical Survey
Restricted access

This essay traces the process of naturalization of Shakespeare on the Continent and especially in nineteenth-century Germany with the consistent recurrence of his oscillation between the Protestant and Catholic poles in the biographical studies by Shakespeare scholars up to the twentieth century. In the second half of the eighteenth century, when German poets and critics discovered Shakespeare and chose his dramas as their literary models, they were not chiefly interested in his biography, character, and religious belief. Instead, his German admirers, especially of the school of Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) and the early Romanticists, concentrated on coming to terms with his dramatic art and defining his poetological position.