Cophtisches Bei Goethe

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The customary characterisation of the Groß-Cophta as a “failed” comedy is attributed here to reasons of Weltanschauung rather than aesthetics. It becomes clear that Goethe intends a certain type of realist, satirical comedy after the manner of Molière and that he adopts, at least in part, the “cophtic” point of view. The satire is levelled less at the deceivers, who rather achieve a degree of demonic grandeur, than the deceived, who are vested with the need for superstition and self-deception in spite of all their ostensible “Enlightenment“. This pessimistic picture of human nature corresponds to Goethe's new “Italian” world-view, revised as much in moral as in aesthetic terms. The argument also serves to revoke the general perception of a significant difference between opera fragment and comedy.

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