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Geliefd en gevreesd. Duits toneel in Nederland rond 1800

28 October 2010

PhD ceremony: Ms. K.E. Groot, 16.00 uur, Academiegebouw (senaatskamer), Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: Geliefd en gevreesd. Duits toneel in Nederland rond 1800

Promotor(s): prof. B.A.M. Ramakers

Faculty: Arts


Around 1800, the Dutch theatre world was flooded with translations from the German. Not the authors considered to be canonical - Lessing, Goethe and Schiller - but the so-called trivial authors conquered the Republic, as they had earlier conquered the German lands themselves. Especially Kotzebue caused a hype. This import was immensely popular with the public. But theatre critics were less pleased. The main question of Groot’s study is: wherein lay the attraction of this German theatre for the Dutch public and why did it cause such upheaval.

These questions are both relevant to theatre history and to the broader framework of research into the Dutch Enlightenment. Therefore general cultural journals, theatre journals, translations and prefaces, adaptations and parodies were investigated. Thus, a large part of the picture is determined by critics’ statements. To do as much justice as possible to the voice of the public, information on the repertory of the Amsterdam Theatre and several amateur ensembles was also explored. Both in the German and in the Dutch theatre discourse, the development of the German theatre was divided into phases. For the first transition between these, from French Neoclassicist drama to domestic drama, the continuity was stressed, whereas the second transition, towards the romantic drama, was represented as a clean break. This experience of break was primarily inspired by the abandoning of the formal unities.

The second part of Groot’s study treats subject matter (the role of the women, politics, religion and shows that the German plays were easily adapted to the Dutch social debate. An important issue was the matter of the (in)decency of the German plays. In short, through the German theatre, both the Enlightenment and the glorification of national character were furthered.


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