University of Leicester
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Aspects of realism in the historical dramas of Chr. D. Grabbe: A critical evaluation of the appropriateness of the term as applied to the dramatist's work.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 09:06 authored by David Alexander. Horton
The notion that Grabbe's historical dramas display features commonly associated with literary realism was introduced into Grabbe scholarship early and has since become well-established. The term has, however, often been adopted uncritically and is still applied indiscriminately to the dramatist's oeuvre. This thesis aims to contribute to the discussion of Grabbe's realism by examining central aspects of his plays with a view to their realistic quality. After an initial discussion of the problematic concept of literary realism (Introduction), the playwright's non-historical dramas are considered in their role as preparatory exercises for the major history plays (Chapter I). The second chapter, which deals with the nature and presentation of the dramatist's view of history, is conceived both as a contribution to an area of dispute which continues to occupy critics and as a stage in the realism discussion. It treats such fundamental issues as the role of the historical individual and the masses, social realism, and Grabbe's view of the historical process. Having focussed on the history plays the study critically examines aspects of the works repeatedly cited in connection with Grabbe's realism. Psychological realism (Chapter III), the use of language, particularly of prose (Chapter IV), and dramatic form as the vehicle of Grabbe's neu type of drama (Chapter V) are evaluated as factors which contribute to the alleged realistic effect of the dramas. The concluding section discusses the poet's attention to empirical detail and places his work within a literary-historical context before considering the overall appropriateness of the concept of realism with regard to Grabbe's dramas. In view of the inconsistency and diffuseness of the plays the validity of the term in this context appears highly questionable. The study contains two "Forschungsberichte", The first treats previous discussions of Grabbe's realism, the second earlier comment on the dramatist's view of history.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Modern Languages

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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