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Comedy is first the German translation of comedy as tragedy , the translation of the tragedy is. Often the term is differentiated on the one hand from the refined courtly comedy of a Molière and on the other hand from coarser genres of comedic theater such as posse and swank . When translating the Greco-Latin term into German, a contrast between “German” culture and Romance cultures plays a role, because the German-speaking area was still dominated by Italian and French operas and dramas in the 19th century. The comedy was often understood as a specifically German and bourgeois type of comedy.

The German bourgeois comedy

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing characterized the 1759 German comedy in the early 18th century as follows: "Our comedies existed in disguises and magic; and fights were their funniest ideas. ”( Letters, concerning the latest literature , 17) Authors like Johann Elias Schlegel ( Die stumme Schönheit , 1748) tried to draw the“ funny figure ”in a more differentiated way, to take away the grotesque and put it in To show situations of everyday bourgeois life. Since that time, a German-language comedy with mainly bourgeois (not noble) characters has been called a comedy. Lessing's Minna von Barnhelm (1767) was a model. One of the most famous comedies that emerged from this tradition is Heinrich von Kleist's Der zerbrochne Krug (1806).

In his lectures on dramatic art and literature (1808) , August Wilhelm Schlegel saw comedy in a fantastic world, whereas comedy was set in a probable world. Since then, German-speaking theorists such as Otto Rommel have repeatedly postulated a difference between comedy and comedy.

In contrast to coarser genres, the comedy strives for refined comedy and realistic actions and characters. The emotion prevails over the comedy. According to Johann David Michaelis , his goal is sometimes a "very serious moral teaching". The comedy lets the physical and musical elements of the theatrical recede and concentrates on the dialogue between the characters. The comedy is therefore closely related to the overcoming of the class clause and the emancipation of the bourgeoisie since the French Revolution .

The themes of the comedy are distinctly bourgeois and often revolve around money such as money marriage, inheritance or economic problems. The greatest social significance, however, was not the “literary” comedies by Lessing, Goethe or Kleist, but rather the popular theatrical products: August von Kotzebue described several of his comedies as comedies, such as Die deutscher Kleinstädter (1802). The Vienna Burgtheater , which was nominally still a court theater , but advocated a reconciliation between the nobility and the bourgeoisie from the time of Josephinism on, was a place of comedy in the 19th century. It thus formed a counterpoint to the late antics and operettas in the suburban theaters . The most important author there was Eduard Bauernfeld . Critics from the left as well as from the right political camp described the comedy as "philistine bourgeois" ( Adam Müller-Guttenbrunn , Vienna was a theater city , 1880).

Web links

Wiktionary: Comedy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Satyr game  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • Eckehard Catholy : The German comedy . From the Enlightenment to Romanticism (= language and literature 109). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart et al. 1982. ISBN 3-17-004883-X
  • Hans Friederici: The German bourgeois comedy of the early enlightenment, 1736–1750, with special consideration of his views of society. M. Niemeyer, Halle and Jena 1957. [Habilitation thesis]
  • Christian Neuhuber : The comedy is serious. The serious in German comedy on the way to the modern age from Gottsched to Lenz. Schmidt, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3503061770

Individual evidence

  1. quoted from Neuhuber: Das Lustspiel macht Ernst , Berlin 2003, p. 49.