Excerpt of foreword to Cardenio and Celinde - Updated Aug. 24



London                                                                                                                         (c) Koen Douterloigne


Similar to the pursuit of “happiness” or “success” today, the people of seventeenth-century Europe had their own aim in life. Willi Harring calls this contingent truth “the need for a moral and religious rebirth,” (27); Mary Gilbert cites it as the question: "What can I do so that I will become spiritual (selig)?” (491) If the people actually sought the sublimity of metaphysical awakening, then they sought metaphysical awakening. Drama was supposed to generate enthusiasm for the higher ideals of mankind, dismissing materialism in favor of the metaphysical. (Harring 24)


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Cardenio falls in love with Olympia, but her father rejects him. Soon he regains her favor, and her brother changes his opinion. When a man bribes a maid to enter Olympia’s sleeping chamber, Cardenio swears he was not the intruder and is so offended that he rejects her family’s ultimate attempt to resolve the disgrace by having them wed after all. Slowly, however, they move closer again, but once his love letters are not delivered, Olympia weds another man. That is Cardenio's story. It is repeated by Johannes Steinberg (36) and Mary Gilbert. But what if Cardenio's account isn't accurate?


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Narratologists such Dorrit Cohn, Franz Stanzel and Gerarde Genette as well as authors like Raymond Federmann and Paul Auster have drawn attention to instability in words, sentence structure, narration and apprehension. While these narratologists described the uncertainty of source in indirect discourse, Federmann, Auster and others (unconsciously developing James's experiment in The Bostonians) built unstable narration into their novels so multiple narrators could tell the story. Gryphius, a Protestant, was influenced by a quite different group: the Catholic Jesuits and their drama. The choice of contemporary subjects as opposed to ones from antiquity, Italian novellas and world history (Harring 6, 13), the hero as model (ibid 10), but not the title of the work (ibid 17-18), a prologue (ibid 19), allegorical figures (ibid 21), appearance of apparitions (ibid 22), five acts and choruses (ibid 23), inspiring the audience to a higher ideal (ibid 24) were typical characteristics of Jesuit drama found in Gryphius's plays in general and specifically in Cardenio and Celinde...


Henry Whittlesey

References

Gilber, Mary. Gryphius's "Cardenio und Celinde". The Modern Language Review, V. 45, No. 4 (Oct. 1950): 483-496

Harring, Willi. Andreas Gryphius und das Drama der Jesuiten. Druck von Ehrhardt Karra. 1907

Steinberg, Johannes. Die Reyen in den Trauerspielen des Andreas Gryphius. Druck der Univ.-Buchdruckerei von E.U. Huth, 1914.
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