Approaches to Comedy in German Drama

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“Dr Pye’s book deals with comedies on the contemporary German stage. The two questions it seeks to answer are: what are the essential elements of comedy, and what is the function of comedy and comical elements in contemporary German drama? These questions are particularly relevant in view of the fact that German theatre is often seen as lacking in humour, and that German critical literature tends to make the discussion of comedy and humour subservient to the analysis of non-comic, thematic issues. . . . integrates the recent theories of Jerry Palmer and Susan Purdie into what she terms an ‘holistic approach’, an approach which views comedy not just as an aesthetic phenomenon but as a means by which the opinions, principles, and conventions that are at stake in socially and psychologically precarious issues (such as personal identity and the relationship between men and women) are constructed and deconstructed . . . this theoretical approach is then applied to plays by Herbert Achternbusch, Elfriede Jelinek, Franz Kraver Kroetz, and Botho Strauss. . . . As the authors it deals wit have already acquired canonical status, the book is a major critical contribution to the study of contemporary drama and German literary history.” – Dr. Henk de Berg

“. . . succeeds in advancing the theoretical debates on comedy and in initiating both a non-German and German audience to German modes of comedy. The book combines a sophisticated understanding of the de/construction of identity and gender in comedy with subtle readings of literary texts. . . . it will make a substantial contribution to both the study of comedy and contemporary German literary history. It is an excellent piece of research.” – Dr. Anne Fuchs

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Introduction by Professor Moray McGowan; Preface
Section One: Theoretical Considerations
1. Analysing the Comic: Critical Tradition and the Holistic Perspective
2. Theories of the Comic: Conceptual Issues and a Contemporary Approach
3. Theories of Comic Genre
4. Comedy and the German Tradition: Comic Mastery and Aesthetic Practice
Section Two: Comedy in Practice – Psychological Perspectives and Dramatic Case Studies
5. Comedy and Communication: Dramatising the Social: Botho Strauss – Trilogie des Wiedersehens
6. Comedy Hostility and Aggression: Killing Oneself Laughing: Franz Xaver Kroetz and the Comedy of Brutality
7. Gender and Comedy: Escaping the Negative? Elfriede Jelinek – Krankheit oder Moderne Frauen
8. Comic Creativity: Playful Potential; Herbert Achternbusch - Sintflut
9. Conclusion
Bibliography; Index

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