Büchner and Paine on elitism and equality

Schonfield, E. (2017) Büchner and Paine on elitism and equality. In: Gillett, R., Schonfield, E. and Steuer, D. (eds.) Georg Büchner: Contemporary Perspectives. Series: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur neueren Germanistik, 89. Brill: Leiden, pp. 121-147. ISBN 9789004338593 (doi: 10.1163/9789004341630_010)

122983.pdf - Accepted Version



Büchner’s belief in equality and in the value of every human life motivate his constant polemics against elitism. Taking the letter of mid-February 1834 on aristocratic elitism as a starting point, this chapter explores Büchner’s critique of elitism in the fields of politics, morality, aesthetics and history. Particularly relevant is the relentless unmasking of aristocratic, heroic ideology in Danton’s Tod. Close affinities between Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man (1791-92) and Dantons Tod suggest that Büchner’s critique of idealist drama in the letter of 28 July 1835 draws in part on Paine’s critique of Edmund Burke. Büchner’s programmatic insistence on human suffering is intended to counter ideological distortions of history.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Schonfield, Dr Ernest
Authors: Schonfield, E.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > German
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Brill
First Published:First published in Georg Büchner: Contemporary Perspectives: 121-147
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record