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In: KulturPoetik 2019, Issue 1


Bernd Auerochs


Geisteszustände. Die vergessene Lehre der Menippea




The mental attitude underlying Menippean satire is radical disillusionment, a deep distrust of human aspirations. All the extravagancies of this literary form, dreams, visions, raptures, ecstasies, finally lead back into the blankness of Cynic philosophy. Starting off with Menippos, a good-humoured obstreperous curmudgeon with brazen language, the essay soon picks up the scent of the talking dog Berganza, Cervantes’ delightful invention. Romanticism, blinded by its enthusiasm for art and poetry, must lack an understanding of the Menippean spirit. E.T.A. Hoffmann nominally takes up Cervantes’ dog. But, by praising art and poetry with youthful ebullience, the Romantic loses sight of the radical disillusionment of Menippean satire.