In: KulturPoetik 2003, Heft 1


Bernd Auerochs


Die schwachen Adamskinder. Voreheliche Sexualität in erzählender Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts (Rousseau, Wieland, Wezel)




Having questioned the concept of the perfectly virtuous protagonist, eighteenth-century authors tend to present human weakness more positively. A notable instance of this development is an increasing openness to premarital sexual activity. The article analyses sexual relationships in three narrative texts from the second half of the eighteenth century - Rousseau's Julie, Wieland's Oberon, and J. K. Wezel's Herrmann und Ulrike - exemplifying differing balances between morality, concepts of society, and premarital sexual activity. While Wieland and Wezel confine themselves to exonerating sinners, Rousseau goes further and uses premarital love as a vehicle for his radical critique of contemporary society.