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Neutralität Eine sachliche Lektüre von Gottfried Kellers Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe

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image of Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte

Gottfried Keller's “A Village Romeo and Juliet” contains an astonishing number of neuter terms that are of key importance to this novella. This observation is in line with Keller's predilection for miniaturized worlds and diminutives, played out in this narrative through two basic traits: the reduction of the Shakespearean tragedy to a novella that is a “village story” and the nicknames given to its female protagonist (“Vreeli”, “Vrenchen”). Around one pole of neutrality the story assembles a cluster of terms that convey things in an abstract, generalized manner. Other neutral nouns make deeply personal concerns (love, destiny) look as if they were governed by some overriding, a-personal force. In this vein, the text tends to de-personalize human actions by expressing them in the grammatical form of nominalized infinitives. Inconspicuous idiomatic phrases seem to hide, as in the Freudian Id, the menacing power of the drives. Precisely by revealing that the narrative's sphere is constructed of neutral elementary particles, the text transforms and transubstantiates what it represents into the neutrality of the script. It does so solely, it seems, to make palpable that this literature is charged with the sensuality of the genders.


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