Alienation and Theatricality
Diderot after Brecht

Phoebe von Held

Studies In Comparative Literature 17

Legenda

25 March 2011  •  254pp

ISBN: 978-1-906540-12-8 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

ISBN: 978-1-315097-41-1 (Taylor & Francis ebook)

GermanDrama


Alienation (Vefremdung) is a concept inextricably linked with the name of twentieth-century German playwright Bertolt Brecht — with modernism, the avant-garde and Marxist theory. However, as Phoebe von Held argues in this book, ‘alienation’ as a sociological and aesthetic notion avant la lettre had already surfaced in the thought of eighteenth-century French philosopher and writer Denis Diderot. This original study destabilizes the conventional understanding of alienation through a reading of Le Paradoxe sur le comédien, Le Neveu de Rameau and other works by Diderot, opening up new ways of interpretation and aesthetic practices. If alienation constitutes a historical development for the Marxist Brecht, for Diderot it defines an existential condition. Brecht uses the alienation-effect to undermine a form of naturalism based on subjectivity, identification and illusion; Diderot, by contrast, plunges the spectator into identification and illusion, to produce an aesthetic of theatricality that is profoundly alienating and yet remains anchored in subjectivity.

Phoebe von Held is a theatre director/adaptor and literary researcher, based at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, London.

Reviews:

  • ‘This is a rich and rewarding study that opens up important new perspectives not only on its two chosen thinkers, but also on the questions of acting both onstage and in society more generally.’ — Joseph Harris, French Studies 66.4 (October 2012), 557
  • ‘[Held's] general principle is surprisingly simple and compelling: While the 'self-alienating artifice' of Diderot's calculating actor succeeds for the most part at immedsing the audience to identification and illusion, there are moments at which it suddenly comes to the fore... Jolted by this 'sudden emergence of alienation', the spectator is now 'faced with her own involvement in the operation of delusion'.’ — Florian Nikolas Becker, Brecht Yearbook 37 (2012), 253-58

Bibliography entry:

Held, Phoebe von, Alienation and Theatricality: Diderot after Brecht, Studies In Comparative Literature, 17 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2011)

First footnote reference: 35 Phoebe von Held, Alienation and Theatricality: Diderot after Brecht, Studies In Comparative Literature, 17 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2011), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Held, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Held, Phoebe von. 2011. Alienation and Theatricality: Diderot after Brecht, Studies In Comparative Literature, 17 (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Held 2011: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Held 2011: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


This Legenda title was first published by Modern Humanities Research Association and Maney Publishing but rights to it are now held by Modern Humanities Research Association and Routledge.

Routledge distributes this title on behalf on Legenda. You can search for it at their site by following this link.


Permanent link to this title: