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Life and (love) letters: looking in on Winckelmann's correspondence

Harloe, K. ORCID: and Russell, L. (2019) Life and (love) letters: looking in on Winckelmann's correspondence. Publications of the English Goethe Society, 88 (1). pp. 1-20. ISSN 0959-3683

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/09593683.2019.1575030


Over the 250 years since his death, Winckelmann’s posthumously published ’private’ correspondence has shaped understandings of his life and work just as much as his aesthetic and antiquarian writings. While editions appeared as early as the 1770s, the publication of Goethe’s Winkelmann und sein Jahrhundert and the inclusion of two volumes of ’freundschaftliche Briefe’ within Josef Eiselein’s Sämtliche Werke (1825-) marked a new role for the correspondence in the nineteenth-century monumentalising of Winckelmann as a German ’classic’. We suggest that this tradition has generated a distanced, even voyeuristic, perspective on the letters, treating them as windows onto biographical scenes of emotional, and sometimes erotic, intimacy and expression. We criticise some examples of this tendency in recent Winckelmann scholarship, explore the often adventitious steps by which it arose, and, using examples of particular letters, suggest some alternative interpretations.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Modern European Histories and Cultures
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Language Text and Power
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Classics
ID Code:80857
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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