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Häntzschel, Günter (2017): ‚Blumenlesen' statt ‚Distel- und Dornenlesen': Die epigrammatischen Anthologien am Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts. In: German Life and Letters, Vol. 70, No. 1: pp. 100-114
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Abstract

The following article considers anthologies of epigrammatic poetry, which appeared en masse in the final third of the eighteenth century and yet have not been subject to scholarly attention. Investigating the editors and their motivations reveals the efforts of a relatively homogeneous group of educated men to maintain or renew the high standing of the 'outdated' baroque epigram for the eighteenth century. A remarkable difference between the few anthologies that were structured thematically and the increasing preference for a chronological structure shows that the criterion of comprehensiveness was more important in epigrammatic anthologies than the more usual anthological aim that focussed on the public's reception of the collection. The epitexts for these anthologies enable us to understand the careers of epigram authors. We can establish that preeminent eighteenth-century writers engaged with the epigrammatic form as one genre among many. In the seventeenth century, by contrast, epigrammatic poetry had been more in fashion and had been practised by many dilettantes and individuals who otherwise had little contact with literature. The function of anthologies of epigrams for individual authors in the eighteenth century remains ambivalent, but this type of publication can be contextualised within general practices of collecting in the period, especially literary and cultural forms of collecting which, in Germany, assumed significance against the background of the political and historical caesuras of the French Revolution, the Wars of Liberation, and an emergent national consciousness.