The discreet community. Hugo von Hofmannsthal's der Schwierige

Journal Article (Journal Article)

In his comedy Der Schwierige, Hugo von Hofmannsthal imagines a community without chauvinism. The play's main protagonist Count Hans Karl Bhl claims that it is indecent to speak, and even to have experiences, and proposes an attitude of humility that would in effect entail the individual's self-effacement. However, this attack on individuality as a form of insolence does not pave the way for an affirmation of any greater social or mystical whole, since such formations would run the risk of reproducing arrogance at a higher level. Once one has relinquished all claims to superiority as an individual, one cannot re-emerge as a secure member of a harmoniously unified and stable collective. The community to which the individual should surrender himself to shed his arrogance exists in a genuine manner only in the moment when all of its members abandon any presumptions about the love, admiration, and collaborative capacities of others. If its members would speak triumphantly about their connection, this community would cease to be. To sustain its mode of togetherness, its participants must remain separate and silent, discrete and discreet.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Norberg, J

Published Date

  • July 1, 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 46 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 121 - 135

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-7982

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1515/ARCA.2011.007

Citation Source

  • Scopus