Egmont and Memory

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This essay uses memory to cut through conventional,binary distinctions that seem to offer analytical approaches to Egmont, but ultimately disappoint. It contrasts memory and history as markers of different attitudes to the past, and ways of knowing, among the drama’s characters. After showing that Egmont’s appeal is based on the affective immediacy that distinguishes memory from history, the essay argues that he is as much a ‘new politician’ as Alba and Oranien, well aware of the political power of the imagination, fully conscious of what the Spanish occupation means in Brussels, and as capable as his antagonists of a calculated response. This approach also allows a reading of the fifth act, and of Egmont’s final vision, that is consistent with the rest of the play.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-159
Number of pages10
JournalPublications of the English Goethe Society
Issue number3
Early online date6 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2017


  • Goethe
  • Egmont
  • memory
  • history
  • politics
  • German literature


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