Transgression and Identity in Kleist's Penthesilea and Wolf's Cassandra Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Feminist readers have increasingly been drawn to the work of Heinrich von Kleist, and in particular to his play Penthesilea. Authors such as Hélène Cixous and Christa Wolf have not shied away from this notoriously 'unperformable' drama, but have engaged with precisely that feature of the work most responsible for its reputation as impossible to stage: the transgressive 'acting out' of the protagonist. My intertextual reading focuses on Wolf's staging of Penthesilea in her re-visionary project Cassandra. Wolf's narrative borrows to significant effect not only the figure of the Amazon queen, but also a provocative dramaturgy, whose development I trace back to Kleist's re-vision of Homer.

publication date

  • 2000