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“This was a man!” Goethe’s Egmont and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-61
Number of pages21
JournalModern Language Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


King's Authors


While it is well known that passages in Goethe's Egmont owe a debt to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, the relationship between the two plays has not been examined systematically. Additional intertextual evidence makes it probable that Goethe referred to Julius Caesar while writing Egmont. The plays have a strikingly similar constellation of characters: the politically naive hero (Brutus and Egmont) contrasts with the brilliant schemer (Cassius and Oranien). Although the historical context of the two plays is very different, reading Egmont intertextually in this way sheds light on its peculiar politics and much-maligned anti-illusionistic ending.

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