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Erschienen in: Society 4/2020

20.07.2020 | Symposium: Reflections Before, During, and Beyond COVID-19

Infectious Hospitality and Communicative Disease in Kleist’s “Der Findling”: The Disease Inside and Out

verfasst von: Rachel MagShamhráin

Erschienen in: Society | Ausgabe 4/2020



This article explores contagion alongside and in relation to its ever-attendant metaphors, examining Heinrich von Kleist’s short story “The Foundling”, and finding here a particularly revealing concatenation of ideas of human contact, trade and infection.

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Jeremy Sandford, Down and Out in Britain (London: Owen, 1971) 91.
Alan Bewell, Romanticism and Colonial Disease (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2003) 7. Kant’s text is not, in fact, as sanguinely utopian as all that. He recognizes that “the state of peace among men living side by side is not the natural state (status naturalis); the natural state is one of war.” However, he argues, this natural state of hostility between men can be overcome by the establishment of a state of peace and harmony.
See the royal family tree in Donald R. Hopkins, The Greatest Killer: Smallpox in History (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002) 40.
Ibid., 41.
From Hildegard von Bingen, who wrote that “the gold cure works such that the healthy person stays healthy and the sick patient gets healthy,” through the Elizabethan Francis Anthony’s aurum potabile cure to the late nineteenth-century Keeley gold-cure for alcoholism with its injections of what was purported to be bi-chloride of gold, the ancient claim that gold, that good-for-all, has curative properties is revisited across the history of healing.
Mary Lindeman, “Plague, Disease and Hunger,” in Guido Ruggiero (ed.), A Companion to the Worlds of the Renaissance (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002): 427–443; here 433.
Michael L. Dorn, “The Moral Topography of Intemperance,” in Ruth Butler and Hester Parr (eds.), Mind and Body Spaces: Geographies of Illness, Impairment and Disability (London: Routledge, 1999): 45–69; here 51.
Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor (London: Penguin, 1991) 133–134.
In Francis Clifton, 4.
See Critique of Political Economy, 1859, esp. “The Circulation of Money.” Also “Die Zikulation des Kapitals […] ist ein perpetuum mobile.” This idea he derives from Étienne Bonnot, Abbé de Condillac, Commerce and Government Considered in their Mutual Relationship [1776], where in Chapter 16, “Of the Circulation of Money,” Condillac points out that “Money is […] constantly moving around, to be collected later as into reservoirs, from which it spreads through a mass of small channels which bring it back into the first reservoirs; whence it spreads out again, and to which it returns again, This continual movement, which collects it to distribute it, and distributes it to gather it up again, is what we call circulation. Do I need to point out that this circulation assumes that, at each movement the money makes, there is an exchange; and that when it moves without causing an exchange, there is no circulation?”
Dirk Brockmann et al., “The Scaling Laws of Human Travel,” Nature 439.26 (2006): 462–65; here 462.
Bryon Grigsby, Pestilence in Medieval and Early Modern English Literature (London: Blackwell, 2004) 169. On the idea of usury as a transmissible disease in Shakespeare, see Jonathan Gil Harris, “Usurers of Colour: The Taint of Jewish Transnationality in Mercantilist Literature and The Merchant of Venice,” in Helen Ostovich and Mary Silcox (eds.), The Mysterious and the Foreign in Early Modern Europe (Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press, 2008): 158–81.
A. Cressy Morrison, “The Transmission of Disease by Money,” The Popular Science Monthly 76 (1910): 86–88; here 88.
Language Unveiled: The True Key to the Nature Origin and Secrets of Language, and of all the Myths and Mysteries of the Ancient World (London: W. & F.G. Cash, 1856) 43.
Roy Porter, The Cambridge History of Medicine (Cambridge: CUP, 2006)181.
Ibid. 183.
Dorothy Porter, Health, Civilization, and the State: A History of Public Health from Ancient to Modern Times (London: Routledge, 1999) 34.
Max Scheler, The Nature of Sympathy, trans. Peter Lauchlan Heath (London: Routledge, 1979) 17. In Edith Stein’s 1916 dissertation On the Problems of Empathy, written under the supervision of Edmund Husserl, Stein notes that in an act of empathy, the empathiser undergoes “the experience of the foreign consciousness” that utterly blurs the subject position. Quoted in Ann W. Astel, “Saintly Mimesis, Contagion, and Empathy in the Thought of René Girard, Edith Stein, and Simone Weil,” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 22.2 (2004): 116–131; here 120.
Albertini, Bill. “Contagion and the Necessary Accident.” Discourse, vol. 30 no. 3, 2008, p. 443–467. Project MUSE
Priscilla Wald, “Imagined Immunities,” Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2008)37.
Infectious Hospitality and Communicative Disease in Kleist’s “Der Findling”: The Disease Inside and Out
verfasst von
Rachel MagShamhráin
Springer US
Erschienen in
Society / Ausgabe 4/2020
Print ISSN: 0147-2011
Elektronische ISSN: 1936-4725

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