Fragments: a psychoanalytic reading of the character Mignon on her journey through nineteenth century lieder

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Anne E. Albert (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Robert Wells

Abstract: The songs of Mignon from Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre) have been set hundreds of times by dozens of composers from the late 18th century onward. Though most frequently set by composers from the German School, Mignon's songs have also been popular with many non-Germans including works by French, Russian, and Italian composers. Mignon's mysterious persona has long fascinated song composers and many have been compelled to set her songs multiple times. The purpose of this study is to explore the character of Mignon from Goethe's novel, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship through the lens of a psychoanalytic literary critic. I will examine six different composer's settings of Mignon's first song in the novel, "Kennst du das Land?" in order to understand how each composer portrays her character differently as seen through their unique compositional styles, their own psychology, and the style periods in which they wrote. The method of literary criticism applied to the song settings becomes psychoanalytic reader-response criticism as we move from merely analyzing Goethe's depiction of Mignon to each composer's depiction and reception of Goethe's character in addition to our own reception of that persona. One of the goals of this research is to show how Mignon's character is transformed as she makes her way through history in the development of Lieder.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009
Goethe, Lieder, Mignon, Psychoanalysis
Mignon (Fictitious character) $x Songs and music $x Psychological aspects.
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, $d 1749-1832. $t Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre $x Songs and music.
Composers $z Germany $y 19th century.
Reader-response criticism.

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