The language of the pickelhering. A German adaptation (1683) of Thomas Corneille's Timocrate

John Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The French romantic comedy Timocrate (1657), immensely popular in Paris in the seven-teenth century, was published anonymously in German in 1683. Through the addition of a comic subplot dominated totally by the highly visible and marketable figure of the pickelhering Dorides, Christoph Kormart, a Dresden lawyer who had translated a number of French tragedies as a student in Leipzig in the 1660's, augmented what was essentially a romantic comedy with a satirical dimension in order to make the play more attractive to the professional itinerant troupes and more palatable to a German audience. It is a testament to his creative impulses that he is able to integrate the subplot into the main action by having the pickelhering mirror, parody and satirize the aristocratic milieu of the original in action and particularly in word. Just as Dorides is the focal point of all humour in this play, so the focal point of this article is an analysis of his rich and complex language characterized by irony, sarcasm, multi-lingual puns and a vast array of erotic allusions such as can be found in the plays of the English Comedians as well as the comedies of Caspar Stieler and the youthful Christian Weise. The popularity and controversial nature of this adaptation in its time is due on the one hand to its criticism of highly rigid, contemporary moral standards and on the other to its thinly veiled attack on the equally rigid and exclusive practices of the Dresden court.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-476
Number of pages14
JournalGermanisch-Romanische Monatsschrift
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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