novels, theatre, liminality, Girard, Bakhtin
This paper investigates a single thesis, following Nietzsche’s insights: a central feature of the modern world is theatricalisation. Beyond being entrapped by critiquing the ‘naďve mirroring’ perspective, it is argued that art is not simply part of reality, but might interfere with other aspects of life, so can become problematic. As for a theoretical framework, the paper introduces three anthropological concepts: imitation, liminality and trickster. Under liminal conditions imitative processes can escalate and trickster figures become influential. A central area for such escalating processes is the public sphere, due to its own liminal features. Focusing on the rise of the modern realistic novel in England, the paper first presents how such novels further escalate theatricalisation. Through the example of Goethe, it then shows how the best novelists, by reflecting on their own activity, made the in-depth theatricalisation of social life in modernity a central theme of their works.