Speaking Silences: The Incompleteness of Tacitus’ Annals and Gustav Freytag’s Die verlorene Handschrift

Bettina Reitz-Joosse*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review


This chapter approaches the incomplete transmission of Tacitus’ Annals through the lens of a 19th century German novel by Gustav Freytag entitled Die verlorene Handschrift (‘The Lost Manuscript’), which deals with a Latin professor’s hunt for a lost manuscript of Tacitus’ historical works. First, I argue that the characters in Freytag’s novel model a range of different responses to Tacitean incompleteness, challenging readers to question the characters’ – and their own - motives for wishing to fill Tacitus’ gaps. Second, I suggest that the novel in its entirety proposes a different way of responding to the incompleteness of the Tacitean works: to understand and embrace silence, including the silence produced by the lost sections, as an essential characteristic and as an integral and meaningful feature of Tacitus’ work. Freytag’s novel performs a constructive response to Tacitus’ silences: it treats them as the inviting pauses of an interlocutor who falls silent to allow his readers to speak.
Originele taal-2English
TitelLabor imperfectus
SubtitelUnfinished, Incomplete, Partial Texts in Classical Antiquity
RedacteurenMarco Formisano, Jacqueline Fabre-Serris, Stavros Frangoulidis
UitgeverijDe Gruyter
Aantal pagina's21
ISBN van elektronische versie9783111340944
ISBN van geprinte versie9783111340791
StatusPublished - 6-nov.-2023

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