This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, see our privacy statement

New Left Review 30, November-December 2004

Mythology as the ‘condition and subject of all art’ in the varying conceptions of the early German Romantics and neoclassicism: from Schelling and Schlegel to Winckelmann and Goethe, meditations on Laocoon and anticipations of the Gesamtkunstwerk—issuing into the uncanny mythopoeias of modernity in Melville’s Confidence Man and the White Whale.



For centuries, classical mythology functioned as an intermedium that connected the different arts and anchored them in society. [1] I would like to thank Stewart Martin for his comments on an earlier draft of this article; any errors or inconsistencies are of course my own. It forged a link between visual art and literature, with the interpretations of humanist scholars often supplying subjects for poets, painters and sculptors alike. This tradition was founded above all on the supreme literary and artistic value attached to ancient culture; while it was clear that the literal subjects were heathen gods and un-Christian heroes, their exploits were allegorized so that a mythological rape scene could suggest an array of profound meanings and become a suitable subject for literature and art.

Subscribe for just £45 and get free access to the archive
Please login on the left to read more or buy the article for £3


Sven Lütticken, ‘After the Gods’, NLR 30: £3

If you want to create a new NLR account please register here

’My institution subscribes to NLR, why can't I access this article?’

New NLR website coming soon—click here for a preview.