Schadenfreude and Slander in the Age of Revolution: The Case of the Dutch Journal Lanterne Magique of Toverlantaern (1782–83)

Ivo Nieuwenhuis


This article discusses the late eighteenth-century Dutch periodical Lanterne Magique of Toverlantaern. This political journal is analyzed from the perspective of its sense of humour and its rhetoric. Lanterne Magique, it is shown, is all about humiliating and scapegoating political enemies, and schadenfreude is the main means through which this is done. Political opponents are jocularly depicted as drunkards, cowards, and perverts. Thus, schadenfreude, as part of a broader culture of defamation, turns out to be a useful tool within late eighteenth-century public debate. Furthermore, the seeming popularity of Lanterne Magique tells us that both this debate and the sense of humour of eighteenth-century society differ from that of our own day. Realizing this will make us better understand early-modern political rhetoric and laughter.


Age of Revolution; schadenfreude; slander; magic lantern; peepshow; libels; humour; laughter

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Copyright (c) 2018 Ivo Nieuwenhuis

ISSN 2506-6587

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