German writers, from Luther and Goethe to Heine, Brecht, and Günter Grass, have had a profound influence on the modern world. This Very Short Introduction presents an engrossing tour of the course of German literature from the late Middle Ages to the present, focussing especially on the last 250 years. Emphasizing the economic and religious context of many masterpieces of German literature, it highlights how they can be interpreted as responses to social and political changes within an often violent and tragic history. The result is a new and clear perspective which illuminates the power of German literature and the German intellectual tradition, and its impact on the wider cultural world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
This accessible and fresh account of German writing since 1750 is a case study of literature as a cultural and spiritual resource in modern societies. Beginning with the emergence of German language literature on the international stage in the mid-eighteenth century, the book plays down conventional labels and periodisation of German literary history in favour of the explanatory force of international cultural impact. It explains, for instance, how specifically German and Austrian conditions shaped major contributions to European literary culture such as Romanticism and the ‘language scepticism’ of the early twentieth century. From the First World War until reunification in 1990, Germany...
Knowledge of German literature is frequently based on the hundreds of general histories of German literature that have been published since the genre first appeared at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In A History of Histories of German Literature Michael Batts attempts to describe the various forms which these histories took between 1835 and 1914, not only in Germany but in other countries, and show how these forms developed.
While the first decade after the fall of the Berlin wall was marked by the challenges of unification and the often difficult process of reconciling East and West German experiences, many Germans expected that the "new century" would achieve "normalization." The essays in this volume take a closer look at Germany's new normalcy and argue for a more nuanced picture that considers the ruptures as well as the continuities. Germany's new generation of writers is more diverse than ever before, and their texts often not only speak of a Germany that is multicultural but also take a more playful attitude toward notions of identity. Written with an eye toward similar and dissimilar developments and traditions on both sides of the Atlantic, this volume balances overviews of significant trends in present-day cultural life with illustrative analyses of individual writers and texts.
Religion is a central concern of German literature in all centuries, and the canon looks different when this perspective is acknowledged. For example, Goethe's fascination with evil is difficult to disentangle from the Holocaust, Moses Mendelssohn is as profound as the playwright who portrayed him, and -Princess Sabbath- deserves to be numbered among Heine's more enchanting lyrics. This essay collection posits, and tests, the hypothesis that German literature at its best is often an expression or investigation of Judaism or Christianity at their best; but that the best German literature is not always the best-known, and vice versa. Asking whether the New Testament is anti-Jewish (and answering in the negative), essayists range through the German centuries from "The Heliand" to Kafka and Thomas Mann."