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history of german literature

Page - The admirable perspective of the whole work is what one most admires. The reader unlearned in Greek history and literature sees at once the relation which a given author bore to his race and his age, and the current trend of thought, as well as what we value him for to-day. “Harvard's New History of German Literature is an encyclopedic browser of incomparable quality for Germanophiles and Germanophobes alike. In a series of brief, penetrating essays, it retells thirteen centuries of German history through a broad spectrum of literature by both obscure and famous by: German literature, German literature comprises the written works of the German-speaking peoples of central Europe. It has shared the fate of German politics and history: fragmentation and discontinuity. Germany did not become a modern nation-state until , and the prior history of the various.


Discover in a free daily email today's famous history and birthdays Enjoy the Famous Daily. Search the whole site. In Goethe and Schiller Germany produces two writers at the forefront of European literature at a turning point of profound significance in cultural history. Their versatility particularly Goethe's and their willingness to respond to the many conflicting strands of contemporary thought make them seminal figures.

The first movement in which they both feature prominently is the early stirring of German romanticism known as Sturm und Drang. By the s both men are much influenced by the revival of interest in the achievements of classical Greece resulting from the pioneering work of Winckelmann. For eleven years they become close colleagues in the movement known as Weimar classicism. Goethe, long outliving Schiller and reaching a ripe old age, achieves a unique status as the last generalist before the era of inevitable specialization.

He turns his hand successfully to every form of literary endeavour but is himself even more interested in his scientific enquiries, particularly in the fields of evolution and light. Typical of the baffling breadth of Goethe's interests is his last great sprawling work, the second part of Faust.

The phrase Sturm und Drang Storm and Stress is the title of a wild and extravagant drama by Friedrich Klinger, first performed in Its mood is typical of a fashion among young writers in Germany during the s.

Critics have subsequently adopted the title as the ideal name for the entire school. Storm and stress are the ingredients with which these writers challenge the calm certainties of 18th-century rationalism. His last words, history of german literature, as he dies, are Freiheit! Freedom, Freedom. Three years later, inthe year-old Friedrich Schiller, a resentful student in a military academy, begins writing an even wilder play, Die Ra:uber The Robberswhich can be seen as the final fling of Sturm und Drang.

Schiller borrows money to publish the play privately in It causes a sensation when it is performed at Mannheim in The evil younger son schemes to disinherit his brother and then systematically torments his father. The good son, reacting against unjust rejection by his father, joins a robber band and is implicated in appalling crimes, history of german literature.

When his brother is finally unmasked, history of german literature, and his father found naked in a dungeon, history of german literature, the good son's evil deeds prevent his returning to normal life. This family triangle is a more extreme version of Gloucester and his sons in King Learand Shakespeare is one of the strong influences on the Sturm und Drang generation. The first collection of his plays in German is published in Another powerful influence also comes from Britain.

It is the forged poems, attributed to the Celtic bard Ossianwhich are published in and are widely greeted as an inspiring glimpse of the authentic spirit of the Middle Ages, history of german literature. The revival of interest in Gothic architecture also plays its part. Goethe, when a student in Strasbourg inhistory of german literature, is particularly impressed by the beauty of the city's cathedral.

Finally, there is a revolutionary voice from France which inspires these young German poets in their reaction against history of german literature and conformity. They instinctively respond to Jean-Jacques Rousseau 's message that the heart is wiser than the head, and the man of feeling superior to the man of intellect. The influence of Rousseauthe man of feeling, is particularly strong in the book which brings Goethe a European reputation.

Like many first novels, it has strong autobiographical elements. In Goethe lives for some months in Wetzlar, where he falls in love with the year-old Lotte Buff. Just after Goethe's departure from Wetzlar, a friend - in love with a married woman - shoots himself.

This tragedy too is directly reflected in Werther. Werther, an exceptionally sensitive young man, arrives in spring in a new town as Goethe did and is bowled over by the beauty of his new environment - and soon by the beauty of Lotte the name in the novel as well as in real life, history of german literature. The triangular friendship continues through the summer, mingling history of german literature and torment, until Werther tears himself away in the autumn.

But he cannot resist returning in the following spring. Young Werther's almost morbid introspection, heightened by extreme sensibility and made irresistibly convincing by Goethe's genius, captures the mood of a young generation increasingly inclined to a romantic view of the world. Werther's favourite clothes blue jacket, history of german literature, yellow breeches immediately become the fashion. So too, in a few unfortunate cases, does history of german literature fate.

Several suicides seem to imitate the book. One woman, ineven drowns herself near Goethe's house with a copy of the novel in her pocket. On publication of Werther he breaks off contact with Goethe, ending the triangle which until then has continued in correspondence, history of german literature.

In Goethe accepts an invitation to visit the year-old duke Karl August of Weimar, ruler of a tiny state.

Weimar becomes Goethe's home for the rest of his life. In this small realm he plays many roles in history of german literature to that of resident genius. For much of the first ten years he is chief minister of the duchy.

He inspects mines, plans irrigation schemes, considers the design of uniforms for the ducal army. Inwhen Karl August establishes a permanent company for his court theatre, Goethe becomes its director.

His presence, history of german literature, and the eager patronage of his employer, combine to make Weimar in these years the literary centre of Germany. Inexhausted by the range of his duties, Goethe escapes for an eighteen-month tour of Italy. It proves another turning point in his life. Rejecting the Sturm und Drang emphasis on the Gothic, he is inspired now by the current movement of neoclassicism - looking back beyond Rome to the original example of Greece.

In Italy he writes Iphegenie auf Tauris Iphigenia in Tauristurning into poetry an earlier prose version which he has made of the tragedy by Euripides. It is the first important work in German literature in the neoclassical vein. Goethe returns to Weimar in refreshed and, so to speak, idealized. In Goethe meets Schiller, who is working as professor of history in the nearby university of Jena. The two history of german literature become friends.

In Die Horena periodical edited by Schiller fromthey pursue their shared interest in classical themes. Together they develop an aesthetic which becomes known as Weimar classicism. In recent years Schiller has written nothing for the theatre. Instead he has busied himself with history and philosophy. Now, with the active encouragement of the director of the Weimar court theatre, he returns to his first interest - and produces a large body of work in the remaining few years of his life.

Inwhen Europe is in the turmoil caused by the French Revolution and the rise of NapoleonGoethe - with his power to guarantee a production in the Weimar court theatre - persuades Schiller to return to the role of dramatist.

The result is seven plays in as many years, written in verse on broadly classical principles. They place Germany in the forefront of contemporary theatre. The first plays in this group, performed on the Weimar stage in andare a trilogy about Wallensteina larger-than-life character in another great European conflict, history of german literature.

The subsequent plays, several of them made famous by operatic history of german literature, are Maria Stuarthistory of german literature, about the last days of Mary Queen of ScotsDie Jungfrau von Orleansabout Joan of ArcDie Braut von Messinaan invented story set in medieval Sicily and the most deliberately classical in its use of a chorus and Wilhelm Tell While Goethe encourages this final flowering of Schiller's theatrical talent, there is influence in the other direction too.

It is largely on Schiller's urging that Goethe returns in to an early work on Faust and begins to revise it in keeping with the new classical principles of Weimar. For the whole of his life Goethe is fascinated by the legends which have accumulated round the 16th-century quack and magician Georg Faust. The story of Faust's pact with the devil is a favourite subject in Europe's travelling puppet shows, history of german literature, which Goethe is known to have enjoyed as a boy, history of german literature.

In his twenties Goethe writes a play on the subject - adding a love theme and the character of Gretchen. Luckily a copy of this early play is made in about by one of the court ladies in Weimar. It is found among her papers a century later and is published, becoming known as history of german literature Urfaust Original Faust. This is the play which Schiller persuades Goethe to take up again in The work is ready for publication as Faust Part I in Like earlier versions deriving from Marloweit concentrates on Faust's thirst for knowledge, his resulting pact with Mephistopheles, history of german literature, and the many pranks and adventures made possible by Mephistopheles' magic.

But at the centre of the play there is now an innocent and simple woman, Gretchen, who instinctively sees through Mephistopheles.

Gretchen's affair with Faust leaves her pregnant. At the end of the play she is in prison, sentenced to death for infanticide.

When she rejects the opportunity to escape by means of Mephistopheles' evil arts, a voice from above exclaims Ist gerettet She is saved. Goethe puts the Faust theme aside for the next two decades, taking it up again in Faust Part II is published in separate non-consecutive parts over the next few years, and the entire work appears just after Goethe's death in Treating a wide range of subjects, in an extraordinary medley of metres and styles, this work is like a concluding survey - by Europe's leading man of letters, now in his late seventies - of life and its meaning.

It is as if Goethe is consciously revisiting and testing his own long pattern of experience. At the end history of german literature Part History of german literature Mephistopheles naturally expects his history of german literature of the bargain, the delivery of Faust's soul - which he has duly received in every other version of the story since Marlowe.

But Goethe, the last of the 18th-century optimists, defies the fiend. Heavenly spirits drive Mepshistopheles away, and Faust's soul - interceded for by that of Gretchen - is carried to heaven. Two themes central to Goethe's view of life play their part in Faust's redemption. Both are explicit in often quoted phrases which occur in the final lines of Faust Part II.

One of these themes is the value of humanity's unremitting pursuit of knowledge and improvement. Goethe's other special theme is the source of man's inclination to strive. His own life is notable for the series of women, often unattainable except in a platonic frindship, who each in their turn inspire him. The 'eternal feminine' becomes his concept of the ideal. The last two lines of Faust conclusively state: Das Ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan The eternal feminine draws us upwards.

This History is as yet incomplete.


German literature - The 20th century |


history of german literature


From the earliest magical charms and mythical sagas to the brilliance and desolation of 20th-century fiction, poetry, and film, this illuminating reference book invites readers to experience the full range of German literary culture and to investigate for themselves its disparate and unifying themes. German literature, German literature comprises the written works of the German-speaking peoples of central Europe. It has shared the fate of German politics and history: fragmentation and discontinuity. Germany did not become a modern nation-state until , and the prior history of the various. The history of literature is the historical development of writings in prose or poetry that attempt to provide entertainment, enlightenment, or instruction to the reader/listener/observer, as well as the development of the literary techniques used in the communication of these pieces. Not all writings constitute literature.