A Companion to the Literature of German Expressionism

A Companion to the Literature of German Expressionism

Edited by Neil H. Donahue


Camden House



New essays examining the complex period of rich artistic ferment that was German literary Expressionism.
More than any other avant-garde movement, German Expressionism captures the aesthetic revolution of 20th-century modernity in all its contrasts and conflicts. In continuous eruptions from 1905 to 1925, Expressionism upset reigning practices in the arts, most vividly in painting and the visual arts. In the literature, a heady intellectualism combined with dramatic gesture, graphic visions, exuberant emotions and urgent proclamations to forge forceful styles of verbal expression. Expressionism introduced into art both visual and verbal a shockingly new intensity with many facets and many faces. This volume presents the literature of German Expressionism, which is far less known in the English-speaking world, with essays by leading scholars on Expressionism's philosophical origins, its thematic preoccupations, and its divergent stylistic manifestations by writers whose common bond is intensity and whose lines on the page read like the gouges of a woodcut: Georg Kaiser, Walter Hasenclever, and Ernst Toller in drama; Gottfried Benn, Georg Heym, Else Lasker-Schüler, and Georg Trakl in poetry; Alfred Döblin, Carl Einstein, and Carl Sternheim in prose, to name just a few. Against the background of the journals, exhibitions, and anthologies, the café meeting places and public life of Expressionism, the volume's highly focused, intrinsic analyses of texts and comprehensive overviews of extrinsic contexts (and of the most up-to-date research) shows the fervor and complexity of the period and its effulgent literary formations.

Neil H. Donahue is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Hofstra University.

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3 colour, 7 black and white illustrations
392 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
Paperback, 9781571134554, June 2010
Hardback, 9781571131751, September 2005
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, ART015000, SOC022000
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Table of Contents

Introduction - Neil H. Donahue
Metaphysical Mimesis: Nietzsche's Geburt der Tragödie and the Aesthetics of Literary Expressionism - Richard T. Gray
The Prose of German Expressionism - Walter H. Sokel
Prosaic Intensities: The Short Prose of German Expressionism - Rhys W. Williams
The Cutting Edge of German Expressionism: The Woodcut Novel of Frans Masereel and Its Influences - Perry Willett
Menschheitsdämmerung: The Aging of the Canon - Francis Michael Sharp
Choric Consciousness in Expressionist Poetry: Ernst Stadler, Else Lasker-Schüler, Georg Heym, Georg Trakl, Gottfried Benn - James Rolleston
Performing the Poem: Rituals of Activism in Expressionist Poetry - Klaus Weissenberger
Proclamation and Provocation: Expressionist Theater between German Idealism and Modernity - Ernst Schuerer
Intimate Strangers: Women in German Expressionism - Barbara D. Wright
Expressionism and Cinema: Reflections on a Phantasmagoria of Film History - Sabine Hake


[A] reliable resource for nonspecialists, accurately reflecting historical and contemporary scholarship. CHOICE

Both useful and thought-provoking, this book admirably fulfils the two functions expected from a companion-type volume: to introduce the reader to the range and development of the literature itself and to point to authors, works, and critical perspectives heretofore overlooked. MONATSHEFTE

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