German Literature of the Twentieth Century

German Literature of the Twentieth Century

From Aestheticism to Postmodernism

Ingo R. Stoehr


Camden House



Traces literary developments in the German-speaking countries from 1900 to the present.
This study of German literature in the past hundred years sets its subject clearly in the artistic and political context of developments in Western Europe during the century. It begins with the turn-of-the-century aestheticism and visions of decay led by Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal and other Austrian writers, and the quite different explosion of new artistic energy in the Expressionist and Dada movements. These movements are succeeded by the rise of Modernism, culminating in the inter-war years: the poetry of Rilke, Brecht's epic theatre, and novels by Thomas Mann, Kafka, Hesse, Musil, Doblin and Broch; the influence of Nazism on literary production is considered. The study of developments after 1945 reflects the struggle to establish a post-Holocaust literature and to deal with the questions posed by the political division of Germany. Finally, the convergence of East and West German literature after unification is addressed.

Ingo R. Stoehr teaches literature at Kilgore College, Texas, and is editor of the bilingual journal of German literature in English translation, Dimension2.


July 2001
543 pages
9x6 in
Camden House History of German Literature
ISBN: 9781571131577
Format: Hardback
Camden House
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Table of Contents

The First Decade of the Twentieth Century: Aestheticism — Impressionism and Symbolism
The 1910s: The First Phase of Avant-Garde Literature — Expressionism and Dada
The 1920s: High Modernism and the Second Phase of the Avante-Garde — Surrealistic Elements and New Objectivity
The Literary Continuum: From Anti-Modern to Modernist Voices
The National Socialist Literary Canon: The Uneasy Voice of Reactionary Traditions
Modernist Literature: The Many Voices of Defiance
1945-1949: The Immediate Postwar Years — Defining Different Traditions in East and West
The 1950s: Modernism or Formalism — Nonconformist Literature in the West vs. Socialist Realism in the East
The 1960s: Change in Literary Awareness — Politicization in the West and Emancipation of Subjectivity in the East
The 1970s: Increasing Plurality — New Sensitivity in the West and Continuing Emancipation in the East
The 1980s: New Confusions — Resurgence of Storytelling and Converging Literatures in East and West
The 1990s: A New Order of Things — German Issues and Global Themes in German-Language Literature
Works Consulted


The author's unique approach offers a refreshing departure from traditional literary histories...There are several benefits to Stoehr's approach, not least of which is the advantage of viewing literary production in the context of discrete decades....That a single author can craft a book of such range and subtlety is truly an admirable task. The book is well written, closely edited, and produced with the quality for which Camden House has become known. JOURNAL OF ENGLISH AND GERMANIC PHILOLOGY

An outstanding ... work of reference.... Anyone who produces a book as detailed and comprehensive as this has acomplished a superhuman task, covering a wealth of literary movements and an astonishing multitude of aspects, each of which requires considerable expertise.... A useful, stimulating compendium of information on, and evaluations of, the whole of 20th-century German literature. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

Stoehr has produced an impressive and wide-ranging ... overview of the century and a useful introduction for German undergraduates and beyond. JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES

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