Literary Exiles from Nazi Germany

Literary Exiles from Nazi Germany

Exemplarity and the Search for Meaning

Johannes F. Evelein


Camden House



Captures the learning process of Nazi-era literary exiles following in the footsteps of legendary literary exemplars of exile.
Exile is as old as humanity itself but a radically new fate for the "novice" exile, who falls into a world about which personal experience can tell him nothing. He does, however, know a great number of stories -- myths, legends, allegories, biblical or historical accounts -- about exile. The novice's search for a foothold initiates a learning process in which the exilic tradition assumes a major role. The present book captures this learning process: it is a cultural history of exile as it was experienced by thousands of German and Austrian writers and intellectuals who opposed National Socialism: among them Brecht, Canetti, Seghers, Remarque, the Manns, and Ludwig Marcuse. It shows how, slowly, exile becomes a reality through the growing awareness of -- and reference to -- the exemplary figures of a shared fate. Scores of fellow travelers, from the mythic figures Odysseus and Ahasverus ("The Eternal Jew") to writers such as Heinrich Heine and Victor Hugo, frame the experience of exile, imbuing it with meaning, giving it depth, and even elevating it to a "High Moral Office." They frequently make appearances in the narratives of the Nazi-era exiles. The Russian-American exile poet Joseph Brodsky called writers in exile "retrospective and retroactive beings." What their retrospective gazes yield as they search for meaning in banishment is at the heart of this book..

Johannes F. Evelein is Professor of Language and Culture Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.


August 2014
4 black and white illustrations
212 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571135902
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, HIS014000, HIS037070
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Related Titles

Table of Contents

A German Gallery of Exile
Emulating Exile
Falling into Exile-And Learning to Read Its (Secret) Signs
What, Then, Is Exile? Toward a Metaphysics of Exile
Beyond the Eternal Jew-Representing Jewish Exile


Combining close reading with literary history, Evelein traces connections between (exiled authors in different periods) and effectively demonstrates their bonds of exilic "kinship" across historical and national-linguistic boundaries. . . . Evelein's book . . . makes an important contribution to German literary studies and understanding of the phenomenon of exile. And the breadth of the study makes it useful for those interested in other literatures. English translations are provided for all German quotations. . . . Recommended. CHOICE

Johannes Evelein's study searches for the exemplary antecedents in whom the German exiles sought to understand and articulate their own condition: in extending its attention before 1933, it explores another rich and hitherto underestimated approach to Exilliteratur. . . . This is an impressive survey which asks important questions. . . . (I)t explores a signi?cant new avenue in Exilforschung and engagingly investigates the discovery and shaping of tradition in exile. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

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