The Case of Hans Henny Jahnn

The Case of Hans Henny Jahnn

Criticism and the Literary Outsider

Thomas Freeman


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Camden House



The first full-length study of the literary criticism on the works of the controversial twentieth-century German writer Hans Henny Jahnn.
Hans Henny Jahnn (1894-1959) is one of Germany's most controversial modern authors, in large part due to sharply diverging reactions to the depictions of sado-masochistic brutality, incest, and homoeroticism in his plays and novels. Jahnn's rank as a writer has long been a topic of intense debate between rival schools of critics, and his works have provoked extreme responses, both positive and negative, from a wide spectrum of scholars, writers, and critics, including such prominent figures as Alfred Döblin, Walter Benjamin, Thomas and Klaus Mann, Wolfgang Koeppen, Walter and Adolf Muschg, Wilhelm Emrich, Hubert Fichte and many others. Freeman focuses on characteristic examples of different approaches to Jahnn: structuralist, psychoanalytic, Jungian-archetypal, Marxist, biographical, literary-historical, postmodern, gay, and feminist. Freeman shows how behind the veil of objectivity, literary scholars often have a hidden agenda that is based on an emotional reaction to Jahnn's portrayal of homosexuality and violence, his negative images of women, and his worldview, which some critics have linked to some of the same ideological presuppositions as those of National Socialism. This is the first full-length study of Jahnn criticism.

Thomas Freeman is associate professor of German at Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin.


July 2001
279 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571132062
Format: Hardback
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, SOC012000
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Table of Contents

Journalistic Criticism: The Jahnn Controversy and the Discovery of the Misunderstood Outsider
First Scholarly Approaches
Jahnn and Myth
Structure: The Second Generation of Academics
Genre and Intertextuality
Defenders of Jahnn: Aesthetic and Modernist Interpretations
Psychology and Literature
Political Ideology and Social Criticism
Science: Biopolitics and Literature
Gay Studies and Jahnn
Feminist Approaches
The 1994 Jahnn Centennial
Works Consulted


Thomas Freeman's survey of H. H. Jahnn scholarship -- from the first reviews during the Weimar Republic to the cultural studies and feminist approaches of the 90s -- reads like a detective novel. Inge Stephan, HUMBOLDT-UNIVERSITAET BERLIN.

An overview of Jahnn's work, as well as some interesting and intersecting perspectives on the shape ... of 20th-century literary criticism. JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES

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