The German Bestseller in the Late Nineteenth Century

The German Bestseller in the Late Nineteenth Century

Edited by Charlotte Woodford, Benedict Schofield


Camden House



A much-needed look at the fiction that was actually read by masses of Germans in the late nineteenth century, and the conditions of its publication and reception.
The late nineteenth century was a crucial period for the development of German fiction. Political unification and industrialization were accompanied by the rise of a mass market for German literature, and with it the beginnings of the German bestseller.Offering escape, romance, or adventure, as well as insights into the modern world, nineteenth-century bestsellers often captured the imagination of readers well into the twentieth century and beyond. However, many have been neglected by scholars.
This volume offers new readings of literary realism by focusing not on the accepted intellectual canon but on commercially successful fiction in its material and social contexts. It investigates bestsellers from writers such as Freytag, Dahn, Jensen, Raabe, Viebig, Stifter, Auerbach, Storm, Möllhausen, Marlitt, Suttner, and Thomas Mann. The contributions examine the aesthetic strategies that made the works such a success, and writers' attempts to appeal simultaneously on different levels to different readers. Bestselling writers often sought to accommodate the expectations of publishers and the marketplace, while preserving some sense of artistic integrity. This volume sheds light on the important effect of the mass market on the writing not just of popular works, but of German prose fiction on all levels.

Contributors: Christiane Arndt, Caroline Bland, Elizabeth Boa, Anita Bunyan, Katrin Kohl, Todd Kontje, Peter C. Pfeiffer, Nicholas Saul, Benedict Schofield, Ernest Schonfield, Martin Swales, Charlotte Woodford.

Charlotte Woodford is Fellow and Lecturer in German at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge. Benedict Schofield is Lecturer in German and Senior Tutor for the School of Arts and Humanities at King's College London.


July 2012
11 black and white illustrations
296 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571134875
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, LIT020000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: German Fiction and the Marketplace in the Nineteenth Century - Charlotte Woodford
Gustav Freytag's Soll und Haben: Politics, Aesthetics, and the Bestseller - Benedict Schofield
Felix Dahn's Ein Kampf um Rom: Historical Fiction as Melodrama - Todd Kontje
Wilhelm Jensen and Wilhelm Raabe: Literary Value, Evolutionary Aesthetics, and Competition in the Marketplace - Nicholas Saul
Clara Viebig: Using the Genres of Heimatkunst und Grostadtroman to Create Bestselling Novels - Caroline Bland
Buddenbrooks as Bestseller - Ernest Schonfield
Homeliness and Otherness: Reflections on Stifter's Bergkristall - Martin Swales
Berthold Auerbach's Schwarzwälder Dorfgeschichten: Political and Religious Contexts of a Nineteenth-Century Bestseller - Anita Bunyan
Theodor Storm's Der Schimmelreiter: Schauerralismus or Gothic Realism in the Family Periodical - Christiane Arndt
Selling the Experience of the New World: Balduin Möllhausen's Novellistic Imagination of America - Peter Pfeiffer
E. Marlitt's Bestselling Poetics - Katrin Kohl
Bertha von Suttner's Die Waffen nieder! and Gabriele Reuter's Aus guter Familie: Sentimentality and Social Criticism - Charlotte Woodford
Taking Sex to Market: Tagebuch einer Verlorenen: Von einerToten and Josefine Mutzenbacher, Die Lebensgeschichte einer wienerischen Dirne, von ihr selbst erzählt - Elizabeth Boa
Works Cited
Notes on the Contributors


(T)akes a fresh and highly productive look at German best-selling novels and novellas written between the 1840s and the early 1900s. It combines sociohistorical enquiry into the history of literary writing, publishing, and reading with a particular focus on "the fertile crossover between so-called high literature and works written for the mass market." . . . The twelve chapters . . . written by established Germanists as well as younger researchers, are well researched and thoughtful almost throughout. Many are highly successful in combining socio-historical enquiry with in-depth literary analysis. --Dirk Göttsche, MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

(F)ascinating . . . . In her excellent introduction, Charlotte Woodford draws attention to the production and distribution of literature in the nineteenth century as well as to the rapid growth of subscription libraries. The serialisation of longer fiction was also an important factor in bringing literature to a wider and broader-based audience. All these factors are taken up . . . by Benedict Schofield, (Woodford's) co-editor, and the other ten contributors to the volume. JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN STUDIES

Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. CHOICE

Handsomely produced and expertly edited . . . . The essays are often fascinating and always informative. The best of them make their arguments against the forgetting of their once-bestselling authors exciting. They share a passion for getting to the bottom of why, in or outside Germany, we know so little about books that were, in the main, not just flashes in the pan, as they often endured for up to a century. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT (P)resents a fresh look at late-nineteenth-century realist ?ction by examining the "fertile crossover between so-called high literature and works written for the mass market" (1). (D)emonstrates an exceptional breadth . . . . (T)his impressive collection will surely inject new energy into nineteenth-century scholarship. . . . (I)ts unique focus on poetics provides a welcome complement to recent scholarship such as Publishing Culture and the "Reading Nation" (edited by Lynne Tatlock, (Camden House), 2010). MONATSHEFTE

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