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ⓘ German literature




German literature
                                     

ⓘ German literature

German literature comprises those literary texts written in the German language. This includes literature written in Germany, Austria, the German parts of Switzerland and Belgium, Liechtenstein, South Tyrol in Italy and to a lesser extent works of the German diaspora. German literature of the modern period is mostly in Standard German, but there are some currents of literature influenced to a greater or lesser degree by dialects.

Medieval German literature is literature written in Germany, stretching from the Carolingian dynasty; various dates have been given for the end of the German literary Middle Ages, the Reformation 1517 being the last possible cut-off point. The Old High German period is reckoned to run until about the mid-11th century; the most famous works are the Hildebrandslied and a heroic epic known as the Heliand. Middle High German starts in the 12th century; the key works include The Ring ca. 1410 and the poems of Oswald von Wolkenstein and Johannes von Tepl. The Baroque period 1600 to 1720 was one of the most fertile times in German literature. Modern literature in German begins with the authors of the Enlightenment such as Herder. The Sensibility movement of the 1750s–1770s ended with Goethes best-selling Die Leiden des jungen Werther 1774. The Sturm und Drang and Weimar Classicism movements were led by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. German Romanticism was the dominant movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Biedermeier refers to the literature, music, the visual arts and interior design in the period between the years 1815 Vienna Congress, the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and 1848, the year of the European revolutions. Under the Nazi regime, some authors went into exile Exilliteratur and others submitted to censorship "internal emigration", Innere Emigration. The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to German language authors thirteen times as of 2009, or the third most often after English and French language authors with 27 and 14 laureates, respectively, with winners including Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, and Gunter Grass.

                                     

1. Periodization

Periodization is not an exact science but the following list contains movements or time periods typically used in discussing German literature. It seems worth noting that the periods of medieval German literature span two or three centuries, those of early modern German literature span one century, and those of modern German literature each span one or two decades. The closer one nears the present, the more debated the periodizations become.

  • Late medieval / Renaissance 1350–1500
  • Old High German literature 750–1050
  • Medieval German literature
  • Middle High German literature 1050–1350
  • Early Modern German literature see Early Modern literature
  • Baroque 1600–1720
  • Enlightenment 1680–1789
  • Humanism and Protestant Reformation 1500–1650
  • German Classicism 1729–1832
  • 18th- and 19th-century German literature
  • Modern German literature
  • Empfindsamkeit / Sensibility 1750s–1770s
  • Sturm und Drang / Storm and Stress 1760s–1780s
  • Weimar Classicism 1788–1805 or 1788–1832, depending on Schillers 1805 or Goethes 1832 death
  • Young Germany 1830–1850
  • Naturalism 1880–1900
  • Poetic Realism 1848–1890
  • German Romanticism 1790s–1880s
  • Biedermeier 1815–1848
  • Dada 1914–1924
  • New Objectivity Neue Sachlichkeit
  • Expressionism 1910–1920
  • 20th-century German literature
  • Symbolism
  • 1900–1933
  • Fin de siecle c. 1900
  • 1933–1945
  • Well Known Writers of the 20th Century
  • National Socialist literature
  • Exile literature
  • German Democratic Republic
  • Switzerland
  • Federal Republic of Germany
  • Austria
  • Other
  • By country
  • 1945–1989
  • Group 47
  • By thematic or group
  • Holocaust literature
  • Post-war literature 1945–1967
  • Contemporary German literature 1989–
                                     

2. Middle Ages

Medieval German literature refers to literature written in Germany, stretching from the Carolingian dynasty; various dates have been given for the end of the German literary Middle Ages, the Reformation 1517 being the last possible cut-off point.

                                     

2.1. Middle Ages Old High German

The Old High German period is reckoned to run until about the mid-11th century, though the boundary to Early Middle High German second half of the 11th century is not clear-cut.

The most famous work in OHG is the Hildebrandslied, a short piece of Germanic alliterative heroic verse which besides the Muspilli is the sole survivor of what must have been a vast oral tradition. Another important work, in the northern dialect of Old Saxon, is a life of Christ in the style of a heroic epic known as the Heliand.

                                     

2.2. Middle Ages Middle High German

Middle High German proper runs from the beginning of the 12th century, and in the second half of the 12th century, there was a sudden intensification of activity, leading to a 60-year "golden age" of medieval German literature referred to as the mittelhochdeutsche Blutezeit 1170–1230. This was the period of the blossoming of MHG lyric poetry, particularly Minnesang the German variety of the originally French tradition of courtly love. One of the most important of these poets was Walther von der Vogelweide. The same sixty years saw the composition of the most important courtly romances. These are written in rhyming couplets, and again draw on French models such as Chretien de Troyes, many of them relating Arthurian material, for example, Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach. The third literary movement of these years was a new revamping of the heroic tradition, in which the ancient Germanic oral tradition can still be discerned, but tamed and Christianized and adapted for the court. These high medieval heroic epics are written in rhymed strophes, not the alliterative verse of Germanic prehistory for example, the Nibelungenlied.

The Middle High German period is conventionally taken to end in 1350, while the Early New High German is taken to begin with the German Renaissance, after the invention of movable type in the mid-15th century. Therefore, the literature of the late 14th and the early 15th century falls, as it were, in the cracks between Middle and New High German, and can be classified as either. Works of this transitional period include The Ring c. 1410, the poems of Oswald von Wolkenstein and Johannes von Tepl, the German versions of Pontus and Sidonia, and arguably the works of Hans Folz and Sebastian Brant Ship of Fools, 1494, among others. The Volksbuch chapbook tradition which would flourish in the 16th century also finds its origin in the second half of the 15th century.



                                     

3.1. Early Modern period German Renaissance and Reformation

  • Thomas Murner 1475–1537
  • Sebastian Brant 1457–1521
  • Sebastian Franck 1500–1543
  • Philipp Melanchthon 1497–1560
                                     

3.2. Early Modern period Baroque period

The Baroque period 1600 to 1720 was one of the most fertile times in German literature. Many writers reflected the horrible experiences of the Thirty Years War, in poetry and prose. Grimmelshausens adventures of the young and naïve Simplicissimus, in the eponymous book Simplicius Simplicissimus, became the most famous novel of the Baroque period. Martin Opitz established rules for the "purity" of language, style, verse and rhyme. Andreas Gryphius and Daniel Caspar von Lohenstein wrote German language tragedies, or Trauerspiele, often on Classical themes and frequently quite violent. Erotic, religious and occasional poetry appeared in both German and Latin. Sibylle Ursula von Braunschweig-Luneburg wrote part of a novel, Die Durchlauchtige Syrerin Aramena Aramena, the noble Syrian lady, which when complete would be the most famous courtly novel in German Baroque literature; it was finished by her brother Anton Ulrich and edited by Sigmund von Birken.



                                     

4. 18th century

Sensibility

Empfindsamkeit / Sensibility 1750s–1770s Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock 1724–1803, Christian Furchtegott Gellert 1715–1769, Sophie de La Roche 1730–1807. The period culminates and ends in Goethes best-selling Die Leiden des jungen Werther 1774.

Sturm und Drang

Sturm und Drang is the name of a movement in German literature and music taking place from the late 1760s through the early 1780s in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in response to the confines of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment and associated aesthetic movements. The philosopher Johann Georg Hamann is considered to be the ideologue of Sturm und Drang, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a notable proponent of the movement, though he and Friedrich Schiller ended their period of association with it, initiating what would become Weimar Classicism.

                                     

5. 19th century

Realism and Naturalism

Poetic Realism 1848–1890: Theodor Fontane, Gustav Freitag, Gottfried Keller, Wilhelm Raabe, Adalbert Stifter, Theodor Storm

Naturalism 1880–1900: Gerhart Hauptmann

                                     

5.1. 19th century German Classicism

Weimar Classicism German" Weimarer Klassik ” and" Weimarer Klassizismus ” is a cultural and literary movement of Europe, and its central ideas were originally propounded by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller during the period 1786 to 1805.

                                     

5.2. 19th century Romanticism

German Romanticism was the dominant movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. German Romanticism developed relatively late compared to its English counterpart, coinciding in its early years with the movement known as German Classicism or Weimar Classicism, which it opposed. In contrast to the seriousness of English Romanticism, the German variety is notable for valuing humor and wit as well as beauty. The early German romantics tried to create a new synthesis of art, philosophy, and science, looking to the Middle Ages as a simpler, more integrated period. As time went on, however, they became increasingly aware of the tenuousness of the unity they were seeking. Later German Romanticism emphasized the tension between the everyday world and the seemingly irrational and supernatural projections of creative genius. Heinrich Heine in particular criticized the tendency of the early romantics to look to the medieval past for a model of unity in art and society.

  • Novalis Friedrich von Hardenberg
  • Ludwig Tieck
  • E.T.A. Hoffmann
  • Ludwig Uhland
  • G.W.F. Hegel
  • Joseph von Eichendorff
  • Friedrich Schleiermacher
  • Heinrich von Kleist
  • August Wilhelm Schlegel
  • Arthur Schopenhauer
  • Friedrich Holderlin
  • Friedrich Schlegel


                                     

5.3. 19th century Biedermeier and Vormarz

Biedermeier refers to work in the fields of literature, music, the visual arts and interior design in the period between the years 1815 Vienna Congress, the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and 1848, the year of the European revolutions and contrasts with the Romantic era which preceded it. Typical Biedermeier poets are Annette von Droste-Hulshoff, Adelbert von Chamisso, Eduard Morike, and Wilhelm Muller, the last three named having well-known musical settings by Robert Schumann, Hugo Wolf and Franz Schubert respectively.

Young Germany Junges Deutschland was a loose group of Vormarz writers which existed from about 1830 to 1850. It was essentially a youth movement similar to those that had swept France and Ireland and originated in Italy. Its main proponents were Karl Gutzkow, Heinrich Laube, Theodor Mundt and Ludolf Wienbarg; Heinrich Heine, Ludwig Borne and Georg Buchner were also considered part of the movement. The wider circle included Willibald Alexis, Adolf Glassbrenner and Gustav Kuhne.

                                     

5.4. 19th century Realism and Naturalism

Poetic Realism 1848–1890: Theodor Fontane, Gustav Freitag, Gottfried Keller, Wilhelm Raabe, Adalbert Stifter, Theodor Storm

Naturalism 1880–1900: Gerhart Hauptmann

                                     

6.1. 20th century 1900 to 1933

  • Symbolism
  • New Objectivity Neue Sachlichkeit
  • Dada 1914–1924
  • Fin de siecle c. 1900
  • Weimar literature 1919–1933
  • Expressionism 1910–1920
                                     

6.2. 20th century Well Known Writers of the 20th Century

A well-known writer of German Literature was Franz Kafka. Kafkas novel, The Trial, was ranked #3 on Le Mondes 100 Books of the Century. Kafka instills a macabre sensation in his writing, so much so, that his writing style was coined to be" Kafkaesque.” Kafka’s writing allowed a peek into his melancholic life, one where he felt isolated from all human beings, one of his inspirations for writing.

                                     

6.3. 20th century Nazi Germany

  • National Socialist literature: see Blut und Boden, Nazi propaganda

Under the Nazi regime, some authors went into exile Exilliteratur and others submitted to censorship "inner emigration", Innere Emigration

  • Inner Emigration: Gottfried Benn, Werner Bergengruen, Hans Bluher, Hans Heinrich Ehrler, Hans Fallada, Werner Finck, Gertrud Fussenegger, Ricarda Huch, Ernst Junger, Erich Kastner, Volker Lachmann, Oskar Loerke, Erika Mitterer, Walter von Molo, Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen, Richard Riemerschmid, Reinhold Schneider, Frank Thiess, Carl von Ossietzky, Ernst Wiechert
  • in exile: Ernst Bloch, Bertolt Brecht, Hermann Broch, Alfred Doblin, Lion Feuchtwanger, Bruno Frank, A. M. Frey, Anna Gmeyner, Oskar Maria Graf, Heinrich Eduard Jacob, Hermann Kesten, Annette Kolb, Siegfried Kracauer, Emil Ludwig, Heinrich Mann, Klaus Mann, Thomas Mann, Balder Olden, Rudolf Olden, Robert Neumann, Erich Maria Remarque, Ludwig Renn, Alice Ruhle-Gerstel, Otto Ruhle, Alice Schwarz-Gardos, Anna Seghers, B. Traven, Bodo Uhse, Franz Werfel, Arnold Zweig, Stefan Zweig.
                                     

6.4. 20th century 1945 to 1989

  • Postwar literature of Switzerland and Austria: Ingeborg Bachmann, Thomas Bernhard, Friedrich Durrenmatt, Max Frisch, Elfriede Jelinek, Peter Handke
  • Postmodern literature: Christian Kracht, Hans Wollschlager, Christoph Ransmayr, Marlene Streeruwitz, Rainald Goetz, Clemens J. Setz, Oswald Wiener
  • Post-war literature of West Germany 1945–1967: Heinrich Boll, Gunter Grass, Group 47; Holocaust literature Paul Celan, Edgar Hilsenrath
  • GDR Literature in East Germany: Johannes R. Becher, Wolf Biermann, Bertolt Brecht, Sarah Kirsch, Gunter Kunert, Reiner Kunze, Heiner Muller, Anna Seghers, Christa Wolf
                                     

7. 21st century

Much of contemporary poetry in the German language is published in literary magazines. DAS GEDICHT, for instance, has featured German poetry from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Luxemburg for the last twenty years.

  • Literaturport in German: audio clips of contemporary literature, many read out by the authors themselves
  • Migrant literature: Wladimir Kaminer, Feridun Zaimoglu, Rafik Schami
  • Poetry: Jurgen Becker, Marcel Beyer, Theo Breuer, Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Aldona Gustas, Ernst Jandl, Thomas Kling, Uwe Kolbe, Friederike Mayrocker, Durs Grunbein, Kurt Marti, Karl Krolow
  • Science-Fiction, Fantasy: Andreas Eschbach, Frank Schatzing, Wolfgang Hohlbein, Bernhard Hennen, Walter Moers
  • Thriller: Ingrid Noll
  • Aphorists: Hans Kruppa
  • Pop Literature: Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre
  • German-American literature: Paul-Henri Campbell, Walter Abish
  • Novel: Wilhelm Genazino, Gunter Grass, Herta Muller, Siegfried Lenz, Charlotte Link, Rainald Goetz, Anna Kaleri, Norbert Scheuer, Dietmar Dath, Christian Kracht, Kathrin Schmidt, Burkhard Spinnen, Robert Menasse, Martin Walser, Andreas Mand, Zsuzsa Bank, Marc Degens, Jenny Erpenbeck, Klaus Modick
                                     

8. Nobel Prize laureates

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to German-language authors thirteen times as of 2009, or the third most often after English- and French-language authors with 27 and 14 laureates, respectively.

The following writers are from Germany unless stated otherwise:

  • 2004 Elfriede Jelinek Austrian
  • 1908 Rudolf Christoph Eucken
  • 1919 Carl Spitteler Swiss
  • 2019 Peter Handke Austrian
  • 2009 Herta Muller Romanian by birth, later naturalized in West Germany
  • 1972 Heinrich Boll
  • 1966 Nelly Sachs
  • 1902 Theodor Mommsen
  • 1910 Paul Heyse
  • 1929 Thomas Mann
  • 1912 Gerhart Hauptmann
  • 1999 Gunter Grass
  • 1981 Elias Canetti Bulgarian, later British
  • 1946 Hermann Hesse
                                     

9. Literature

English

  • Van Cleve, John W. 1986. The Merchant in German Literature of the Enlightenment. Chapel Hill.
  • Van Cleve, John W. 1991. The Problem of Wealth in the Literature of Luthers Germany. Camden House.
  • Konzett, Matthias Piccolruaz. Encyclopedia of German Literature. Routledge, 2000.
  • The Oxford Companion to German Literature, ed. by Mary Garland and Henry Garland, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 1997
  • Cambridge History of German Literature. Watanabe-O’Kelly, Helen, ed. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

German

  • Peter von Matt, Die verdachtige Pracht. Uber Dichter und Gedichte, Munich: Hanser, 1998
  • Manfred Enzensperger ed., Die Holderlin-Ameisen: Vom Finden und Erfinden der Poesie, Cologne: Dumont, 2005
  • Joachim Sartorius ed., Mimima Poetica. Fur eine Poetik des zeitgenossischen Gedichts, Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1999
  • Theo Breuer, Kiesel & Kastanie ed.: Von neuen Gedichten und Geschichten, Sistig/Eifel: Edition YE, 2008, ISBN 3-87512-347-6
  • Theo Breuer, Aus dem Hinterland. Lyrik nach 2000, Sistig/Eifel: Edition YE, 2005, ISBN 3-87512-186-4
  • Bernd Lutz, Benedikt JeSing eds.: Metzler Lexikon Autoren: Deutschsprachige Dichter und Schriftsteller vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, Stuttgart und Weimar: 4., aktualisierte und erweiterte Auflage 2010
  • Jurgen Brocan, Jan Kuhlbrodt eds., Umkreisungen. 25 Auskunfte zum Gedicht, Lepzig: Poetenladen Literaturverlag, 2010

Anthologies

  • Andreas Neumeister, Marcel Hartges ed., Poetry! Slam! Texte der Pop-Fraktion 1996
  • German poetry from 1750 to 1900, ed. by Robert M. Browning. Foreword by Michael Hamburger, New York: Continuum, 1984, 281 pp. German Library, ISBN 0-8264-0283-6
  • Hans Bender ed., In diesem Lande leben wir. Deutsche Gedichte der Gegenwart 1978
  • Heinz Ludwig Arnold ed., TEXT+KRITIK: Lyrik des 20. Jahrhunderts 1999.
  • Hans Bender, Was sind das fur Zeiten. Deutschsprachige Gedichte der achtziger Jahre 1988
  • Twentieth-Century German Poetry: An Anthology, edited by Michael Hofmann, New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008 Paperback Edition, 544 pp., ISBN 0-374-53093-9
  • Boris Kerenski & Sergiu Stefanescu, Kaltland Beat. Neue deutsche Szene 1999
  • Karl Otto Conrady ed., Der GroSe Conrady. Das Buch deutscher Gedichte. Von den Anfangen bis zur Gegenwart 2008.
  • Verena Auffermann, Hubert Winkels ed., Beste Deutsche Erzahler 2000–
  • Marie Luise Kaschnitz ed., Deutsche Erzahler II 1971, 1979
  • Hugo von Hofmannsthal ed., Deutsche Erzahler I 1912, 1979
  • Axel Kutsch ed., Versnetze. Deutschsprachige Lyrik der Gegenwart 2009
  • Christoph Buchwald, Uljana Wolf ed., Jahrbuch der Lyrik 2009