German Encounters With Modernity: Novels of Imperial Berlin

BRILL, 1991 - 269 Seiten
The novels of Imperial Berlin comprise a body of material of immense historical richness. Their importance as a historical source lies in the intricate connections their authors make between the individual lives of characters, a modernizing city, and a newly unified nation. These connections - and the values and assumptions behind them - are the focus of this study. In creating these connections as fictional representations of their society, Berlin novelists not only reflected societal values but also were molding them by contributing to the social discourse in which they evolved. Taken together, their works constitute a significant piece in the complicated puzzle of how the society of Imperial Germany, as it underwent the social and economic upheavals of modernization, transformed the rule of traditional elites into new authoritarian forms. Using individual works to analyze fictional treatment of a spectrum of problems of nationhood and modernity, I argue that Berlin novelists were using their works for two significant social purposes: to search for a German identity that spoke to modern realities and to envision a particularly German revolution that would bring genuine national greatness. As the young nation matured, however, these visions became increasingly elusive. They were impeded, I suggest, by specific obstacles, including traumatic historical events, inherited cultural ideals, powerful mythologies, social anxieties, and political indifference. This book documents what Berlin novelists conceived as a struggle for Germany's soul - and traces the stages of its defeat.

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Karl Gutzkows Knights of the Spirit
Berlin Becomes a WorldCity
The Imperiled Bürger
The Unfinished Revolution
The Cultural
The WorkingClass Struggle
Disease in the Metropolis
Berlins Jews
Women in Berlin Society
A Crisis of Honor and Means
Into the Idlers
The Changing of the Guard

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Über den Autor (1991)

Katherine Roper did her graduate work in modern German history at Stanford University under Gordon Craig. Her interest in using novels as a source for the study of modern German history was sparked when she entered Professor Craig's seminar on Weimar literature as a new graduate student, and this interest was solidified when she chose as a dissertation topic to analyze the social criticism in the works of twentieth-century writer Erich Kastner. Since then her research and writing have continued to focus on the historical analysis of imaginative literature of modern Germany, extending from the mid-nineteenth century to postwar Germany. As the Europeanist in the History Department at Saint Mary's College, a liberal arts college in the Bay Area, she teaches a wide variety of courses in history and in the core curriculum great books seminar. She is presently chair of the History Department as well.

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