Germany at the Fin de Siècle: Culture, Politics, and Ideas

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Suzanne Marchand, David Lindenfeld
LSU Press, Oct 1, 2004 - History - 312 pages
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The phrase fin de siècle conjures up images of artistic experimentation and political decadence. The contributors to this volume argue that Wilhelmine Germany -- best known for its industrial and military muscle -- also shared these traits. Their essays look back to the years between 1885 and 1914 to find in Germany a mixture of sociopolitical malaise and experimental exhilaration that was similar in many ways to the better-known cases of France and Austria.

Revising the view that the German Second Reich was merely a precursor to the Third, this broad-scoped study presents pre--World War I Germany in its own fascinating and often contradictory terms. The foundations of the antiliberal passions that would plague the Weimar Republic are evident, but Wilhelmine society also had a lighter, more playful and moderate spirit, one that was largely extinguished by the Great War.

Blending social, cultural, and intellectual history, the contributors -- a distinguished cross-section of older and younger scholars -- trace changing German views on liberalism, penal reform, race, women, art, popular culture, and technology. They juxtapose better-known figures such as Max Weber, Thomas Mann, and Martin Heidegger with now-forgotten individuals like the Jewish feminist novelist Grete Meisel-Hess and the iconoclastic Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin. Their essay topics range from the esoteric and erotic poetry of Stefan George to the Jewish comedy of the Herrnfeld Theater. "Modernity" is examined from the perspectives of bourgeois cinema-goers and judicial reformers, as well as from the viewpoint of Carl Jung. The result is a variegated picture of an unsettled world, rich in its innovations, ambitious in its undertakings, and often apocalyptic in its dreams.

 

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Contents

Adversarial or Reformist?
10
Divisive or Integrative?
26
Max Webers Liberalism
35
Penal Reform
59
Emancipatory or ProtoFascist?
81
Feminist Eugenics at the Fin de Siecle
102
Centaur and Nymph Arnold Bocklin 1855
131
The Isle of Life Arnold Bocklin 1888
133
Thomas Mann and the Ideologies
186
Thomas Mann in 1906
190
Portrait of Savonarola Fra Bartolommeo 1498
191
The Plague Arnold Bocklin 1898
202
NeoRenaissance facade of the Villa Pringsheim Munich
209
Renaissance salon in the Villa Pringsheim Munich
210
Caricature of Heinrich Mann Olaf Gulbransson 1904
211
Knight Death and Devil Albrecht Diirer 1513
220

Holy Sanctuary Arnold Bocklin 1882
134
Battle of the Centaurs Arnold Bocklin 1873
135
Odysseus and Calypso Arnold Bocklin 1882
140
Look the Meadow Smiles Arnold Bocklin 1887
141
Villa by the Sea Arnold Bocklin 1878
144
Sleeping Diana Watched by Two Fauns Arnold Bocklin 1877
146
Playing in the Waves Arnold Bocklin 1883
148
Arnold Bocklin and the Problem of German Modernism 129
155
Confronts Early Film
227
Asta Nielsen in 1912
234
The UnionTheater cinema in Berlin 1909
244
Bourgeois Encounters in Berlins
250
Pathological or Prescient?
287
Contributors
313
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Suzanne Marchand teaches European intellectual history at LSU and is the author of Down from Olympus: Archaeology and Philhellenism in Germany, 1750--1970; coauthor of Worlds Together, Worlds Apart; and coeditor of Proof and Persuasion: Essays on Authority and Objectivity.

David Lindenfeld is a professor of history at Louisiana State University and the author of The Transformation of Positivism: Alexius Meinong and European Thought, 1880--1920 and The Practical Imagination: The German Sciences of State in the Nineteenth Century.

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