This is one of the most exciting and original as well as solidly researched new books on German literature. It illustrates what the interdisciplinary combination of literary, historical, and political studies can come up with. Todd Kontje is familiar with multiculturalism, postcolonialism, world literature, globalization, and digital humanities. Even if one does not agree with one or another analogy or comparison, the reading is always enlightening, provocative, and inspiring. Kontje’s major point is that German literature from the late eleventh century to beyond unification under Bismarck should be understood not primarily as a national literature but as poetic documents of an empire without a strong political central power. In that regard Germany differed from other empires past and present. Unlike their counterparts in France and England, German writers and intellectuals developed visions of a Staatenbund (a confederacy of independent principalities) and a...
Imperial Fictions: German Literature before and beyond the Nation-State
Paul Michael Lützeler is Rosa May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is director of the Max Kade Center for Contemporary German Literature. He is editor in chief of Gegenwartsliteratur: A German Studies Yearbook and has published books on literature around 1800, exile literature and Hermann Broch, and the literary discourse on Europe as well as on contemporary German literature.
Paul Michael Lützeler; Imperial Fictions: German Literature before and beyond the Nation-State. Modern Language Quarterly 1 June 2020; 81 (2): 264–266. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-8151663
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