The German Novel, 1939-1944

The German Novel, 1939-1944

H. BOESCHENSTEIN
Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1949
Pages: 190
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt15jvwc7
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The German Novel, 1939-1944
    Book Description:

    This book begins the large task of sorting out the vast number of German literary works which the war has piled up before us. The author has culled over four hundred novels and critical works, shortening the task of future research.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-3218-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Library Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Preface
    (pp. v-vi)
    H. B.
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 Form and Content
    (pp. 3-14)

    What interest recent German novels may arouse stems rather from their content than from their form. With very few exceptions they follow traditional methods and techniques, and use a style that has a familiar ring. For notwithstanding many claims to the contrary, National Socialism was not accompanied or supported by a vigorous literary movement. Blood and soil literature is in content merely the offshoot of an older regional naturalism; still less did the political upheaval create a literary style of its own. That a number of authors were experimenting with untraditional techniques will be readily conceded. This cannot compensate for...

  5. 2 Peasant Life
    (pp. 15-22)

    There seems to have been no relief, during the war years, from the continuous output of peasant novels; numerically the genre far outdistances even historical fiction. Whether this excessive production of blood and soil literature was in response to an equally great demand on the part of readers, is doubtful, in view of the fact that this kind of fiction has long been available in large quantities. For since the pattern is not greatly influenced by time, most of the older peasant novels serve the purpose just as well as recent ones.

    One of the reasons why so many novelists...

  6. 3 Proletarian Life
    (pp. 23-29)

    One of the most revealing features of recent German literature is the meagre crop of novels that deal with the life of the lower classes and that are written by men who either have personally experienced the grim reality of proletarian existence or feel compelled by deep sympathy and compassion to describe and discuss it. It is only reasonable to assume that many young German authors come from the humble dwellings of factory workers or farm labourers. What scant biographical information it has been possible to glean, chiefly from an alphabetical list of German writers since 1914 which forms the...

  7. 4 Medicine
    (pp. 30-43)

    It is natural to find physicians well represented among literary characters in European fiction of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; their important place in modern society was bound to have its reflection in literature. In recent German writing doctors (including in this term physicians, surgeons, city and country doctors, and others concerned with the problem of healing), farmers, and artists are the three most important layers in an occupational stratification of fiction. While it is regrettable that reference cannot be made to a monograph by Bruno Wachsmuth, on the physician in modern literature,¹ the amount of material available for this...

  8. 5 Art
    (pp. 44-61)

    Novels about artists have always commanded an exalted position in the history of German literature. The author, even when his leading character develops into a painter or sculptor, seems to write of something that is close to his heart and that makes him vibrate sympathetically. Moreover, as a person of great sensibilities, or professionally cultivated sensibilities, the artist personality of a novel quite often possesses a seismographic comprehension of life whose characteristic aspects at any given period he reflects. The reader is also often delightedly caught and carried away by the ability of the hero to probe new levels of...

  9. 6 Education
    (pp. 62-87)

    Germany has seldom offered that compact continuity of social life out of which a series ofromanders,in the French sense of the word, could have arisen to depict, criticize, and refine national and individualmores,but it is nevertheless true that out of German cultural life has, from time to time, crystallized a vision of what ought to be, or an inspiring account of how some gifted being has absorbed the cultural environment, for his or her enrichment. Obviously the educational novel, if it is to be more than a recollection of school-days, requires in its author an individuality...

  10. 7 Foreign Countries
    (pp. 88-102)

    In the study of novels in any literature the question as to how foreign countries fare is not ordinarily one that imperatively presents itself. It does so, however, in times of fervent political activity when national characteristics become a topic of acute interest.

    There is another reason for inserting a short chapter on the treatment of foreign countries. Contrary to expectation, not all recent German novels which take us into foreign lands are tainted with a preconceived bias or soaked with propaganda. Against a background of rubbish there stand out a small number of works that must have infuriated chauvinistic...

  11. 8 History
    (pp. 103-132)

    History is the happy hunting-ground for the dilettante writer. Here are to be found ready-made characters and plots; the aura of passion exhaled by certain historical figures and events may easily be passed off as his own emotional strength. The quaint diction of ancient documents enables him to slip into a prefabricated style. Thoughts and controversial issues present themselves without much effort, if he but blows into the dust of history. Some writers, again, mistake the not so rare ability to equip a hero of the past with spoon and fork and to make him talk to servants and coachmen...

  12. 9 Fundamental Moods
    (pp. 133-147)

    The official mood, under National Socialism, was one of sweeping optimism, aLebensanschauungfilled with the exuberance of being Nordic, of having the good fortune to live at a time when Germany had achieved her real stride and could look forward to unlimited expansion, physically and ideologically.

    This boisterous faith in the national or biological health, and the undisputed acceptance of life as a force that has its own propagation as its main goal are painfully reflected in a type of literature which introduced a new subdivision in the field of pornography: sexual braggartism. Here the rational element has been...

  13. 10 Entertainment
    (pp. 148-152)

    The main purpose of this commentary has been to throw some light on the problems discussed in German novels of recent years and on the fundamental moods they display. If a considerable number of the books studied go unmentioned, because they are not good enough, or not bad enough, to call for comment, this does not imply that they all fail to raise a problem of some kind or other, but that the problems presented are of a rather indifferent kind, or treated in an indifferent way. They were found to be too light, though “lightness” in the German novel...

  14. 11 The Western Tradition
    (pp. 153-173)

    It is, for the time being, impossible to say what proportion of the total output of German novels from 1939 to 1944 this selection (some 400 books) represents. Even in the worst case—if the novels not seen should all belong to the blood and soil type or be works conceived by such debased minds as Eggers 5 or such simpletons as Bürkle—it would still be true that a respectable literary tradition was never quite extinct. A number of the novels discussed bear no marks of the regime under which they were written, or at any rate published and,...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 174-186)
  16. Index of Authors
    (pp. 187-189)