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The First World War as a Clash of Cultures

The First World War as a Clash of Cultures

Edited by Fred Bridgham
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    The First World War as a Clash of Cultures
    Book Description:

    This volume of essays examines the perceived rift between the British and German intellectual and cultural traditions before 1914 and how the resultant war of words both reflects and helped determine historical, political, and, ultimately, military events. This vexed symbiosis is traced first through a survey of popular fiction, from alarmist British and German "invasion novels" to the visions of Erskine Childers and Saki and even P.G. Wodehouse; contrastingly, the "mixed-marriage novels" of von Arnim, Spottiswoode, and Wylie are considered. Further topics include D. H. Lawrence's ambivalent relationship with Germany, Carl Sternheim's coded anti-militarism, H. G. Wells's and Kurd Lasswitz's visions of their countries under Martian invasion, Nietzsche as the embodiment of Prussian warmongering, and the rise in Germany of anglophobic, anti-Spencerian evolutionism. Case histories of the positions of German and English academics in regard to the conflict round out the volume. CONTRIBUTORS: IAIN BOYD WHITE, HELENA RAGG-KIRKBY, RHYS WILLIAMS, INGO CORNILS, NICHOLAS MARTIN, GREGORY MOORE, STEFAN MANZ, ANDREAS HUTHER, HOLGER KLEIN. Fred Bridgham is Senior Lecturer in the Department of German at the University of Leeds.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-679-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    F. B.
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-40)
    Fred Bridgham

    As the First World War recedes from living memory, our fascination with what George F. Kennan called “the seminal catastrophe of mankind” in the twentieth century remains undimmed. Perceptions shaped by vivid accounts of the war’s genesis and unfolding, from Liddell Hart’s The Real War (1930)¹ and A. J. P. Taylor’s The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848–1918 (1952)² to Barbara W. Tuchman’s August 1914 (1962) and Laurence Lafore’s The Long Fuse (1965), likewise endure in the English-speaking world, amplified a further forty years on, though scarcely displaced, by Hew Strachan’s monumental The First World War (vol. 1, 2001),...

  5. Writers

    • 1: Anglo-German Conflict in Popular Fiction, 1870–1914
      (pp. 43-100)
      Iain Boyd Whyte

      The outbreak of the First World War was marked not only by the booming of cannons across Europe, but also by the frantic scratchings of pens and the clattering of typewriters, as the literati of the combatant nations set about damning their adversaries. Big guns were also wheeled out for this battle. A statement supporting the war “against the rule of ‘Blood and Iron’” was published in The Times on September 18, 1914 and signed by fifty-three writers. The signatories included H. G. Wells, Thomas Hardy, Arthur Quiller-Couch, John Masefield, Arnold Bennett, Gilbert Murray, Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle....

    • 2: Perversion and Pestilence: D. H. Lawrence and the Germans
      (pp. 101-116)
      Helena Ragg-Kirkby

      I am mad with rage . . . I would like to kill a million Germans — two million.”¹ D. H. Lawrence’s somewhat negative view of our European neighbors is probably quite typical of the average Englishman during the years leading up to the First World War. However, what is perhaps not quite so typical is that he based his view on firsthand experience of German militarism rather than on mere stereotypes. This experience he gained from his 1912 visit to Metz with Frieda Weekley, with whom he was having a clandestine affair, and whose family still lived there. Their...

    • 3: “Und muß ich von Dante schweigen, zieht Italien gegen uns?”: Carl Sternheim’s Opposition to the First World War
      (pp. 117-128)
      Rhys W. Williams

      The quotation in my title — “And must I cease to speak of Dante if Italy marches against us?” — is taken from Carl Sternheim’s adaptation of Friedrich Maximilian Klinger’s drama Das leidende Weib. Its sentiment was to acquire a curious poignancy, in that when the play was written (October 3–18, 1914) Italy was not one of the belligerent powers. Nor indeed was Italy at war when the first private performance, in a Max Reinhardt production for the Kammerspiele des deutschen Theaters in Berlin, was permitted by the censor on March 31, 1916. But by the time the play...

    • 4: The Martians Are Coming! War, Peace, Love, and Reflection in H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds and Kurd Laßwitz’s Auf zwei Planeten
      (pp. 129-144)
      Ingo Cornils

      At the end of the nineteenth century, “news from Mars” excited scientists, writers, journalists, and the general public. The discovery of the lines on the Martian surface and the suggestion that these were “canals” cut by intelligent Martians prompted The War of the Worlds in a newspaper serial in 1897, describing the invasion of peaceful Victorian England by technologically superior, “unsympathetic” Martians. Wells’s monsters wreak havoc in Surrey and London with their heat rays and black poison gas, before Earth’s bacteria destroy them.

      What is little known is that in the same year that The War of the Worlds was...

  6. Thinkers

    • 5: Nietzsche as Hate-Figure in Britain’s Great War: “The Execrable Neech”
      (pp. 147-166)
      Nicholas Martin

      It is commonly assumed that the first wholesale abuse of Nietzsche’s thought for the purposes of political propaganda took place in Nazi Germany and was aggravated by the response of Allied propagandists during the Second World War. In fact, as early as 1914 Nietzsche had provided a convenient lens through which warmongers, whether British or German, Austrian or Australian, were able to focus their hatreds and self-justifications.² Given Nietzsche’s contempt for virulent nationalism, particularly its German strain, and his comparative obscurity in Britain before 1914, this development requires some explanation.

      The three principal aims here are to examine how his...

    • 6: Darwinism and National Identity, 1870–1918
      (pp. 167-182)
      Gregory Moore

      When war broke out in August 1914, intellectuals on both sides exchanged fire in a barrage of manifestos and pamphlets, seeking to discover the underlying causes of the catastrophe, not in mundane political events, but in the dominant ideologies and native intellectual traditions of the Great Powers. For many observers, the Great War was more than anything a “war of ideas.” In Germany, an impressive array of thinkers sought to elucidate the deeper meaning of the war by arguing that the crisis of 1914 was a truly world-historical conflict rooted in the mutual antagonism that existed between two fundamentally different...

    • 7: Bernhardi and “The Ideas of 1914”
      (pp. 183-212)
      Fred Bridgham

      Deutschland und der nächste Krieg (1912), by the retired cavalry general Friedrich von Bernhardi (1849–1930), has been aptly called “a best seller and a political disaster.”¹ It ran through five impressions in 1912 alone, and nine by 1914, by which time an English “popular edition,” Germany and the Next War, had reached a sixth reprint.² Deutschland was itself extracted from an even larger treatise, Vom heutigen Kriege, part of which had already appeared in English as Cavalry in Future Wars (1906);³ a second volume of Vom heutigen Kriege (1912) duly became, rather more pointedly, How Germany Makes War (1914).⁴...

  7. Academics

    • 8: Peacemaker and Warmonger: Alexander Tille and the Limits of Anglo-German Intercultural Transfer
      (pp. 215-230)
      Stefan Manz

      Alexander Tille (1866–1912) is mentioned in monographs as a key figure in Anglo-German intercultural transfer and late nineteenth-century German intellectual life. Steven E. Aschheim, for example, describes Tille as “the major mediator of Nietzsche in Britain.”¹ For Richard Hinton Thomas, he was “the most important of the German Social Darwinists at this time.”² Despite frequent references of such kind, Tille’s academic work and activities have never been thoroughly investigated in a specifically Anglo-German context.³ The following article, based on Tille’s publications and other primary sources, seeks to fill this gap. It will be shown that the clear dichotomy between...

    • 9: “In Politik verschieden, in Freundschaft wie immer”: The German Celtic Scholar Kuno Meyer and the First World War
      (pp. 231-244)
      Andreas Huether

      In November 1914 the prominent Celtic scholar Kuno Meyer stated in a letter on the subject of his tour of America: “it is a golden opportunity. I can now do more than merely lecture on Irish literature . . . unless they keep it out of the papers you will soon hear from me.”¹ Both predictions came true. The ensuing activities placed him among the plethora of German professors who offered their expertise and social position to the German war cause.² While these activities have been examined in their political context in minute detail,³ a social and cultural examination is...

    • 10: Austrian (and Some German) Scholars of English and the First World War
      (pp. 245-280)
      Holger Klein

      Let me begin with a remarkable document: the report of the extraordinary session of the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna held on July 1, 1914. It must be one of the shortest and most colorless reports in that august institution’s history.

      Der Präsident macht Mitteilung von dem am 28. Juni 1914 erfolgten Ableben Seiner k. und k. Hoheit des durchlauchtigsten Herrn Kurators der Akademie der Wissenschaften Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand.¹

      [The President begs to inform of the decease on 28th June, 1914 of His Serene Imperial & Royal Highness, Curator of the Academy of Sciences, Archduke Franz Ferdinand.]

      I doubt whether...

  8. Works Cited
    (pp. 281-314)
  9. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 315-316)
  10. Index
    (pp. 317-336)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 337-337)