A History of the German Novelle

A History of the German Novelle

A History of the German Novelle

A History of the German Novelle

Excerpt

I shall attempt in the first chapter, before tracing the historical development of the Novelle in German literature, to arrive at some sort of definition of the genre as such, basing myself upon the writings of German critics and poets and selecting from the innumerable pronouncements upon the subject those which seem to be of most importance. A very comprehensive account of the attempts made to define the nature of the Novelle as a literary genre is given in the first chapter of Arnold Hirsch's book Der Gattungsbegriff 'Novelle' (Germanische Studien, Heft 64, Berlin, 1928) to which I am indebted for much valuable information. So far no comprehensive history of the Novelle in German literature has appeared either in England or Germany.

The history of a literary genre is not the mere enumeration of the writers who have cultivated that genre, brief biographical notes about them, followed by a synopsis of their various works. It involves an investigation into the origin of the genre, an attempt to account for its emergence at a given period, its basic types, possibly in the literature of another country from which it is taken over, the changes and modifications which it undergoes, as the result of various influences, such as the personality of the writers who employ it, the prevailing literary fashions, the sociological tendencies or philosophical currents which affect the thought and attitude to life of successive generations. The genre is regarded as an organism which contains within itself possibilities of development, and the history of the genre must show how far and in what way . . .

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