Essays in German and Comparative Literature

Essays in German and Comparative Literature

Essays in German and Comparative Literature

Essays in German and Comparative Literature

Excerpt

I have long admired the gracious and graceful flourish with which so many of my American colleagues close the prefaces to their book publications: that they alone are to be blamed for whatever shortcomings their work may have, and that none of its insufficiencies is to be charged to their friends, without whose help their book might still have been more grievously wanting in merit. I had hoped that I, as an author of a book, could avail myself of this gentle formula, too, and absolve my friends from the responsibility for all the flaws to be found in the pages following the preface. Yet much as I would like to, I cannot do it. For the simple truth of the matter is that without these devoted friends there would be no book at all, that they have caused it to come into existence, and that, having caused its existence, they must be held responsible for the whole enterprise.

Here, then, is the list of the guilty ones: first of all, the editor of this series, Werner P. Friederich, who conceived and stubbornly promoted the idea of putting these miscellaneous papers between the covers of a book; then the chairman of my department, Dieter Cunz, who egged me on and successfully played on the strain of vanity of which, alas, I am not free; my dear colleague and former student Sigurd Burckhardt, who translated one of the essays (No. 3) from the German original and, by doing so, furnished this volume with its only piece of immaculate English; Mrs. Iris Friederich, who did her best to cleanse my own English of its most obnoxious features; and finally Professor Everett Walters, Dean of the Graduate School of Ohio State University, who, by a generous grant, alleviated the awesome financial burden resting upon the editor of the series. How deeply indebted I am for this overwhelming display of confidence in my modest gifts and achievements, I need not and cannot tell. But with all my gratitude to them, now and forever, I see no way of absolving them from the responsibility for this book.

The fifteen essays, which through the unflagging efforts of these friends are now being presented in this form, were written in the course of almost twenty years. Since some were prepared as public lectures, others as addresses on special commemorative occasions, they lack, probably to their detri-

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