Germany in the Eighteenth Century: the Social Background of the Literary Revival

Germany in the Eighteenth Century: the Social Background of the Literary Revival

Germany in the Eighteenth Century: the Social Background of the Literary Revival

Germany in the Eighteenth Century: the Social Background of the Literary Revival

Excerpt

This book is intended in the first place, as the sub-title indicates, for the English student of German literature and thought. Its main aim is to provide material for a sociological study of eighteenth-century German literature by describing the chief classes of society in that age, and the political and economic conditions under which they lived. In a final chapter some general characteristics of that literature have been discussed, features which seem to have resulted from the reactions of whole groups to political and social conditions, rather than from the fortuitous similarity of individual points of view. To study these social influences in detail in particular works is beyond the scope of the present volume. In the absence of suitable presentations in English of the social history of the period, it seemed desirable to concentrate attention to begin with on the historical facts, especially as the German works on this subject, such as those of Biedermann, Freytag, Lamprecht, Sombart and Steinhausen, being written for different readers and with different ends in view, fail to answer many questions which arise in the mind of the English student. While gratefully making use of these writings, and many monographs on particular phases of the subject, the author has endeavoured not only to select and present the material in a manner better suited to the present purpose, but also to draw more fully on contemporary memoirs, essays and books of travel, especially on those by English travellers. Imaginative literature, on the other hand, has intentionally not been used as a source, because to do so would have interfered with the author's purpose of studying the influence of the world in which the writers of that day lived upon that which they created, but attention is frequently drawn to particular features in literature, to which a knowledge of the social life of the time lends a new . . .

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