Weimarer Republik 1918-1933

By Folio, Marta A | German Quarterly, April 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

Weimarer Republik 1918-1933


Folio, Marta A, German Quarterly


Leiß, Ingo, and Hermann Stadler. Weimarer Republik 1918-1933. Deutsche Literaturgeschichte 9. Munchen: dtv, 2003. 414 pp. euro11.00 paperback.

In Weimarer Republik (1918-1933) Ingo Leiß and Hermann Stadier examine the pluralistic literary production of German-speaking authors during Germany's most radical epoch of political and social transition. Leiß and Stadler characterize their approach as follows: "Daß die Literaturgeschichte nicht abstrakt und theoretisch sein muß, daß sie lebendig, erzahlerisch und unterhaltend sein kann-nicht weniger will diese Geschichte der deutschen Literatur beweisen" (2). As Gymnasiallehrer, the authors intend their literary history as a course textbook readily accessible to students with limited prior knowledge of Weimar literature or of literary criticism and thus their socio-historical approach does not align itself with a particular school of critical thought, while it traces the effects of political and social shifts on literary production.

Stadler and Leiß begin their study by outlining Germany's political and social changes in the wake of World War I and by exposing a skepticism towards and an outright dislike of the new republic by its citizens, disseminating in the process the rise of fascist ideology in literature and politics (12). The first two chapters form the background against which the authors read the development of literary production: the first chapter presents contemporaneous philosophical thought and political and social history, and the second chapter outlines the publishing history and the commercialization of literature between 1918 and 1933. The third chapter examines the epoch's many contemporary literary movements including late Expressionism, Dada, Neue Sachlichkeit, and Inner Emigration and introduces a spectrum of literary trends, from revolutionary-proletarian poetry and prose to epic theater and nature poetry. Leiß and Stadler establish in the third chapter that their study seeks to trace the modern author's quest to determine the role of literature in the new, democratic republic.

The main body of the text is divided into three parts in which the authors turn their attention exclusively to developments in literary genres, excluding any discussion of film, art, music, or cabaret. Instead, Leiß and Stadler choose to concentrate on the dominance of prose, dramatic texts, and poetry during the Weimar Republic, committing one chapter to each genre. …

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