German literature in all genres and from all historical periods has exerted an enormous influence on the history of western thought. From Martin Luther, Frederick Schiller, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, and Gunter Grass, Germany has produced an impressive number of great writers and great works. In German Literature: A Very Short Introduction, Nicholas Boyle illuminates the particular character and power of German literature and explores its impact on the larger cultural world. Boyle presents an engrossing tour of German literature from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, focussing especially on the last 250 years. He examines key themes like idealism, modernism, materialism, trauma and memory, showing how they have imbued the great German writers with such distinctive voices. Indeed, this brief introduction offers broad coverage of German literature, revealing the links between German literature and the German nation, examining the literary and philosophical responses of German writers to social, political, and economic change, and seeking out the connections between Germany's intellectual traditions and its often violent and tragic history.
Boyle has a sure touch and an obvious authority...this is a balanced and lively introduction to German...literature. Ben Hutchinson, TLS
1: The Bourgeois and the Official: A Historical Overview
2: The Laying of the Foundations (to 1781)
3: The Age of Idealism (1781-1832)
4: The Age of Materialism (1832 to 1914)
5: Traumas and Memories (1914-)
Further Reading & References