Completed shortly before Professor Stern's death in 1991, this book studies works by twelve major writers of German modernism, including Thomas Mann, Musil, Brecht and Rilke, in relation to the history of the twentieth century. It explores the theme of the "dear purchase," an ideal of moral strenuousness and sacrifice seen as characteristic of Germany after Nietzsche, and reveals the underlying flaw in this notion as a self-justifying value. Finally, it juxtaposes Mann's Felix Krull and Kafka's story "Josephine" as a deliverance from the value-system of the title.
'... [a] matchless analysis of German Modernism.' The Times