, Volume 1, Issue 1–2, pp 175–194 | Cite as

The periodization of XIXth century German literature in the light of French trends: A reconsideration

  • Henry H. H. Remak
Le 18 Novembre 1971 IIIe Sujet Courants Littéraires Époques Littéraires Séance du Matin Présidée par Roland Mortier Séance de L'Après-Midi Présidée par Jacques Voisine


Comparative Literature XIXth Century Century German Literature 
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  1. 1.
    The present study has its origin in a paper first read at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association of America in Philadelphia held in December 1960 and, with progressive expansion and modifications, delivered at the University of Utrecht in April 1967, at the International Colloquium of Comparative Literature sponsored by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest (November 1971), and at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada (March 1972). A first, significantly shorter version was published inDichter und Leser. Studien zur Literatur (ed. Ferdinand van Ingen and others), Utrecht Publications of General and Comparative Literature 14, Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff, 1972. The volume is dedicated to Professor Hans P. H. Teesing of the University of Utrecht.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Groningen; Wolters, 1949.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Studia Litteraria Rheno-Traiectina. IV (1959), pp. 149–173.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    I will make no attempt in this brief essay to more than sample the voluminous periodization literature. The summaries of the papers and of the discussion, given or participated in by some of the most distinguished scholars in the field during the Second International Congress (on the) History of Literature, Amsterdam, 1935, still make fascinating reading (Les périodes dans l'histoire littéraire depuis la Renaissance. Bulletin of the International Committee of Historical Sciences, IX, pt. III, No. 36, September 1937, pp. 255–408). I should like to call particular attention to a most refreshing and challenging, not only important but readable essay by Hermand, J.: Über Nutzen und Nachteil literarischer Epochenbegriffe. Monatshefte, LVIII (1966), No. 4, pp. 289–309. Although at times his formulations are overly vigorous and though, e.g., he does not do justice to the basic approval by Wellek of historic periodization terms, even of some that are not purely literary, it is “must” reading for anyone concerned with the periodization of XIXth century German literature. It is, however, not particularly comparative.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See F. Horst Oppenheim: Der Einfluß der französischen Literatur auf die deutsche. In: Deutsche Philologie im Aufriß, III, 2nd revised edition, ed. Wolfgang Stammler, Berlin, Schmidt, 1962, Spalten 74–88, particularly 78 and 80.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Here again, the controversial Jost Hermand has challenged traditional accents (Das Junge Deutschland and Der deutsche Vormärz. In his Von Mainz nach Weimar (1793–1919), Stuttgart, Metzler, 1969, pp. 152–210, 376–379). Without gainsaying the artistic weaknesses ofJungdeutschland, he defends it as a deliberately non-artistic, polemical and political, liberal prose. He, to be sure, wants to strengthen the term, not to weaken or replace it.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Zolnai, B.: Irodalom és Biedermeier (Le style “Biedermeier” dans la littérature). Acta Litterarum ac Scientiarum Reg. Universitatis Hung. Francisco-Josephinae, Sectio: Philologica, VII, Szeged, 1935; Baróti, D.: Biedermeier ízlés a francia irodalomban (Goût Prudhommesque dans la littérature française). Etudes Françaises publiées par l'Institut de l'Université François-Joseph, 21, Kolozsvár, 1942. These surveys are written in Hungarian but contain very extensive summaries in French. I wish to thank Harvard University Library for making available to me the Zolnai study on microfilm, and Mr. Ferenc Zemplényi (Budapest) for locating a copy of the Baróti investigation.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    There is ample likelihood that investigations of other countries would reveal widespread Biedermeier trends, not only in Austria and Hungary (see Zolnai) and in Switzerland (Rodolphe Toepffer, see Baróti) but also in Holland and England. F. Brie, (Literarisches Biedermeier in England. Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte, XIII, No. 1 [1935], pp. 149–162), calls attention to the Biedermeier features of the period dominated by Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and Gladstone, from Wordsworth and Sir Henry Taylor via Tennyson, Dickens, Thackeray, and George Eliot to Galsworthy, not to speak of characteristic minor writers such as Felicia Hemans, Eliza Cook, and Charles Reade.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See Hermand, J.: Zur Literatur der Gründerzeit. In his: Von Mainz nach Weimar, pp. 211–249.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    III, 1 (Arbeit und Beschaulichkeit) and IV, 12 (Der gefrorene Christ). In: Sämtliche Werke, Vol. I, Munich: Droemer, 1953, pp. 279 and 548.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    However, it must be admitted that Haraucourt, Richepin, and above all Rostand (Cyrano de Bergerac, 1897, and L'Aiglon, 1900) represent neo-romantic tendencies in France. Certain thematic and formal analogies between this and German “Gründerzeit” literature are also traceable.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    See the studies by J. Hermand previously referred to.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kummer, F.: Deutsche Literaturgeschichte des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts. Nach Generationen dargestellt. Dresden: Reissner, 1924, Vol. I, pp. 251–397. See also his theory of generations, ibid., pp. 1–32. First edition dates back to 1908.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    See footnote 13. Deutsche Literaturgeschichte des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts. Nach Generationen dargestellt. Dresden: Reissner, 1924, Vol. I, pp. 251–397.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    For productive pointers in that direction, see Sagave, P.P.: 1871. Berlin. Paris. Reichshauptstadt und Hauptstadt der Welt. Frankfurt/Berlin/Wien: Propyläen, 1971.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    In: Zwischen Klassik und Moderne. Lachen und Weinen in der Dichtung einer Übergangszeit. Stuttgart: Klett, 1958.Google Scholar

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© Akadémiai Kiadó 1973

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  • Henry H. H. Remak

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