Questions tagged [german-literature]

Questions about works of literature that were originally written in the German language, regardless of whether they were written or published in Germany or elsewhere.

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What is the role of science in Georg Büchner's "Woyzeck"?

I've been reading the play Woyzeck by Georg Büchner in an Italian translation by Giorgio Dolfini. It's a really disquieting story. A specific character, the Doctor, seems to play an enigmatic obscure ...
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What is the name of German-language horror or crime pulp novel series from late 80s/early 90s?

Back in the very early 90s, my father worked in Germany. The previous tenant in his apartment left some 80s/early-90s 7" vinyls, floppy discs and some horror/crime stich-bound short novels. ...
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4 votes
1 answer
97 views

Significance of Effi Briest's name

I've been thinking about Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest for a while, and the names of the characters, especially Effi Briest's name, but also the other important characters, like for instance ...
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1 vote
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Does Georg Heym's poem Louis Capet betray a specific political orientation?

The German poet Georg Heym was an important representative of expressionism. Wikipedia tells us that he was a member of the short-lived society or club Der Neue Club: Other members of this Club ...
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1 answer
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When and where did Thomas Mann say that Effi Briest is one of the six best novels in his library?

Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest is often taught at German schools. The Wikipedia article about the novel has a section on the novel's legacy which says, [Thomas] Mann said that if one had to ...
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2 votes
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When was any of Fontane's work first included in literary anthologies for use in schools?

Theodor Fontane is now regarded as the most important German-language novelist of the second half of the nineteenth century. His work is now often required reading (German: "Pflichtlektüre") ...
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Why did Fontane spend almost a decade writing literary or historical accounts of Prussian wars?

Theodor Fontane is today best remembered as a novelist (and also as a poet). However, all his novels were written in the last two decades of his life. A list of publications by Fontane published by ...
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3 votes
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What is the purpose of the motif of the Chinaman in Fontane's novel Effi Briest?

One of the recurring elements or motifs in Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest is that of the Chinaman. The Chinaman is a source of fear for Effi, something like a phantom. References to him are ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Was Jorge Amado familiar with the work of Anna Seghers?

While looking for novels by Jorge Amado in the online catalogue of a bookseller, I stumbled upon the recently published novella Anna Seghers im Garten von Jorge Amado ("Anna Seghers in Jorge ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Standard text for "Tristan and Isolde"

What is the standard narrative text to read "Tristan and Isolde"? That is, is there something that is a classical text, not in poem form, something like Le Morte d'Arthur for King Arthur?
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4 votes
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Nietzsche: It is improbable that you are not mistaken: double negative

In Beyond Good and Evil, chapter 1, #16, Nietzsche is criticizing idealism, and he says: He who ventures to answer these metaphysical questions at once by an appeal to a sort of intuitive perception, ...
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What is the significance of the name Bastian Balthazar Bux?

Apart from being triply alliterative (BBB), what is the significance of the name Bastian Balathazar Bux (or Bastian Balthasar Bux in the German original), the protagonist of The Neverending Story? ...
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2 votes
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In Effi Briest, what is the meaning and significance of a "wide field"?

I noticed a similar phrase recurring twice in the conversation between Effi's parents in Chapter V of Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest, which I'm reading online: Miss Hulda had clinked her glass too ...
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2 votes
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What was Briest implying with his "Very true, very true"?

In Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest, which I'm reading online, an exchange between Effi and her mother in Chapter IV seems to betray Effi's lack of love for her fiance Innstetten. Later, in Chapter V, ...
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12 votes
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What are the "torch dance" and "garter dance", in 19th-century Germany?

From Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest, which I'm reading online, during the wedding of Effi and Innstetten in Chapter V: The dancing had continued till three o'clock, with the effect that Briest, who ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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How does Resa becoming a swift reflect on her character in "Inkdeath"?

In Inkdeath, the third book in the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke, Resa uses seeds that turn the user into an animal. In Resa's case, she turns into a swift: It was easy to fly, so easy. The ...
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10 votes
3 answers
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What is the "Isle of the Blessed" and why should a girl see it before marriage?

In Chapter 3 of Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest, which I've recently started reading online, Effi and her mother are spending some days in Berlin before her marriage, accompanied by her cousin ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What is the significance of "Come, Effi"?

In Chapter 3 of Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest, which I've started reading online, there seems to be some kind of foreshadowing when Effi's future husband Baron von Innstetten is talking with (or ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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What is known about the last book Theodor Fontane worked on?

This question started when I noticed a curious aside in Fontane's Wikipedia article: Fontane was plagued by health problems during his last years but continued to work until a few hours before his ...
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1 vote
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What's the significance of the name "Johnnie" in "The Bridge by the Tay"?

There's only one named character in this translation of Fontane's "Die Brück’ am Tay" ("The Bridge by the Tay"): "Johnnie". Johnnie shows up twice in the poem: Now, ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Why does "The Tragedy of Afghanistan" suddenly switch to second-person in the second-to-last verse?

Here's the second-to-last verse from a translation of Fontane's "Das Trauerspiel von Afghanistan" ("The Tragedy of Afghanistan"): They played all night and the following day, They ...
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9 votes
3 answers
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What would it mean for a 19th-century German soldier to "wear the cross"?

In the first chapter of Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest, which I've started reading online, we are introduced to the character of Baron Geert von Innstetten as follows (emphasis mine): "Yes, ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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What is this passage saying about Precentor Jahnke?

In Chapter 1 of Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest, which I've just started reading online, two friends of Effi are introduced as follows: Two of the young girls, plump little creatures, whose ...
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0 votes
2 answers
490 views

What is the central summary of "Erlkönig"?

I was listening to Franz Schubert’s musical concert of "Erlkönig", and the music was perfect. The lyrics were quite plain and simple, but why is it so famous? I read the poem, heard Schubert ...
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4 votes
3 answers
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What is meant by “present tense whatever” here, exactly?

This is excerpted from the forewords of the English translation by John E. Woods of The Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg in German) by Thomas Mann: It takes place, or, to avoid any present tense ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What does this quatrain of Goethe's ("Gesang der Geister über den Wassern") mean?

What does this quatrain of Goethe's ("Gesang der Geister über den Wassern") mean? Seele des Menschen Wie gleichst du dem Wasser Schicksal des Menschen Wie gleichst du dem Wind Translation: ...
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4 votes
1 answer
255 views

Why did Fontane choose to write "The Tragedy of Afghanistan"?

Theodor Fontane, a German poet, wrote "Das Trauerspiel von Afghanistan" (translated here as "The Tragedy of Afghanistan") in 1847. It's about the aftermath of a massacre suffered ...
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6 votes
0 answers
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Was Fontane's Tay Bridge poem compared to McGonagall's at the time?

The Tay Bridge Disaster is one of the most famous bridge collapses. It inspired a universally reviled (yet nevertheless wildly (in)famous) poem from William McGonagall, "The Tay Bridge Disaster&...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Identify a Faust quote about being careful when calling upon bad spirits

As a comment on a disaster, someone quoted orally in German from Faust. They explained the quote as: one should be careful with calling upon bad spirits. The German verb "mahnen" was used. ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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German book where a hiring manager hires his former bully

I am trying to find a German book from which I read an excerpt when I was in high school studying German (between 1997 and 1999). In that book a manager at a company is reviewing applications for an ...
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22 votes
1 answer
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Why would one of Germany's leading publishers publish a novel by Jewish writer Stefan Zweig in 1939?

I am reading the Penguin Edition of Impatience of the Heart by Stefan Zweig - also known as Beware of Pity in other translations. The reverse of the title page states that the book was first published ...
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5 votes
1 answer
434 views

What is it time for in Paul Celan's "Corona"?

From Paul Celan's poem "Corona", available e.g. here in both the original German and an English translation: It is time that the stone took the trouble to bloom That an unrest’s heart ...
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6 votes
1 answer
232 views

Does the original German version of Fontane's Tay Bridge poem contain the same literary references?

In this English translation of Theodor Fontane's poem "Die Brücke am Tay" (here translated as "The Bridge by the Tay", elsewhere also as "The Tay Bridge"), I noticed a ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What did Goethe mean by "each situation, each moment, is of infinite worth"?

Each situation, each moment, is of infinite worth; for each represents a whole eternity. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I lit upon this on p. 395 of National Geographic Stunning Photographs. I can't ...
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2 votes
1 answer
191 views

What does Rainer Maria Rilke mean by "the small things hardly noticeable"?

I lit upon this quote on p. 108 in National Geographic's photo book Sublime Nature. Goodreads has it. “If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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What arguments have scholars used to characterise Kafka's The Metamorphosis as magical realism?

In comments below the question What style are Kafka's novels?, Peter Shor said, Kafka has been characterized as "magical realism". On the other hand, there are lots of people who disagree ...
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-2 votes
2 answers
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Original Grimms' fairy tales

The problem with Fairy Tales is that with the passage of time they were changed in order to become more politically correct. Which version of the Grimms' fairy tales was least affected by "...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What does "Fills now my cup" mean?

In Rilke's poem "Pietà", there is this sentence: Fills now my cup, and past thought is my fulness thereof. I harden as a stone sets hard at its heart. What does "Fills now my cup"...
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3 votes
0 answers
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When and how was the manuscript of Fratricide Punished / Der bestrafte Brudermord lost?

Yesterday, I asked a question about the relationship between the Ur-Hamlet and Fratricide Punished / Der bestrafte Brudermord. The Wikipedia page about Fratricide Punished says that the play was first ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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Brecht's Life of Galileo and the need for hero

Regarding Brecht's play The life of Galileo. There is a part where Andrea says 'unhappy the land that has no heroes' and Galileo says 'No, unhappy the land that needs heroes' Can you make reference to ...
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6 votes
1 answer
119 views

Why is Georg Büchner considered such an important figure in German literature?

Georg Büchner was recently proposed as a topic challenge for Lit.SE, and both that proposal and his Wikipedia page concur that he is considered an important figure in the history of German literature, ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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If I find a book by Nietzsche, how do I know if it's Friedrich's original work, and not work that was edited by his nazi sister, Elisabeth?

Background I've been getting into philosophy lately, and I've been wanting to read some of Nietzsche's work. But history has it that after his mental decline, and subsequent death, his sister became ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Where are the Rosicrucian Original Texts in Latin or German (online or offline)?

Looking here, there are 3 or 4 texts which I can only find English translations of online. Do the original German or Latin ones exist anywhere online or off? Fama Fraternitatis Confessio ...
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7 votes
1 answer
356 views

Secondary literature on "The Warden of the Tomb"

The Warden of the Tomb is an expressionist play fragment by Kafka. Although incomplete, possibly extremely so, it's still decently long - about fourteen pages. Sadly (to me at least), as far as I can ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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What is the inner meaning of "A Common Confusion"?

"A Common Confusion" is a very short story by Franz Kafka, only three paragraphs long with an English translation available in full online: A common experience, resulting in a common ...
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6 votes
4 answers
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What well known phrase from "Götz von Berlichingen" is alluded to in All Quiet in the Western Front?

In Chapter 10 of All Quiet on the Western Front, Paul and his comrades are goofing around by pretending to give orders to each other. "Tjaden!" - "What?" - "Stand at ease, Tjaden; and what's more, ...
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4 votes
0 answers
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Are all editions of "Joseph und seine Brüder" (by Thomas Mann) the same?

There are several editions of Joseph and his brothers (original German Joseph und seine Brüder). Do all of them contain the same text? Or did Thomas Mann make some "adjustments" for some publishers?
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9 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of the slash ("/") in dialog in Ernst Toller's "Die Wandlung"

I have to translate German playwright Ernst Toller's drama Die Wandlung. In this drama, Toller uses slashes in the dialogues of some characters to separate the sentences, like this: KRIEGSTOD: ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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What was Faust's purpose?

It seems like at the end of Goethe's Faust II, he has realized what he should do. Shortly before that, he kills humans on his quest to help humanity. So what exactly is his new purpose, except that he ...
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3 votes
1 answer
107 views

Mann's introduction to The Magic Mountain?

I remember that the edition of The Magic Mountain I read around 7 or 8 years ago contained an introduction that was written by Mann and inspired by a lecture he gave about his book. I remember it ...
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