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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26
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1answer
1k views

When and why did the Brothers Grimm start collecting fairy tales?

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are well known for authoring multiple collections of traditional folk tales in the late 18th/early 19th century. Their first major collection of stories was published in 1812. ...
22
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1answer
5k views

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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485 views

What is the Neverending Story's moral about power?

In Michael Ende's brilliant novel The Neverending Story, the world of Fantastica is ruled by the Childlike Empress, a mysterious ruler who is given a different name each time a new human comes to her ...
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3k views

How can the inscription on AURYN be interpreted?

In The Neverending Story, AURYN, the medallion of the Childlike Empress, bears the following inscription (at least while Bastian is carrying it - it's never 100% confirmed that it had the same writing ...
13
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1answer
507 views

What's the significance of Faust's meeting being on Easter Day?

In Goethe's Faust, the eponymous (anti?)hero meets the demon Mephistopheles on what seems to be Easter Sunday, during local celebrations of Easter. Given the religious themes in the story, this surely ...
13
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1answer
2k views

Why "Moon Child"?

In The Neverending Story, the main turning point is when Bastian gives the Childlike Empress her much-needed name, saves Fantastica, and enters into the story himself. This name is "Moon Child", or "...
12
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4answers
815 views

In the "Neverending Story", what judgement do Falkor and Atreyu make of the Childlike Empress?

When I recently read The Neverending Story to my children, they were puzzled by this passage, and I could offer no help: “Falkor,” Atreyu asked, “do you suppose the Childlike Empress cares what ...
12
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1answer
1k views

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 ...
12
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1answer
2k views

Which German book was Poe referring to?

The opening line of Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Man of the Crowd" is as follows. It was well said of a certain German book that "er lasst sich nicht lesen"- it does not permit itself to be ...
12
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1answer
603 views

Can W.G. Sebald's walks in "The Rings of Saturn" be traced?

In W.G. Sebald's 1995 novel The Rings of Saturn, the author describes different walks he takes. In some paragraphs, he describes the paths he takes very carefully, while in others he only mentions ...
10
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3answers
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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 ...
10
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Where is Kafka's "The Trial" set?

The novel The Trial by Franz Kafka contains many deliberate omissions of information: for example, the main character's surname and the names of several other characters, the nature of his crime, and ...
10
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1answer
303 views

Where is Momo set?

Every time I start to read the opening paragraphs of Michael Ende's Momo, I think for a moment "wait, is this set thousands of years ago and I forgot?" before realising those paragraphs are only ...
9
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3answers
2k views

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, ...
9
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1answer
140 views

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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115 views

What methods have been used to distinguish the text between the two strands of The Neverending Story?

I've owned two copies of Michael Ende's The Neverending Story in my life - both English translations, one paperback with a blue cover, one hardback with a red cover inside the dustcover. Both of them ...
8
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2answers
847 views

What are all the stories left unfinished in The Neverending Story?

A recurring phrase in Michael Ende's The Neverending Story, often seen when some character or characters drop out of the story, is ".. but that's another story and shall be told another time"...
8
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1answer
200 views

Is it possible that Bastian's journey to Fantastica was purely metaphysical?

The first half of The Neverending Story is about Bastian reading a fantasy story about Atreyu's adventures in Fantastica. The second half is about Bastian's own adventures in Fantastica, a world which ...
7
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2answers
147 views

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 ...
7
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1answer
668 views

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 ...
7
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1answer
2k views

Why is Josef K.'s last name never revealed?

Throughout the novel, the main character's name is given only as "Josef K." In fact, as I recall, several characters even actually refer to him as Josef K. Why isn't he given a last name? Is this ...
7
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1answer
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What is the significance of "half past two" in Wolfgang Borchert's The Clock and The Bread?

In both The Clock and The Bread by Wolfgang Borchert there is a mention of the events happening at "half past two" in the morning. I have been unable to find a historical event of World War Two that ...
7
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1answer
107 views

In which year was Frühlingsbotschaft by Heinrich Heine published?

I have been searching the entire internet (or mostly) and can't find when Frühlingsbotschaft by Heinrich Heine was first published. I double-checked and it is not part of his collections Gedichte, ...
7
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1answer
235 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 ...
7
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1answer
146 views

Why are letters hostile to the Childlike Empress?

When the Childlike Empress reaches the home of the Old Man of Wandering Mountain, she has to climb a ladder made out of letters, his message to her. Her wide white gown was in tatters, for it had ...
6
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4answers
849 views

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, ...
6
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1answer
53 views

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 ...
6
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1answer
500 views

Who or what is Cassiopeia?

In Michael Ende's Momo, the tortoise Cassiopeia seems to be something of a mystery. Even Professor Hora is easier to grasp: he appears to be a sort of personification of time itself, sending everyone'...
6
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73 views

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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59 views

How much of Fantastica remains the same between iterations?

Each time a human comes to Fantastica, the whole world is essentially 'rebooted'. We see this in chapter 13, where Bastian and the Childlike Empress start off in total empty nothingness, before he ...
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173 views

How significant is Schopenhauer's philosophy in Buddenbrooks?

In Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks, in part 10, Thomas Buddenbrook finds himself reading a treatise on philosophy, which elevates him above his day to day care to a level where he can see the pettiness of ...
5
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1answer
228 views

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?
5
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2answers
360 views

Why do the names of the first two characters introduced in "The Neverending Story" start with B and C?

I only recently started the book, so I'm hoping that I'm not missing something that's made clear in the book later, but the first character introduced in the book is named Bastian Balthazar Bux (whose ...
5
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1answer
254 views

What does "Wireless-men" mean?

In All Quiet on the Western Front, the narrator says, In the meantime we receive visitors, a couple of wireless-men, who are generously invited to the feed. They sit in the living-room where there ...
5
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1answer
202 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 ...
5
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1answer
54 views

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: ...
5
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1answer
90 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, ...
5
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1answer
103 views

Why does Die Verwandlung have autobiographical aspects?

Why does Die Verwandlung have autobiographical aspects? What similarities are there between the life of Gregor Samsa and the life of Franz Kafka?
5
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1answer
75 views

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 ...
5
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1answer
196 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 ...
5
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1answer
207 views

In which year was Frühling by Hermann Hesse published?

I have been searching the entire internet (or mostly) and can't find when Frühling by Hermann Hesse was first published. I was able to find that in 1948, Richard Strauss wrote the album Four Last ...
5
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3answers
752 views

Why didn't Josef K. simply ignore the summons?

Given that Josef K. didn't know exactly who was even summoning him or on what basis they were doing so, why did he cooperate? What would've happened if he had simply refused to go along with the whole ...
5
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2answers
149 views

Collection of short-stories for kids/teens in German

Around 13-15 years ago I had a book (or 2!) which featured a collection of short stories. It was written in German; I sadly remember neither the name of the book, nor the author's or publisher's name. ...
5
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1answer
128 views

Did Heine write “wo die Blumen sprießen” or “wo die Veilchen sprießen” in Frühlingsbotschaft?

Kling' hinaus bis an das Haus, wo die Veilchen sprießen: Wenn du eine Rose schaust, sag', ich lass sie grüßen. Is the original text "Veilchen spriessen" or "Blumen spriessen"? I have seen both ...
5
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1answer
928 views

What are the charactaristics of German Trümmerliteratur?

Trümmerliteratur is a literary movement that originated in Germany shortly after the Second World War. What are typical charactaristics of Trümmerliteratur? How can a work that is Trümmerliteratur be ...
5
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0answers
151 views

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? ...
4
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1answer
1k views

Why didn't Artax just wait for Atreyu outside the Swamp of Sadness?

Artax was evidently profoundly affected by the Swamp of Sadness, eventually sinking into a deep depression. However, the Swamp had no effect whatever on Atreyu, which Artax thought was likely due to ...
4
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3answers
32 views

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 ...
4
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1answer
986 views

Rilke's quotation by Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison likes to quote Rilke's "Beware, o wanderer, the road is walking too." Does anybody know where it comes from?
4
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1answer
219 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 ...