Interrogations of Evolutionism in German Literature 1859-2011


Darwin’s idea has been called the best idea anyone ever had. In Interrogations of Evolutionism in German Literature 1859-2011 Nicholas Saul offers the first representative account of German literary responses to Darwinian evolutionism from Raabe and Jensen via Ernst Jünger and Botho Strauß to Dietmar Dath.
Often identified with National Socialist ideology and hence notably absent from the public sphere after 1945, Darwinian thought is in fact shown to be distorted though the lens of Social Darwinism and bionationalist organicism. As Nicholas Saul shows, literature has been the main agent in public discourse for challenging such illiberal presentations, and there is a common thread of salvific individualism which leads to the new legitimacy of Darwinian discourse today.

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Nicholas Saul, Ph.D. Cambridge (1982), is Professor of German at the University of Durham. He has published several monographs and many essays on modern German literature and ideas, including Gypsies and Orientalism in German Literature and Anthropology of the Long Nineteenth Century (Legenda, 2007).
List of Illustrations
Introduction. Two Cultures?

1 Realism. Darwinism into Literature: First Responses by Raabe and Jensen
 1 Narrative Threads and Literary Anthropology in the Service of Life: Raabe’s Drei Federn
 2 Writing Inheritance and Change in Jensen’s Das Erbtheil des Blutes

2 Fin de siècle. Darwinism and Literature, or Literature and Darwinism? Nordau, Haeckel, Bölsche
 1 Darwinism Overwrites Art: Nordau’s ‘Evolutionistische Ästhetik’, Entartung and Krankheit des Jahrhunderts
 2 Nature as Artist: Haeckel’s ‘Darwinism’ in the Natürliche Schöpfungs-Geschichte
 3 Darwin as Poet in the Great Chain of Genius: Bölsche’s Aesthetic Relecture of Darwinism

3 Weimar I. Ernst Jünger’s Evolutionism between the vita activa and the vita contemplativa
 1 Introduction: Biography and Research
 2 In Stahlgewittern: War, Nature, Technology, Writing
 3 Sturm: War, Darwinism, Vitalism, Writing Again
 4 Publicistic Writing as Action. Spengler: Life as Politics, Vitalistic Fascism
 5 Das Abenteuerliche Herz: Vitalistic Science
 6 Der Arbeiter: Life Is Politics. The Whole and the Parts. Freedom and Necessity
 7 Retreat into Contemplation: Literature. Continuities
 8 Darwin and Spengler Evolved. Legacies

4 Weimar II. Evolutionism and Space in Hans Grimm
 1 ‘… ein beseligter Aufnehmer’: Cornelius Friebott’s Poetic-Homiletic Education as National Seer
 2 Darwin, Space, Word: Anthropogeography from Malthus, Ratzel, Naumann, Haushofer and Hildebrand to Grimm

5 Postmodernism. Time’s Arrow, System and Aesthetic Redemption: Evolutionism in Botho Strauß
 1 Introduction. Biography and Research
 2 Literature and/as Evolution. Copying and Rewriting the Script in Rumor
 3 Evolutionist Aesthetics, Culture and Society: Copying and Rewriting in Paare, Passanten and Der junge Mann
 4 System Theory, Evolutionary Aesthetics and Self: Der junge Mann, Beginnlosigkeit, and Die Fehler des Kopisten

6 Wende und Ecoliterature. Gradualism and Saltationism: The Uses of Evolutionism in Judith Schalansky and Franz Hohler
 1 ‘Was waren schon Romane?’ Darwinian Gradualism in Der Hals der Giraffe
 2 ‘… niemand weiß, wie es weitergehen soll’. Saltationism and Emergence in ‘Die Rückeroberung’ and Der neue Berg

7 Posthumanism. Failure and Reinvention of the Human in Dietmar Dath

All interested in literature and science and the ‘two cultures’ culture, literary and discourse theory, twentieth-and twenty-first-century Germanic cultural, social and political history.
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