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Paul S. Spalding

Abstract

Jonathan Israel appears not to credit sufficiently how ‘moderates’ could contribute in practice to the agenda of the Radical Enlightenment. General Lafayette struck compromises with the old order in France up to 1792, for instance, but only so as to promote radical values that he had pursued from youth and would continue to pursue for the rest of his long life. Liberal or centrist sympathizers, particularly those in London and Hamburg, provide another instance. During Lafayetteʼs incarceration and exile in 1792–1799, they supported him financially, maintained secret communications, plotted breakouts, and publicized his case. By defying the traditional order and helping enable his release and eventual return to public activity, they too promoted the radical agenda.

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Gabriela Stoicea

Abstract

This essay explores some of the ways in which Jonathan Israel’s concept of Radical Enlightenment can be made useful for literary studies. An in-depth analysis of Sophie von La Roche’s novel Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim (1771) will show that although Israel offers little in the way of new insights into eighteenth-century gender relations, his pluralistic account of the Enlightenment does provide a fresh lens through which to reexamine the literary merits of female writers. It will also be argued that the benefits of pairing historiography with literary fiction run both ways – in other words, that La Roche, in turn, can help address what is missing from Israel’s thinking, namely an acknowledgment that some of the foremost intellectual debates of the time were also waged on literary ground, and also by women.

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Dagmar C. G. Lorenz

Stereotypical characters that promoted the Nazi worldview were repurposed by antifascist authors in Weimar Germany, argues Dagmar C.G. Lorenz. This is the first book to trace Nazi characters through the German and Austrian literature. Until the defeat of the Third Reich, pro-Nazi literature was widely distributed. However, after the war, Nazi publications were suppressed or even banned, and new writers began to dominate the market alongside exile and resistance authors. The fact that Nazi figures remained consistent suggests that, rather than representing real people, they functioned as ideological signifiers. Recent literature and films set in the Nazi era show that “the Nazis”, ambiguous characters with a sinister appeal, live on as an established trope in the cultural imagination.

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Dagmar C.G. Lorenz

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Dagmar C.G. Lorenz

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Edited by Deirdre Byrnes, Jean E Conacher and Gisela Holfter

Since the tumultuous events of 1989/1990, writers, cultural practitioners and academics have responded to, reconstructed and reflected upon the process and enduring impact of German reunification. This bilingual volume provides a nuanced understanding of the literature and culture of the GDR and its legacy today. It explores a broad range of genres, combines perspectives on both lesser-known and more established writers, and juxtaposes academic articles with the personal reflections of those who directly experienced and engaged with the GDR from within or beyond its borders. Whether creative practitioners or academics, contributors consider the broader literary and intellectual contexts and traditions shaping GDR literature and culture in a way that enriches our understanding of reunification and its legacy.

Contributors are: Deirdre Byrnes, Anna Chiarloni, Jean E. Conacher, Sabine Egger, Robert Gillett, Frank Thomas Grub, Jochen Hennig, Nick Hodgin, Frank Hörnigk, Therese Hörnigk, Gisela Holfter, Jeannine Jud, Astrid Köhler, Marieke Krajenbrink, Hannes Krauss, Reinhard Kuhnert, Katja Lange-Müller, Corina Löwe, Hugh Ridley, Kathrin Schmidt.

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Jean E. Conacher

Abstract

Arguably one of those to engage most intensely and personally with the events of autumn 1989 was the GDR mathematician and writer, Helga Königsdorf (1938–2014), not least in 1989 oder Ein Moment Schönheit, her collage of letters, poems and texts published in 1990, where she seeks to represent, and engage critically and honestly with, the myriad of thoughts, emotions and experiences generated by the Wende, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the ultimate move towards the dissolution of the GDR. In the foreword to her collection, the author argues for an appreciation of the uniqueness of the mo­­ment, of the human experience and the creativity it fosters; all these, she recognises, will inevitably be lost in future renderings of events: “Die nach uns kommen, werden die Ereignisse historisch betrachten. Sie werden ihn suchen, den roten Faden durch das Geäst der Zeit. Aber was sie finden, wird nicht das Eigentliche sein” (p. 5). Within this chapter, I explore how Königsdorf configures her collage and some of the themes she raises therein: self-expression and creativity, artistic freedom and responsibility, celebration and mourning, human dignity and reason – and I argue that, in its conscious juxtaposition of text-types and themes, the very genre of “collage” both challenges the normative historiography of events Königsdorf predicts and simultaneously represents in itself a creative historiography predicated on individual experience.