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'Relations Stop Nowhere'

The Common Literary Foundations of German and American Literature 1830-1917


Hugh Ridley

This book attempts for the first time a comparative literary history of Germany and the USA in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Its material does not come from the familiar overlaps of individual German and American writers, but from the work of the literary historians of the two countries after 1815, when American intellectuals took Germany as a model for their project to create an American national literature. The first part of the book examines fundamental structural affinities between the two literary histories and the common problems these caused, especially in questions of canon, realism, aesthetics and in the marginalization of popular and women’s writing. In the second part, significant figures whose work straddle the two literatures – from Sealsfield and Melville, Whitman and Thomas Mann to Nietzsche, Emerson and Bellow – are discussed in detail, and the arguments of the first part are shown in their relevance to understanding major writers. This book is not merely comparative in scope: it shows that only international comparison can explain the course of American literary history in the nineteenth and twentieth century. As recent developments in American Studies explore the multi-cultural and ‘hybrid’ nature of the American tradition, this book offers evidence of the dependencies which linked American and German national literary history.

Lyrik "made in USA"

Vermittlung und Rezeption in der Bundesrepublik


Agnes C. Mueller

This is the first book to analyze fully the West German mediation and reception of American poetry following World War II. Contrary to expectations, it shows that, despite some serious and thoughtful attempts by German authors at mediating contemporary US-poetry to a West German audience shortly after the war, a broad reception was only successful in the late 1960s, concurrent with the student protests and the discovery in Germany of the beat generation. This development is surprising when compared to Germany's much earlier and enthusiastic reception of American prose, film, and mass culture.
The study explores some of the cultural, political, and literary reasons for the delay in poetry mediation and reception - especially in the reception of William Carlos Williams's poems. It describes how poets such as Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and especially Frank O'Hara, Ted Berrigan, Anne Waldman, and John Giorno had and continue to have a significant impact on contemporary German writers and audiences following successful mediation in anthologies by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (1960), Walter Höllerer (1961), and especially Rolf Dieter Brinkmann (1968).
The book will be of interest to Germanists in both Germany and the US because it is the first study of an important but neglected aspect of German literary history between 1945 and 1989. Additionally, the author conducted interviews with significant figures of Germany's contemporary literary scene (Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Peter Hamm and Michael Krüger) which are transcribed and attached in the Appendix. This study will be equally important for scholars and students of Comparative Literature, since it not only deals with two national literatures, but is especially concerned with cross-literary and cross-cultural relations. Finally, the book should also be well received by scholars of American Studies both in Europe and in the US, since it adds significantly to our understanding of the USA in its global context.