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Interbellum Literature

Writing in a Season of Nihilism

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Cor Hermans

In Interbellum Literature historian Cor Hermans presents a panorama of modernist writing in the ominous period 1918-1940. The book offers, in full scope, an engaging synthesis of the most stimulating ideas and tendencies in the novels and plays of a wide circle of writers from France (Proust, Gide, Camus, Céline, Tzara, Aragon, Simone Weil), England and Ireland (Virginia Woolf, Orwell, Joyce, Beckett), the USA (Scott Fitzgerald, Arthur Miller, O’Neill, Hemingway), Austria-Hungary (Musil, Broch, Kafka, Zweig, Roth), and Germany (Hesse, Jünger, Böll, Thomas Mann). Caught between world wars, they nevertheless succeeded in creating some of the best literature ever. They created a philosophy as well, rejecting bourgeois ‘mechanical’ society, designing escape routes from the nihilism of the times.

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John Neubauer

This work, completed by Neubauer on the very eve of his death in 2015, complements both his benchmark The Emancipation of Music from Language (Yale UP, 1986) and his History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe (John Benjamins, 2004-10). It thematizes Romantic interest in oral speech, its poetical usage in music and musical discourse, and its political usage in the national-communitarian cult of the vernacular community. Subtly and with great erudition, Neubauer traces in different genres and fields the many transnational cross-currents around Romantic cultural criticism and writings on music and language, offering not only fresh analytical insights but also a rich account of the interaction between Romantic aesthetics and cultural nationalism.