German language literature
German literature comprises those literary texts written in the
German literature of the modern period is mostly in
Standard German, but there are some currents of literature influenced to a greater or lesser degree by dialects (e.g. Alemannic).
An early flowering of German literature is the
Middle High Germanperiod of the High Middle Ages. Modern literaturein German begins with the authors of the Enlightenment(such as Herder) and reaches its "classical" form at the turn of the 18th century with Weimar Classicism( Goetheand Schiller).
Periodizationis not an exact sciencebut the following list contains movements or time periods typically used in discussing German literature. It seems worth noting that the periods of medievalGerman literature span two or three centuries, those of early modern German literature span one century, and those of modern German literature each span one or two decades. The closer one nears the present, the more debated the periodizations become.
Medieval German literature
** Old High German literature (750-1050)
** Middle High German literature (1050-1300)
** Late medieval German literature/Renaissance (1300-1500)
* Early Modern German literature (see
Early Modern literature)
** Humanism and
** Baroque (1600-1720)
** Enlightenment (1680-1789)
* Modern German literature
** Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-century German literature
*** "Empfindsamkeit" / Sensibility (1750s-1770s)
*** "Sturm und Drang" / Storm and Stress (1760s-1780s)
*** German Classicism (1729–1832)
Weimar Classicism(1788-1805) or (1788-1832), depending on whether one marks the end of this period with Schiller's death (1805) or with Goethe's (1832)
*** Poetic Realism (1848-1890)
*** Naturalism (1880-1900)
** Twentieth-century German literature
Fin de siècle(ca. 1900)
New Objectivity(Neue Sachlichkeit)
**** National Socialist literature
**** Exile literature
**** By country
***** Federal Republic of Germany
***** German Democratic Republic
**** By thematic or group
***** Post-war literature (1945-1967)
** Contemporary German literature (1989-)
graph of works listed in Frenzel, "Daten deutscher Dichtung" (1952). Visible is medieval literature overlapping with Renaissance up to the 1540s, modern literature beginning 1720, and the baroque period separating the two, from 1550 to 1700.
Medieval German literature refers to
literaturewritten in Germany, stretching from the Carolingian dynasty; various dates have been given for the end of the German literary Middle Ages, the Reformation (1517) being the last possible cut-off point.
Old High German
The Old High German period is reckoned to run until about the mid-11th century, though the boundary to Early Middle High German (second half of the 11th century) is not clear-cut.
The most famous work in OHG is the "
Hildebrandslied", a short piece of Germanic alliterative heroic verse which besides the " Muspilli" is the sole survivor of what must have been a vast oral tradition. Another important work, in the northern dialect of Old Saxon, is a life of Christ in the style of a heroic epic known as the " Heliand".
Middle High German
Middle High Germanproper runs from the beginning of the 12th century. In the second half of the 12th century, there was a sudden intensification of activity, leading to a 60-year "golden age" of medieval German literature referred to as the "mittelhochdeutsche Blütezeit" (1170-1230). This was the period of the blossoming of MHG lyric poetry, particularly Minnesang(the German variety of the originally French tradition of courtly love). One of the most important of these poets was Walther von der Vogelweide. The same sixty years saw the composition of the most important courtly romances. These are written in rhyming couplets, and again draw on French models such as Chrétien de Troyes, many of them relating Arthurianmaterial, for example, " Parzival" by Wolfram von Eschenbach. The third literary movement of these years was a new revamping of the heroic tradition, in which the ancient Germanic oral tradition can still be discerned, but tamed and Christianized and adapted for the court. These high medieval heroic epics are written in rhymed strophes, not the alliterative verse of Germanic prehistory. For example, the " Niebelungenlied".
Early Modern period
German Renaissance and Reformation
Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski(1503–1572)
The Baroque period (1600 to 1720) was one of the most fertile times in
German literature. Many writers reflected the horrible experiences of the Thirty Years' War, in poetryand prose. Grimmelshausen's adventures of the young and naïve Simplicissimus, in the eponymous book Simplicius Simplicissimus, became the most famous novel of the Baroque period. Andreas Gryphiusand Daniel Caspar von Lohensteinwrote German language tragedies, or "Trauerspiele", often on Classical themes and frequently quite violent. Erotic, religious and occasional poetry appeared in both German and Latin.
August Friedrich Wilhelm Crome
Johann Gottfried Herder
Paul Heinrich Dietrich von Holbach
Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi
Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Carl Leonhard Reinhold
Christian Jacob Wagenseil
Christian Felix Weiße
Christoph Martin Wieland
"Empfindsamkeit" / Sensibility (1750s-1770s)
Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock(1724–1803), Christian Fürchtegott Gellert(1715–1769), Sophie de La Roche(1730–1807). The period culminates and ends in Goethe's best-selling " Die Leiden des jungen Werther" (1774).
"Sturm und Drang"
"Sturm und Drang" (the conventional translation is "Storm and Stress"; a more literal translation, however, might be "storm and urge", "storm and longing", or "storm and impulse") is the name of a movement in
German literatureand musictaking place from the late 1760s through the early 1780s in which individual subjectivityand, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in response to the confines of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenmentand associated aestheticmovements. The philosopher Johann Georg Hamannis considered to be the ideologue of Sturm und Drang, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethewas a notable proponent of the movement, though he and Friedrich Schillerended their period of association with it, initiating what would become Weimar Classicism.
Weimar Classicism (German “"Weimarer Klassik"” and “"Weimarer Klassizismus"”) is a cultural and
literary movementof Europe, and its central ideas were originally propounded by Johann Wolfgang von Goetheand Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schillerduring the period 1788–1832.
German Romanticismwas the dominant movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. German Romanticism developed relatively late compared to its English counterpart, coinciding in its early years with the movement known as German Classicismor Weimar Classicism, which it opposed. In contrast to the seriousness of English Romanticism, the German variety is notable for valuing humor and wit as well as beauty. The early German romantics tried to create a new synthesis of art, philosophy, and science, looking to the Middle Agesas a simpler, more integrated period. As time went on, however, they became increasingly aware of the tenuousness of the unity they were seeking. Later German Romanticism emphasized the tension between the everyday world and the seemingly irrational and supernatural projections of creative genius. Heinrich Heinein particular criticized the tendency of the early romantics to look to the medieval past for a model of unity in art and society.
Heinrich von Kleist
Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg)
August Wilhelm Schlegel
Joseph von Eichendorff
Biedermeier and Vormärz
Biedermeierrefers to work in the fields of literature, music, the visual arts and interior design in the period between the years 1815( Vienna Congress), the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and 1848, the year of the European revolutions and contrasts with the Romantic era which preceded it. Typical Biedermeier poets are Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, Adelbert von Chamisso, Eduard Mörike, and Wilhelm Müller, the last two of which have well-known musical settings by Hugo Wolfand Franz Schubertrespectively. Young Germany("Junges Deutschland") was a loose group of Vormärzwriters which existed from about 1830 to 1850. It was essentially a youth movement (similar to those that had swept France, Ireland and originated in Italy). Its main proponents were Karl Gutzkow, Heinrich Laube, Theodor Mundtand Ludolf Wienbarg; Heinrich Heine, Ludwig Börneand Georg Büchnerwere also considered part of the movement. The wider circle included Willibald Alexis, Adolf Glassbrennerand Gustav Kühne.
Realism and Naturalism
Poetic Realism (1848-1890)
1900 to 1933
Fin de siècle(ca. 1900)
New Objectivity(Neue Sachlichkeit)
*National Socialist literature: see
Blut und Boden, Nazi propagandaUnder the Nazi regime, some authors went into exile ("Exilliteratur") and others submitted to censorship ("internal emigration", "Innere Emigration")
Gottfried Benn, Werner Bergengruen, Hans Blüher, Otto Dix, Hans Heinrich Ehrler, Werner Finck, Gertrud Fussenegger, Ricarda Huch, Ernst Jünger, Erich Kästner, Volker Lachmann, Oskar Loerke, Erika Mitterer, Walter von Molo, Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen, Richard Riemerschmid, Reinhold Schneider, Frank Thiess, Carl von Ossietzky, Ernst Wiechert
* in exile:
Ernst Bloch, Bertolt Brecht, Hermann Broch, Alfred Döblin, Lion Feuchtwanger, Bruno Frank, A. M. Frey, Anna Gmeyner, Oskar Maria Graf, Heinrich Eduard Jacob, Hermann Kesten, Annette Kolb, Siegfried Kracauer, Emil Ludwig, Heinrich Mann, Klaus Mann, Thomas Mann, Balder Olden, Rudolf Olden, Robert Neumann, Erich Maria Remarque, Ludwig Renn, Alice Rühle-Gerstel, Otto Rühle, Alice Schwarz-Gardos, Anna Seghers, B. Traven, Bodo Uhse, Franz Werfel, Arnold Zweig, Stefan Zweig.
1945 to 1989
* Post-war literature (1945-1967);
Group 47; Holocaust literature( Anne Frank, Edgar Hilsenrath)
* Literature of
East Germany: Wolf Biermann, Sarah Kirsch, Günter Kunert, Reiner Kunzesee|Heinrich Mann Prize
Postmodern literature: Oswald Wiener, Hans Wollschläger, Christoph Ransmayr, Marlene Streeruwitz
Nobel Prize laureates
The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to German language authors twelve times (as of 2007), or the third most often after English and French language authors (with 27 and 13 laureates, respectively).
Rudolf Christoph Eucken
Andreas Eschbach, Frank Schätzing.
Dietmar Dath, Christian Kracht, Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre, Rainald Goetz.
migrant literature: Feridun Zaimoglu, Wladimir Kaminer, Rafik Schami
Marcel Beyer, Uwe Kolbe, Thomas Kling(1957-2005)
* [http://www.literaturport.de/index.php?id=27 Literaturport (in German): audio clips of contemporary literature, many read out by the authors themselves]
History of German
list of German-language authors, list of German-language playwrights
list of German-language poets
list of German-language philosophers.
History of literature
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