ZS: German Quarterly: Issue 90.3 "From Modernism to Fascism"

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From Modernism to Fascism



Georg Trakl’s Ghosts: Haunted Poems at the End of History

Richard Millington


Georg Trakl has been described by Bernhard Böschenstein as a “poet of post-history.” In his rich but enigmatic poems, the perspective is imagined near the end-point of the arc of history, where the speaker observes signs of advancing natural and cultural decay. One characteristic of Trakl’s historical end stage is the encroachment of the supernatural sphere upon the natural, as boundaries are loosened between past and present, life and death, real and spectral. A clear development can be detected in Trakl’s treatment of the supernatural theme. The earlier poems have naturalistic settings whose familiarity is progressively undermined by ghostly apparitions. In the later ones, the supernatural element becomes more pervasive, as historical and mythical relations become manifest spatially and climactic events from the speaker’s life history and cultural tradition are re-enacted in abject form. This essay plots the historical and supernatural themes through Trakl’s work via discussion of specific poems.

Kewords:  Georg Trakl – poetry – ghosts – cultural decay –  end of history



Reclaiming Moral Individualism: Jewish Identity in Arthur Schnitzler’s Professor Bernhardi

Helga Schreckenberger 

The protagonist of Arthur Schnitzler’s play Professor Bernhardi (1912) falls victim to an anti-Semitic smear campaign that costs him his career. Bernhardi’s unwavering adherence to his ethical principles and the triumph of his opportunistic detractors has been linked to the crisis of liberalism in Austria at the end of the nineteenth century. This article reads Bernhardi’s individual ethics in the context of contemporary discourses on the relationship of the individual and society that surfaced in response to the increasing anti-Semitism in Europe such as Emile Durkheim’s defense of individualism in “Individualism and the Intellectuals” (1898) and Werner Sombart’s discussion of Jewish contribution to society in Die Juden und das Wirtschaftsleben (1911). It argues that Bernhardi’s insistence on moral individualism should not be read as Schnitzler’s mourning of a failed political ideal but as his reclaiming of the values of Enlightenment for Jewish identity.

Keywords:  Arthur Schnitzler – Professor Bernhardi – crisis of liberalism – anti-Semitism – individualism



Time Wasted: Narcotic Analysis of Thomas Mann’s Der Zauberberg 

Jason Ciaccio 


While the importance of intoxication to Thomas Mann is often noted in criticism, it is usually discussed in relation to his engagement with Nietzsche’s Dionysus and fascism. This article looks to shift this focus: drawing on Derrida’s reading of the pharmakon, and Avital Ronell’s work on drugs and literary modernity, I read “intoxication” in Der Zauberberg as inclusive of the host of drugs, narcotic drafts, stimulants, depressants, and opiates that the novel features. By examining an indeterminate pharmacologic at work in intoxications and diagnoses of toxicity, I demonstrate the role of intoxication in relation to various historical discourses, and colonial and commercial practices. I also situate Mann’s text in relation to the emergence of addiction as a medical and social category. I thus draw attention to intoxication as a crucial dimension of the novel’s social and historical vision.

Keywords:  Thomas Mann – der Zauberberg – drugs – intoxication – commercial practice



Feuchtwanger’s Jud Süß and the Ambiguities of Jewish Political Power

Gabriel Cooper


This reading reassesses Feuchtwanger’s novel Jud Süß (1925) as historical fiction, focusing on the temporality of the events portrayed, rather than the era in which the author wrote. An examination of the motif of betrayal, intrinsic to the historical setting’s characterization, lends insight into the novel’s portrayal of Jewish political power as deeply ambivalent. Whereas previous scholarship has uncritically received Feuchtwanger’s justification for writing the novel, I argue that the author’s interest lay in his subject – the court Jew, Josef Süß Oppenheimer – precisely as a historical Jewish figure. Through his protagonist, Feuchtwanger sought to probe dilemmas that confronted Jews torn between religious community and civil society. Ultimately, the novel espouses a pessimistic view of Jewish political power, and as response to the “Jewish question,” it exposes the insincerity of the state’s offer equal rights to Jews in exchange for relinquishing Judaism.

Keywords:  Lion Feuchtwanger – Jud Süß – historical fiction – Jewish identity – political power



14 December 1930:  Robert Musil Meets Carl Schmitt

Alexander Lambrow


This article takes a concrete event as its starting point: on 14 December 1930, Robert Musil met Carl Schmitt, when Musil visited Schmitt at his home in Berlin after having expressed interest in his work to a mutual acquaintance. In this article, I explore Musil and Schmitt’s elective affinities by examining the critique of historical idealism to be found in Musil’s Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften as well as in Schmitt’s short satire “Die Buribunken,” which ironize the universal pretensions of the world spirit. I argue that Musil and Schmitt were both aware of the act of exception at work in the order of the law, the leap of faith that demands the suspension of one sphere for the priority of another. What ultimately distinguished Musil from Schmitt was his unwillingness to embrace the totalitarian vision of political existentialism, or what Musil called “das Positive.”

Keywords:  Robert Musil – Carl Schmitt – critique – idealism – totalitarianism 



Intellectual and Artistic Responses to Early Fascism—the Historians’ Perspective

(with contributions by Sylvia Taschka, Steven Beller,, Christian Goeschel, Riccardo Bavaj, Roger Chickering, Roger Griffin, Pamela M. Potter, and James A. van Dyke)


Hettler, Hans. Preußen als Kreuzzugsregion. Untersuchungen zu Peter von Dusburgs Chronica terrae Prussiae in Zeit und Umfeld (Jürgen Sarnowsky)


Heiland, Satu. Visualisierung und Rhetorisierung von Geschlecht. Strategien zur Inszenierung weiblicher Sexualität im Märe (Ann Marie Rasmussen)


Loew, Peter Oliver. Wir Unsichtbaren. Geschichte der Polen in Deutschland (James Bjork) 


Johns, Alessa. Bluestocking Feminism and British-German Cultural Transfer, 1750–1837 (Nicole Pohl)


Eldridge, Hannah. Lyric Orientations: Hölderlin, Rilke, and the Poetics of Community (Gabriel Trop)


Rumold, Rainer. Archaeologies of Modernity: Avant-Garde Bildung (Manuel Clemens)


Ledebur, Sophie. Das Wissen der Anstaltspsychiatrie in der Moderne. Zur Geschichte der Heil- und Pflegeanstalten Am Steinhof in Wien (Eric J. Engstrom)


McBride, Patrizia. The Chatter of the Visible: Montage and Narrative in Weimar Germany (Kerstin Barndt)


Huyssen, Andreas. Miniature Metropolis: Literature in an Age of Photography and Film (Annie Bourneuf)


Schwilk, Heimo. Ernst Jünger. Ein Jahrhundertleben (Eliah Bures)


Krischel, Matthis. Urologie und Nationalsozialismus. Eine Studie zu Medizin und Politik als Ressourcen füreinander (Jens Kolata)


Black, Monica, and Eric Kurlander, eds. Revisiting the “Nazi Occult”: Histories, Realities, Legacies (Julian Strube)


Allan, Seán, and Sebastian Heiduschke, eds. Re-Imagining DEFA: East German Cinema in its National and Transnational Contexts (Friedemann Weidauer)


Ring, Annie. After the Stasi: Collaboration and the Struggle for Sovereign Subjectivity in the Writing of German Unification (Jennifer Marston William)


Mani, B. Venkat. Recoding World Literature: Libraries, Print Culture, and Germany’s Pact with Books (Stefan H. Uhlig)


Diese Ankündigung wurde von H-GERMANISTIK [Lukas Büsse] betreut – editorial-germanistik@mail.h-net.msu.edu