German Literature: A Very Short Introduction and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more


or
Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Colour:
Image not available

 
Start reading German Literature on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

German Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]

Nicholas Boyle
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
You Save: 2.40 (30%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 3 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 30 July? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 5.31  
Paperback 5.59  

Book Description

28 Feb 2008 Very Short Introductions
German writers, from Luther and Goethe to Heine, Brecht, and Gunter Grass, have had a profound influence on the modern world. This Very Short Introduction presents an engrossing tour of the course of German literature from the late Middle Ages to the present, focussing especially on the last 250 years. Emphasizing the economic and religious context of many masterpieces of German literature, it highlights how they can be interpreted as responses to social and political changes within an often violent and tragic history. The result is a new and clear perspective which illuminates the power of German literature and the German intellectual tradition, and its impact on the wider cultural world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Frequently Bought Together

German Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) + German Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Buy the selected items together


Product details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (28 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199206597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199206599
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 11.1 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Review

Boyle has a sure touch and an obvious authority...this is a balanced and lively introduction to German literature. Ben Hutchinson, TLS highly impressive... Professor Boyle concentrates on creating a lucid, wide-ranging historical background against which each of the five periods is brought to life, with a challenging choice of examples Forum for Modern Language Studies

About the Author

Nicholas Boyle is the Schroder Professor of German and President of Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge. He was also Head of the University's Department of German from1996 to 2001. He has so far published two volumes of his prizewinnning biography, Goethe: the Poet and the Age, and his most recent book is Sacred and Secular Scriptures: a Catholic approach to literature published in 2004, based on the Erasmus Lectures which he delivered at Notre Dame University. Professor Boyle is a Fellow of the British Academy, holds an honorary degree from Georgetown University in Washington DC, and was awarded the Goethe Medal of the Goethe Institut in 2000.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
German literature, in the narrow sense, is the literature of the states, predominantly the Lutheran states, of the Holy Roman Empire, and of their 19th-century successor kingdoms, which were gathered by Bismarck into his Second Empire and, after an interval as the Weimar Republic, formed the core of Hitler's Third Empire. Read the first page
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
Search inside this book:


Customer Reviews

3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars German Literature and its place in the world 27 Aug 2012
By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
German Literature: A very short introduction by Nicholas Boyle, Oxford University Press, 2008, 182 ff.

The author, who is the Schröder Professor of German and President of Magdalene College at Cambridge University, makes the point in the Introduction to his book that literature is about more than the texts themselves. They reflect on and impact on the world through their authors and readers. German literature has excelled in subjective poetic literature but has contributed rather less to the more objective realistic novel. Boyle makes the point that the term `German literature' embraces a wider field than just books generated by authors within what we now recognise as the German nation.

During the Middle Ages the German nation was slowly establishing an identity for itself through the increasing importance of the university throughout German lands after the Reformation. Boyle maintains that Luther's `revival of Augustine's distinction between the earthly and the heavenly cities was the true source of the modern dualism of matter and mind that is usually attributed to Descartes.' In fact, the Reformation that Luther inspired did much to promote the influence of the universities. The first Prussian university was established in Prague in 1348 and in this period there were 40 universities in Germany compared with just two in England. Meister Eckhart, Jacob Böhme, Martin Luther, Gottfried Leibniz, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Klopstock, to mention just a few well-known writers cited by Boyle, emerged from within this cultural setting. Johannes Gutenberg invented printing in the 15th century and this led to widespread dissemination of literature.

`The History of Dr John Faust' appeared in Frankfurt in 1587.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars places german literature in historical context 22 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback
these physically very small books (18 cm by 11 cm) are my first choice when looking for a concise overview of a given subject. they are so appealing because you can easily read them in two days.
they really will save you the time of personal research.

in the same series =
English Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
French Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Polemic and deceptive 30 Dec 2011
By Germanist - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Boyle is clearly an expert in his field, and at least initially the book offers a good basic summary of German literature and history in the early and classical eras - even despite a distracting and ultimately tedious tendency to historicist reduction. As the book goes on, however, Boyle's prejudices become more and more manifest. Nietzsche is given a few sneering paragraphs, Heidegger barely acknowledged except to name him "an intellectual totem of the right," Benjamin's contribution reduced to a supposed mistake in the understanding of "art," and Adorno dispatched merely as someone who agreed with the Nazis about jazz music and an elitist writer of "half-truths" (who is moreover surpassed in philosophical acumen by Hesse!). And lest all this be excused on the grounds that Boyle is ultimately discussing German literature, not philosophy, he also condescendingly reduces Jean Paul to a writer of popular novels, Kleist in a brief paragraph to a nationalist and Brecht to a hypocritical aesthete. (Thomas Mann, meanwhile, is bestowed over eight glowing pages.) The contributions of Kafka, Rilke, Musil, and other non-"German" writers of German literature are also indeed sorely missed.

To put it simply, Boyle's book is one of extreme tendentiousness masquerading as erudite objectivity. The book is rife with odd distortions, simplifications, and questionable opinions. It pains me to think that people coming to German literature for the first time might be tempted to take Boyle at his word. For someone who knows a bit about German literature and can read this book with a critical eye (and much anger), the book can provide a decent review (as well as illuminating some of the battles that are still to be fought). For anyone looking for a good place to begin the study of German literature: buyer beware.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dense with information 8 Oct 2010
By Elena Cuomo - Published on Amazon.com
Boyle, the author of the most thorough and insightful biography of Goethe in the last century, has composed an excellent introduction to German literature. It's ideal for someone who would like to understand the connections between German history and literary expression. However, the book is complex and it treats the literature in the context in which it was written, not according to modern standards. It might be heavy going for a casual reader, but for someone who wants to think seriously about the topic, Boyle's book is ideal.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars German Literature and its place in the world 27 Aug 2012
By Dr. H. A. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
German Literature: A very short introduction by Nicholas Boyle, Oxford University Press, 2008, 182 ff.

The author, who is the Schröder Professor of German and President of Magdalene College at Cambridge University, makes the point in the Introduction to his book that literature is about more than the texts themselves. They reflect on and impact on the world through their authors and readers. German literature has excelled in subjective poetic literature but has contributed rather less to the more objective realistic novel. Boyle makes the point that the term `German literature' embraces a wider field than just books generated by authors within what we now recognise as the German nation.

During the Middle Ages the German nation was slowly establishing an identity for itself through the increasing importance of the university throughout German lands after the Reformation. Boyle maintains that Luther's `revival of Augustine's distinction between the earthly and the heavenly cities was the true source of the modern dualism of matter and mind that is usually attributed to Descartes.' In fact, the Reformation that Luther inspired did much to promote the influence of the universities. The first Prussian university was established in Prague in 1348 and in this period there were 40 universities in Germany compared with just two in England. Meister Eckhart, Jacob Böhme, Martin Luther, Gottfried Leibniz, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Klopstock, to mention just a few well-known writers cited by Boyle, emerged from within this cultural setting. Johannes Gutenberg invented printing in the 15th century and this led to widespread dissemination of literature.

`The History of Dr John Faust' appeared in Frankfurt in 1587. Faust was an astrologer and alchemist who came to an unsavoury end and his demise, as Boyle points out, was primarily simply a news item of the day - a `novel' in the true sense. By the 18th century Germany had more writers per head of the population than any other nation in Europe. The `Sturm und Drang' or `Storm and Stress' movement developed in the latter decades of the 18th century and it laid the ground for Romanticism in both literature and music. The movement took its name from the title of a play by Friedrich Maximilian Klinger but the theorist of the movement was Johann Gottfried Herder. The towering figure to emerge from this new vision in literature was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Following on from Immanuel Kant, a powerful philosophical group emerged in Jena and elsewhere in Germany comprising G.W.F. Hegel, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Schelling, the Schlegel brothers, August and Friedrich, and the poets Friedrich Hölderlin and `Novalis'. These, with Klinger and Herder, were the founders of the Romantic movement. Boyle recounts the collections of national fairy-tales of the brothers Grimm and of Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano. The latter authors' `Boy with a Magic Horn' (Des Knaben Wunderhorn) served as inspiration for a number of composers: all of those I know of were German - Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Weber, Webern, Mahler and Zemlinsky.

The highly significant German philosophers, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Marx, are also covered in context in this short volume. I recognise that the author wanted to put Germanic literature in its social and historical context, and this he does very well. However, in reading the book I felt that I was reading a book about German social history rather than one about literature. It is detailed and learned and rather more academic in nature than some of the other Very Short Introductions I have read. I would suggest that this is a book for those who want to know in some detail the social and historical background to German literature rather than about the literature itself.

Introduction to German Philosophy: From Kant to Habermas
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One case is which the Kindle version is indisputably better 26 Nov 2013
By Lazy Shopper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I would strongly recommend buying the Kindle version rather than the paperback, which is so small that the print is virtually unreadable.
16 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A strongly biased introduction 23 April 2010
By Kristian Lavrentidis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book was disappointing in several aspects, none of which were related to brevity. We can all forgive authours for oversimplifying movements and works, and skipping past things that are important, because in a short introduction, some things simply must go. However, the authour betrays his religious views on literature throughout this book. For example, Martin Luther is treated with great reverence, yet nothing is mentioned of his raving anti-Semitism, misogyny, or his devotion to ignorance through approaching everything by means of Scripture. Luther did indeed help open the doors to challenge the autocracy of the Catholic Church, but he would not give an inch when it came to critical thinking about the Bible, and he became a papist in his own right when the Lutheran church was established, refusing to allow even the tiniest modifications to the Augsburg Confession of Faith. He sternly rebuked his fellow Lutheran Philip Melanchthon, the principal authour of said confession, because of Luther's extremely fundamentalist position on trivial theological matters, such as the Lord's Supper.

I have not read Boyle's famous work on Goethe, but it is clear to me that he exaggerates the faith in many authours, including Goethe. Romantic writers all over the world showed a positive lack of faith, and a very critical view of the very idea of God, yet Goethe comes across as a good Christian. Immanuel Kant is treated as a great moral philosopher, which he was considered to be, but his thorough critique of religion is barely glanced at. If Boyle could dedicate entire pages to his theistic views, then he had room also for the atheistic ones. Materialism is treated only as an economic factor and used synonymously with coveting, which is a total misrepresentation, since it is, in fact, a great step forward in philosophy and science. Boyle again betrays his onesidedness by trying to attribute all technological advances to other issues, such as Bismarck's reforms.

Boyle also freely employs terms like `Darwinian' and `Nietzschean' only in a negative and parodic manner. They are used to portray nihilism and cut-throat avarice, and the positive and liberating aspects of their thought systems are completely skipped over. Both World Wars are treated only inasmuch as they left a negative impact on the German economy and self-image; no mention is made of Nazi literature and sympathizers. You can't have an account of the 20th century in Germany, however brief, without an account of Nazism. The generations following World War II had, as their central preoccupation, how to deal with what their parents and grandparents did, yet Boyle implies that the only concern was to build a strong economy again through technological development. This is at best a half-truth.

The only strength of the book, indeed, the only value it has, is as an expedient reference work, a gateway to which authours and works to look up. I intend to do so, but I also intend to get myself a better work on German literature, because this work was a great deception.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


Look for similar items by category


Feedback