By Neil H. Donahue
Greater than the other avant-garde stream, German Expressionism captures the progressive depth of twentieth-century modernity in all its contrasts and conflicts. In non-stop eruptions from 1905 to 1925, Expressionism disillusioned reigning practices within the arts: in its so much consultant style of portray and the visible arts, strong figurations and dynamic abstractions supplanted placid realism, and a palette of vividly luminescent colours eclipsed subdued earth tones. In literature, the switch was once both stark: a heady intellectualism mixed with dramatic gesture, image visions, exuberant feelings and pressing proclamations --along with a brand new feel of the unexplored efficiency and power of uncooked language -- to forge forceful varieties of verbal expression. Expressionism brought into artwork, either visible and verbal, a surprisingly new depth with many elements and plenty of faces. This quantity offers German Expressionism by way of its literature, that's a long way much less identified within the English-speaking global, with essays by means of top students on Expressionism's philosophical origins, its thematic preoccupations, and its divergent stylistic manifestations in and throughout varied genres through writers whose universal bond is depth and whose strains at the web page learn just like the gouges of a woodcut. An interdisciplinary part addresses Expressionism's gender kin, how girls seemed within the literature after which disappeared from literary background, and the way the cultured impulses of Expressionism entered into movie as a brand new expertise of expression, a brand new type of visible narrative. This quantity demonstrates how, among its origins in philosophy and its afterlife in movie, Expressionism's aesthetic energies stretched and revised the limits of traditional literary genres into enormously new and diverse varieties: in lots of methods, the margins are vital to the experimental paintings of Expressionism. This quantity good points figures reminiscent of Georg Kaiser, Walter Hasenclever, and Ernst Toller in drama; Gottfried Benn, Georg Heym, Else Lasker-Sch?ler, and Georg Trakl in poetry; Alfred D?blin, Carl Einstein, and Carl Sternheim in prose, to call quite a few. opposed to the history of the journals, exhibitions, and anthologies, the caf? assembly areas and public lifetime of Expressionism, the volume's hugely concentrated, intrinsic analyses of texts and entire overviews of extrinsic contexts (and of the main up to date examine) indicates the fervor and complexity of the interval and its effulgent literary formations. Neil H. Donahue is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Hofstra collage.
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Additional info for A Companion to the Literature of German Expressionism (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)
Ber das Geistige in der Kunst. Munich: Piper, 1912. Rpt. Bern: Berteli, 1952. Kracauer, Siegfried. From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of German Film. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1947, 1974. Kuhns, David F. German Expressionist Theatre: The Actor and the Stage. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Kurtz, Rudolf. Expressionismus und Film. Berlin: Verlag der Lichtbild-Bühne, 1926. Lloyd, Jill. German Expressionism: Primitivism and Modernity. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1991. Lukács, Georg.
His call for “precisely the kind of concrete analysis of individual texts that has become rather rare in the discussion” (4) argues a position that was valid in the 1980s but no longer, and unfortunately he ignores what has been done in the interim. In claiming to “want to explore in particular their creation of various oppositional discourses aimed at the disruption of convention, of form, of mimesis and of representational stability in general” (30) he seems to allude to, but not refer to, my Forms of Disruption: Abstraction in Modern German Prose (1993), which does just that with close readings of various authors’ poetics and of particular texts, both Modernist and Expressionist, such as Döblin’s “Ermordung einer Butterblume” and Benn’s Gehirne, both of which Murphy then adduces as representative examples of “expressionism’s characteristic mode of ‘abstraction’” (161).
Oskar Kokoschka’s play Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen (Murderer, The Women’s Hope, written 1907, first performed 1909 and first published 1910) cleared the stage of any verbal or decorative vestiges of Naturalism with an extremely reductive and ritualistic portrayal of sexual antagonism and violence, expressed in stark animalistic movements, primary colors, grotesque gestures, and elliptical speech, such as from a bleeding man who utters: “Sinnlose Begehr von Grauen zu Grauen, unstillbares Kreisen im Leeren, Gebären ohne Geburt, Sonnensturz, wankender Raum” (Denkler, 50–51; Senseless craving from horror to horror, unappeasable rotation in the void.
A Companion to the Literature of German Expressionism (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture) by Neil H. Donahue