Almost a century elapsed between Nietzsche’s first steps in classical studies at school in Pforta and the deaths of Thomas Mann and of Brecht, which followed one another within a year. During these hundred years the history of Europe, indeed of the whole world, was radically changed, and Germany itself was for much of the time in the centre of these changes. But it was not only political and social life that underwent profound upheavals; the realm of ideas was also full of turbulence. Nietzsche was certainly fighting different battles from those fought by Brecht or the later Thomas Mann. Yet there is also a marked continuity. Nietzsche’s cultural criticism reconnoitred much of the terrain upon which subsequent generations of writers campaigned. Though the work of the seven writers of this study is so varied that any attempt to put them into common (superficially defined) categories is mistaken, yet they were facing common problems, and, in one respect at least, their work reveals a similarity of outlook; all of them — and many other writers of the period, too—treated art and the artist with the utmost seriousness, even to the point of placing this concern in the centre of their work.


Cultural Criticism Imaginative Power Modern Writer Political Thinker Political Conviction 


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  1. 2.
    This idea is most powerfully expressed by Schiller in his poem Die Götter Griechenlands [The Gods of Greece] (1788), Werke ed. Bellermann, 1, Leipzig and Vienna, n.d., pp. 68–72.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Musil’s ideas are most interesting cf. the very informative study by Marie-Louise Roth, Robert Musil: Ethik und Ästhetik: Zum theoretischen Werk des Dichters Munich, 1972, particularly pp. 151–260.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Peter Gay, ‘The Hunger for Wholeness. Trials of Modernity’, Weimar Culture (Penguin edition), Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1974, pp. 73—100 for an analysis of the widespread desire for ‘wholeness’.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    Cf. Pascal, whose chapter on ‘The Image of the Bourgeoisie’ (pp. 16–41) is excellent. Cf. also Werner Sombart, Der Bourgeois. Zur Geistesgeschichte des modernen Wirtschaftsmenschen Munich, 1913, a pioneering work.Google Scholar
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© Hans Reiss 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Reiss
    • 1
  1. 1.BristolUK

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