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Both of these essays give a direction for necessary future archival and historical research. DoH, , as well as some of the most beautifully elegiac, stridently ecstatic and vividly vituperative. The art of political engagement and social activism, seen collectively, attempted to inspire and enact a transition from formal autonomy on the page to other forms of social discourse off the page, within a new social collectivity.

In this respect the anthology as a genre becomes a blueprint for society as a collection of heterogeneous voices bound together in a common spirit. In Wolkenfernen trommeln die Propeller. Die Seele schrumpft zu winzigen Komplexen. Tot ist die Kunst. Die Stunden kreisen schneller. So namenlos zerrissen, So ohne Stern, so daseinsarm im Wissen Wie du, will keine, keine mir erscheinen.

Noch hob ihr Haupt so hoch niemals die Sphinx! MHD, 40 [Song and giant cities, dream-avalanches, Faded lands, poles without glory, The sinful women, perils and heroism, Spectral brewings, storm on iron rails. In cloudy distances the propellers drum. Books turn into witches. The soul shrinks to tiny complexes. The hours move in swifter circles. So indescribably mutilated, So without star, so existentially poor in knowledge As you no other age seems to have been. Never before did the sphinx raise its head so high!

DoH, 62—63 ] Like the newspapers that bombard modern consciousness and later all the more so with, successively, radio, television, and the Internet , the poem presents a catalog of images and phrases that characterize, along lines of dialectical opposition, the extreme situation of mankind in modernity: Art too has lost its mystery Tot ist die Kunst and its ability to resist those historical imperatives, which only allows for the acceleration of the whole process Die Stunden kreisen schneller.

The works of Wedekind beginning in the s and of Brecht beginning in , frame, chronologically and conceptually, the development of Expressionist drama as it evolved away from Naturalism to find new technical and rhetorical means of presenting, or rather emoting, the anguish of the individual within bourgeois society.

This primitivist encounter of the sexes exploded the social nuance and delicacies of domestic drama, and of Viennese polite society. In that very literal way, Kokoschka tried to render rawly visible the visceral inner life of mankind. As a result, his play serves as a prototype for three main types of Expressionist drama16 that overlap but can nevertheless be clearly distinguished. The first type most readily marks the transition from developments in the visual arts: This form of Geist or spiritual drama aims at the formal unification of elements on stage through rhythms of sound, color, language, movement in concord with the entranced audience.

Indeed, the concept of the Schrei marks the new poetics of performance that emerged in Expressionism based on the presence of the primal Self on stage, which entailed in turn new registers of voice and what David F. Therefore, actors such as Werner Krauss, Fritz Kortner, and especially Ernst Deutsch became closely associated with Expressionist drama in this vein and famous for the moody and energetic physicality and vocality of their acting. Such intensity on stage no longer seemed like acting in any conventional sense. Ich-drama is not about the individual as much as about the idea mediated by that character.

Through heightened visual scenarios, this tension enacts the idea of the play, which is topical and thus in part depends on the historical circumstances outside the theater. Whereas Geist performance attempted a sort of transcendent spiritual communion with the audience in the theater, emblematic performance attempts to forge community beyond the individual in order to address and ultimately change society at large. The stations of his journey get acted out in seven scenarios, as he moves from the provincial bank to his home, and then to a crowded velodrome, a cabaret, and a Salvation Army hall, where he ends up, disillusioned, shooting himself and dying in an Ecce Homo scene of crucifixion.

The use of stunning backdrops and stark lighting collapses the three-dimensional space of the stage into a broken sequence that is, without transitions of virtually two-dimensional allegorical pictures or emblems. Like the Expressionist stage from Kokoschka on, film drew heavily upon painting to reduce or abstract the three-dimensional stage space of the acting and transform the actors into pictorial elements, as Lotte Eisner noted in her famous study The Haunted Screen: On his murderous outings, dressed all in black, the pallid sleepwalker Cesare played by Conrad Veidt , under the mind control of his master, Dr.

Caligari played by Werner Krauss , seems to merge with the shadows and lines of the townscape. Though the film image can isolate a powerful gesture, that gesture is inevitably divorced from the voice and presence that forcefully anchored the Schrei performance on stage, yet the graphic image exerts a different, equally powerful, even hypnotic, effect of its own, as thematized by the film itself, which invites the viewer to think through the relations of sight and seduction, vision and violence. In many ways, as first suggested by Kurtz and explained here by Hake, early Weimar or Expressionist film absorbed, revised, refined, and ultimately tamed or domesticated the unruly visions of Expressionism, integrating them fully into society through the new technology of a mass medium, a process which extended also to poster advertisements for Expressionist films.

As developed by Frans Masereel, the woodcut or graphic novel uses no words at all to develop its powerful narrative line: Though not a new form of visual technology like film, the woodcut novel offers a vivid counterpoint to both the visual dimension of prose narratives and to the narrative dimension of film in this period. The strong lines of plot and picture in the graphic novel reinforce one another in a compact message of social critique and political protest against inequities in post-First-World-War German society.

Of course, the single greatest confrontation with modernity by German artists took the form of the First World War —18 , which marked the chronological center of the Expressionist decade — The war decimated the ranks of Expressionist artists from Alfred Lichtenstein, Georg Trakl, Ernst Stadler, and August Stramm to Franz Marc and August Macke, and to survivors it marked the cataclysmic demise of an obsolete patriarchal and authoritarian society, clearing the ground for a potential renewal of general humanity after the flight from Germany of Kaiser Wilhelm II on November 9, and the proclamation of a republic with elections to come.

Nonetheless, the fusion, not to say confusion, of art and politics, produced a fascinating imbrication of the two in mediums from poetry to poster art to political discussion: The sense of renewal, the hope of Expressionism, then faded fast. His disappointment or despair about the failure of the collective Expressionist project of revitalizing art and culture resounds also in commentaries by such contemporaries as Wilhelm Hausenstein and Adolf Behne, among others Haxthausen , — In addition to the German defeat in war and the failure of the revolution, these critics were also demoralized by the ubiquitous commercialization of art under the rubric of Expressionism , which they saw as a sort of decorative decadence, along with the new artistic legitimacy and prestige of film.

Of course, their own increasingly tenuous economic status, as examined by Fritz K. A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology He ignores any potential for critique in Expressionism and its forms verbal, visual, gestural as well as the totalizing and aesthetically conservative impulse of his own approach. Josef Goebbels, the minister of propaganda, had once, like Hitler himself, had artistic ambitions though in literature, not painting and had even penned a novel, Michael unpublished in Germany; first published in English in To a large extent, the writers of German Expressionism and their works, literally the copies of their books, along with the audience for those texts, were destroyed by the Nazis.

The recovery and reissue of works of Expressionism has continued to the present, which reflects the fact that the literature of German Expressionism arose from and reflected upon the most critical periods of German cultural history in the twentieth century, before, during, and after the First World War, during the Weimar period, and in the immediate postwar period. Also, David Kuhns, 28— Benn , along with some others I did not include G.

Theory and Practice also provides numerous readings, organized thematically. Murphy simply ignores prior studies with the sort of close textual analysis he then calls for, but he does capably embed these familiar texts in the discursive fields or vocabularies of postmodern theory; what he does not do is open or broaden the field of literary interpretation in this period by introducing new works or authors into the discussion.

In a discussion of the Expressionist avant-garde, he addresses only prose and film, omitting all mention of drama or poetry. Its anti-intellectual intonations should not call into question its broad and deep intellectual roots and affinities; pathos marks the desire to overcome and reconfigure traditional modes of expression. Rowohlt, with illustrations by Georg Alexander Mathey. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, , A Document of Expressionism, trans. Ratych, Ralph Ley, and Robert C.

Camden House, and are designated by the abbreviation DoH and page number. Geist, Schrei and Ich performance. The categories overlap, but the emphasis differs in each. Kuhns likewise works with three categories that he calls Geist, Schrei and the emblematic mode.

Politics and Art in Das Cabinet des Dr. Taschen, also emphasizes the dialectical, antithetical differentiation of the New Objectivity from Expressionism while remaining within the same artistic and even biographical lineage: Worringer in the s. For the first full review of the concept of inner emigration in English, along with essays on the circumstances of individual writers, see the collection Flight of Fantasy: Donahue and Doris Kirchner New York: UMI Research Press, Anz, Thomas, and Michael Stark, eds.

Manifeste und Dokumente zur deutschen Literatur, — The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany, — U of California P, The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Germany. The Vagaries of its Reception in America. The Third Wisconsin Workshop, ed. Jost Hermand und Reinhold Grimm, 89— The Case of Emil Nolde. The UP of New England, The Necessity of Form, — The Art of the Great Disorder, — The Pennsylvania State UP, Einakter und kleine Dramen des Expressionismus.

U of Toronto P, Abstraction in Modern German Prose. U of Michigan P, Penn State Press, Donahue, Neil, and Doris Kirchner, eds. New York and London: Bebuquin, oder die Dilettanten des Wunders. Le Terrain Vague, Fascism, Aesthetics, and Culture. Rainer Rumold and O. Huyssen, Andreas, and David Bathrick, eds. Modernity and the Text: Revisions of German Modernism. The Path to Expressionist Drama.

The Expressionist Heritage, ed. Stephen Eric Bronner and Douglas Kellner, — Bergin, ; New York: From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of German Film. Princeton UP, , The Actor and the Stage. New Haven and London: Zur Entstehung eines kunsthistorischen Stil- und Periodenbegriffes. Introduction to Prosa des Expressionismus. Modernism, Expressionism, and the Problem of Postmodernity. U of Nebraska P, Modernism and Its Enemies in Imperial Germany.

Belknap P of Harvard U, Contemporary Theory of Expressionism. Ein Dokument des Expressionismus. Ernst Rowohlt, ; Hamburg: Conard, Ralph Ley, and Joanna M. Aufzeichnungen und Erinnerungen der Zeitgenossen. The Era of German Expressionism. San Diego State UP, Decline of the German Mandarins: The German Academic Community, — Affinity of the Tribal and Modern.

Museum of Modern Art, Janus Face of the German Avant-garde: From Expressionism to Postmodernism. Materialien zu einer marxistischen Realismuskonzeption. Berichte, Texte, Bilder einer Zeit. The Writer in Extremis: Expressionism in Twentieth-Century German Literature. Anthology of German Expressionist Drama: A Prelude to the Absurd.

Cornell UP, , The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology. The Look of Things: Poetry and Vision around Chapel Hill and London: The U of North Carolina P, Savage Intellects, Modern Lives. The U of Chicago P, Nietzsches Kulturkritik, Expressionismus und literarische Moderne. The Concept of Expressionism: Ein Beitrag zur Stilpsychologie. A Contribution to the Psychology of Style.


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Form in Gothic, later reprinted as Form Problems of the Gothic. Schriften zum Kunstproblem, 86— Reprinted in Fragen und Gegenfragen: Schriften zum Kunstproblem, — Expressionismus — Literatur und Kunst, — Eine Ausstellung des deutschen Literaturarchivs im Schiller-Nationalmuseum vom 8. Mai bis 31 Oktober Expressionism would lose all its definition and distinctness if we sought to conceive it apart from these notions indebted to Nietzsche. Even if we allow for a modicum of rhetorical overstatement in this remark, we cannot help but come away with the view of Nietzsche as an intellectual giant whom the Expressionists adopted as the flag-bearer of their movement.

This assertion is confirmed by the formative impact Nietzsche had on the intellectual profiles of most of the leading spokespeople of the Expressionist generation. Nietzsche also figures prominently in the intellectual biography of Franz Pfemfert, the publisher of the influential Expressionist journal Die Aktion, who used this publication to disseminate texts both by and about Nietzsche Martens, 46— Most important, perhaps, is the fact that Nietzsche and his works were heralded by both the vitalistic-Dionysian line of Expressionist thinkers and the politically activist strain of Expressionism.

Thus we might go so far as to claim that to the extent that Expressionism is a unitary phenomenon and has a unified nucleus at all, this nucleus is constituted by the thought and the person of Friedrich Nietzsche. The reasons for the limitation to this work are manifold: First, Nietzsche himself clearly affirmed the significance this text assumed in his intellectual genesis when he republished it towards the end of his philosophical career, in spite of the sometimes scathing critique to which he subjected this piece of intellectual juvenilia in the foreword to this new edition.

This continued significance of Geburt is corroborated by the fact that Nietzsche himself came back to this book repeatedly throughout his life, deliberating on its central ideas — especially the dichotomy between the Apollinian and Dionysian approaches to art — and its place in his intellectual development see especially Ecce Homo, KSA 6: Nietzsche himself confirms the persistence of this Freudian slip when he writes in Ecce Homo that he has repeatedly seen his work cited under this skewed title KSA 6: However, he is not satisfied with simply using abstract logic to demonstrate his claims — as is often the case in philosophical aesthetics — but instead wants to bring this point concretely before the eyes of his readers by presenting them with a historical example.

In other words, the examination of Greek tragedy, its emergence and decline, and the role of the Apollinian and Dionysian principles in this historical development — the substance, in short, of the first twelve sections of Geburt — serve merely as a demonstrative example of this larger argument about the nature of aesthetics as such, which is the true focus of this text. This is the same status, I will argue, that we can accord to the aesthetic practice of literary Expressionism: This metaphysical mimesis is a program, I will claim, that the Expressionists adopt from Nietzsche.

His very valorization of drama, and of tragedy in particular, as the highest literary form takes its cue from the thought of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, whom Nietzsche greatly admired,12 and Schiller, who devoted many essays not only to general problems of aesthetics, but specifically to the theater as a social institution. To be sure, Nietzsche explicitly rejects the moralizing component in the dramatic theories of these predecessors, but in so doing he is simply following the lead already inaugurated by Schopenhauer 2: Similarly, Lessing and Schiller have already outlined conceptions of drama as the most effective literary form, allowing it to be deployed for the transformation of cultural and political institutions.

But Nietzsche goes on to argue that the Schillerian distinction is not broad enough to encompass all the artistic manifestations he has in mind. This empirical world, for Schopenhauer, is hence a world of semblance, a secondary product of the will. For Schopenhauer, all art is indeed structured in terms of mimetic representation Welt als Wille und Vorstellung 1: Schopenhauer thus re-evaluates traditional aesthetic theory, based on the Aristotelian concept of mimesis, by asserting that art is not the mimetic representation of the phenomenal world, but rather of the Platonic ideas that underlie the objects that constitute the sphere of phenomenal appearances 1: These ideas themselves are immediate objectifications of the will 1: However, as we know, Schopenhauer interprets music as an exception even to this general rule governing the arts; music does not copy Platonic ideas, as do the other arts, rather it is a copy of the will itself 1: In other words, Schopenhauer differentiates three possible modes of representational mimesis for art that stand in a clear hierarchy.

At the top of this hierarchy stands music, which, as the least mediate form of representation, provides a direct copy of the will itself 1: GRAY ontic level equal to that of the phenomenal world itself. Dionysian artists are thus the most authentic artists in the sense that they imitate in their own creative process that primordial creative act by which the phenomenal world itself is born. This is what Nietzsche means when he writes in Geburt that Dionysian artists are no longer merely artists as creators of works of art, but actually become works of art themselves 30 , or when he argues that the creative act of the genius must fuse with that primordial act of creativity out of which the world itself originarily issued 47— For Expressionism, by contrast, Huebner comes up with a formula that sounds on the face of it like a contradiction, or at least like a paradox: In this formulation Huebner has implicitly elided the basic distinction between idealism and realism.

And this, in fact, is the point: But, the Expressionists might justifiably retort, anticipating a phrase popularized in the United States during the s, What is reality? First, it presents an early formulation, from within the camp of Marxist thinkers, of what in the thought of Theodor Adorno will blossom into a full-fledged suspicion of all totalizing worldviews as totalitarian constructions.

He no longer seeks anything in its totality, a totality that also includes all the natural cruelty of things. Taking as his point of departure the widespread sense of malaise commonly associated with the advent of modern culture, Nietzsche offers a critical analysis of the causes of this discontent. The malaise of modernity is thus symptomatic of the collapse, for Nietzsche, of the scientific worldview: Ist Wissenschaftlichkeit vielleicht nur eine Furcht und Ausflucht vor dem Pessimismus? Eine feine Notwehr gegen — die Wahrheit? Und, moralisch geredet, etwas wie Feig- und Falschheit?

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Is reverence for science perhaps nothing but fear of and flight from pessimism? A refined defense mechanism against — truth? And, moralistically speaking, something like faintheartedness and falsehood? Science is revealed as a deception on the same order as that pursued by any purely Apollinian art: And Nietzsche believes the malaise of modernism derives from the fact that his contemporaries have generally recognized the limits of rational thought but nonetheless refuse to admit or embrace these limits.

An art that practices metaphysical mimesis, such as Attic tragedy, becomes an antidote to the deceptions of Apollinian or Socratic culture, a machete that both cuts through the veil of ideological self- deception and offers a form of non-deceptive, non-ideological consolation. The Expressionists would embrace this view of art as an instrument of cultural and ideological critique. Both, in fact, are clear in their assertion that the will only appears in diverse — but differentially evaluated — forms of semblance.

At any rate, when he transfers these artistic drives from nature to the mediating function of the artist, Nietzsche leaves no doubt that in both instances the principle of mimesis is at work: GRAY Dionysian artist of intoxication, or, finally — as is the case, for example, in Greek tragedy — simultaneously an intoxicating dream-artist; Nietzsche thus argues that all art is mimetic, but that one can distinguish three subcategories of mimetic art, one purely Apollinian, one purely Dionysian, and one that melds and intermingles these two, for which Greek tragedy stands as the historical model.

Even at this early stage in his treatise Nietzsche then goes on to provide a first glimpse into how he imagines this interaction occurring in the Attic tragedy he will valorize as the pinnacle of art. The tragic artist is, first and foremost, a Dionysian artist. We note also, confirming a point made above, how the Dionysian artist himself, in his own being, becomes a mimetic representation of this metaphysical ground: But after this wholly Dionysian encounter with the world and its deepest reality, something absolutely non-Dionysian must occur: We recognize once more, then, that Nietzsche frames his arguments as a contribution to the much broader context of aesthetic theory in general, specifically as a redefinition of the applicability of mimesis.

When he shifts from the aesthetic to a more psychological or existential explanation of the interaction between the Apollinian and Dionysian principles of art, Nietzsche proposes a relationship of fundamental interdependence between the horror of Dionysian reality and the concomitant necessity for the redemptive semblance invoked by the Apollinian dream world. We understand in this context precisely what Nietzsche means when he claims that the world — that is, empirical reality and existence — is only justified as an aesthetic phenomenon Geburt 17, 47, Thus in the self-criticism appended to Geburt he unequivocally states: This should not lead one to believe, however, that all semblance, all illusion is by definition good.

On the contrary, the escapism of absolute semblance is precisely what Nietzsche lambastes in Wilhelminian Germany, with its reliance on the deception of science and the fanciful illusionism of its art, represented in Geburt by the genre of classical opera — GRAY good and bad mimesis. On the contrary, it is Dionysian mimesis of the existential horror of the will as filtered through the transfiguring second-order mimesis of Apollinian image that Nietzsche holds up as the high-water mark of artistic achievement, as exemplified for him in Attic tragedy.

And yet in this regard it does not represent a world that is arbitrarily fantasized into the space between heaven and earth; rather, it is a world whose reality and credibility are equal to those that the believing Hellene attributed to Mt. Olympus and all its occupants. The world of tragedy, by contrast, is a creative imitation that exists on the same order of ontic reality as does the world of phenomenal existence itself, and once again Nietzsche turns to the metaphor of the Olympian gods to exemplify this concept.

He goes on to extrapolate from this comment a general maxim about the reality and truth of the poetic world. The contrast between this authentic truth of nature and the cultural mendacity that poses as the sole form of reality is similar to that between the eternal core of things, the thing in itself, and the totality of the phenomenal world. Thus mimesis in Nietzsche takes on positive connotations when it is related either directly to the representation of this metaphysical core, as in the case of music, or when mimesis functions as a palliative that makes this tragic recognition palatable, rather than providing ideological escape from this ultimate tragic insight.

This new dithyramb represents a kind of program music that alienates musical art from its true mission, the direct mimetic representation of the will, by recasting it as the imitator of the phenomenal world. This limitation to mimesis of the phenomenal world of appearances, to the semblance of semblance is, for Nietzsche, the very definition of degeneracy in art, especially in music.

In some of his unpublished notes for Geburt Nietzsche is much more lucid on this point. But just as Nietzsche, as we have seen, distinguished different levels of mimetic representation to which he attributed varied values, here he delineates two basic categories of phenomena: One type reveals itself to us in the form of sensations of pleasure and displeasure and accompanies as a never absent thoroughbass all the other ideational expressions. In other words, feelings of pleasure and displeasure are universal sensations, and as such they are those forms of ideation that link us most closely with the pre-individual ground of existence.

Universality, in short, becomes the measure of authenticity because it points to that realm of experience — the Dionysian — that antedates the principium individuationis, the fragmentation of originary oneness into the manifoldness of distinct individuals. What is perhaps most significant about the cited passage, however, is that immediately after identifying these two genres of ideation, Nietzsche shifts to the manner of their representation, concentrating initially on the way they express themselves in language.

This constitutes, as it were, the music of speech. From here it is but a short step to the pathos, attention to rhythm and meter, and emotionality of Expressionist literary language. The mimetic object of such speech is not the logos, not the conceptual realm of ideation, but the sub-conceptual, psychological domain of primordial emotions. Or, put another way, why, and in what sense, is music the origin of tragic art and myth? Only because these allegorical images are born of music itself does their semblance contain a dimension of authenticity: Indeed, as Nietzsche explains a few pages later, this allegorical representation itself retains the mimetic capacity inherent in music.

Denn der Mythus will als ein einziges Exempel einer ins Unendliche hinein starrenden Allgemeinheit und Wahrheit anschaulich empfunden werden. Genuinely Dionysian music presents itself to us as just such a universal mirror of the world will; the visual phenomenon refracted in this mirror immediately expands for our emotions into the replica of an eternal truth.

It is, in essence, a kind of synaesthetic metamorphosis, a transformation of what is manifest in rhythm, meter, and sound into the Apollinian sphere of the visual. It is difficult to imagine a more emphatic and powerful defense of the ultimate reality of allegorical portrayal. Apollinian image joins forces with Dionysian truth, individual example merges with universal meaning. But what is this symbolization of particular universality if not allegory? Subjectivism is only the proper word here if we identify it with that core level of experience below the sphere of the phenomenal that Nietzsche identifies with the Dionysian; it is, perhaps, subjective, but it is nonetheless, for Nietzsche and the Expressionists, a shared subjectivism.

The drive to discover a level of universal truth and reality below the everyday dimensions of the phenomenal world was one of the characteristic traits of the Expressionist artists. One began to dissolve the surrounding reality into irreality, and to penetrate beyond the realm of appearances to the essence; , Es wird so lange gesucht in seinem eigentlichsten Wesen, bis seine tiefere Form sich ergibt, bis das Haus aufsteht, das befreit ist von dem dumpfen Zwang der falschen Wirklichkeit. It goes beyond this. It is pursued in its most authentic essence until its more profound form comes to the fore, until a house emerges that is freed from the dull constraints of false reality.

Decades before Husserl, Nietzsche emerged as the philosopher of what we might call a phenomenological aesthetics, an aesthetic theory that exploited the principle of representational mimesis as a revelatory strategy for the essence of existence. In the writers of German Expressionism he found these blood relatives, a group of artists with the analytical and retrospective abilities to grasp and apply the metaphysical mimesis he advocated in this first work of modern aesthetic theory. Throughout this essay, translations from the German are my own.

To my way of thinking, this conception underestimates the special enchantment Nietzsche held for the Expressionist writers. The same can be said for the scientific or Socratic worldview.


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For Benn Nietzsche is the greatest genius of the German language; Frantz Clement calls Nietzsche the first patheticist of modernism Hillebrand, ; Richard Dehmel and Heinrich Mann revere him as a linguistic innovator Hillebrand, , ; and Otto Flake calls him the master of the German language Hillebrand, Materialien zu einer marxistischen Realismuskonzeption, — Bronner, Stephen Eric, and Douglas Kellner. Manifeste und Dokumente zur deutschen Literatur —, 42— A Nietzschean Current in Literary Modernism.

Nietzsche und die deutsche Literatur. Nietzsche und die deutsche Literatur: Texte zur Nietzsche-Rezeption, — Manifeste und Dokumente zur deutschen Literatur, —, — Manifeste und Dokumente zur deutschen Literatur, —, 3— The Expressionist Heritage, 3— The Expressionist Heritage, — Nietzsche und die deutsche Literatur, 35— Nietzsche und die Kunst. In Kritische Studienausgabe, 1: Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari. In Anz and Stark, Expressionismus: Manifeste und Dokumente zur deutschen Literatur —, 55— The Invention of Dionysus: Nietzsche, Aesthetics and Modernity.

Benn, Heym, Van Hoddis and Liechtenstein. Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung. The Politics of German Expressionism, — Monographien und Texte zur Nietzsche-Forschung, vol. Vietta, Sylvio, and Hans-Georg Kemper. Manifeste und Dokumente zur deutschen Literatur —, — The question is not only vague and ambiguous, but exceptionally difficult to answer, because we do not have criteria that would provide us with the necessary information to correctly pose the question.

Indeed, there exists a general, albeit somewhat tentative, consensus of scholarly opinion that the works of writers published in avant-garde periodicals between and the early s may be termed Expressionist. However, these are purely external and accidental criteria, conveying little about the shared formal, stylistic, and thematic characteristics of these writers. Nevertheless, they do provide a point of departure for subsequent study. Perhaps the question can be posed in this way: What are the inherent or formal characteristics shared by the many writers whose works appeared in avantgarde periodicals, book series, and anthologies between and or that would entitle us to call them Expressionist?

Would a characterization that would allow a comparison to Romanticism or Naturalism be preferable? Despite the fact that in these much longer and betterresearched literary movements terminological ambiguity still persists indeed, over-generalization is intrinsic to any definition of genre , the terms Romanticism and Naturalism are nevertheless based upon far more concise and accepted criteria than the constant vacillation found in the term Expressionism. In this essay, the question of what criteria would be most suitable to define Expressionism will be addressed, specifically in respect to a single literary genre, namely, narrative prose.

SOKEL a poetics of narration that would enable us to devise a coherent theory of Expressionist prose. Among the writers of Expressionism there was little theoretical reflection. It is therefore much more difficult to assess the theory of Expressionism than that of Romanticism or Naturalism. The wellknown commentaries of Kasimir Edschmid, Paul Kornfeld, and Georg Kaiser, among others, have virtually nothing to say about formal, stylistic, and structural aspects of Expressionist literature.

In the years between and he had already contributed many concrete and important ideas about Expressionist prose, so much so that we may use it as the basis for an Expressionist theory of epic prose. It is impossible to speak of a single coherent theory of narrative prose in Expressionism. In short, we meet with a multiplicity of theoretical points of view, and thus we must investigate further to discover a common denominator shared by the various theories of Expressionist narrative prose.

However, this also aptly illustrates an important difference in their theories of narrative. Psychological motivation, circumstantial determination, and causality cannot be ascribed to the genre of epic, which is based upon description and naturalistic representation.

The nouveau roman is mentioned in this connection to underscore the fact that the two most prominent Expressionists start out from entirely different theories of prose. This tradition also includes Naturalism and Futurism, as well as Kafka and the nouveau roman. In his opinion, Naturalism employed a very specific narrative technique, namely, the technique of direct or unmediated representation: Indeed, Naturalism sets out to abolish the intervention of the narrator situated between external reality and the reader.

Accordingly, he exhorts the Expressionist to follow in the footsteps of Realist and Naturalist techniques of narration. Edschmid too viewed Expressionism as a further elaboration of Naturalism, but elevated it to a visionary plane. He is less concerned with literary technique than he is with conveying a specific worldview. This is an essential difference between the two authors. He opposes form to idea, but form is more than a mere technique, it is the idea of form based on Platonic philosophy, an existential concept and part of his worldview.

Deeply indebted to Nietzsche, his literary theory is ultimately derived from Romanticism and German Idealism. Not only his idealism, but also his style and sentence structure are reminiscent of Friedrich Schlegel. In general he traced the prevalent ideas of his generation back to Nietzsche.

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Einstein wished to revive free, creative spontaneity, and sovereignty of mind playfully exploring the multifarious possibilities of thought. In Einstein the narrator is to be present in his reflections and ideas, mediated by a character who constantly ponders and comments upon the narrative.

Indeed, reflection replaces depiction. Instead of Anschaulichkeit or three-dimensional plasticity , scenic evocation and images, we are given intellectual discourse. The fundamental difference between these two leading tendencies in Expressionist prose is evident in the use of language: They both tend towards structural concision, forcefulness, and terseness of expression. This concise use of speech is a unique quality common to the greater part of Expressionist narrative prose and brings us close to a definition of its narrative technique.

However, we find evidence of such syntactic terseness and concision expressed in different ways in the two separate groups of Expressionist writers. In the former, syntactic brevity and ellipsis prevail, while in the latter an aphoristic sententiousness predominates. However, this distinction is most tentative and must be examined in the context of narrative perspective and structure.

Subordinate clauses explaining or describing motivation are missing, and syntax is reduced to its most basic elements. This entailed a sparseness of words, the rejection of discursive reasoning, and the avoidance of ornamental figuration. His views on narrative technique are essentially anti-psychological. However, he embraces psychiatry, since, in his view, it restricts itself to the simple notation of events and actions as such.

The narrative ideal articulated in this opposition between psychology and psychiatry finds clear expression in the sentence structure and language of the short stories and novels in his Expressionist phase; that ideal requires a paratactic style, in which syntactic subordination very nearly ceases to exist. The stones blackened; the scissors got hot; he let them drop. Even though the subject of the sentence is mentioned only once, each clause is an independent sentence, joined to the other not by subordination, but rather coordination.

If the subject er he were repeated, in place of each semicolon we could place a period and this would not impair the syntactic coherence. Therefore, it is not the brevity of the sentences, but their paratactic coordination that constitutes this style. The elimination of syntactic subordination defines the very essence of Expressionist style. Only what actually occurs gets stated.

The absence of any sort of commentary, of any narrative intervention, presupposes the paratactic principle of Kinostil. It is impossible to make an absolute distinction between naturalistic representation and the perspectives of the figures or persons in a novel, the latter fully developed in the technique of stream of consciousness.

He employs a mixture of the two. In these instances, gesture is utilized as an essential compositional technique. It is employed to symbolize the inner life of the character, which conventionally is done by a narrator. Abstractions, sentiments, and ideas are not always successfully transformed into concrete imagery and visual representation. This transformation can only occur when dialogue and stream of consciousness usurp the conventional function of narration.

However, the generous use of similes in the narrative serves to make the narrative point of view more subjective. To be sure, Heym never employs rhetorical commentary. SOKEL intends to influence the reader, as for example in this novella. The authorial rhetoric by images finds a clear illustration in the final sentence of the story: Leonhard Frank — makes more extreme and direct use of rhetorical figures in his prose works.

The narrator judges the action and characters, didactically attempting to influence the reader: Moreover, the interjection of opinions into the narrative invokes generalizations surpassing the limits of the text. The narrator seeks to persuade the reader by a particular choice of words. Thus the narrative depicts a worldview and seeks to demonstrate a truth that the author wants to propagate. We shall refer to this technique, employed by many important prose writers in Expressionism, as parabolic narrative.

The distinction between parables told in the first and in the third person is of little relevance here. The paratactic style is also indebted to the bible. Sentences often begin with Und, a common feature of exemplary prose, and the succession of events and statements suggests a life of wandering on earth, expressing edifying views of the holy figure from the point of view of a devout and loving disciple. Borrowing from Schopenhauer and materialism, Ehrenstein seeks to demonstrate the senselessness and absurdity of existence.

It is above all Mynona — who made the most extensive use of the parabolic form. Like Leonhard Frank, Mynona addresses topics beyond the story, and the interjections of the narrator determine the meaning of the tale. The narrator himself is marked through the use of grotesque irony. His madness is shown from a critical and sovereign point of view. It is a negativity that leads to the spiritual essence of being. His sketches are ironic-grotesque parables, illustrations of nonsense, beyond which lies a deeper spiritual meaning. Here the reemergence of authorial intention is deemed necessary.

As is the case in the works of Jean Paul, E. Hoffmann, Raabe, and later Musil, authorial intentionality prevails. SOKEL narrator absolute status, denies him absolute reality. They all reject the narrative technique of representation, that is, of Bauen as a goal in itself. As for Mynona, parable is effective in two ways, namely, through philosophical dialogue, and grotesque fantasy. These two components characterize the dialogue as well as the circumstances, situations, and figures in the novel.

The dialogue contains opinions and points of view that constitute the content of the novel. The narrative is not objective; it is subjective, intellectual and amorphous, a merely thematic aspect of the narrative structure. Ideas appear and find formulation in the text. In Bebuquin, character development is secondary to the ideas, which are what interested Einstein.

These cogitations are formulated as aphorisms and accompanied by astonishing, absurd, and fantastic events. One example taken from Bebuquin illustrates the interweaving of these aspects in this first Expressionist novel: Es handelte sich um den Gedanken, der logisch war, woher auch seine Ursachen kamen.

Wir sind nicht mehr so phantasielos, das Dasein eines Gottes zu behaupten. Bebuquin, sehen Sie einmal. He felt in this contradiction no animation, but rather release, repose. It was not negation that was fun. He despised these pretentious grumblers. He despised this uncleanliness of dramatic man. Yet the reasons were secondary. It was the thought that mattered, which was logical, whatever its origins.

He wanted to take it a little easy after his death, since he did not yet know anything for sure about immortality. But unfortunately you will probably have no success since you assume only a logical and a non-logical. There are many types of logic, my friend, at war within us and the alogical derives from that battle. We are no longer so lacking in imagination as to claim the existence of a God.

All shameless capitulation to the concept of unity speaks only to the laziness of your fellow humans. Bebuquin, take a look. However, he does not provide guidance or an interpretation, as is often the case in Mynona. That clearly represents an instance of allegorical and parabolic language. The self-reflections of the main character — in part or totally identified with the narrator — spontaneously transform external events into intellectual or cognitive experience and transmute every action of the plot into stream of consciousness.

This narrative technique is employed by Gustav Sack in Ein verbummelter Student An Idle Student, written —13, published , by Gottfried Benn in his collection of stories Gehirne Brains, , and by Flake in Stadt des Hirns City of the Brain; in Flake the title itself clearly expresses this intellectualization of narrative. We now turn to the use of allegory in Expressionist narrative prose, which is closely associated with the use of fantasy.

In this skull things appear silver-plated and wonderfully polished an image obviously symbolizing the intellect.

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The especially fantastic nature of the image provides a vehicle to convey ideas. With writers who employ allegory, such as Kubin, Meyrink, and Kafka, two fundamental tendencies of epic or prose Expressionism come together: In Kafka, however, the central idea, as expressed through images or material objects, ultimately remains unknown, and his allegories therefore permit an infinite number of interpretations.

In Einstein, Meyrink, and Kubin, the meaning of the allegory is more accessible. With allegorical clarity, these linked ideas appear as the visionary content of the narrated sequence of events. The meaning of the bureaucracies appearing in these works is so multivalent that it remains inseparable from the representation in the work and remains irreducible to any simple equation with specific ideas. Linguistically speaking, we cannot define any of the Austrian writers using allegory, whether they are from Prague or from Vienna, as Expressionists. The general stylistic features of Expressionist prose parataxis, ellipsis, syntactic distortion do not apply to the narrative styles of Kafka, Meyrink, Kubin, or Musil.

Here, syntactic complexity and subordination still remain the rule. Therefore, those authors cannot be included among the Expressionists. While the aforementioned features cannot be applied to that group of authors, the Expressionist use of narrative perspective, form, and structure certainly can. We have already drawn attention to stylistic parallels and relations between Musil and Einstein. Kafka plays a special role in the development of narrative technique in Expressionism, evident in the way he intensifies the ambiguity of the parabolic-allegorical forms of narration, widely used by Expressionists.

In regard to narrative perspective, Kafka develops to an extreme the exclusion of the omniscient narrator. These prose works, among the most interesting and finest narrative works produced by Expressionism, all convey a distorted view of the world narrated from the very personal viewpoint of the main character, who in three of these works is insane. The petty bourgeois is revealed as a fantastically macabre and grotesque menace.

Mann maintained the same grotesque intensity of narrator perspective through large sections of the book. Nonetheless, there exists between Kafka and the other Expressionists an essential distinction in regard to the use of figural perspective. The internal point of view, the point of orientation for narrated events, is entirely coherent in Kafka, untouched by any reference to an external reality.

However, from a linguistic point of view, we cannot consider him a true Expressionist. This example shows us that we must proceed with nuanced care when seeking to define Expressionist prose. After this discussion of narrative perspectivism, let us now again turn to linguistic features of Expressionism in order to reiterate that the two fundamental features of its prose were the pursuit of the utmost compression of language and syntactic distortion.

We observe that aphorisms predominate whenever naturalistic representation yields to the expression of ideas.

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