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15 - Symbolism and Realism in Germany

from IV - Later nineteenth-century developments: Realism, Naturalism, Symbolism and Decadence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2013

M. A. R. Habib
Affiliation:
Rutgers University, New Jersey
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Summary

Nineteenth-century German literature has often been regarded as suffering from the disabling condition of provincialism. This shortcoming is felt with particular urgency in respect of the literary genre that emerges as the central expression of modern life from the late eighteenth century on: the Realistic novel. The Bildungsroman is often claimed to be a particularly German novel form. At one level, it has at its centre an experiential focus that is familiar from a number of key works of European Realism, for it explores the processes by which a young person is initiated into the ways of the world. Gottfried Keller's Green Henry offers a superlatively rich and complex understanding of the ways in which and the extent to which society is constituted not just of material things, but also of mental processes, of ideas, assumptions, values and symbolizations.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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