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A New History of German Literature actually delivers far more than its title suggests. It consists of some 200 short essays by an international team of contributors, including not only literary but also political and social historians, critics of art, music, and film, philosophers, theologians, and many others. Each essay takes a significant date in the last thirteen centuries—publications, conjunctions, revolutions, catastrophes—and offers an exegesis that illuminates a major figure or phenomenon. The result adds up to a series of dazzling glimpses of transcendence, a sequence of microcosms, tantalizingly brief but almost always to the point. It is a monument to American scholarship. No review could do justice to the richness of this encyclopedic work, which is presumably not intended to be read from beginning to end, but to be dipped into and sampled at leisure...This book is a veritable banquet...By insisting that each essay be highly selective, capturing only the essential physiognomy of its subject with minimal biographical or critical ballast, the editors have accomplished the seemingly impossible: to make a book of a thousand pages seem effortlessly concise...[A] celestial feast of the mind...The moment has surely come for European intellectuals to set about reviving European culture before it is too late. Europeans need books like A New History of German Literature to remind us of what we have already lost, and Americans need them as an example of what can and must still be preserved.
— Daniel Johnson