The Politics of the Unpolitical: German Writers and the Problem of Power, 1770-1871 / Edition 1

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In a book written during the First World War, Thomas Mann wrote that political activity was alien to the German spirit and that "in fact the political element was absent from the German concept of education." The Politics of the Unpolitical demonstrates the essential unreliability of this generalization by focusing on the political activity of ten of Germany's most widely respected writers in the period from the French Revolution to the founding of the Bismarck Reich in 1871.
Gordon A. Craig's book shows how Goethe, Schiller, Heinrich von Kleist, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Holderlin, and Heine were fascinated by the political issues of their day and reacted either by entering public service or threw themselves into efforts to change society for the better. In his study of ten of Germany's most important intellectuals Craig, focuses on their political views and activities and argues that they were not, in fact, representatives of the genre of the "unpolitical German."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In ten chapters, each about a different man, Craig presents deft characterizations of German writers who sought to engage themselves politically and penetrating and provocative depictions of writers who abhorred politics as not being suited to the German writer's temperament....An interesting discussion of literary responses to political situations from the Age of Napoleon to the Age of Bismarck."—Choice

"This collection of essays is a pleasure to read but will perplex many of its readers. The essays themselves are vintage Craig: graceful and wide ranging."—American Historical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195094992
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/28/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.71 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon A. Craig is J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Humanities, Emeritus, at Stanford University. He is the author of numerous books including The Politics of the Prussian Army, 1640-1945 (1955), and Force and Statecraft

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Table of Contents

1 Goethe as Statesman 3
2 A German Jacobin: Georg Forster 22
3 Friedrich Schiller and the Police 37
4 Johannes von Muller: The Historian in Search of a Hero 45
5 Heinrich von Kleist and the Duel with Napoleon 59
6 Wilhelm von Humboldt as Diplomat 76
7 Holderlin and the Barbarians 95
8 Lenau as Political Writer 112
9 Heinrich Heine and the Germans 125
10 Gervinus and German Unity 143
Notes 157
Index 183
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