The Seduction of Culture in German History by Wolf Lepenies | 9780691121314 | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Seduction of Culture in German History

The Seduction of Culture in German History

by Wolf Lepenies
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691121311

ISBN-13: 9780691121314

Pub. Date: 03/06/2006

Publisher: Princeton University Press

"Wolf Lepenies has written a penetrating account of the role of Germany's self-image as the home of Kultur in that country's intellectual and political history. His range of reference is amazingly wide, and his writing is a delight. The Seduction of Culture in German History combines striking anecdotes, historical sweep, and incisive critical analysis."—

Overview

"Wolf Lepenies has written a penetrating account of the role of Germany's self-image as the home of Kultur in that country's intellectual and political history. His range of reference is amazingly wide, and his writing is a delight. The Seduction of Culture in German History combines striking anecdotes, historical sweep, and incisive critical analysis."—Richard Rorty, Stanford University

"For anyone who has been astonished by the German obsession with high culture—even in economic hard times, Berlin has three opera houses—Wolf Lepenies's deeply intelligent book is indispensable reading. But The Seduction of Culture in German History is more than the history of a national obsession. It is a searching analysis of the ways in which culture can serve as a sinister substitute for ethical engagement in democratic politics. With his brilliant forays into the cultural history of America and France and his dazzling sweep from Bismarck to the present, Lepenies has written a book whose passionate commitment to participatory democracy is rendered the nobler by his sophisticated irony and urbanity."—Stephen Greenblatt, Harvard University, author of Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

"The Seduction of Culture in German History is a powerful and sustained meditation on the dilemmas of Germany's legendary infatuation with Kultur. These themes have never been brought together so impressively and convincingly. This marvelous tour d'horizon of twentieth-century German intellectual life provocatively suggests that the central interpretive questions about the German past remain unsettled. Lepenies's prose is lively, witty, and engaging. Every paragraph is packed with dazzling insight. The writing is lapidary, the conclusions magisterial."—Richard Wolin, CUNY Graduate Center

"Wolf Lepenies has written a wonderfully erudite and thought-provoking book on that grand theme of German history since the eighteenth century: the immense value placed upon Kultur and the disparagement of politics. Lepenies accomplishes his task by taking the reader on a wide-ranging tour through the thought and biographies of many of the key figures of German, French, and American intellectual life. The problem he examines is a critical one for understanding Germany and the connections between it and the United States. The book is an intellectual tour de force written in a fluent and highly engaging style."—Eric D. Weitz, University of Minnesota

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691121314
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
03/06/2006
Edition description:
ANN
Pages:
270
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction Bombs over Dresden and the Rosenkavalier in the Skies 1

Chapter 1: Culture: A Noble Substitute 9
Lessons in Diminished Particularity 9
A Strange Indifference to Politics 11
The German Spirit and the German Reich 16

Chapter 2: From the Republic into Exile 27
Reflections of a Political Thomas Mann 27
The Aesthetic Appeal of Fascism 36
Art and Morality 45
The Blurring of Exile and Emigration 48

Chapter 3: Novalis and Walt Whitman: German Romanticism and American Democracy 56
A Country without an Opera 56
Joseph in America 60
German Democratic Vistas 63
Emerson's Sponsors: Beethoven & Bettina 70

Chapter 4: German Culture Abroad: Victorious in Defeat 76
The Closing of the American Mind 76
The German Mind in Jeopardy 85
A Calm Good-Bye to Europe 88

Chapter 5: French-German Culture Wars 93
Two Revolutions 93
Goethe in Exile 98
"Culture Wars" and Their Origin 100
A Puzzle in the History of Sociology 105
A Mediator: Maurice Halbwachs 107
An Expulsion from Berlin 110
The Murder of Maurice Halbwachs 112
Strange Defeat 114
Intellectual Resistance 116
Limits of the German Revolution 122

Chapter 6: German Culture at Home: A Moral Failure Turned to Intellectual Advantage 128
The German Catastrophe 128
The Resurrection of Culture 134
Inner Emigration and Its Discontents 138
German and Jewish Diaspora 145

Chapter 7: The Survival of the Typical German: Faust versus Mephistopheles 154
Goethe in the Polls 154
Goethe after 1945 159

Chapter 8: German Reunification: The Failure of the Interpreting Class 165
Cultural Guardians 165
Intellectual Disaster in the East 167
Intellectual Tragicomedy 170

Chapter 9: Culture as Camouflage: The End of Central Europe 176
Europe: Dream and Bureaucracy 176
A Victory of Culture over Power 178

Chapter 10: Irony and Politics: Cultural Patriotism in Europe and the United States 186
An American Patriot from Europe 186
Hamlet and Fortinbras 190
European Pygmies and the American Giant 195
The Irony of American History 196

Chapter 11: Germany after Reunification: In Search of a Moral Masterpiece 200
Culture and Realpolitik 200
Solving Political Problems in the Field of Culture 203

Notes 211
Bibliography 237
Acknowledgments 249
Index 251

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