In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

HUMANITIES 501 tions. While it is intended to be a I succinct and inexpensive research tool ... designed to help students of literature and young scholars,' it is so abridged, simplified, and popularized that it is largely misleading, imprecise, and banal; this is perhaps inevitable in a publication on a phenomenon of this kind in which the author allots only nine pages to Hesse's biographYi eighteen pages to his fiction, and five pages to his popular and scholarly reception in Germany and America. The central chapter on Hesse's fiction consists essentially ofa summary of the findings of Mileck's earlier study, Hermann Hesse: Ufe and Art (Berkeley 1978), which seeks the perfect equation between Hesse's life and his fiction. It is this autobiographical constant which is developed here at the expense ofan analysis ofintrinsic features ofindividualworks. This section reads like a guide through Hesse's innerbiography byway of his fiction, and it therefore does not come as a surprise that Mileck finds Hesse's poetic method to be a process of 'fantasizing autobiography' while he deems his popularity to be the result of a process of 'universalizing autobiography.' Despite the claims of the title, the final section of the book neither reports on nor takes issue with central themes of Hesse criticism. All we find is an impressionistic elucidation of general trends, and the citing of some statistics in a flurry of flippant formulations ('Hesse virus,' 'the commercial priming of Hesse's pump'). Equally disappointing is the absence ofan assessment ofHesse's language; its deceptive precision and suggestive simplicity contribute equally to his artistic significance and his popular success. This study lacks the specificity and depth necessary to make it a useful research tool. (HORST WITTMAN) Eric A. Blackall. The Novels of the German Romantics Cornell University Press 1983. $34.50 The English reader's perspective on the German novel is often coloured by the view that the nineteenth-century Bildungsroman, the novel of education, is the quintessential German contribution to the genre. This view was supported by Roy Pascal's widely read The German Novel (1956). Yet there is hardly a legend in literary history'so lacking in foundation and so misleading,' as J.L. Sammons pointed out recently. Sammons advises us to 'recognize the presence of a myth and assume the appropriate posture of reverence and skepticism' (Genre 1981, P243). Professor Blackall's valuable studyshouldhelp to laythe myth to rest. It deals with 'the revolution' which the 'innovative nature of the romantic view of the novel' (p 50) caused in Germany at the turn of the eighteenth century. The novel was to be 'poetry through and through' (Novalis: 'durch und durch Poesie'). By writing novels the romantic authors hoped 502 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 I to redeem the world through poetry, to relate the manifold ofexperiences to a poetic center, to dissolve those divisions - nature and spirit, conscious and unconscious, finite and infinite - which, all too pervasive, militated against the clear understanding of the unity behind variety, the complementariness of oppositions, the interaction of past, present and future, the relation of real to ideal, of conditional to unconditional' (p 263). In order to express these concerns, the traditional form of the novel had to be transformed. Indebted to medieval romances, to Cervantes' Don Quijote, Sterne's Tristram Slumdy, Diderot's Jacques Ie Fataliste, and to Wieland, the German romantic novelists moved 'away from the linear modes of narration and self-contained realms of representation towarda more complex amalgamoffantasy, myth, and poetry, with more emphasis on seeking than on telling, more concern with ambiguity than finality, more awareness of the insufficiency of all statement, and greater self-reflexiveness' (p 15). The'quest for the self' (p 76) became the leading motif. The new view of the novel is indebted to Friedrich Schlegel, whose theories Blackall cogently elucidates before he turns to Lucinde. A discussion of Dorothea Schlegel's Florentin leads to a valuable survey of the history of the genre prior to the period under review, a survey which owes much to the author's superb knowledge ofEuropean literature. Jean Paul and H6lderlin, so often excluded from the romantic movement, are examined, as is Novalis's Heinrich...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 501-503
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.