Since the late eighteenth century, authors have employed the story of a protagonist's journey into maturity as a powerful tool with which to facilitate the creation of national communities among their readers. Such attempts always stumble over what Boes calls "cosmopolitan remainders," identity claims that resist nationalism's aim for closure in the normative regime of the nation-state. These cosmopolitan remainders are responsible for the curiously hesitant endings of so many novels of formation.
In Formative Fictions, Boes presents readings of a number of novels—Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, Karl Leberecht Immermann’s The Epigones, Gustav Freytag’s Debit and Credit, Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, and Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus among them—that have always been felt to be particularly "German" and compares them with novels by such authors as George Eliot and James Joyce to show that what seem to be markers of national particularity can productively be read as topics of world literature.
Tobias Boes is Associate Professor of German at the University of Notre Dame. He is author of Formative Fictions. Follow him on Twitter @tobiasboes.
Thomas Mann, winner of the 1929 Nobel Prize in literature and author of such world-renowned novels as Buddenbrooks and The Magic Mountain, began his self-imposed exile in the United States in 1938, having fled his native Germany in the wake of Nazi persecution and public burnings of his books. Mann embraced his role as a public intellectual, deftly using his literary reputation and his connections in an increasingly global publishing industry to refute Nazi propaganda. As Boes shows, Mann undertook successful lecture tours of the country and penned widely-read articles that alerted US audiences and readers to the dangers of complacency in the face of Nazism's existential threat. Spanning four decades, from the eve of World War I, when Mann was first translated into English, to 1952, the year in which he left an America increasingly disfigured by McCarthyism, Boes establishes Mann as a significant figure in the wartime global republic of letters.
In one series, the original writings of the universally acknowledged teachers of the Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Islamic and Native American traditions have been critically selected, translated and introduced by internationally recognized scholars and spiritual leaders.
The texts are first-rate, and the introductions are informative and reliable. The books will be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of every literate religious persons". -- The Christian Century
Bringing together tales of melancholy and madness, nightmare and fantasy, this is a new collection of the most haunting German stories from the past 200 years. Ranging from the Romantics of the early nineteenth century to works of contemporary fiction, it includes Hoffmann's hallucinatory portrait of terror and insanity 'The Sandman'; Chamisso's influential black masterpiece 'Peter Schlemiel', where a man barters his own shadow; Kafka's chilling, disturbing satire 'In the Penal Colony'; the Dadaist surrealism of Kurt Schwitters' 'The Onion'; and Bachmann's modern fairy tale 'The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran'. Macabre, dreamlike and expressing deep unconscious fears, these stories are also spiked with unsettling humour, showing stylistic daring as well as giving insight into the darkest recesses of the human condition.
Peter Wortsman's powerful translations are accompanied by brief overviews of the lives of each author, and an introduction discussing the notion of 'angst' and the stories' place in the context of German history.
Translated, selected and edited with an introduction by Peter Wortsman