Synopses & Reviews
In this fascinating examination of German texts written about the First World War, Wolfgang Natter offers a new understanding of the relationship between culture and warfare. He focuses not only on the literary voices of German authors whose works are found in a library today but also on the wartime agencies, institutions, and individuals that produced and distributed an enormous body of books and printed materials during the First World War, the Weimar period, and the years preceding World War II. The book argues that the militarization of literature that occurred between 1914 and 1918 and the ways war events reconfigured literary institutions, aesthetics, and cultural politics, help to explain how a military ethos could remain vibrant in a defeated Germany and lay the groundwork for another world war.
Natter draws on previously unexamined archival sources, literature published between 1914 and 1940, and recent cultural, historical, and literary debates. He considers how the German war "experience" was mobilized by military, state, and private institutions; how reading and the publishing industry influenced history-making activities; and how post-war reassessments of the lost war's meaning uncovered a powerful storehouse of cultural ammunition that propelled and sustained National Socialism's rise to power. In examining these issues within the context of German nationalism, it also contributes to a general discussion regarding the theories and cultural practices of twentieth-century modernity.