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A Poet's Reich


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Stefan George (1868-1933) was one of the most important figures in modern German culture. His poetry, in its originality and impact, has been ranked with that of Goethe and Hölderlin. Yet George's reach extended beyond the sphere of literature. In the early 1900s, he gathered around himself a circle of disciples who subscribed to his vision of comprehensive cultural-spiritual renewal and sought to turn it into reality. The ideas of the George Circle profoundly affected Germany's educated middle class, especially in the aftermath of the First World War, when their critique of bourgeois liberalism, materialism, and scholarship (Wissenschaft) as well as their call for new forms of leadership (Herrschaft) and a new Reich found wider resonance. The essays collected in the present volume critically re-examine these ideas, their contexts, and their influence. They provide new perspectives on the intersection of culture and politics in the works of the George Circle, not least its ambivalent relationship to National Socialism.
Contributors: Adam Bisno, Richard Faber, Rüdiger Görner, Peter Hoffmann, Thomas Karlauf, Melissa S. Lane, Robert E. Lerner, David Midgley, Robert E. Norton, Ray Ockenden, Ute Oelmann, Martin A. Ruehl, Bertram Schefold.

Melissa S. Lane is Professor of Politics at Princeton University. Martin A. Ruehl is Lecturer in German Thought and Fellow of Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge.


It is the enormous service of this collection to let . . . contradictory theses and argumentations have their effect on the reader, and what is more, to have brought together authors of very different disciplines. Thereby an informative and comprehensive work has come into existence that spans a wide arc: from the lyric poetry to the Blätter-Society, science, and economics; from mythologizing to politics; from homosexuality to misogyny; from antisemitism to National Socialism. The volume delivers thusly many specific points of departure for new research into George and the George Circle, yet remains accessible to a broader readership as an advanced introduction. In its abundance this book opens to the Anglophone world a nuanced access to George the poet and the social figure. H-GERMAN, H-NET REVIEWS [Max Kramer]

A . . . stimulating and mostly very readable volume that, it is to be wished, will not only carry forth outside Germany the extremely productive discussions there about the George Circle, but will also have an effect on them. STEFAN GEORGE JAHRBUCH

What makes this volume . . . so eminently enjoyable is the fact that while this new crop of George scholars largely agree to ignore the ideological pitched battles that marked George's postwar reception, they agree on little else. There is a spirited debate between the different contributors, and while none of them offer the simple answers to the question of the George circle's politics that proved so seductive after 1945, they each accentuate their answers differently. MONATSHEFTE

This volume tackles important questions. . . . [Some of the essays] provide incisive contributions to English-language research on George and the relationship between poetry, ethics, and politics. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

This book is another in a long line of excellent Camden House publications. Highly recommended. CHOICE[Mark McCulloh]


First Published: 08 Dec 2011
13 Digit ISBN: 9781571134622
Pages: 384
Size: 9 x 6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Camden House
BIC Class: DSB

Details updated on 22 Apr 2016


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  The George Circle: From Künstlergesellschaft to Lebensgemeinschaft
  • 3  Stefan George's Homoerotic Erlösungsreligion, 1891-1907
  • 4  The Secret Germany of Gertrud Kantorowicz
  • 5  The Poet as Idol: Friedrich Gundolf on Rilke and Poetic Leadership
  • 6  Kingdom of the Spirit: The Secret Germany in Stefan George's Later Poems
  • 7  The Absentee Prophet: Public Perceptions of George's Poetry in the Weimar Period
  • 8  The Platonic Politics of the George Circle: A Reconsideration
  • 9  Political Economy as Geisteswissenschaft: Edgar Salin and Other Economists around George
  • 10  "Imperium transcendat hominem": Reich and Rulership in Ernst Kantorowicz's Kaiser Friedrich der Zweite
  • 11  Third Reich and Third Europe: Stefan George's Imperial Mythologies in Context
  • 12  From Secret Germany to Nazi Germany: The Politics of Art before and after 1933
  • 13  The George Circle and National Socialism
  • 14  Stauffenberg: The Search for a Motive
  • 15  Notes on the Contributors
  • 16  Index

Zarathustra's Children

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A Companion to the Works of Stefan George

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