German Quest for Primal Origins in Art, Culture, and Politics 1900-1933 Die

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This major in-depth study - the first of its kind - conclusively demonstrates that the rise of Nazism cannot be understood in socio-economic and politico-ideological terms alone, but as a manifestation of a far larger cultural dynamic: the collective propensity for things mythical and primal, the compulsive quest for origins and roots. The case is argued with specific reference to German Expressionist literature and art, German letters from Hofmannsthal to Thomas Mann, philosophy (notably that of Simmel, Klages, Heidegger), and religious thought. It also probes into the essential drives of the German Youth Movement (1896-1933) and to the so-called völkische ideology. All are analyzed with a view to elicit their common assumptions -- those that coincided with the 'purer' impulses rampant in the rise of the Nazi movement. The study uncovers many unsuspected parallels between art, ideas and politics and is essential reading for anyone concerned with the cultural origins of National Socialism.


"This is a content-rich and important book, with excellent endnotes, bibliography, and index. It is relevant to any comprehensive collection of modern art or German studies." - Choice

"August Wiedmann has given us a compelling study of 'Urzustände'. . . . His erudition is immense, and he writes persuasively and in a highly earnest manner. His argument is 'empathetic', seeking a 'felt' history and no mere sterile documentation. The book is attractively produced, containing many reproductions of woodcuts and lithographs." - Forum for Modern Language Studies, Oxford Journals

". . . we can be grateful to Wiedmann for providing us with an encyclopedic overview of the manias of this century's first third. . . . Wiedmann is at his best in his analysis of the artists' melancholy regret for - in his words - 'Man fallen from the plenitude of Being.' The sheer variety of attempts to reenchant the world, from the primeval religiosity of the woodcuts of Ernst Barlach and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff to the maternalist fetishes of Ludwig Klages, opens new vantage points for German cultural history. . . . a rich introduction to the obsessions and pathologies of the age. . ." - Journal of Modern History

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