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This collection of eight essays in honour of the distinguished Canadian Germanist G.W. Field treats themes in German narrative prose of the First World War, the pre-war era, and the earliest of the Weimar Republic. The aim of the book is not to present a comprehensive study of the field, but rather to shed new light on specific problems.
The essays are organized in the historical sequence of the events and situations to which they are related. The topics include discussions of the concept of war as presented by Robert Musil in Der Mann hone Eigenschaften; the treatment of war as a catalyst by the Expressionist writers Carl Sternheim and Leonhard Frank; the preservation of values in the face of war as dealt in Hesse's Demian; and an exploration of the effects of war on the individual and social values in the works of Salomo Friedländer and Alfred Döblin. An essay on H.G. Well's Mr. Britling Sees It Through helps to clarify the ways in which the reaction of German writers to the war may be viewed as specifically German by providing an outsider's point of view. The final chapter, a survey of the most recent literature on the topic, shows how much World War I lives on in the minds of German writers as the great turning point in German political and cultural history.