WEIMAR CULTURE: The Outsider as Insider by Peter Gay

WEIMAR CULTURE: The Outsider as Insider

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The culture that existed during the reign of the Weimar Republic, from 1918 to the ascension of Hitler in 1933, has been characterized by some as a new Periclean age. Certainly its roster of famous artists, movements, and thinkers rivals similar splendid configurations such as the Bloomsbury group in London or Paris in the Teens and Twenties. Professor Gay's short survey is the first devoted to this German phenomenon, and for that reason alone is more than welcome. However, the great care, suavity, and scholarly amplitude that so brilliantly marks Gay's The Enlightenment is only rarely evident in his new book. No doubt, what we have here is a trial run: Professor Gay remarks that his definitive assessment is in the offing. Thus, while the author places things in perspective (Weimar creativity is linked to postwar anguish and socio-political discord as well as modernist rebellion and experimentation), his predominantly outline structure generally settles for snapshot glimpses of Gropius and the Bauhaus school, Expressionism and its aftermath, Brecht and Mann, ""poetry as power"" (he is quite weak on George and Rilke, incidentally), the fatal intertwining of mysticism and barbarism (a difficult subject treated rather vaguely and/or polemically, especially the appraisal of Heidegger), Beckmann and Grosz, and the various shuttlings between subjectivity and objectivity. All in all, a sparse, if slight, introduction.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1968
Publisher: Harper & Row