Dimension2: Contemporary German-Language Literature

Volume 3, Number 3


Ingo R. Stoehr

Literary history unfolds in various ways. We can observe the development of literary movements and styles, and we can focus on the lines of tradition that link (some of) these movements and styles. A thematic approach seems to favor the latter approach. What is more, just asking the question about classical mythology seems to shift the entire enterprise toward an examination of the tradition.

While this is true for this issue to the extent that we decided to call it "The Classical Tradition" (because it also addresses Roman philosophy and early Christianity in addition to Greek mythology), something quite remarkable happened under the expert editorship of Scott G. Williams, whom I was able to win a guest editor for this issue: Not only do German-language writers revive some of the classical traditions, but their writing itself is vibrant with life.I am aware that "vibrancy" is not really an established scholarly category, but it is a quality that makes texts readable because without it there is no pleasure in the text (or Lesevergnügen, as the Germans would say). This pleasure is important for most literature: And perhaps to the surprise of some, German-language literature offers much of this pleasure. All issues of DIMENSION2, but especially the thematic ones, are a forum to emphasize this quality.Scott Williams has succeeded in compiling an anthology of texts for this issue that provides this reading pleasure. One of the few specialists in this area (currently writing his dissertation on Roman antiquity and post-1945 German-language literature), he was the obvious choice for guest editor. He admirably performed the most difficult job of selecting representative material from a vast number of possibilities for a limited number of pages. I agree with him that this issue could have been much longer, but with limited funding, a total of 176 pages was the maximum.

In addition to the reading pleasure of the texts themselves, the two essays by Scott Williams and Bernd Seidensticker offer more comprehensive and theoretical approaches, which in turn resonate with the texts and invite the readers to continue the rewriting and the critical reflection of the classical tradition.

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