MODERN GERMAN LITERATURE 1870-1940BY VICTOR LANGE PREFACE THE following essay is intended to supply a critical outline of German literature between 1870 and the present. It should appeal especially to those who are not familiar with the details of that literatures recent history and who do not read the originals with ease. So general an aim may seem not only ambitious but possibly unpromising, and it involves, without doubt, cer tain difficulties which it is well to recognize clearly. Any attempt to establish historical and critical cohesion beyond the mere fortuitous mosaic of events is a matter of interpretation and interpretation will not succeed if we aim, even obliquely, at deceptive completeness or dry detachment. For completeness is a professorial virtue which it is wisest not to strain, and detachment is nowhere less valid an attitude than in the contempla tion and interpretation of literature. On the contrary, literary criticism, even though its immediate object is the specifically verbal work of art with its inescapable and telling medium, is seldom true and alive unless it ventures judgments which go beyond the primary aesthetic experience. Literary criticism must not fail to be a mode of action it requires, as well as technical knowledge, the readiness of a decision. Broad strokes, and even generalizations, have there fore seemed preferable to that distracting abundance of names, titles, and dates which is sometimes supposed to constitute the awkward weave of literary history and an occasional oversimplification has been inevitable. Those who are acquainted with the particulars of the German literary scene may not be reconciled to some omissions others may, rightly, protest that certain authors have been treated either too meanly or too enthusiastically. But the scope and intention of this essay would be seriously misjudged if undue demands were to be made upon it. An exhaustive list of the translated works of the authors discussed will be found in the Bibliography, together with references to some of the more generally illuminating critical studies available in English.