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Title: The aesthetics of race in turn-of-the-century Germany : Marie Madeleine in her literary and cultural context
Author: Breggin, Benjamin
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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Marie Madeleine was the nom de plume of Gertrud von Puttkamer, born Gertrud Günther in East Prussia in 1881. Starting with a collection of poems, Auf Kypros (1990), which caused a sensation on account of their erotic content, Marie Madeline published popular, often best-selling novels, short stories, plays and poetry. Her early work, from 1900 until the end of World War I, offers an unprecedented window into the culture of turn-of-the-century Germany and is a particularly revealing testimony of the pre-fascist German fascination with racial typology. This dissertation offers biographical information and a general introduction to the work of this now forgotten author. It then goes on to employ her prolific prose works as an axis for a comprehensive study of racial conceptions in the entire spectrum of turn-of-the-century German literature, from journalism and popular literature to works belonging to the canon. Particular reference is given to the writing of the young Thomas Mann and of Edward von Keyserling. The background of racial theory – the parallels that can be found between the literary portrayal of race and the writings of such theorists as Gobineau, Nietzsche, Julius Langbehn and Houston Stewart Chamberlain or the lesser known Heinrich Driesmans, Carl Heinrich Stratz and Ludwig Woltmann – are explored in depth. The emphasis is on the literary and theoretical representation of the Slavic, Latin and Teutonic peoples, with whom Marie Madeleine’s work was principally occupied. The dissertation thus endeavours to establish the Slavic Latin peoples as major figures of alterity alongside Jews in turn-of-the-century German literature. Ultimately, the dissertation shows that despite the chauvinism of certain theorists, the turn-of-the-century German obsession with race was characterised primarily by a whimsical and relatively benign aestheticism. It is an obsession that is best explored as the product of the turn-of-the-century German obsession that is best explored as the product of the turn-of-the-century German inclination to aestheticise all aspects of life, which ultimately succeeded in breaking the boundaries between art and science. It was part of the same cultural tide that brought on the Lebensreform and even Jugendstil.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available