The German People
An Autobiography as Told by Poets and Thinkers
The Germans—a proud people of poets and thinkers? It turns out that when you let the poets and thinkers speak for themselves, they often express sentiments that couldn’t be further from pride.
“We Germans come from yesterday” reads Goethe’s merciless verdict and many others also refuse to pull their punches when they describe a German identity that is “slow to act and thoughtful,” (Hölderlin) and “arbitrarily dumbfounded” (Nietzsche). This volume brings together a collection of the skeptical viewpoints of German intellectuals from the Middle Ages to the present, from Walther von der Vogelweide to Luther, Kant, Schiller to Heidegger, Brecht and Walser. The result is a sobering and often downright devastating critique of their own country—the Germans are a rude people without a national character, a land of cultural elitists, yet full of “dumb-as-dirt citizens,” (the latter per a disappointed Konrad Adenauer). Johannes Fried provides sound and knowledgeable comments on the selected texts, connects them to current events, and delivers surprising insights.
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