Best Books of the Month Shop Costumes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Super Humanoids All-New Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Subscribe & Save Introducing Handmade New Kitchen Scale from AmazonBasics Amazon Gift Card Offer hog hog hog  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage UnchartedBundle Shop Now Kids Halloween
Customer Review

35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Study of Germany's Greatest Poet, Stefan George, August 24, 2002
This review is from: Secret Germany: Stefan George and His Circle (Hardcover)
I wish to stress with some urgency that in my view this recently issued monograph on Germany's greatest poet, Stefan George, who was likewise one of modern Europe's most enigmatic and disturbing political presences, constitutes an achievement of incomparable significance in the historiography of cultural modernism. Experto crede: I have been occupied in studying these individuals for thirty years or more, and I can assure students that Robert Edward Norton has shed more light than admirers of Stefan George would have thought possible upon a dazzlingly talented, albeit indubitably eccentric,literary cenacle at whose center stood the masterful and charismatic visionary who was its spiritus rector.
Although George began his literary career as something of a minor Teutonic satellite on the far fringes of the French Symbolist movement (we learn, for instance, that the poet became quite close, both personally and artistically, to several of the Symbolist School's leading lights, viz., Paul Verlaine and Stephane Mallarme to mention just two of the more prominent figures) the predominant emphasis in Robert E. Norton's monograph rests upon the author's entertaining presentation of a wide range of hitherto obscure details involving the poet's later career, when his personal pretensions began to outweigh his literary career--over which George assiduously endeavored to cast a shroud of mystery and ambiguity--as well as unlocking for us a treasure trove of hitherto obscure biographical facts and anecdotes about the disciples and associates who drifted into the orbit of George-Kreis at one time or another. These anecdotes cover the waterfront, from uproarious and barely believable brawls that erupt out of the blue between alpha-intellects who are not what one would describe as pugilists, to grotesque tales of oddballs and geniuses who prefer to gussy themselves up in amazing couture in order to be wearing chic and appropriate threads when sallying out to attend the legendary and elaborate masqued balls that were almost a matter of routine in Schwabing-Muenchen. That custom, we learn, dictates that these people are more often than not attired in Roman-styled togas or, when feeling somewhat more daring, decked out in some gaudy purple-dyed gown that has been designed to garb a middle-aged intellectual who is impersonating the Magna Mater!
We learn also that these bright young things also hold somewhat outre "language orgies" in the course of which one of the oddest of the odd, viz., Alfred Schuler, launches himself into a catatonic state and then proceeds to time-travel back to ancient Rome (to visit his idol, of course, the Roman Emperor Nero!).
On the darker side of these affairs, the narrative presents more ominous anticipations and adumbrations of ominous types of cultic behaviors and ritual observances many of which would one day come to exert a profound and troubling influence on a less purely literary gathering of activists, viz., Hitler's National Socialists, whose adherents were to inherit so many elements of George's uniquely--even oppresively--authoritarian leadership style, along with the [Schuler-inspired]adoption during the fin de siecle period of the swastika as a sort of occult sigil of mystical might, one that came to adorn the title page of the Circle's official literary journal, the Blaetter fuer die Kunst.
We're also given numerous details about the poet's itinerary as he wandered from one associate's flat to another's (he was definitely what one might call a "professional house-guest"), along with fresh discoveries about the incredible group of renowned thinkers and creative writers (among whom the most talented were surely philosopher Ludwig Klages, archaeologist Alfred Schuler, poet Hugo von Hoffmansthal, and Shakespearean scholar Friedrich Gundolf), all of whom became adherents to the famous "Circles" that were so idiosyncratic a feature of cultural life in Schwabing-Munich at the dawn of the 20th century.
In closing, I repeat that I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in German culture, in the nascent proto-National Socialist scene in early 20th century Bavaria, or simply in the spectacle of some of the weirdest intellectuals ever to have come down the pike.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 3, 2007 9:36:04 AM PDT
To call George "Germany's greatest poet" (like most applications of this term) is of course utterly laughable. And by this I do not belittle his achievements. But to ask Goethe, Hoelderlin, Rilke, Benn, Celan to line up behind him, is patently absurd.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2008 6:42:04 AM PDT
A customer says:
To compare him favorably with Celan and Benn is neither laughable nor absurd.

Posted on Jul 27, 2008 3:31:48 PM PDT
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details


5.0 out of 5 stars (5 customer reviews)

4 star

3 star

2 star

1 star

$69.95 $44.64
Add to cart Add to wishlist

Location: ronkonkoma, ny United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,636,579