Expressionism as an International Literary Phenomenon
Twenty-one essays and a bibliography
Ulrich Weisstein’s collection of 21 essays offers a comparative study of Expressionism as a Modernist movement whose dynamic core lay in Germany and Austria-Hungary, but which transformed artistic practices in other European countries. The focus, Weisstein argues, “must be strictly and sharply aimed at a specific body of works and opinions—a relatively dense core surrounded by a less clearly defined fringe zone—indigenous to the German speaking countries.” The volume spans an “Expressionist” period extending from roughly 1910 to 1925. Weisstein himself contributes two introductory chapters on problems of definition and a thoughtful analysis of English Vorticism. An ample context is set by comparative essays concerned with international movements such as Futurism that had an impact on German Expressionist drama, prose, and poetry, together with essays on the adaptation of Expressionist forms in countries such as Poland, Russia, Hungary, South Slavic nations and the United States. These essays call attention to representative authors and artists, as well as to periodicals and artistic circles. Reviewers have praised not only the presentation of “literary links and interaction” among national cultures, but especially the “most rewarding” interdisciplinary essays on Dada and on Expressionist painting, music, and film.