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Critical Time in Modern German Literature and Culture


Edited By Dirk Göttsche

The fleeting nature of time is a defining feature of modern and postmodern existence. Identified by Reinhart Koselleck as the temporalization («Verzeitlichung») of all areas of human knowledge and experience around 1800, the concept of critical time continues to intrigue researchers across the arts and humanities. This volume combines theoretical and critical approaches to temporality with case studies on the engagement with the modern sense of time in German literature, visual art and culture from the eighteenth century to the present. Contributions explore key areas in the cultural history of time: time in art and aesthetic theory, the intellectual history of time, the relationship between time and space in literature and visual art, the politics of time and memory, and the poetics of time. Essays question the focus on acceleration in recent critical discourse by also revealing the contrapuntal fascination with slowness and ecstatic moments, notions of polyphonous time and simultaneity, the dialectic of time and space, and complex aesthetic temporalities breaking with modern time-regimes.
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Maike Oergel – “The Grand Poem of our Time”: Carlyle, Zeitgeist and his History of the French Revolution


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“The Grand Poem of our Time”: Carlyle, Zeitgeist and his History of the French Revolution

In a letter to his new friend John Stuart Mill, Carlyle declares in 1833:

In the right understanding of [the Revolution] is involved all possible knowledge important for us; […] to me it often seems as if the right History […] of the French Revolution were the Grand Poem of our Time; as if the man who could write the truth of that, were worth all other writers and singers.1

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