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Young Love – Negotiations of the Self and Society in Selected German Novels of the 1930s

(Hans Fallada, Aloys Schenzinger, Maria Leitner, Irmgard Keun, Marie Luise Kaschnitz, Anna Gmeyner and Ödön von Horváth)

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Anja Schmidt-Ott

This work compares seven novels by writers of different political backgrounds. Concentrating on the experience of young love in the novels, it alternates sociological and literary analyses. Issues like the presentation of men and women, the attitudes to love displayed by the National Socialist state, the characterisation of society and the socio-cultural debates around the ideals of masculinity and femininity of the 1920s and the 1930s are considered. In so doing this work gives substance to notions such as the ‘crisis of manhood’, the ‘motherly woman’ and the ‘backlash against modernity’. This comparative approach establishes strikingly similar features in gender roles and the social place of love in quite disparate works revealing new insights into the Mentalitätsgeschichte of the 1930s.
Contents: Disorientation in the 1920s and the 1930s – Love in the times of Versachlichung – Threats to Love – National Socialist measures and their effectiveness – Men and women - the crisis of manhood and a Neue Mütterlichkeit – The New Woman – Woman in National Socialism - the official image and the chaos of reality – Men and love – Women and love – Revisions of Neue Sachlichkeit – Salvation in femininity – The ‘lost generation’.