This book focuses on Heinrich Mann’s representations of Wilhelmine Germany written between 1895 and 1925. A major figure in German literature and intellectual history, Heinrich Mann has stirred controversy among scholars for the divisive political and social themes in his novels and essays and for having reversed his positions on these issues – from a decidedly conservative stance in his youth to an increasingly left-liberal outlook. In contrast to previous studies that trace the development of Mann’s thought, this book divides Mann’s earlier writings into two distinct types of narrative: a contemporary commentary at the turn of the century; and a historical assessment of the Wilhelmine era after 1918. In this manner, the early period is not dismissed as a passing phase, but described as part of the discourses circulating in 1890s Germany. The later historical retrospectives, in turn, are compared against the assessments of recent historians.
Heinrich Mann: Narratives of Wilhelmine Germany, 1895-1925 emphasizes the role of ideology, literary form, and historical perspective in the construction of history.