Spanning the worlds of literature and the history profession, the Prussian novelist and historian Gustav Freytag (1816-95) was influential in shaping opinion for his generation of liberals. Best known as the author of the popular novel
Soll und Haben (1855), Freytag represented the views of a generation of National Liberals in the debate over Jewish assimilation, political reform in Prussia, and German unification. This new study places Freytag in his proper political and social context as a member of an elite of academic historians and liberal publicists who promoted German unification. Alongside colleagues like Theodor Mommsen and Heinrich von Treitschke, Freytag worked to create a progressive, Prussian historical myth for the new Germany. Although the author addresses Freytag’s well-earned reputation for anti-Jewish prejudice, the primary focus of the work is to explore the mental world of a significant, but often overlooked, German historian. Focusing upon Gustav Freytag as a representative figure, this book explores the contribution of the German history profession to German liberalism and political culture.
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2006. 360 pp.
Contents: Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben: Biedermeier Idyll – Soll und Haben: The Merchant as Hero – Soll
und Haben,and the Liberal Critique of Ostjuden in the Gründerzeit – Die Verlorene Handschrift:
The Historian as Hero – Kulturgeschichte and Kulturprotestantismus: The Case of «Doktor Luther» – The Prussian
Gospel, Part I: The Thirty Years’ War – The Prussian Gospel, Part II: Frederick the Great – Gustav Freytag, The Bilder
aus der deutschen Vergangenheit, and the Reich.