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Defeated in World War I, living in a troubled and insecure peace, Germans under the Weimar Republic were a ready audience for visionary writers who indulged in elaborate fantasies of victorious wars of revenge and of German renewal through wondrous technological inventions. Largely ignored by the literary establishment, these writers created an immensely popular mass literature, the "Zukunftsroman" ("novel about the future"), that was a potent ingredient in the simmering stew of resentment, frustrated nationalism, political irrationalism, and economic distress so important in the Nazi rise to power. In "Fantasy and Politcs", Peter S.Fisher explores the popular culture of the Weimar Republic. He establishes common motifs and themes of the more influential fantasy novelists, sets them in the context of political events and ideas, and examines their popular influence. German fantasy novels provide invaluable perspectives on the ideological and psychological roots of the Weimar Republic's highly emotionalized politics, especially some of its uglier racist and Messianic strands. The "Zukunftsroman" was largely the province of the German right wing - the ultranationalists. Leftist writers shared many of the economic and political frustrations of the right, but contemporary socialist thinking discouraged them from engaging in utopian fantasies. Thus it was the visionary writers of the right who were able to tap the emotional wellsprings of Weimar thought and fill the explosives spiritual vacuum at its core. Unwilling to accept the defeat of 1918, the ultranationalists prophesied a second world war that would usher in a new and glorious Germany, stripped of corruption and renewing a mystical sense of national unity. Their preference for the world of fantasy over reality was paralleled by an inclination to value action over thought and emotion over reason. Technological visionaries, less ideologically rigorous, less militaristic, were nonetheless intellectual fellow travellers of the radical nationalists. Moving beyond the boundaries of traditional literary history, "Fantasy and Politics" focuses upon German thought and emotion as expressed through mass literature in the years between the two world wars, when the forces that have shaped so much of the modern world were beginning to take form and become political reality.
University of Wisconsin Press
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