Women, the Novel, and the German Nation 1771-1871: Domestic Fiction in the Fatherland

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In this 1998 book, Todd Kontje surveys novels by German women over the one-hundred-year period that stretches from the beginnings of a German national literature to the founding of its nation-state. Introducing readers to the lives and works of fourteen women writers of the period, he shows the historical and thematic coherence of a body of fiction by women that has been obscured by traditional literary histories. He explores ways in which novels about traditionally feminine domestic concerns also comment on patriarchal politics in the German fatherland. Finally, he argues that we must view the history of the German novel in the context of both the history of sexuality and the rise of German nationalism, and that novels by German women, often marginalized or trivialized, played a central role in shaping attitudes toward class, gender and the nation.