Expressionist Poetry and its Critics

Christopher Waller
1 September 1986
220 × 140 mm
200 pp
Paperback: 978-0-85457-132-1
Dr Waller seeks to assemble the best available criticism of literary Expressionism and to measure the work of five poets against the assumption that particular merits may have been submerged beneath a generalized onslaught on the movement. The criticisms of a series of distinguished writers are examined: their central concern is reflected in their repeated invocation of 'reality', and it emerges that the question of the Expressionists' responsibility (or lack of responsibility) as makers of poetic forms has its precise analogy in the question of their political responsibility. Dr Waller investigates the validity of the claim (made, for example, by the Marxists) that a direct connexion can be established between Expressionism and the rise of National Socialism. Close analysis of Expressionist form is a particular feature of this book, and the author focuses not only on the comparatively familiar poetry of Werfel, Heym, and Stramm, but also on the work of Kurt Heynicke and Wilhelm Klemm whose writing has suffered from critical neglect. Literary Expressionism is seen throughout as a significant movement which fed directly into the momentous historical and social events of the twentieth century, though the book's principal concern is always with the poetry and with individual poems.