Lippe, George B von der

Figure of Martin Luther in Twentieth- Century German Literature the Metamorphosis of a National Symbol
1996 0-7734-8791-3
This volume is a comprehensive treatment of the relationship of a society to its most powerful and controversial national symbol. Beginning with the heroic figure presented in the late 19th-century Festspiel, the study delineates the transformation of the literary projection of the Luther figure from Wilhelminian, through Weimar, into Third Reich cultural and political domains. The polarity which characterizes Luther depiction in the first half of the century is reflected in Luther as the cultural idol of the mainstream right and as archetypal symbol of betrayal and repression to the opposition and left intelligentsia. The study then traces the metamorphosis of Luther objectification in the divided German of the second half of the 20th century, characterized by an intense love-hate relationship in the GDR/East and more distanced, analytical relationship in the FRG/West; focal points include Thomas Mann's treatment of the Luther figure, Leopold Ahlsen's psycho-drama Der Arme Mann Luther, Dieter Forte's irreverent satire Martin Luther und Thomas Münzer, oder die Einführung der Buchhaltung, and Lutherjahr 1983 (Luther's 500 birthday) in East and West. Finally, the study considers the Luther figure in the context of German reunification - whether the Luther figure is a viable cultural symbol for Germans at the end of their most tumultuous century. This work targets an audience of Germanists and theologians, as well as those with a general interest in German cultural history. The text is in English, with English translation (by the author) and original German text for cited passages.