As Brecht’s Galileo observed, a country which needs heroes is unfortunate indeed – words which suggest that a society’s need for heroes is always a function of its shortcomings. By examining the role that heroes and heroism have played in German literature and culture over the past two centuries, the essays in this volume illuminate and contour both a flawed German society in need of heroes and the flawed but essential heroes brought forth by that society. Beginning in he era of the anti-Napoleontic Wars of Liberation, advancing to the challenging situation Germany faced at the end of World War II, and concluding with the current reemergence of a unified Germany after almost half a century of division, this volume broadens our understanding of the inadequacies and breakdowns of German society. In addition to analyses of heroism in German culture during the last two centuries, this volume contains the first major essays in English on cultural representations of disability in German culture and on AIDS in German literature, as well as two essays on the scholarly accomplishments of Jost Hermand, to whom all of the essays in the volume are dedicated.
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