Literary Expressionism Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

Ulrich Weisstein (essay date winter 1967)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Weisstein, Ulrich. “Expressionism: Style or Weltanschaung?” Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts 9, no. 1 (winter 1967): 42-62.

[In the following essay, Weisstein considers the question of whether scholars should evaluate Expressionism primarily as a literary style, or whether they need to take into account its social and political dimensions as well.]

“No matter how things turn out, one will have to admit that Expressionism was the last common, general, and conscious attempt of a whole generation to instill new life into art, music, and literature.”1 I think that this holds true even though, geographically speaking,...

(The entire section is 8263 words.)

Ralph Freedman (essay date winter 1969)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Freedman, Ralph. “Refractory Visions: The Contours of Literary Expressionism.” Contemporary Literature 10, no. 1 (winter 1969): 54-74.

[In the following essay, Freedman discusses the Expressionist technique of blurring the contours of ordinary objects in order to explore the relationship between human consciousness and the real world.]


If it is at all true that artists express the needs and values of their culture, it follows that they also reflect its impasse. In our time, they have sought to isolate this crucial recognition by distorting the world around them—their own features, and ours, as well as those “classical” forms...

(The entire section is 7565 words.)

Christopher Waller (essay date 1986)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Waller, Christopher. “The Criticisms.” In Expressionist Poetry and Its Critics, pp. 10-23. London: Institute of Germanic Studies, University of London, 1986.

[In the following excerpt, Waller comments on criticism leveled against Expressionist writers by five contemporary critics: R. M. Rilke, Thomas Mann, Georg Lukács, Stefan George (through Friedrich Gundolf), and Robert Musil.]

Literary criticism ought to be a history of man's ideas and imaginings in the setting of the conditions which have shaped them.1

This book takes as its starting-point, and will use as a framework, a series of criticisms...

(The entire section is 7226 words.)

Peter Vergo (essay date 1993)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Vergo, Peter. “The Origins of Expressionism and the Notion of Gesamtkunstwerk.” In Expressionism Reassessed, edited by Shulamith Behr, David Fanning, and Douglas Jarman, pp. 11-9. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 1993.

[In the following essay, Vergo explores how Richard Wagner's notion of Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) influenced the Expressionists' view of the dichotomy between the external and internal meaning of a work of art.]

Over the past several decades, a number of writers—among them Carl Schorske, Donald Gordon, and Reinhold Heller1—have underlined the importance of the Idealist tradition in...

(The entire section is 3528 words.)

Peter Nicholls (essay date 1995)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Nicholls, Peter. “Cruel Structures: The Development of Expressionism.” In Modernisms: A Literary Guide, pp. 136-64. London, England: Macmillan, 1995.

[In the following excerpt, Nicholls focuses on the elements of linguistic and sexual violence in the poetry and drama of the Expressionist period.]

In previous chapters we have seen Paris emerge as a magnetic cultural centre, as the very hub of European modernist activity. Here a sense of energy and dynamism brought art and metropolitan life into powerful association—the Paris of Delaunay was preeminently the city of light, colour, and movement, the city where expanding consumerism had acquired an exciting...

(The entire section is 12443 words.)