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The Chain of Things
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The Chain of Things: Divinatory Magic and the Practice of Reading in German Literature and Thought, 1850-1940

Eric Downing


This book explores connections between the practices of reading and magic during the realist and modernist periods in German literature and thought, with a particular focus on divination. Divination, historically long associated with the reading of literature, engages an issue of critical importance to this cultural moment, that of futurity: both the different ways that the future figured in the reading of texts at this time, and the evident (or apparently evident) fading of its force as a narrative determinant or article of historical faith. In case studies of works by Gottfried Keller, Theod ... More

Keywords: German realism, modernism, divination, Stimmung, Gottfried Keller, Theodor Fontane, Walter Benjamin, futurity

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9781501715907
Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2018 DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501715907.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Eric Downing, author
University of North Carolina