Chapter

In Search of <i>Kultur</i>

Glenn Watkins

in Proof through the Night

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780520231580
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520927896 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520231580.003.0002
In Search of Kultur

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When the American editor and writer Thomas Bailey Aldrich observed in 1903 that “civilization is the lamb's skin in which barbarism masquerades,” he articulated an awareness that was shared by virtually all observers of the international scene: Germany's military buildup had already commenced under the facade of Kultur. Starting in the 1880s, Friedrich Nietzsche had made dire Zarathustrian pronouncements that the cities—the melting pots of humanity—must inevitably explode in a great revolution. A developing corollary in the shadow of such industrial developments was the escalating concept of nationhood. The ruler of Germany for the thirty years between 1888 and 1918 was Kaiser Wilhelm II, who longed for empire and coveted Britain's vast domain, which was ruled by his cousin King George V. In his 1912 novel Jean-Christophe, Romain Rolland pointed with some justification to his prescient forecast of the Great War. He also articulated with uncanny accuracy the power of music to sort out national priorities. Rolland was a personal acquaintance of both Richard Strauss and Igor Stravinsky.

Keywords: Great War; Kultur; Germany; nationhood; Jean-Christophe; Romain Rolland; music; Richard Strauss; Igor Stravinsky

Chapter.  7718 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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