Conrad Kent, Thomas Wolber, Cameron M. K. Hewitt, eds. The Lion and the Eagle: Interdisciplinary Essays on German-Spanish Relations over the Centuries. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2000. xv + 528 pp. $49.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-57181-131-8.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Vanke (Department of History, Guilford College, Greensboro)
Published on H-German (January, 2002)
Incidental Contacts and Momentous Engagements
Incidental Contacts and Momentous Engagements
Spain and Germany, though almost never as closely bound to each other as to others, have occasionally borne bountiful fruit from their encounters. Their mutual influence over the centuries is the subject of this book, the result of a 1996 conference on the same subject. The Lion and the Eagle constitutes roughly one part literary criticism, one part history of literary movements and influences, and one part other history. The editors' knowledgeable introduction not only offers a synopsis of the book's chapters, organized chronologically, but also lays out a catalogue of themes and episodes in Spanish-German relations for over fifteen hundred years (a more succinct and explicit summary might have been helpful).
>From the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century, when the two cultures did have contact, more often Germans learned about and drew from Spain than vice versa. A notable exception was the installation of Austrian Habsburg Charles V as King Charles I of Spain, in 1516. Ironically, the power of Habsburg Spain contributed to the greater influence of Spanish examples on German thinkers. With Spain's later eclipse by France, the eighteenth century witnessed diminished mutual awareness by Spaniards and Germans. Then as nineteenth-century German philosophy and other scholarship developed, Spain turned more attention towards Germany, in a reversal of earlier patterns of prevailing influence. This trend, facilitated by French translations of German works (see p. 241), has continued through the present, although it passed its peak with Germany's spatial and intellectual truncation during and after the Third Reich. Finally, more recent Spanish-language literature from Latin America has increased Germans' knowledge of the Hispanic world.
The twenty-one contributions to this volume might be categorized into five groupings, some of which are more truly interdisciplinary than others. Three or four sorts of history are represented: two micro-histories of individuals, four histories of broader geopolitical or political economic importance, and eight histories of intellectual and cultural cross-fertilization. Of the latter category, all the authors are literature specialists providing well-documented arguments. In the fourth grouping, two German authors respectively receive careful analyses within their historical context. Finally, five essays offer creative readings of texts and other images.
Early in the book, Joseph F. Patrouch offers a chronicle of the Austrian and Spanish lives of Habsburg Archduchess Elizabeth (1554-1592), followed by Magdalena S. Sanchez's account of Archduchess Maria of Bavaria (1551-1608). Both of these short articles are able but could use greater contextualization of their subjects and their relative importance. On the subject of great European wars and changes in regimes and dynasties, Christopher D. Storrs offers a piece on Spanish-German relations during the reign of Charles II (1665-1700), the last Habsburg king of Spain. Storrs' multinational research documents the opportunities and pitfalls of Spain's involvement with German princes, advisors, and wars. He details how Spain used Austrian and other German help for its interests in Italy and the Low Countries. One of his chief conclusions is that the retinue gathering in the 1690s around Charles II's second wife, Mariana of Neuburg, created such resentment among native Spanish elites that it pushed them to prefer the French Bourbon candidate to a German (Habsburg) solution in the War of Spanish Succession (1702-1713).
Three historical contributions deal with subjects related to the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War. Robert H. Whealey reviews how Germany seized the influence in Spain abdicated by Britain and France after the civil war started in 1936. Norman J. W. Goda offers a synopsis of parts of his own book, documenting that Francisco Franco nearly joined Hitler's war with the primary objective of expanding Spain's empire in northwest Africa at France's expense. But when Franco realized in 1940 that Hitler sought German control of those same strategically important territories (as well as parts of the Spanish Canary Islands), he kept Spain out of the war.
Next, Wayne Bowen documents the decline of the Falange, Spain's official fascist party since 1936, in parallel with Nazi Germany, which embodied the ideological and international revisionist goals of the Falange's more extreme elements. The more pragmatic Franco found his regime increasingly stabilized at the end of the war and rid of the most radical and volatile constituents of his earlier victory in Spain.
Among this volume's authors on cultural and intellectual influences, Albrecht Classen begins the book by offering a few examples to demonstrate "that the literary connections between medieval Spain and Germany were not negligible" (p. 61). More compelling connections were forged in the nineteenth century. A pair of chapters discusses various efforts by nineteenth-century Spanish scholars to incorporate the learning of their German counterparts into their own research and learning. Donald E. Lenfest focuses on Neogrammarian linguists, and John W. Kronik explores the multidisciplinary journal, La Abeja ("The Bee," published 1862-70), which specialized in translations of German writings. Circulation figures and a description of La Abeja's readership would help the reader understand the extent of its influence.
Three articles focus on the influence of particular individuals. Berit Balzer details how Heinrich Heine's radicalism could be just as divisive in Spain as in Germany, while she points out that some Spanish conservatives did appreciate Heine's romanticization of the nation. Vera Stegmann documents Pablo Neruda's interactions with German writers in Latin American exile during the Third Reich, extending to influences on postwar German literature. On the 1920s reception of Spanish poet Miguel Unamuno in Germany, Shirley King explores a "fame . . . short-lived and primarily sensational in nature," as German intellectuals found it difficult to comprehend Unamuno's combination of logic, religion, and political opposition to dictator Primo de Rivera, who inspired Unamuno's exile in France. King describes several Unamuno works translated into German during these years, but she might have fleshed out his public "personality" (p. 300) more, since this constitutes a core part of her argument. In a period when Spanish intellectuals gazed increasingly across the Pyrnees, King provides a number of quotations that demonstrate more confident German stereotyping of Spaniards than the reverse: Kurt Tucholsky wondered whether anyone but "Latins" could understand Unamuno (p. 291); Heinrich Mann thought Unamuno came "from a country which remains dark to us, out of strange traditions of the soul" (p. 305); but Unamuno, literate in German, "was skeptical of the idea of a national spirit" when asked by a German journal what he owed "to the German spirit" (p. 295). Either greater familiarity left less room for sweeping generalizations, or Spanish intellectuals pursued different (less Herderian) questions than their German counterparts, or both.
The two remaining contributions on mutual cultural influence treat groups rather than individuals. Friederike B. Emonds calls attention to German women's written accounts of their experiences in the Spanish Civil War, which she argues provide a broader picture than German men's more military narratives. The argument about gender differentiation is compelling, but it requires more testing, in particular through a study that pursues unconventional and unpublished men's narratives as thoroughly as Emonds has researched women's. That men were capable of writing about the broader picture is plain in George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia (1938), which juxtaposes military and political history with the Alltagsgeschichte of the war. Some quantification of the numbers of German women drawn to Spain's war would also be insightful. In her essay on late twentieth-century Spanish-American fiction in Germany, Meg H. Brown briefly discusses a rise and subsequent easing of its popularity among German readers; she might have compared this trend to the fate of Spanish-American fiction among western readers more broadly.
This book's five creative analyses of texts and images include Patricia D. Zecevic's postulation that Francisco Lopez de Ubeda (early 1600s) and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) shared Kabbalistic rhetorical forms; Francisco LaRubia-Prado's search for current relevance especially of Goethe and Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg, 1772-1801), by demonstration through more recent Spanish authors; Conrad Kent's reading of Nazi propaganda from the Spanish Civil War; and Rachel J. Halverson's and Ana Maria Rodriguez-Vivaldi's analysis of the collaborative film, The Uprising (1980), which follows brief biographies of the respective German and Chilean creators. Fifth, Nelson Orringer claims that nineteenth-century Spanish novelist Leopoldo Alas (1852-1901, alias Clarin) espoused Krausism in his writings, as did a number of contemporary Spanish reformers more explicitly (German Karl Christian Friedrich Krause [1781-1832] offered a philosophy of optimistic progressivism toward human understanding that appealed to Spanish reformers of later generations).
Finally, two essays analyze the influence of Golden-Age Spanish literary works on German authors at the forefront of German romanticism two centuries later. Henry W. Sullivan offers extensive, if ultimately "circumstantial" (p. 137), evidence that Friedrich Schiller's The Bride of Messina was consciously derived from Pedro Calderon de la Barca's (1600-1681) Devotion to the Cross. (Incidentally, Sullivan offers another German characterization of the Spanish spirit in paraphrasing Schiller: "Sensuality and passion mark the southern spirit, he said, more than the moral depth of soul that befits the northern spirit" [p. 137]). Rachel Schmidt responds to Hispanists who criticize early German romantics' over-attribution of philosophical meaning to Miguel de Cervantes' (1547-1616) Don Quixote by supplying evidence of Friedrich Schlegel's (1772-1829) appreciation of the work's parody. One of Schmidt's own quotations might be turned to the opposing argument; Schlegel writes, "The arbitrariness and the sudden rage are the purest elements of [Quixote's and Sancho Panza's] character" (p. 202). While Schmidt provides a logically persuasive case, more evidence would help.
This collection of essays and monographic articles offers the reader numerous perspectives from which to observe the evolving and multifaceted German-Spanish relationship. While that study might benefit from some brief comparison to, say, German-Italian relations of similar sorts, the chronological scope is so vast that comparisons across time offer useful insights. In particular, the extent of cultural and literary influence has often reflected political power and influence, first predominant in Spain and later in Germany, but powerful literature and scholarship on their own have proved capable of establishing wider audiences irrespective of context. For historians of Germany and Europe, the essays likely to find the broadest interest seem to be those by Storrs, Goda, and Bowen. The majority of the remaining essays provide useful insights into their respective topics as they offer a collective understanding of the breadth of two countries' relations rarely achieved in one volume.
. Norman Goda, Tomorrow the World: Hitler, Northwest Africa, and the Path toward America. (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 1998).
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Jeffrey Vanke. Review of Kent, Conrad; Wolber, Thomas; Hewitt, Cameron M. K., eds., The Lion and the Eagle: Interdisciplinary Essays on German-Spanish Relations over the Centuries.
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