Germany Culture and Literature


Protagonist of more than a millennium of European and world history, Germany boasts an artistic and cultural heritage worthy of its own historical event. The birth of German culture can be placed at the time of the meeting of the Germanic people with the civilizations of Romans and Franks (starting from the third century AD) and the consequent introduction of the Christian religion. In the years around one thousand, the Romanesque cathedrals, the songs of the wandering clerics, of the minnesänger, and the epic deeds of the Nibelungs are the first expressions of a cultural universe that, starting from the modern age, will take shape thanks to the literary, philosophical and scientific work of some personalities from the world of sciences, techniques, arts and thought, often not belonging to a movement or a current but rather founders themselves of currents, movements, ideologies. Figures such as J. Gutenberg, inventor of the movable type printing machine; or Martin Luther, the monk who promoted the greatest schism known by the Christian religion in modern times; but also like Kant, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche in the fields of philosophy and political reflection; Goethe in literature, Brecht with regard to poetry and the theater of the twentieth century; Beethoven and Wagner in the musical field; Einstein and Planck for physics. The main symbol of the new culture is certainly Berlin itself, which has become the most representative city of the modern and European face of Germany. Its historic districts have been enhanced and a global urban renewal plan has been launched, the fulcrum of which is the futuristic Potzdamer district, built in an area previously crossed by the wall with the collaboration of world-famous architects, as if to demonstrate the international contribution. to the work of the reunification of the country. Today the city is full of museums, musical and cultural events, which make it one of the favorite destinations for young people in Europe. The leading role played by Germany in the artistic and cultural field in Europe and in the world is also testified by the numerous events it hosts on its territory and which enjoy international fame in the various fields of art. Buchmesse) in Frankfurt, the Berlin Film Festival (the Berlinale), the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth and Bach week in Ansbach. A further confirmation of the national passion for music is the great orchestral tradition: the Berlin and Munich Philharmonics and the Bamberg Symphony are among the most prestigious in the world. There are over 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the Bayreuth Opera House (2012), Corvey Abbey (2014) and some historic buildings in Hamburg (2015) have been included among the last ones.


No literary document remains from the age of migration and the pagan age. The runic inscriptions have a purely sacral and commemorative character. Tacitus refers, in the Annals and in Germany, of battle songs and heroic poems, but the most authentic and complete reflection of continental Germanic oral poetry is constituted by the Edda, Icelandic, written in the century. XIII. To fill this secular silence we are helped by barbaric legislation and abundant historiography in Latin: Iordaneswrote on the Goths (Deigine actibusque Getarum, 6th century), Gregory of Tours on the Franks (Historia Francorum, 6th century), Paolo Diacono on the Lombards (8th century), Widukind and Rudolph of Fulda on the Saxons (9th century), while the Gothic version of Ulfila’s Bible testifies to the oldest conversion of the Germans to Christianity. We must therefore wait for the Merseburger Zaubersprüche (Spells of Merseburg) of the beginning of the century. VIII and the Hildebrandslied (Canto d’Ildebrando) of the beginning of the century. IX, fragments, those, of the ancient pagan liturgy, an example, this, of the primordial heroic ethics. Continental Germanic dialects had already grouped into High German (in the South) and Low German (in the North), these later having as their political pole the Hanseatic cities, those the Empire. The nascent medieval culture was concentrated in the abbeys (Fulda, Reichenau, St. Gallen, etc.) and was the legacy of the Church which, with Charlemagne, assumed the role of guide and mediator of Latin culture among the Germans. It was from the bishopric of Freising that, around 760, the Abrogans, a German translation of a Latin synonymary, came out, while in Murbach, from 770 to 790, the Vocabularius Sancti Galli was compiled, both signs of a linguistic awareness, and in Fulda a unknown poet composed Muspilli in Bavarian, happy and suggestive fragment on the end of the world. The so-called “Caroline Renaissance” (9th century) promoted a vast work of cultural re-elaboration, of which Alcuin of York, Rabano Mauro and Walafrido Strabone were the protagonists, as well as the unknown authors of Heliand (Il Salvatore) and Otfried. Influenced by this preponderant religious literature were also the two heroic poems Ludwigslied (Canto di Ludovico) and Waltharius Manu Fortis. When the Carolingians fell, the process of fusion of Latin culture with the German spirit was promoted by the Ottoni and in particular by Otto I and by his brother Bruno of Cologne.

Germany Culture

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