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Canon Vs. Culture by Jan Groak

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The Land Where the Canon B(l)ooms:

Observations on the German Canon and Its Opponents, There and Here

JEFFREY L. SAMMONS

Kennst Du das Land, wo die Kanonen blühn?

Du kennst es nicht? Du wirst es kennenlernen!

Erich Kästner

No more than a day or two after tentatively agreeing to attempt this essay, I encountered in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit a debate on the canon that came to extend over three issues, with a concluding polemical dialogue in a fourth.1 This virtually occult signal of the timeliness of the topic was prompted by the regularly deplored statistic that some ninety percent of students arrive at the university to begin a course in literary study without having read Goethe’s Faust in school. Attempting to deal with the task ...

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