The history of the German novel would have, however, also to record that those writers have secured the most permanent distinction who have most significantly modified in their own way the suggestions which foreign examples gave them, and that the greatest distinction of all belongs to writers whom we can, if we will, associate with one or another of the main currents, but who are by no means carried away by it. In the work of these men the national character of the German novel, if it has a national character, ought to be discoverable.
The German novel after Goethe followed his lead. The idea of education by experience, and the idea of the symbolical presentation of the inexplicable background of life, give to some of the greatest examples of prose fiction of the nineteenth century-such as Mörike's "Maler Nolten," Keller's "Grüner Heinrich," and Spielhagen's "Problematische Naturen" — this Goethean, Romantic picturesqueness. If the heroes are seldom great public characters and the background of their lives does not always suggest relations with illimitable space, these facts find their explanation in the German proneness to particularism
The best works of four German authors are collected here: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Gottfried Keller, Theodor Storm, Theodor Fontane.
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