The Land Where the Canon B(l)ooms:
Observations on the German Canon and Its Opponents, There and Here
Kennst Du das Land, wo die Kanonen blühn?
Du kennst es nicht? Du wirst es kennenlernen!
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 ...