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No HamletsGerman Shakespeare from Nietzsche to Carl Schmitt$
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Andreas Höfele

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198718543

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198718543.001.0001

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Shakespeare in the Master’s Circle

Shakespeare in the Master’s Circle

Stefan George and the ‘Secret Germany’

2 Shakespeare in the Master’s Circle
No Hamlets

Andreas Höfele

Oxford University Press

Chapters 2 and 3 are devoted to Stefan George, the most important German poet between 1900 and 1930, whose influence extended well beyond poetry. Fashioning himself as a cultural and spiritual leader, George was the herald of an esoteric political theology centred on the idea of a ‘Secret Germany’ or ‘New Reich’. The power which Nietzsche had dreamt of in his isolation became a reality for George in the circle of young, exclusively male devotees, the George-Kreis, over which he ruled with absolute authority as ‘Master’. Chapter 2 examines the role Shakespeare played in this highly charged world and how he was absorbed into its cultural and political ideas. Neither George’s translations of the sonnets nor his disciple Gundolf’s Shakespeare and the German Spirit (or Gundolf’s two-volume Shakespeare, 1928) are overtly concerned with politics. But their opposition to the modern bourgeois world marks a radical anti-politics of untimeliness.

Keywords:   Stefan George, Friedrich Gundolf, George Circle, Secret Germany, Shakespeare’s sonnets, political theology

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