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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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Millions of Ghosts

Millions of Ghosts

Weimar Hamlets and the Sorrows of Young Goebbels

4 Millions of Ghosts
No Hamlets

Andreas Höfele

Oxford University Press

Chapters 4 and 5 focus on the decade following Germany’s defeat in 1918, when the ‘shame peace’ of Versailles and the despised parliamentary system of the new Republic deepened the chasm between Germany as it actually was and Germany as—according to the radical right—it should be. The duality from which the formula ‘Germany is Hamlet’ drew its political edge is dramatized in Joseph Goebbels’s confessional novel Michael (1924/1929), whose ‘riven’ hero resembles both Goethe’s Werther and Hamlet. As a counterpoint, this chapter also examines two ‘democratic’ Hamlets from the opposite side of the political spectrum: Asta Nielsen’s Hamlet film (1920) and Leopold Jessner’s theatre production of Hamlet (1926). They are included here because they epitomize the modernist culture of Weimar which became the object of increasingly bitter right-wing attacks.

Keywords:   Hamlet, Weimar Republic, Versailles Peace Treaty, Berlin theatre, Joseph Goebbels, Asta Nielsen, Leopold Jessner, Paul Valéry

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