The exploration and imagination of exotic spaces allows authors not only to expand the topography of the modern literary imagination, but also to examine and contest the modern understanding of the European self and the familiar world which it ordinarily inhabits. The observation, imagination, or appreciation of exotic foreign topographies in works by Hofmannsthal, Hesse, Dauthendey, Mann, Zweig, Kafka, Musil, Benn, Kubin, and Brecht, provokes critical self-reflection about modern European forms of consciousness. The theoretical context for this critical self-reflection includes some of the major thinkers of German modernity, including Simmel, Weber, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Worringer, and Freud. Revealed are radically different possibilities for understanding and for living life, recognition of the precariousness of the familiar world. These works testify to the power and relevance of imagination, of cultural memory and expectation, of history, emotion, and the aesthetic sensibility in our experience of the world as a shifting symbolic topography.
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