The volume provides a history of the genre in the 20th century, covering the entire German-speaking area and extending from prestigious examples all the way down to more trivial instances. Alongside the traditional forms, the study also explores aphoristic phenomena in areas verging on science and philosophy, extending its purview to modern hybrid forms located between aphorism proper and dictionary, essay, poetry, epigram, note, diary, journal, and fragment. The concepts game, image, and insight are drawn upon to trace the main lines in the history of the genre, centering around the figures of Kraus, Kafka, and Hofmannsthal.
"Spicker goes where the aphorisms are. [..] Spicker's book is a major contribution to the study of the aphorism, exhaustively detailing its manifestations in various periods and movements and admirably demonstrating its power in a century obsessed with power to the point of impotence."Adrian del Caro in: German Studies Review 1/2008