Jahrbuch für Geschichte der Literatur und Wissenschaften / Yearbook for the History of Literature, Humanities and Sciences
Ed. by Albrecht, Andrea / Danneberg, Lutz / Regn, Gerhard / Schmidt-Biggemann, Wilhelm / Vollhardt, Friedrich
Editorial Board: Mahlmann, Barbara / Epple, Moritz / Fick, Monika / Grafton, Anthony / Jaumann, Herbert / Klippel, Diethelm / Kühlmann, Wilhelm / Müller, Jan-Dirk / Nisbet, Hugh Barr / Proß, Wolfgang / Schönert, Jörg / Strohschneider, Peter
In the years immediately following the Second World War, three books written by German professors of Romance Philology were published in Switzerland: Mimesis by Erich Auerbach in 1946, European literature and the Middle Ages by Ernst Robert Curtius in 1948, and Montaigne by Hugo Friedrich in 1949. Even if the subjects of these studies and the approaches of their authors are different, their aim is nevertheless the same: They want to contribute to the idea of continuity in European literature. It is certainly logical to conclude that Auerbach, banished from Germany by the Nazi authorities because of his Jewish heritage, Curtius, surviving the years from 1933 to 1945 in »inner emigration«, and Friedrich, serving as interpreter in the German army, learned the lessons of the past and evoke the heritage of literature as an antidote to ideological blindness and fanaticism. Friedrich, whose study of Montaigne’s Les Essais forms the center of the following article, is internationally known first and foremost for his bestseller Structure of modern poetry (1957), translated into thirteen languages, but also his work Montaigne, which is the first comprehensive study of Montaigne’s personality and work in German and, even today, far from being outdated. Strangely enough, the book is actually only available in the English translation by Dawn Eng. It helps the modern reader to understand not only the complex composition of Montaigne’s essays, but also their epoch-making place in French moralistic literature.