Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel

Eberhard Werner Happel, 1647-1690
Gerhild Scholz Williams


Eberhard Happel, German Baroque author of an extensive body of work of fiction and nonfiction, has for many years been categorized as a “courtly-gallant” novelist. In Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel, author Gerhild Scholz Williams argues that categorizing him thus is to seriously misread him and to miss out on a fascinating perspective on this dynamic period in German history.

Happel primarily lived and worked in the vigorous port city of Hamburg, which was a “media center” in terms of the access it offered to a wide library of books in public and private collections.  Hamburg’s port status meant it buzzed with news and information, and Happel drew on this flow of data in his novels. His books deal with many topics of current interest—national identity formation, gender and sexualities, Western European encounters with neighbors to the East, confrontations with non-European and non-Western powers and cultures—and they feature multiple media, including news reports, news collections, and travel writings. As a result, Happel’s use of contemporary source material in his novels feeds our current interest in the impact of the production of knowledge on seventeenth-century narrative. Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel explores the narrative wealth and multiversity of Happel’s work, examines Happel’s novels as illustrative of seventeenth-century novel writing in Germany, and investigates the synergistic relationship in Happel’s writings between the booming print media industry and the evolution of the German novel.

“The second half of the Seventeenth Century was an age of endless curiosity.  There were the earliest newspapers of course, but also the real or imagined reports by world travelers from the Far East, America, and Africa. The Thirty Years’ War was over, and German cities quickly regained prosperity. The joy of reading for pleasure was rediscovered after decades of deprivation. It was a time of voracious though uncritical reading fed by a never-ending appetite for news of the outside world, whether real or fictitious. It almost seems surprising therefore that no one appears to have thought of a comprehensive appreciation of Happel’s work before. Quite aside from a most enjoyable reading, the book makes a major contribution of Happel and his oeuvre, to gender studies and cultural history of the Early Modern period, as well as to the rapidly growing interest in Leserforschung.”
—Gerhard Dünnhaupt FRSC, Professor emeritus, University of Michigan

Illustration: Portrait of Happel and newspaper images courtesy of Holger Böning, Zitungsarchiv Breman, Germany.

Gerhild Scholz Williams is Vice Provost, Barbara Schaps Thomas and David M. Thomas Professor in the Humanities, and Associate Vice Chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis. She is a Sixteenth Century Society & Conference Medalist.

Praise / Awards

  • "This reviewer lauds Scholz Williams's expertise about the literary Happel, whose significance has been long bottomshelved. Marked by scholarly footnoting, authoritative quotations, a multilingual bibliography, comprehensive index, attractive cover design, and well-executed illustrations, this realignment of timeworn interpretations merits a 'superb!' ... Highly recommended."
  • "[Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Noval] is an important milestone in the research on an author who was denounced by reviewers as a “shallow writing maniac” and was marginally received in literary history. The conclusion of Scholz Williams, that Happel has been misunderstood, can open new directions in the analysis of Happel’s work."
    --ORSOLYA LEN ART, Renaissance Quarterly

  • "[Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel] should be recognized as a first step towards exploring the author Happel and an avenue through which more insights and knowledge of the Baroque culture are possible."
    --Carlin Struwe, Monatshefte
  • "Scholz Williams’s study provides a convincing presentation of an almost forgotten author and his oeuvre, and it impresses not only with precise and deliberate analyses of the novels but also – and, indeed, especially – by its classification of these in the media landscape of the late seventeenth century."
  • ¨...appeals to readers interested in print culture, the development of the newspaper industry in Europe, and the interplay of fact and fiction in the popular novel of the day.¨
    --SHARP News

Look Inside

Product Details

  • 264 pages.
  • 10 color illustrations.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2014
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12010-9

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

Add to Cart
  • $64.95 U.S.

  • Kindle

Add to Cart

Choosing any of the above format options will take you to the appropriate e-retailer to complete your purchase. Pricing may vary by individual e-retailer. Please see e-retailer site for purchasing information.

For more information about our Digital Products, including reading systems and accessible formats, visit our Digital Products page.

Related Products

Add to Cart
  • $79.95 U.S.