Commemorating Writers in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Nation-Building and Centenary Fever
Edited by Joep Leerssen and Ann Rigney
The many statues to writers dotted around the cities of Europe are the leftovers of a wave of commemorations which passed across the continent in the nineteenth century. Commemorating Writers in Nineteenth-Century Europe is the first volume to study this phenomenon in depth, offering both detailed accounts of the cults of individual writers and a comparative perspective on the spread of centenary fever across Europe. The result is fascinating insights into the interaction between performance, cultural memory and identity, and into the role of literature as a platform for both the negotiation of conflict and the celebration of common values. The comparative approach reveals how national identities were established along comparable lines in different countries, and how they were entangled in complex ways with struggles for power and prestige at local, regional and transnational levels. Among the fifteen cases studied, the English reader will encounter familiar names like Scott, Burns, Goethe, Dante, Petrarch, Cervantes and Camões, but also less familiar ones, such as Petőfi, Prešeren, and Vondel. This study offers a radically new perspective on the trans-European cult of literature in the nineteenth century and on its societal importance.