This publication focuses on the genesis of modern Chaucer criticism, which was heavily formed by German philologists, and emphasizes the 'Chaucerphilology` of 1870-1914.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, German-speaking scholars played a decisive role in founding and shaping the study of medieval and early modern English language and culture. During this process, aesthetic and literary enthusiasms were gradually replaced, first by broadly comparative and then by increasingly narrow scientistic practices, all confusingly subsumed under the term 'philology'. Towards 1871, German and Austrian Anglicists were successful at imposing-- for about 30 years -- many of their philological discoursive practices on their English-speaking counterparts by focusing on strict textual criticism, chronology, historical linguistics, prosody, and literary history. After World War I, these philological practices were rejected in the U.K. and the United States because they were 'Made in Germany', but have remained essential features of German medieval scholarship until the present day.
This book offers a case study of these foundational developments by investigating the reception of Geoffrey Chaucer by eminent scholars such as V.A. Huber, W. Hertzberg, B. ten Brink, J. Zupitza, E. Fluegel, and J. Koch. The narrative of their nationalist, scientist, and self-fashioning efforts is complemented by a comprehensive annotated bibliography of German Chaucer criticism between 1793 and 1948.
"This meticulous and fascinating volume comprises in some sense an intellectual biography of the German-speaking academy via its published scholarship on Chaucer. (...) This volume is a welcome addition to both intellectual history and Chaucer scholarship." (J. Frakes, in: The Medieval Review, 05.01.09)