Simone Rendina

Felix Dahn and the German myth of Gothic Italy

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract


Felix Dahn's historical works and fiction are concerned with the age of "Völkerwanderung" and explore similar historical issues. His novel "Ein Kampf um Rom" is addressed to German-speaking readers. It was read and valued by the German middle class and by some intellectuals. In the novel, Dahn emphasizes German virtues, especially loyalty ("Treue"), the importance of which in contemporary culture is also attested to by monuments built in his age. Dahn shows that ancient Germanic peoples, as well as modern Germans, are loyal to both family and "Reich". The novel is one of the first expressions of the German interest in the history of the Goths which emerged in the final decades of the nineteenth century. The question of the identity of the German Volk is also present in other novels by Dahn, such as Attila and Stilicho. The author was influenced by the contemporary debate on the "Kleindeutsch-Großdeutsch" problem. Dahn offers a negative vision of the Roman Empire. In some cases he shows admiration for Italians, despite generally accepting the stereotype of Italian deceitfulness.

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