Herbert H. Lehnert

Professor Emeritus, German
School of Humanities

PH.D., University of Kiel, Germany, 1952

Phone: (949) 824-6406
Fax: (949) 824-6416
Email: hlehnert@uci.edu

University of California, Irvine
236 Humanities Instructional Building
Mail Code: 3150
Irvine, CA 92697

picture of Herbert H. Lehnert

modern German literature
Guggenheim, NEH fellow.
My teaching and writing dealt mostly with German literature of the twentieth century, especially its first half. I continued to teach after receiving emeritus status in 1994, and remain involved in the supervision of doctoral dissertations. My life-long research on Thomas Mann continues. I regularly publish articles as well as review essays, mostly on Thomas Mann.

I am writing a book on the position of Thomas Mann’s work in the paradigma-change of our understanding of literature written at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the period often called “modernism.” This book will discuss Mann’s early biography and his early work as the reflex of his reluctant separation from the bourgeois and religious order into which he was borne, a separation encouraged by Nietzsche (do we understand what it meant to have killed God?) and Schopenhauer (the world as irrational and irresponsible Will) while he also resisted it. Such a “reluctant separation” from traditional identity will be compared to the literary reflex of the same phenomenon in other works of the period such as Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, as well as other German works of the period such as Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz and the early work of Brecht.

Both my interest in questions of traditions of identity and Thomas Mann have to do with my background. I was born in Thomas Mann’s hometown Lübeck, grew up during the rise of National-Socialism. In 1945, as a prisoner of war in France, I began the process of questioning my “identity,” the reflex of my education. In 1946 when I returned home, I became aware that literature was an excellent device to probe the meaning of social conventions amounting to German national identity. I soon found such a probing process not only enlightening but fascinating and enjoyable.

I received my Dr. phil. from Kiel in 1952, with a dissertation on the poetics of George, Hofmannsthal and Rilke. After teaching briefly at the University of Western Ontario in Canada and at New York University, I joined the faculty of Rice University, where I remained for ten years. After one year at the University of Kansas, I joined the UCI department in 1969 and helped establish and build it. In the fall semester of 1970-1971 I taught as visiting professor at Harvard University. At Rice University and UCI I have directed a number of dissertations. The contact that I maintain with my former doctoral students is an especially gratifying aspect of my professional life. Several of them teach at or are emerited from American universities, one is a writer, another was a missionary college teacher in Sri Lanka and one is a banker. For relaxation I enjoy the landscape of the American Southwest, hiking in the California deserts and the Sierra Nevada.

While not engaged in regular course work I continue to enjoy discussing their work with students.
Publications Book Publications:

Thomas Mann: Fiktion, Mythos, Religion (Stuttgart:, Kohlhammer, 1965; second edition 1968).

Struktur und Sprachmagie (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1966; second edition 1972).

Thomas Mann Forschung: Ein Bericht (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1969)

Geschichte der deutschen Literatur: Vom Jugendstil zum Expressionismus (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1978; reprinted 1996)

(joint author, with Eva Wessell) Nihilismus der Menschenfreundlichkeit: Thomas Manns "Wandlung" und sein Essay Goethe und Tolstoi (Frankfurt/Main: Klostermann, 1991).

(joint editor, with Peter C. Pfeiffer) Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus: A Novel at the Margin of Modernism (Columbia, SC: Camden House, 1991).

(joint editor, with Eva Wessell): A Companion to the Works of Thomas Mann (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2004)

edition: Herbert Lehnert, ed. Thomas Mann: Essays VI 1945-1950 [texts] 2009
Herbert Lehnert, Thomas Mann: Essays VI, 1945-1950 Kommentar [commentary volume]2009
  Selected publications in professional journals:

"Widerstrebender Verzicht auf eine Faszination," in Jan Knopf, ed., Gedichte von Bertolt Brecht. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1995 93-103.

“Geschichten aus der Thomas Mann Forschung”: Dankrede für die Thomas Mann Medaille der Deutschen Thomas Mann Gesellschaft. Thomas Mann Jahrbuch, 12, (1999), 227-237.

"Durchlässige Individualität: Zu Rainer Maria Rilkes 'Der Leser,'" in Oliver Jahraus and Stefan Neuhaus, eds. Lyrik lesen! Eine Bamberger Anthologie, Düsseldorf: Grupello, 2000, pp. 171-174.

"Kurt Singer" in John M. Spalek, Konrad Feilchenfeldt, Sandra Hawrylchak, eds. Deutschsprachige Exilliteratur seit 1933, Bern: Saur, 2001, pp. 489-501.

"Tony Buddenbrook und ihre literarischen Schwestern" Thomas Mann Jahrbuch 15, 2002.

"Nietzche und die Modernität des Doktor Faustus" in: Lectures d'une œvre Doktor Faustus Thomas Mann, Nantes: Editions du Temps, 2003.

“Thomas Manns Modernität”, Thomas Mann Jahrbuch, 18, 2005, 265-275.

(with Karen Gallagher): “Elf Briefe Rilkes an Marie Herzfel: Mit einem Brief Stefan Zweigs an Marie Herzfeld”. Blätter der Rilke Gesellschaft, 26, 2005, 203-228.

“Nietzsche-Vision und Nietzsche-Kritik in Thomas Manns Werk” in: Andreas Blödorn / Søren R. Fauth, eds., Metaphysik und Moderne. Von Wilhelm Raabe to Thomas Mann. Wuppertal: Arco Verlag, 2006, pp. 281-320.

Recent Review Essays:
“Zur Biographie Thomas Manns: der Adorno-Komplex,” Orbis Litterarum, 60, 2005, 219-238.

“Beiträge zur Biographie Thomas Manns in Davoser Vorträgen,” Orbis Litterarum, 61, 2006, 42-52.

“Zur Biographie Thomas Manns. Sein Umgang mit dem Jüdischen” Thomas Mann Jahrbuch, 19, 2006, 201-230.

“Zur Biographie Thomas Manns: Erkenntnisse aus Biographien der Familienmitglieder. Orbis Litterarum 62, 2007, 241-260.

“Neue Aspekte zur Biographie Thomas Manns”, Orbis Litterarum, 62, 2007, 419-429.

Herbert Lehnert, “Fiktionen als historische Evidenz? Überlegungen zu Zauberberg und Doktor Faustus aus Anlass von Hans Rudolf Vagets Seelenzauber." Thomas Mann Jahrbuch 21, 2008, 233-254.
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Last updated 10/04/2013