Grabes, Herbert 1936–

views updated

Grabes, Herbert 1936–

PERSONAL: Born June 8, 1936, in Krefeld, Germany; son of Adolf and Elisabeth Grabes; married Hannelore Koch, March 2, 1962; children: Arnd, Oliver, Irene. Ethnicity: "German." Education: University of Cologne, D.Phil., 1963; University of Mannheim, habilitation, 1969. Religion: Roman Catholic.

ADDRESSES: Home—Biebertal, Germany. Office—University of Giessen, 10 Otto Behaghel Strasse, Giessen D-35394, Germany; fax: 641-993-0099. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: University of Detroit, Detroit, MI, instructor in German, 1959–60; University of Cologne, Cologne, West Germany (now Germany), research assistant, 1962–65; University of Mannheim, Mannheim, West Germany, research assistant, 1966–69, docent, 1969–70; University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany, professor of English and American literature, 1970–, vice president of the university, 1979–81; professor emeritus, 2004–.

MEMBER: International Association of University Professors of English, Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, German English Association, German Shakespeare Society, German Society for American Studies, German Society for English Romanticism, Nabokov Society, MLA.


Der Begriff des a priori in Nicolai Hartmanns Erkenntnismetaphysik und Ontologie (title means "The a priori Concept in the Metaphysics of Cognition and Ontology of Nicolai Hartmann"), Universität Köln, 1963.

Speculum, mirror und looking-glass: Kontinuität und Originalität der Spiegelmetapher in den Buchtiteln des Mittelalters und der englischen Literatur des 13. bis 17. Jahrhunderts, Niemeyer (Tübingen, Germany), 1973, translation by Gordon Collier published as The Mutable Glass: Mirror Imagery in Titles and Texts of the Middle Ages and English Renaissance, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1982.

Erfundene Biographien: Vladimir Nabokovs Englische Romane, Niemeyer (Tübingen, Germany), 1975, translation published as Fictitious Biographies: Vladimir Nabokov's English Novels, Mouton (The Hague, Netherlands), 1977.

Text-Leser-Bedeutung: Untersuchungen zur Interaktion von Text und Leser (title means "Text-Reader-Meaning: The Interaction of the Text and the Reader"), Hoffmann (Grossen-Linden, Germany), 1977.

Fiktion-Imitation-Ästhetik: Was Ist Literatur? (title means "Fiction-Imitation-Aesthetics: What Is Literature?"), DIFF (Tübingen, Germany), 1981.

Das Englische Pamphlet, Part 1: Politische und Religioese Polemik am Beginn der Neuzeit (1521–1640) (title means "The English Pamphlet, Part 1: Political and Religious Polemics at the Beginning of Modern Times [1521–1640]") Niemeyer (Tübingen, Germany), 1990.

Das Amerikanische Drama des 20. Jahrhunderts (title means "Twentieth-Century American Drama"), Klett (Stuttgart, Germany), 1998.

Einführung in die Literatur und Kunst der Moderne und Postmoderne. Die Ästhetik des Fremden (title means "Introduction to Modern and Postmodern Literature and Art: The Aesthetic of the Strange"), Francke (Tübingen, Germany), 2004.


Elizabethan Sonnet Sequences, Niemeyer (Tübingen, Germany), 1970.

Das Amerikanische Drama der Gegenwart (title means "Contemporary American Drama"), Athenaeum Verlag (Kronberg, Germany), 1976.

Literatur in Film und Fernsehen: von Shakespeare bis Beckett (title means "Literature in Film and Television: Shakespeare to Beckett"), Scriptor (Königstein, Germany), 1980.

Anglistentag 1980 Gießen: Tagungsbeiträge und Berichte (title means "Proceedings of the Anglistentag 1980 Gießen"), Hoffmann (Grossen-Linden, Germany), 1981.

(With Herbert Mainusch, A.P. Frank, and Willi Erzgräber) Methodenprobleme der Literaturinterpretation (title means "Methodological Problems of the Interpretation of Literature"), DIFF (Tübingen, Germany), 1981.

Aesthetics and Contemporary Discourse, Narr (Tübingen, Germany), 1994.

Literature and Philosophy, Narr (Tübingen, Germany), 1997.

(With Raimund Borgmeier and Andreas Jucker) Anglistentag 1997 Gießen, WVT (Trier, Germany), 1998.

Innovation and Continuity in English Studies: A Critical Jubilee, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 2001.

Writing the Early Modern English Nation, Rodopi (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2001.

Literary History/Cultural History: Force-Fields and Tensions, Narr (Tübingen, Germany), 2001.

Literature, Literary History, and Cultural Memory, Narr (Tübingen, Germany), 2005.

(With Wolfgang Viereck) The Wider Scope of English: Papers in English Language and Literature from the Bamberg Conference of the International Association of University Professors of English, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 2006.

Editor of Beiträge zur Anglistik, 1977–, and REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature, 1982–; coeditor, EJES: European Journal of English Studies, 1997–.

SIDELIGHTS: Herbert Grabes once told CA: "All my research is motivated by a theoretical interest. Thus in The Mutable Glass: Mirror Imagery in Titles and Texts of the Middle Ages and English Renaissance I traced the uses of the mirror metaphor in the book titles of the Middle Ages and in English literature from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century because it proved to be the central image of the prevailing world view and because the wide range of semantic conventions connected with this image provided a unique foil to discuss the particular kind of aesthetic originality authors were striving for in the Renaissance. Vladimir Nabokov's English novels roused my interest because they are not only all written in the form of fictitious biographies (or autobiographies) but also can be viewed as demonstrations of the various problems of biographical writing. The various publications on literary theory are all focused on the interaction between the text and the reader or viewer, and it is this theoretical interest which also guided my work on the film and television versions of literary works as well as that on more recent American drama.

"My historical interest in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has motivated a thorough investigation of English pamphleteering before the advent of the newspaper because it reveals the then-current issues and the major controversies in early modern times."

Later, Grabes added: "More recently I have become interested in the history of the writing of histories of English literature as a significant part of cultural memory. Especially the beginnings from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century deserve more attention than they have so far received.

"The 'cultural turn' has also made this question more urgent for me: what is the specific role of literature within the wider context of culture? As far as the situation from the advent of modernism to the present is concerned, I have tried to give an answer in my recent book on modern and postmodern literature and art.

"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is the power of prejudice (or at least pre-conception) in reviews. Many reviewers do not take note of the explicit intention of a book or do at least not judge it on its own terms but rather tend to use the reviewed text as a pretext to elaborate on what they think the author should have written instead of what they themselves would have written. I wonder why they have not gone ahead and written the book they think should have been written."



Collier, Gordon, Klaus Schwank, and Franz Wieselhuber, editors, Critical Interfaces: Contributions on Philosophy, Literature, and Culture in Honour of Herbert Grabes, Wissenschaftlicher (Trier, Germany), 2001.


Anglia, volume 111, number 1-2, 1993, review of Das Englische Pamphlet, Part 1: Politische und Religioese Polemik am Beginn der Neuzeit (1521–1640), pp. 220-222; volume 12, number 3, 2003, review of Writing the Early Modern English Nation, pp. 483-486; volume 14, number 4, 2005, review of Einführung in die Literatur und Kunst der Moderne und Postmoderne. Die Ästhetik des Fremden, pp. 755-757.

Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, volume 229, 1992, review of Das Englische Pamphlet, Part 1, pp. 186-188; volume 237, number 2, 2000, review of Das amerikanische Drama der Gegenwart, p. 399.

English Studies, August 1984, review of The Mutable Glass: Mirror Imagery in Titles and Texts of the Middle Ages and English Renaissance, p. 370.

South Atlantic Review, 1991, review of Das Englische Pamphlet, Part 1, pp. 133-135.

Times Literary Supplement, August 19, 1983, review of The Mutable Glass.