The University of Wisconsin Press

German Studies / History / LIterature & Criticism


Fantasy and Politics
Visions of the Future in the Weimar Republic
Peter S. Fisher

Defeated in World War I, living in a troubled and insecure peace, Germans under the Weimar Republic were a ready audience for fantasy writers who envisioned victorious wars of revenge or German renewal through wondrous technology. Largely ignored by the literary establishment, these writers created an immensely popular mass literature, the Zukunftsroman (futuristic novel), that was a potent ingredient in the simmering stew of resentment, frustrated nationalism, political irrationalism, and economic distress underlying the Nazi rise to power.

In Fantasy and Politics Peter S. Fisher explores the popular culture of the Weimar Republic. He identifies common motifs and themes in the work of thirty fantasy novelists, sets them in the context of political events and ideas, and examines their popular influence. German fantasy novels, he demonstrates, provide invaluable perspectives on the ideological and psychological roots of the Weimar Republicís highly emotionalized politics, especially some of its uglier racist and Messianic strands.

The Zukunftsroman was primarily the province of German right-wing ultranationalists, who were able to tap the emotional wellsprings of Weimar thought and fill the explosive spiritual vacuum at its core. However, at the opposite end of the political spectrum, socialist visionaries either exhorted their readers to brace themselves for a final battle with capitalism or wrote pacifist warnings of the terrors of modern warfare. The preference for the world of fantasy over reality, Fisher contends, was paralleled by an inclination to value action over thought and emotion over reason. The Weimar Zukunftsroman, he concludes, reveals a cultural drift toward irrationalism that manifested itself politically in the call for dictatorship.

Peter S. Fisher earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University and teaches in Frankfurt, Germany.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

Image of a spacecraft on the moon with colonists

August 1991

LC: 90-050642 PT
300 pp.     6 x 9
20 halftones

Book icon
Paper Out of Stock
ISBN 978-0-299-12914-9
Book icon
Cloth Out of Stock
ISBN 978-0-299-12910-1
Shopping cart ADD TO CART
  Review cart contents
Secure checkout


Home | Books | Journals | Events | Textbooks | Authors | Related | Search | Order | Contact

If you have trouble accessing any page in this web site, contact our Web manager.

Updated 02/27/2015

© 2011, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System