This article uses a substantial corpus of Berlin literary anthologies, assembled for the first time, to develop the concept of the ‘city anthology’, which constitutes a specific form of city literature as well as anthology type. Building on this extensive body of work, I advocate an understanding of the city anthology as defining itself in the first instance through an affective connection with the city rather than through its thematic subject matter as such. City anthologies include writing both from as well as about the city, making the city anthology a literary manifestation – rather than simply a representation – of the city in question, and opening up these literary spaces to a diversity of voices. City anthologies thus constitute, I contend, an alternative to the texts that have most commonly attracted the attention of literary geographers, which focus on the representation of space rather than the expression of a place through literary form and language, and offer an affective dimension to urban studies in highlighting the personal connections to the city that underlie and are expressed through these collective forms.
In the paradigm that I propose for understanding the city anthology, the relationship with the real city encompasses not only the texts in the anthology but also the authors, the anthology itself and its readers. It takes effect in individual collections through the notable diversity of contributors – each linked to the city through their writing as much as by biography, residence or even language – as well as in forms of writing which tend towards reportage, a genre that depends on the embodied interaction of writer and city as object of observation. The relationship with the real metropolis beyond the page lends the city anthology a double vision: it represents both the real referent as well as a (synchronic or diachronic) overview of its literature. This too has a corollary in the diversity of forms and content, which can be seen on the level of individual collections in the often explicit appeal to popularity, variety and representativeness rather than ‘quality’ in the selection of texts, as well as in the proliferation of genres and themes across the corpus as a whole. City anthologies exist in four key types which position themselves in relation to the city’s history and literature, and intersect with the distinction between writing from and writing about the city; the double vision of both city and its literature, moreover, leads to the development of semi-anthological forms such as literary guides to the city, which embed the anthologising function and selection of texts in a broader referential (historical, geographical, directory) structure and invert the definition of the anthology. In this article I use the example of Berlin to define and explore these unique traits of the city anthology form: Berlin is apt for representation through the anthology form with its historical ruptures and shifting political geographies, and a prominent history of migration to the city which fosters the sense of elective affinity that underpins the identity of ‘the Berliner’ as well as a diversity of voices in the metropolis. Berlin’s growth as capital of Germany is also synchronous with the appearance of the city anthology in German, allowing the corpus as set out here to chart the development of the form simultaneously with the very urban space it represents.
The corpus under consideration here consists of all the German-language anthologies of Berlin literature I have located to date through extensive bibliographical research, with the earliest dating from 1885. At the time of writing, it includes over one hundred and fifty texts, which I have categorised according to the types elucidated in this article.1 Some anthologies focus on a single literary genre, others are varied; many include non-fiction alongside fiction. A small number compare Berlin and other cities (Moscow, New York, Wrocław and Tel Aviv as well as Babylon), a handful are bilingual and I have also located a number of original Berlin anthologies in other languages (English and French for example). Around half of the anthologies were published in Berlin. Identification of volumes for inclusion is not always clear-cut: while the majority name Berlin, some only do so in a subtitle, and often the city is evoked instead by reference to local geography or iconic features (Alexanderplatz, Lunapark or the River Spree) or a familiar symbol such as the bear from Berlin’s coat-of-arms. Some titles employ metonymy, most notably referencing the Berlin Wall as a defining feature of the city and its division, through Mauerstücke (‘pieces of the Wall’) or Mauerechos (‘echoes of the Wall’). A small number in the early twentieth century use ‘Großstadt’ (‘metropolis’) as synonymous with Berlin; more recently anthologies use the designation ‘Hauptstadt’ (‘capital city’) – each of these overlays the city with a function or archetype: Berlin is the German metropolis, and its status as capital city since reunification is a facet of its identity not without historical resonance. While the referent of Berlin is usually easy to distinguish, even if not named explicitly, collections’ status as anthologies is often signalled more obliquely, if at all: only a small handful use the term ‘Anthologie’ in a title or subtitle (perhaps confirming the term’s historical association with poetry); more frequently the form is signalled through the use of plural terms ‘Geschichten’ (‘stories’) or ‘Gedichte’ (‘poems’) and the generic ‘Dichtung’ (‘poetry’), or otherwise by reference to plural contributors: ‘AutorInnen’ (‘authors’), ‘Kanzlerinnen’ (‘female chancellors’), ‘Stimmen’ (‘voices’), or more oblique or metaphorical plurals: ‘Stereogramme’ (‘stereograms’), ‘Absagen’ (‘goodbyes’). Some simply use a thematic title in which plurality is merely hinted at – Berlin um Mitternacht (‘Berlin at Midnight’) or Hauptstadtbuch (‘Capital City Book’) – or even a singular form that subsumes the multiple voices of the volume in the implied diversity of the city. What unites these publications is the fact that their texts are connected to Berlin, as evidenced by the volume’s title, thematic content, authors’ biographies, editorial paratexts, cover imagery and/or marketing texts.
In the first section of this article, I explore the nature of this connection to the city. Berlin anthologies encompass texts that have been written, published or performed in the city as well as texts that take the city as subject matter; both types are included in my corpus. Section two elaborates the key features of the city anthology which derive from the affective connection with the city and which implement the double vision of representing both the city and its literary output. In section three, which outlines the four key types of city anthology I have identified, I argue for a functional rather than formal definition of the anthology, which means that my corpus also includes a small number of works that consist of selections of text by a single author, where these otherwise fulfil the function of an anthology. I distinguish these from the semi-anthological texts – literary guides, histories and directories – which I discuss in section three in relation to the anthologisation of the city. Finally, in section four I use the corpus to argue for the centrality in Berlin’s literary history of the often overlooked but substantial literary form that is the anthology, and show how analysis of Berlin anthologies further challenges precepts of the city’s literary history in two key ways: in mapping different historical trajectories across the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries, and in particular countering the focus on the much better known city novel. While my work is the first to assemble a list of these texts in a single resource, it is noticeable that the anthologies themselves already display substantial awareness of the corpus within which they exist: a significant proportion anthologise texts from other anthologies, and many make reference to earlier (or even projected future) anthologies in editorial statements, thus justifying a corpus-based approach to their study.
1. Defining the City Anthology
As second-order representations of the city – marshalling a range of individual depictions into a wider conceptual structure that itself is drawn from an understanding of, or perspective on, the city in question, or cities in general – city anthologies exist on the cusp between literary geographies and urban imaginaries. Gary Bridge and Sophie Watson suggest that the ‘boundaries between the real and imagined city are ill-defined, shifting, and slippery’ (7); city anthologies inhabit this border territory. The dynamic relationship between the individual texts featured, and between the texts and their organisational structure and apparatus, offers a way to read the boundary between the real and imagined city. In this respect, programmatic statements in introductions or afterwords, the structural organisation of the contents, and the range of paratextual apparatus are just as significant as, if not more significant than, the content of individual anthologised texts in setting out an urban imaginary. I suggest that the key to this urban imaginary is an affective connection between the real city and the texts, authors, editors and readers of the volume. I use the term affective connection here to describe the way that the city acts upon the writer (and, through the text, on the reader) and prompts them to act (that is, to write): affect is a ‘non-conscious experience of intensity’ (Shouse, para 5), embodied and prior to any linguistic labelling or meaning-making as a specific emotion.2 Crucially, this broader sense of personal, even physical connection enables Berlin anthologies to encompass writing from as well as about the city, both of which types define themselves through such an affective relationship with Berlin. A further corollary of this emphasis on connection is the openness of anthologies to inclusion of a wide range of authors, among them non-native writers, as I show below, which lends the anthology political potential.
Editorial materials for city anthologies – forewords and afterwords, front matter and blurbs – contain programmatic statements that declare a connection between author and city, albeit occasionally in negative terms. In the present corpus of Berlin anthologies, such statements function also to claim all writers writing about Berlin as Berlin authors, and to blur the boundaries between writing from Berlin and writing about Berlin. Herbert Günther’s lauded early anthology from 1929 Hier schreibt Berlin (‘Here is Berlin Writing’) is paradigmatic in this regard: in the introduction, ‘Zuvor’ (‘Beforehand’), Günther states of the contributors that ‘jeder Autor ist Berliner’ (‘every author is a Berliner’) (Günther, ‘Zuvor’ 16), going on to complicate this simple label with the description of an intimate, sensory, felt connection:
Die verbreitete Ansicht, daß es überhaupt keine Berliner gäbe, kann sich hier nicht bestätigen. Eine ganze Anzahl der Autoren ist hier geboren. Und lebt noch hier. Andere sind fortgezogen, aber Berliner geblieben. Wieder andere sind hergezogen und Berliner geworden. Angezogen von der Stadt, fühlen sie mit ihr, spüren ihr nach, schaffen sie nach. (Günther, ‘Zuvor’ 16)
(The widespread view that there are no Berliners at all cannot be confirmed here. A good number of the authors were born here. And still live here. Others have moved away, but remain Berliners. Still others have moved here and become Berliners. Drawn to the city, they empathise with the city, are in tune with it, recreate it.)3
Günther’s definition focuses on the biographical and even physical connection that authors feel with the city and which provides impetus for their writing, and in doing so sets the tone for subsequent anthologies. In the front matter to the 1963 volume Hier schreibt Berlin heute (‘Here is Berlin Writing Today’), which names Günther’s collection explicitly as well as updating its title, Rudolf Hartung uses a visceral extended metaphor of the heart to suggest the volume’s coverage, and notes that the authors featured ‘sind von Berlin getroffen und sie schaffen es, daß der Lebensstrom der Spree und Havel nicht irgendwo geographisch, sondern in unseren Herzen mündet’ (‘have been touched by Berlin and because of them, the life-current of the [Berlin rivers] Spree and Havel doesn’t flow geographically but rather into our hearts’) (Hartung, unnumbered p. 2). The ‘us’ posited here is addressed to readers in the first instance; the affect felt by the authors is thus transferred through the anthology to the recipients of the texts, connecting them to the city too.
There are, nonetheless, a few dissenting voices: titles such as the ambivalent Nie wieder Berlin (1989, ‘Never Again Berlin’) and the more unambiguous Berlin ist das Allerletzte: Absagen in höchsten Tönen (1993, ‘Berlin is the Absolute Limit: Rejections in the Highest Tones’) or Hier spricht Berlin: Geschichten aus einer barbarischen Stadt (2003, ‘Here Speaks Berlin: Stories from a Barbaric City’) clearly construct a narrative in opposition to the more dominant tone of positive affect. Seidl’s 2003 anthology in particular is a clear nod to the touchstone volume Hier schreibt Berlin, replacing the verb to evoke speaking as opposed to writing to further position the city as separate to the authors featured – all internal migrants to the city since reunification – who are on the receiving end of the city’s outbursts rather than being its voice. At the same time, however, the title of the volume presents its contents as ‘Berlin speaking’. On balance, these anthologies do not seem to constitute a genuine disruption to the overall meta-narrative of the corpus, but rather their negative view simply reflects and indeed assumes the much-vaunted ‘Berliner Schnauze’ (literally: ‘Berlin snout’, metaphorically referencing a brusque but humorous attitude typical of the city) and thus ultimately confirms an emotional connection to this city. Indeed, a derogatory but intimate tone is widespread in introductions to anthologies, demonstrating a kind of exasperated affection for a lovably unlikeable city: two very different anthologies from 2017, Ick kieke, staune, wundre mir: Berlinerische Gedichte von 1830 bis heute (‘I look and stare, I can’t believe: Berlin-dialect Poems from 1830 to the Present Day’) and Berlin: Eine literarische Einladung (‘Berlin: A Literary Invitation’) open with short texts in the place of forewords that talk of ‘Hassliebe’ (Buch 14), a ‘love-hate’ relationship, with the city’s inhabitants and their speech, or unflatteringly call the city ‘ein Sack’ (‘a bag’) (Grünbein 7), a vacuum, style-less and unhealthy, before nonetheless professing a desire to be part of the metropolis. Hans Werner Richter’s Berlin, ach Berlin (1981, ‘Berlin, oh Berlin’) epitomises this ambivalence: as the foreword makes clear, the title’s inarticulate sigh indicates both pity and regret for the city as well as nostalgia and longing (Richter, see esp. 7).
While programmatic statements are the most common means of establishing an affective relationship with the city, a number of volume titles also evoke intimacy through use of the familiar second-person form ‘du’ (‘you’) or possessives. The city is a familiar addressee in Berlin, du deutsche deutsche Frau (1985, ‘Berlin, you German German Woman’, a line from a Wolf Biermann song) or Berlin, mit deinen frechen Feuern (1997, ‘Berlin, with your Cheeky Fires’, a quotation from an Alfred Lichtenstein poem); in others it is constructed as part of a collective which includes the speaker, as in Unsere märkische Heimat. Eine Anthologie für Berlin und Brandenburg (1925, ‘Our home in the Mark [Brandenburg]. An Anthology for Berlin and Brandenburg’), or a personal possession, as in Mein Berliner Zimmer: 25 Bekenntnisse zu dieser Stadt (1997, ‘My Berlin Room: 25 Commitments to this City’). Berlin is both a companion – as in Berlin und ich (1987, ‘Berlin and I’) – and a love object: anthologies offer the city as seductor, as in the subtitle of Berlin: Eine Lese-Verführung (2009, ‘Berlin: A Reading-Seduction’), or the object of affection in the ambivalently titled Verliebt in Berlin: Geschichten zwischen Lust und Leid (2003, ‘In Love with/in Berlin: Stories between Lust and Suffering’). An affective connection is further imputed to the readers and their relationship to the city in the title of Berliner Luft: von Berlinern für alle Freunde Berlins (1959, ‘Berlin Air: from Berliners for all Friends of Berlin’) or as the invitation expressed in Berlin: Eine literarische Einladung (‘Berlin: A Literary Invitation’).
By far the most common tendency in anthology titles is to personify the city itself: in this way, authors who live in and/or write about the city are posited as the voice of the city – through their connection with the city, they become the vehicle for its self-expression. This can be seen in the grammatical agency granted to Berlin in titles such as Berlin erzählt (1991, ‘Berlin Narrates’), which subsumes individual writers into the city, and in the frequent elision of authors as such in favour of attributive phrases such as ‘Berliner Geschichten’ (‘Berlin Stories’). The 1977 anthology Berlin: Stimmen einer Stadt (‘Berlin: Voices of a City’) epitomises this move: unusually, this volume does not supply biographical details about featured authors, allowing their disembodied bibliographical citations to be claimed for the city itself. Notably, this is one of very few historical surveys published during the time of the GDR: by eliding the authors’ biographies, the volume conveniently also erases the city’s complex past and divided present. Günther’s often-copied title Hier schreibt Berlin provides the opening sentence of his preface which effects this slippage between voice and city, showing how closely imbricated the two are:
Hier schreibt Berlin. Die Stadt Berlin schreibt. Die Stadt diktiert. Schreibt in fünfzig Herzen und Hirne – schreibt aus fünfzig Herzen und Hirnen. Es geht um die Stadt, und es geht um die Dichter der Stadt. Es ist eine Darstellung Berlins und eine Auseinandersetzung mit Berlin – in einer Vereinigung seiner entscheidenden Autoren.
Ein großer und bedeutsamer Teil der Berliner Geistigkeit verbindet sich hier, zum ersten Male, gemeinsam Zeugnis abzulegen zum Ereignis Berlin: in Schöpfungen aus Berlin, in Schilderungen Berlins, in Äußerungen über Berlin. (Günther, ‘Zuvor’ 13)
(This is Berlin writing. The city of Berlin writes. The city dictates. Writes in(to) fifty heats and brains – writes from fifty hearts and brains. This is about the city, and about the poets of the city. It is a representation of Berlin and a reckoning with Berlin – in a collection of its leading authors.
A large and significant part of Berlin’s intellectual life comes together here, for the first time, to bear collective witness to the happening that is Berlin: in creations from Berlin, in sketches of Berlin, in pronouncements about Berlin.)
Berlin here is the writing subject, as much as the object written about; the multiple genitive formulations elide the difference between belonging to the city and addressing it. Authors become mere vehicles for the city’s own self-expression, which finds its way into hearts and heads (in that order), and through these onto the page. Empathetic as well as intellectual affinity is thus the precondition of the anthology, as well as a geographical connection: the prominence of the term ‘hier’ (‘here’) in title and preface relocates the city into the pages of the anthology and situates the anthology within the city. The dynamic of the relationship shifts through equating city and its writers into a two-way process: the anthology both represents the city (in all meanings of represent) and also engages with it (two-way directionality).
Unlike most later anthologies, Günther’s volume does not supply biographical information about featured authors; their connection with the city is asserted on the one hand through inclusion in the volume as a significant contemporary Berlin author (by which Günther appears to mean one resident in the city at some time) and on the other through the subject matter of the selected texts. In this, Hier schreibt Berlin cuts across what I identify as the two main forms of city anthology: those that present writing from the city, regardless of subject matter, and those that feature writing about or explicitly set in the city. Regardless of the selection criteria, city anthologies use the affective connection between author, text and city to reinscribe both types of literature as a specific product or attribute of the city itself.
The corpus I have assembled encompasses these two forms of anthologies. The former are based around extra-textual, bio-geographical factors, such as the contributors’ residence at the time or the texts’ place of publication or performance; the latter type, increasingly more common over time, is based on the subject matter of the texts selected, regardless of author nationality or where (or even in which language) the text was originally written. Crucially, both types posit ‘Berlin writing’ as capturing the city’s particular character either through expressing it or representing it on the page. Even where the selection criteria are overtly based on residency, rather than thematic coverage, and the subject matter of the texts is not focused on the city, anthologies still define themselves through the connection with the city. The first post-war anthology Junges Berlin (‘Young Berlin’), from March 1948, demonstrates this interchange in its short, untitled foreword which initially refers to contributors as ‘Lyrikern der Stadt Berlin’ (‘poets of the city Berlin’) and describes the self-imposed restriction of compilation to poems where ‘der Verfasser in Berlin ansässig sein mußte’ (‘the writer must be resident in Berlin’), but by the final paragraph suggests that the book demonstrates ‘die poetische Gestaltungskraft des Berlin kurz nach den schlimmsten Jahren deutscher Geschichte’ (‘the poetic creative power of Berlin shortly after the worst years in German history’) (Untitled introduction by Wedding Verlag, in Kukowa n.p.). Unusually, in this volume the incorporation of poets into the city is substantially reinforced by the contents page which lists only the titles of poems under three abstract and generic poetic section headings of Zeit (‘Time’), Mensch (‘People’), Welt (‘World’), and the formatting which displays each poem anonymously, and numbered sequentially, in the volume. Authors are only identified in an appended alphabetical list which gathers contributions under the respective authors’ names, with no further biographical or bibliographical details. Despite the fact that Berlin features in only a handful of the poems, the volume’s remit is explicitly justified in the last lines of an also untitled afterword, ‘deshalb, weil die Gedichte dieser Sammlung kaum über Haltung, Talent und Reichtum des einzelnen aussagen sollen, um so mehr von dem zaghaften Lied des Lebens unter dem polternden Schutt unserer großen Stadt’ (‘precisely because the poems in this collection are intended to testify not so much to the attitude, talent or fortune of the individual as to the tentative song of life amongst the clattering rubble of our big city’) (Kukowa, Untitled afterword n.p.). The slippage from authors to city is completed in the anthropomorphising title which describes not the authors but the city itself as young, evoking Berlin’s recent re-emergence from the experience of the war and Nazi period.
While these two forms of city anthology are distinct in selection criteria, there is more frequently overlap between literature from and literature about the city; subject matter naturally often follows a biographical or geographical connection to the city. Anthologies of writing from Berlin tend to include some texts about Berlin, whereas anthologies of writing about Berlin may also have texts that do not explicitly name the city, with the connection inferred in part from the author’s own links with the city and/or created precisely by being included in such an anthology. Writing on Berlin literature of the 1990s, Phil Langer notes in passing that anthologisation can transform a text from a generic city piece to one specifically referencing Berlin through inclusion in an overtly themed publication, juxtaposition or association with other Berlin texts, and through contextual detail.4 Conversely, the presence of named poems about Berlin in early collections of city poetry in general turns these anthologies into de facto Berlin anthologies.5 The repetition of Berlin and Berlin placenames in historical survey anthologies in particular is the flipside of this recontextualisation, with poem titles especially likely to overdetermine the connection to the city, just as anthology titles also do.
2. Key Features of the City Anthology
Anthologies of literature from a range of global cities are numerous and commercially popular, yet are rarely discussed in the growing number of academic publications on literature and cities.6 City anthologies hold substantial interest for critics of urban literature on account of their specific features, which I outline in this section: these key features are derived from the affective connection discussed above, and from the double vision of the anthology in representing both the real city and its literary-cultural manifestations. City anthologies’ local focus allows them to be anti-nationalist and open: they celebrate transient connections and (implicitly at least) acknowledge that a city’s literature can be written in many languages. A varied and fragmented, yet collective form, city anthologies constitute a decentred alternative to the author-centric forms – primarily the novel – that are more commonly associated with city literature, as well as a commercial and populist challenge to the prominence of ‘high’ literary forms. As a result, city anthologies feature a broad selection of authors and even languages of origin; include a wide range of text genres and show formal diversification over time; and finally evince a tendency towards reportage – a kind of hybrid literary non-fiction – as a form of embodied engagement with the real city.
City anthologies undercut the precepts of national literature anthologies through their focus on avowedly multicultural metropolises. As a result of privileging authors’ affective connection with a city over permanent residence, place of birth or even language, Berlin anthologies not only draw on authors from other German-speaking regions or countries, but also frequently include authors writing in German as a second language and even texts in translation from other languages. Of the many temporary German-speaking residents, Austrian author Ingeborg Bachmann is perhaps the most fêted, with her surreal, satirical 1964 Büchner Prize acceptance speech ‘Ein Ort für Zufälle’ (‘A Place for Coincidences’) regularly anthologised either as a full text or excerpts (including in foreign-language anthologies). Biographical notes stress the author’s residency in Berlin from 1963 to 1965, even though it is the subject matter of the text, with its litany of placenames and local cultural references, that lends itself so clearly to anthologisation.
Authors who write in German as a second language, primarily those who have moved to Berlin, also find a home in Berlin anthologies: German-language texts by writers such as Turkish-German Emine Sevgi Özdamar, USA-born Jeannette Lander and Russian Wladimir Kaminer (himself editor of a Berlin-related anthology, Frische Goldjungs [‘New Golden Boys’] from 2001) are reproduced in a number of Berlin-themed anthologies, while Susanne Gretter’s 2013 anthology Berlin bei Nacht (‘Berlin at Night’) solicited new stories from Croatian-born Marica Bodrožić and USA-born Austrian writer Ann Cotten. The affirmation of Berlin as a locus of migration, and the de facto multilingualism of the city and urban literature, also extends to non-German-language writers such as Christopher Isherwood, Cees Nooteboom, Marina Tsvetaeva, Nabokov, as well as Aras Ören (who is generally accepted as a German author despite writing in Turkish), who fall into the category that anthology editor Mitch Cohen calls ‘artistic expatriates’ and who often feature in German translation, particularly in historical surveys of Berlin literature (Cohen, ‘Introduction’ 21). Even transient connections to the city are celebrated as an intrinsic part of Berlin’s culture: the earliest anthology in my corpus, Berliner Bunte Mappe (‘Berlin Bright Portfolio’), includes a translation of Tennyson poems as a contribution by Berlin resident Friedrich Spielhagen, while in the twenty-first century a long-running (since 2001) series of ‘Berliner Anthologie’ (‘Berlin anthology’) publications collate work written, or chosen and read, by authors invited to the International Literature Festival Berlin, which the festival’s website states ‘ist die bleibende Essenz, wenn die Autoren wieder abgereist sind’ (‘is the lasting essence which lives on following the authors’ return to their homelands’).7 While some of the texts in these publications evoke the city, drawing on the author’s visit to Berlin – such as Alain Mabanckou’s ‘Le rêve de Berlin/Der Traum von Berlin’ (‘The Dream of Berlin’) – it is the fact of the texts’ performance – ephemeral as this may be – in the city at the Literature Festival that claims them for Berlin, as is also the case for several anthologies of performance texts and slam poetry in the second decade of the new millennium.
Multilingual anthologies extend the inclusive ethos to position the city explicitly as a multilingual space of migration and identification. The anthology Dokumente aus Babel: Berliner Momentaufnahmen (2000, ‘Documents from Babel: Berlin Snapshots’) describes the original German and translated contributions as forming a ‘Stadtcollage’ (‘city collage’) with a single unifying factor: the authors’ knowledge that they are living in Babel (Caspar et al. 5). As announced by the title, this anthology has a high proportion of second-language and translated German texts (eight out of twenty-three authors, with translations from Hungarian, Polish, Swedish and Spanish) although it privileges English as a second language, presenting two poets bilingually (Canadian Eric Miller and Berlin-based British poet and translator Alistair Noon) as well as a ‘Denglish’ text by the long-term Berlin-based American entertainer Gayle Tufts. Similarly, Mitch Cohen’s USA-published volume of contemporary writing mentions (on the back cover blurb) ‘a few’ expatriate writers as one of its selling points, along with the bilingual presentation of German writing in English. Cohen draws attention in his introduction to the many other economic, rather than artistic, migrants and refugees in the city, noting that ‘More contributions from them would have given a better picture of the city’ (Cohen, ‘Introduction’ 21). Volumes produced outside Berlin and Germany are if anything more liberal in fostering such transnational, multilingual connections: the German-language Europa erlesen: Berlin (1998, ‘Europe Selection: Berlin’), edited by Helmuth A. Niederle, part of a series by a Viennese publishing house, includes nine authors writing in six languages other than German in a total of sixty-five authors (which also includes second-language German writer Özdamar). As might be expected, French and English-language anthologies of Berlin literature are broader still, with the image of the city’s literature expanded to include original French and English-language writing which is as significant in shaping the external perception of the city as locally produced texts: Isherwood is, unsurprisingly, one of few writers who are equally central to both German-language and English-language constructions of the city.
Beyond the inclusive selection of authors, it is also paradigmatic that city anthologies include a broad range of text styles, as a result of the thematic focus on the city as well as positive attempts to portray the diversity of the city and its literature. Selections for city anthologies are driven by the texts’ (and authors’) relationship to an external referent, the city itself, as well as its more intangible (self-)image, which is both a product of history and culture more broadly and its literature. The double view of the city anthology means that texts are selected to exemplify social, historical or cultural aspects of the city just as much as exemplifying specific types of city literature. Unlike in conventional anthologies then, city anthology texts are not chosen in the first instance because they are the best or most beautiful examples, but rather because they are representative. Compilers repeatedly stress this approach, suggesting through the strength of their insistence that this runs contrary to the expectations of an anthology. In the introduction to Berliner Gedichte. 1763–1806 (1890, ‘Berlin Poetry. 1763–1806’) editor Ludwig Geiger emphasises ‘daß das Bild, welches hier gegeben werden sollte, zunächst ein characteristisches sein mußte. Auf sogenannte schöne Gedichte zu fahnden, konnte mein Absicht nicht sein’ (‘that the picture which is to be painted here should in the first instance be a characteristic one. My intention was not to seek out so-called beautiful poems’) (Geiger, ‘Einleitung’ ii). The editors of Im steinernen Meer: Großstadtgedichte (1910, ‘In the Sea of Stone: City Poems’), Oskar Hübner and Johannes Moegelin, are likewise at pains to state that they prioritised characteristic poems over masterpieces (see esp. ix–x).8 City anthologies thus sidestep (though cannot entirely avoid) the thorny question of literary quality or merit, in favour of topicality, relevance and even popularity.9 In this way, city anthologies particularly exemplify Barbara Benedict’s description of anthologies as ‘literary carnivals that accommodate disparate literary quality or qualities and that even overturn conventional literary hierarchies’ (Benedict, Making the Modern Reader 12).
As a result of this attempt to represent diversity, Berlin anthologies feature – indeed, often make a feature of – a broad range of literature from a diverse set of sources that might otherwise be designated as ‘low culture’, from the inclusion of cartoons (e.g. in Berliner Luft) through highly quotable comic verse and light prose by writers such as Robert Gernhardt in Berlin: Eine Lese-Verführung or Kurt Tucholsky in too many anthologies to name, to song lyrics such as those by Ton Steine Scherben and Ideal excerpted in Berlin: Eine literarische Einladung. At the level of the corpus, this diversity and breadth extends to the prominence of entire popular genres such as humour and crime fiction as well as the noticeable use of Berlin dialect in volume titles, individual texts and a dedicated anthology of Berlin-dialect poetry. The treatment of these different forms is not equal, however. Humour has traditionally been a key element of the self-definition of the Berliner, and several Berlin anthologies in the early twentieth century are thematised around humour. This (self-)image of the city’s inhabitants recurs in later anthology titles – one of the few GDR-era anthologies posits the Berliner as a humorous working-class figure, complete with naïve cover illustration: So pfeift’s von allen Dächern: fröhliche und freche Lieder von Nante, Rieke, Orje und anderen Berliner Pflanzen (1987, ‘They’re Whistling from Every Rooftop: Happy and Cheeky Songs by Nante, Rieke, Orje and other Berlin Herbs’).10 Humour remains a regular focus of anthologies, in close association with dialect use, and bathetic humour, the puncturing of pretension and local jokes are common, typified by Monika Maron’s sardonic essay ‘Eigentlich sind wir nett’ (‘Actually we’re quite nice’) anthologised in Berlin: Eine Lese-Verführung, which also gives the title to the section it is in. Although the titles, cover imagery and positioning of humorous volumes might suggest they are distinct from more obviously literary anthologies, the contributors are often prominent literary figures: the 1969 anthology Eulen nach Spree-Athen: Zwei Hundert Jahre Berliner Humor in Wort und Bild (‘Owls to Athens [= Coals to Newcastle]: Two Hundred Years of Berlin Humour in Words and Pictures’), for example, features many well-known writers who also appear in more conventionally marketed surveys.
By contrast, the increasingly popular genre of crime fiction (Krimi) forms a distinct and separate subsection of anthologies which does not often overlap with conventional literary anthologies. Two different collections from 1997 and 2018 bear the same title Berlin Noir, while one of a series of competition-based anthologies is also themed on crime, Die Tote in der Spree und andere Berliner Kriminalgeschichten (‘The Corpse in the Spree and other Berlin Criminal Stories’) from 2004, suggesting the popularity of this genre.11 The trends of hyper-localisation and genre come together in Berlin-based Jaron Verlag’s collections Tatort Tegel (2007, ‘Crime Scene Tegel’) and Neues vom Tatort Tegel (2017, ‘More from the Crime Scene Tegel’), published in conjunction with the Reinickendorfer Kriminacht (‘Reinickendorf Crime Night’), a long-running Berlin event with a prize-giving ceremony. Despite its clear growth in popularity and commercial success since the end of the twentieth century, however, crime fiction is rarely represented in mixed anthologies: when well-known crime writer Pieke Biermann appears in Einmal Ku’damm und zurück: Das große Berlin-Lesebuch (2003, ‘Ku’damm and Back Again: The Big Berlin Book of Literature’), the excerpt is from a humorous short story collection rather than her more typical crime texts (Biermann, ‘Treptower Hafen’); likewise, prominent crime novelist Horst Bosetzky’s contribution to daheim & unterwegs (2016, ‘at home & on the move’) is about a failed rendezvous rather than a dead body (Bosetzky, ‘Das geplatzte Rendezvous’). One of the archetypal urban literary forms, crime fiction thus remains ring-fenced in this corpus.
My corpus of Berlin anthologies also demonstrates the development and shift over time of the literary forms used to represent the city. The historical evolution of the anthology in general from a primarily poetry-focused form in earlier centuries to a more open one is reflected in the development of Berlin anthologies, which see a predominance of poetry anthologies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.12 The perspective of these anthologies is largely historical, which is often explicit in their titles. Two volumes of poetry at the turn of the twentieth century, Heinz Möller’s Großstadtlyrik (1903, ‘City Poetry’) as well as Oskar Hübner and Johannes Moegelin’s Im steinernen Meer (1910), present the metropolis as a proxy for Berlin, cementing both the prominence of the city poem at the time and its locus in Berlin. The first anthology published after the Second World War, Junges Berlin (1948), is a snapshot poetry volume, capturing immediate post-war impressions in short poetic form. However, in the later post-war era and into the contemporary period, poetry features more frequently as part of mixed anthologies of prose and poetry. In the post-Wende period since reunification, single-genre volumes of poetry present historical overviews: Berlin mit deinen frechen Feuern (1997), Berlin im Gedicht: Gedichte aus 250 Jahren (2006, ‘Berlin in Poetry: Poems from 250 years’) and the substantial Ick kieke, staune, wundre mir: Berlinerische Gedichte von 1830 bis heute (2017).13 In this respect the Berlin poetry anthology appears to retain a strong connection to the historical survey form.
Following the lead of Günther’s volume, which was exceptional in the Weimar period in including a range of forms, from reportage and essay through to drama, mid-twentieth century anthologies tend to be mixed form, with poetry and prose strongly represented (drama noticeably less so). The designation prose encompasses a wide range of text types and genres, from historical essay or reportage, through speeches, diary entries, anecdotes and aphorisms, to extracts from longer fiction as well as discrete short stories. Helga Essmann notes the appearance of prose anthologies in Germany in the late nineteenth century, and their growth in popularity primarily in the twentieth century, especially in the second half of the century, positing that ‘this certainly has something to do with the growing importance of short prose’ (Essmann, ‘Weltliteratur between Two Covers’ 155, note 15). From the 1990s onwards, the short story form in particular has become dominant in city anthologies, especially in what I call snapshot anthologies of contemporary literature, with individual texts from Die Stadt nach der Mauer: Junge Autoren schreiben über ihr Berlin (1998, ‘The City after the Wall: Young Authors Write about Their Berlin’) and Berlin bei Nacht in particular finding substantial reception among critics of Berlin literature. At the same time, the corpus demonstrates an increasingly granular focus not on the city as a whole, but on individual parts thereof, and particular aspects of Berlin life and culture. In this, my wider corpus bears out Ulrike Zitzlsperger’s observation on Berlin anthologies in the 1990s, where she notes a shift from general anthologies to ones with specific themes as time passes (Zitzlsperger, ‘Guides to the City’ 99). Collections in the twenty-first century especially focus on increasingly narrow aspects or areas of the city: some approach Berlin by theme such as love (several volumes), animals or water (Berlin am Meer (‘Berlin by the Sea’) picks up on a longstanding myth about this city built on sand). Others focus solely on the night-time (three collections on night and midnight) or evoke elements of movement and transit, a key city theme in general but seen as axiomatic for Berlin as the mode of change, evoked by Bahnhof Berlin (‘Train Station Berlin’) especially. Diversity is thus maintained primarily at a corpus level – given that many anthologies explicitly evoke other existing or even future anthology works in their introductions, this suggests that individual volumes may be deliberately partial or subjective, in the knowledge that a wider corpus exists which absolves any single collection of the responsibility to epitomise the variety and multiplicity of city in a definitive anthology.
The city anthology’s locatedness within the cityscape embeds texts and collections in the city as a physical entity as well as through conceptual, artistic engagement. City anthology contents lists and volume structures are often organised into observational sections focusing on aspects of city life, or alternatively effecting the perspective of a virtual flâneur through geographical structuring, moving from one area to another, neighbouring one. In recent years the city has additionally provided the impetus for collections in a range of concrete ways: a number of anthologies are based on engagement with a local institution or installation, such as the Berlin Hüttenweg: Stadt erzählen (2006, ‘Hüttenweg, Berlin: Narrating the City’) collection for authors invited to a guest professorship at the Freie Universität based at that location, or Seitenspiel (2004, ‘Sideplay’) which showcases texts from a women’s writing group that met in the Berliner Heimatsmuseum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. A long-running series of ‘Zehn-Minuten-Geschichten’ (‘Ten Minute Stories’) volumes instigated by Horst Bosetzky in conjunction with the Verband deutscher Schriftsteller (German Writers’ Union) Berlin embody the increasing awareness of the real-world ‘happening’ (Hones) of the anthology and semi-anthological volumes.14 With the exception of the volume themed around love stories, all the anthologies in this series have cover images that show public transport or movement around the city, representing in visual form the pragmatic, real-world orientation of the featured stories which are measured by length, giving a reading time of ‘eine gute Zeit. Man kann schnell mal eine Geschichte beim Fahrten in der S-, U- und Straßenbahn lesen’ (‘a good time. You can quickly read a story during a trip in the S-Bahn [overground rail network], U-Bahn [underground] or tram’) (Bosetzky, ‘Am Anfang’ 10). In this way the series highlights the interconnectedness of urban topography and the particular process of anthology reading.
Finally, engagement with the physical form of the city underpins the particular tendency of city anthologies towards reportage. In foregrounding literary non-fiction and observational prose, Berlin anthologies in particular tap into the growth of the feuilleton and the culture of short prose in the Weimar period especially, both at the time and in retrospective publications.15 From Martin Kessel’s ‘Berliner Fragmente’ (‘Berlin Fragments’) in Hier schreibt Berlin, through Wolfdietrich Schnurre’s personal account of ‘Mit der Mauer leben’ (‘Living with the Wall’) in Hier schreibt Berlin heute to Richard Anders’ ‘Stadtbilder’ (‘City Images’) in Die Hälfte der Stadt: Ein Berliner Lesebuch (1982, ‘Half the City: A Berlin Reader’), along with Uwe Johnson’s oft-anthologised essays about the S-Bahn and the semi-anthological collections of ‘literarische Spaziergänge’ (‘literary walks’), Berlin anthologies evoke the familiar urban figure of the flâneur, whose stock-in-trade genre is literary non-fiction. The blurb for Berlin Hüttenweg even goes so far as to suggest that in its selection of essays, ‘Ethnographisch-belustigt kartografieren die Durchreisenden das Leben in der Stadt’ (‘the writers passing through map life in the city in an ethnographic-quizzical way’) (Lubrich and Balmes, Berlin Hüttenweg outside back cover). The tendency towards prose reportage can also be seen in entire anthologies which privilege the personal essay, such as Mein Berliner Zimmer (1997, ‘My Berlin Room’) focused on an architectural particularity of the city’s distinctive and emblematic tenement housing stock.
Reportage encompasses the view from within as well as from without, and it is a notable feature of city anthologies that they often also thematise the traveller or newcomer’s view of the city as a distinctive element of the urban literary landscape, such as in the collection of pieces by broadsheet newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung contributors, Ecke Friedrichstraße: Ansichten über Berlin (1997, ‘Corner of Friedrichstraße: Views of Berlin’), edited by Evelyn Roll, which positions the columnists both as newcomers and as a source of information about the city for outsiders, interspersing essays with short entries for ‘Das sehr nützliche Berlin-Brevier’ (‘The Very Useful Berlin-Breviary’) on subjects such as ‘Die Quoten-Ossi’ (‘The Token Easterner’), the U-Bahn or typical Berlin food and drink. Berlin im Licht: Webcams (2003, ‘Berlin in the Light: Webcams’) is a selection of pieces originally written by (established) authors for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung over a three-year period, which are reorganised into a twenty-four hour structure to give a ‘day in the life of’ effect. The double meaning of ‘über’ to mean both above and about implies a bird’s-eye perspective in Kanzlerinnen: Schwindelfrei über Berlin (2005, ‘[Female] Chancellors: A Head for Heights over/about Berlin’). This anthology contains prose written by women writers who were invited to spend time sitting in one of the last surviving examples of a ‘Verkehrskanzel’ (traffic pulpit) on the famous Kurfürstendamm. The emphasis on reportage, where the object of observation is privileged over the imaginary or fictional, chimes with the orientation of the city anthology towards its real counterpart.
As assemblages – a concept finding increasing currency in geography and urban theory to describe the nature of cities – city anthologies have the potential for political agency, enacting the integration and participation, or alternatively exclusion, of literary forms as well as individual authors.16 Perhaps more than any other form of city literature, anthologies highlight and address the extra-literary components that go to make up the ‘happening’ of a text, which Sheila Hones explains as an ‘explicitly spatial view of the writing–reading nexus as a contextualized and always emerging geographical event’ (Hones 1301). In particular, city anthologies require the agency of readers not only in constituting the text through reading practice (as in all anthologies) but in situating the texts in the city, its history, geography and culture as well as language, and increasingly incorporate the spatiality of the real city into the form as well as the contents of the anthology.
3. Situating Cities in Anthology Research
No research has yet been done focusing on anthologies of city literature, despite their long history, the growing corpus of anthologies on a range of cities and the clear commercial popularity of these texts. A study of city anthologies offers several new perspectives: Firstly, it shifts the focus of anthology studies firmly into the twentieth century up to the present day (along with work by Essmann, Odber de Baubeta and recent retrospectives on the GDR by Häntzschel), and onto a contemporary commercial concern as opposed to a syllabus-focused one.17 Secondly, city anthologies cut across more well-researched issues of national literature and representation, as well as focuses based on form, as I show above, being more open to a range of literary forms and genres, including translated literature and migrant writing alongside ‘native’ representations, as they seek to encompass the diversity of the city experience. And finally, they constitute a strand of anthologies – along with travel writing – where the focus is not in the first instance a literary concern, but rather with a subject in the real world; this double vision of representing both the city as well as its literature is amplified by the use of a form that itself resembles the composite nature of the metropolis. As I show below, my substantial corpus of Berlin anthologies can further be used as a test case for the definition of anthologies in key areas, such as the minimum number of texts and/or authors required and the significance of the anthologising function; it allows for the identification of types which can be widely applied beyond the city anthology; and finally opens up onto a type that I theorise here for the first time, the semi-anthological form which reverses the conventional balance between texts and paratext in anthology definitions.
Despite the mass of literature on anthologies, the accepted definition remains rather minimal. Broadly speaking, an anthology is a selection of texts compiled around a particular focus such as genre, theme, national literature, place, event or historical figure or for a particular purpose or audience. Most, but not all, critics define anthologies as containing a specific minimum number of authors or texts: while Jeffrey Di Leo and Leah Price do not suggest a minimum, Anne Ferry sets hers at a rather ambiguous ‘more than one or two poets’ (14); Barbara Benedict requires three authors (Making the Modern Reader 3; see also Benedict, ‘The Paradox of the Anthology’ 232), whereas Dietger Pforte specifies at least four ‘Die deutschsprachige Anthologie’ xxv) and Robert Bareikis a minimum of five (in Pforte, ‘Die deutschsprachige Anthologie’, xxv). Definitions sometimes differ according to the form of anthology: Pforte requires translated anthologies to have been translated by a minimum of four translators (‘Die deutschsprachige Anthologie’, xxv), regardless of the number of source text authors, which Pforte allows even to be a single author – by this definition, a single-author publication could become an anthology through the act of translation by multiple translators, or vice versa. In her substantial work on anthologies of translated works, by contrast, Helga Essmann calls the number of translators involved ‘completely irrelevant’; her requirement is simply for ‘at least three foreign or German authors’ (‘Weltliteratur Between Two Covers’ 154; see also Essmann, Übersetzungsanthologien).
It is self-evident that a collection or group requires at least three items but in practice almost all anthologies contain many times this number of both items and authors. Das Berliner Lokalstück (1920, ‘The Berlin Play’), the only anthology in my corpus to consist solely of dramatic texts, is listed in Bark and Pforte’s bibliography, yet does not meet Pforte’s own formal criteria, including just three plays by separate authors plus a short introductory essay by editor Georg Hermann; it does not otherwise seem to test the definition, as it alludes to a wider corpus from which the chosen texts have been drawn, although Hermann does – uncharacteristically for Berlin anthologies – explicitly select the best, rather than typical, examples of the genre. A more illuminating outlier is a recent publication that falls within most definitions set out above: Schattensprünge: Geschichten rund um die Berliner Mauer (2014, ‘Cracks in the Shadows: Stories around the Berlin Wall’), edited by Brigitte Kiriakidis and Kirsten Bortels, explicitly calls itself an anthology in the short foreword (Kiriakidis and Bortels 7). This self-published volume contains nineteen texts by five authors and has a thematic focus on the Berlin Wall. However, it seems to stretch the concept of an anthology in the first instance through a substantial lack of balance, specifically in the favour of the author-editors: there are eleven entries by Kiriakidis and five by Bortels, with one publication each by an additional three authors (Eo Scheinder, Birgit Schoeps, Reiner Weidmann). While author-compilers often include some of their own work, and this does not debar the anthology from inclusion within the definition (see e.g. Pforte, ‘Die deutschsprachige Anthologie’ xxvi–xxxvi, esp. xxvi–xxix), this particular publication appears more like a dual author publication with additional texts. It also lacks an obvious element of compilation despite the thematic title: all contributions appear to be new publications with no indication of an extant wider corpus by the authors; the introduction is also minimal (four sentences) and does not touch on the criteria for selection. In my view, then, this publication has the form of an anthology, but not the wider function.
I contend that the overarching editorial eye and the tacit acknowledgement of a broader corpus, rather than form as such, are key to the function of the anthology, and therefore underlie my definition of the form. ‘Compiling’ implies an act of editorial oversight, selection and organisation, which constitutes an artistic or quasi-artistic function and indicates, furthermore, that the selection is drawn from a wider corpus of potential suitable texts. Christopher Kuipers uses Kurt Lewin’s theory of scientific concept-formation to place anthologies in a dynamic with corpuses, which form canons: referencing Todorov, he states: ‘In dialogic terms, “anthology” and “corpus” designate two particular voices whose dialogue of force is “the canon”’ (Kuipers 58). ‘Corpuscular’ tendencies in anthologies include chronological ordering (giving a sense of literary history), author bios and commentaries, as well as further reading suggestions – in other words, any paratextual materials pointing outwards beyond the text at hand to a wider set of works (Kuipers 64). This overt signalling of a wider corpus related to the selection of texts is crucial: without these paraphernalia, the work of selection is elided along with the non-anthologised corpus; the dynamic interaction between selection from, and referral to, a wider body of work is the function of the anthology.
Using a function-based definition, I thus include in my corpus single-author anthologies where they are selected around a theme or focus, by an editor, from a stated range of original sources: these fulfil the structural principles of anthology, albeit in a necessarily limited way based on a single author’s oeuvre, as well as the function through reference to a wider corpus from which the anthology has been compiled. There is a large number of retrospective, single-author anthology-style publications focusing on Berlin: Theodor Fontane’s “Wie man in Berlin so lebt”: Beobachtungen und Betrachtungen aus der Hauptstadt (2000, ‘“How one lives in Berlin”: Observations and Reflections from the Capital City’), edited by Gotthard Erler, for example, resembles a conventional anthology, consisting of an overall theme (indicated in the title) plus a thematic structure of contents; the texts included are short pieces which are extracted from multiple original sources (each attributed at end of the text, pointing to the larger corpus from which they have been selected); and the publication includes an editor-authored introductory essay and further appended materials consisting of a long essay about Fontane’s residences in Berlin. Clara Viebig’s Berliner Novellen (2017, ‘Berlin Novellas’), on the other hand, seems to fall outside the definition on several points: there is no identifiable editor and the publication consists of what presents itself as a full collection of her Berlin novellas with no accompanying material.18 There is no signalling of the work of selection, nor any clear structuring principle underlying the presentation of the texts; with no paratextual materials to point to a wider corpus, this publication falls outside my definition of an anthology.
The requirement to signal a wider corpus raises the question of whether previously unpublished work can be included in the selection. Anthology theorists do not reach a firm consensus about whether anthologies should contain (primarily or exclusively) previously published texts or may contain new pieces. This distinction tends to feature historically to define the anthology against the miscellany (which collects new pieces), as in Benedict; in a more modern context, William Germano (cited in di Leo, ‘Analyzing Anthologies’ 3–4) also distinguishes between the anthology of previously published material and a collection that is new or mostly new. The requirement for an anthology’s function to point towards a wider corpus might also seem to rule out collections consisting solely of previously unpublished material, but in practice this function can be carried out by paratextual material such as author bios which refer back to previous publications, or forward to forthcoming ones, from which the text in question may be excerpted; even introductory materials and epitextual adverts can situate new work within a wider context of related publications or other volumes in a series. Texts in my corpus that primarily include previously unpublished materials, such as Die Stadt nach der Mauer, Berlin bei Nacht or daheim & unterwegs as well as a number of competition-based anthologies, use author bios to point explicitly to the fact that cited extracts are taken from novels in progress, or to reference forthcoming but unrelated publications where texts stand alone. One notable effect of these corpuscular references is a renewed focus on the authors rather than subject matter: thus the clearly themed Berlin bei Nacht slips from a selection of texts about Berlin to a snapshot of Berlin authors’ work through the list of authors and their works, which in conventional fashion stresses the Berlin connections of the authors included – twenty-two out of twenty-four of whom are stated to live in Berlin.
As Benedict suggests, the distinction between the anthologisation of previously published and new texts hinges on ‘timeliness’ (Benedict, ‘The Paradox of the Anthology’ 232). In my corpus, attention to timeliness allows me to identify four main forms of city anthology, which intersect with the above distinction between literature from and literature about the city, as well as the distinction between previously published and new writing. While they express a particular relationship between the anthology and the city, these four forms are not just limited to city anthologies but may be applied more widely across anthologies with other focuses and themes. First is the diachronic historical survey covering a long period of time (often but not always arranged chronologically; some take a thematic focus); of necessity, the texts in survey anthologies are largely previously published, and are usually selected on the grounds of relevant subject matter – writing about the city. Two substantial survey volumes published in the West and East respectively after the Second World War evoke historicity in their formal construction but do so with significantly different emphasis. Hugo Stummel’s Im Zeichen des Bären: Die schönsten Berlin-Geschichten (1964, ‘Under the Sign of the Bear: The Most Beautiful Berlin Stories’), published in Hamburg, arranges the texts into three undated but named historical sections, dividing the city’s history and literature roughly into the Imperial period, ‘Das alte Berlin’ (‘Old Berlin’), the most substantial section on the Weimar period, ‘Das neue Berlin’ (‘New Berlin’), and a brief section of just six texts from ‘Das geteilte Berlin’ (‘Divided Berlin’) representing the previous two decades; these main sections are bookended by two programmatic – and frequently anthologised – poems about Berlin respectively by Joachim Ringelnatz and Kurt Tucholsky, both from the Weimar period, implying that the city’s ‘most beautiful’ years are behind it. Ruth Greuner’s Berlin: Stimmen einer Stadt (1973), the first Berlin anthology of fiction (as opposed to humour) from the GDR that I have found, references a century of literature in its subtitle 99 Autoren – 100 Jahre an der Spree (‘99 Authors – 100 Years on the Spree’). Its four numbered sections are untitled, although the periodisation is identifiable through author names and, unusually, this volume has a short section dedicated to exile during the Nazi period and war. By comparison with Im Zeichen des Bären, emphasis in this volume is clearly placed on the contemporary period, which has the most substantial section; this volume also has an epigraph poem that stands outside the chronological presentation, the eponymous ‘Stimmen der Stadt’ (‘Voices of the City’) by Paul Wiens from 1946, marking this volume out by contrast as distinctly socialist and post-war in focus. While the two volumes have a number of authors in common in the earlier periods they represent, they are unsurprisingly more distinct in the post-war periods. The historical form of the anthology allows the GDR to claim continuity with earlier literary and cultural history, placing this in an ideological perspective in the afterword.
The second form is the synchronic snapshot anthology, which presents texts that are contemporary to the time of publication. Volumes that showcase writing from the city are often snapshot anthologies, and snapshot anthologies are also more likely to contain previously unpublished (and commissioned) texts. The earliest text in my corpus, Eugen Düsterhoff’s Berliner Bunte Mappe is such a snapshot, presenting ‘Originalbeiträge Berliner Künstler und Schriftsteller’ (‘Original contributions by Berlin artists and writers’) and emphasising the locatedness of the volume’s contributors by including a small sketch of the Brandenburg Gate on the cover image. The majority of texts and images do not focus on Berlin, and the few that do only give their location through oblique references or in subtitles which are not listed on the contents pages, thus de-emphasising the link between the texts’ thematic content and the anthology’s representation of Berlin art and literature. Of the many illustrations in the volume, just one, Georg Brandt’s ‘Berliner Skizzen’ (‘Berlin Sketches’), a composite line drawing of people in a number of locations across the city, references Berlin by title or in subject matter. Perhaps the most influential anthology in my corpus, Herbert Günther’s 1929 volume Hier schreibt Berlin, is a snapshot anthology which is not only republished at significant junctures throughout the rest of the century but also functions as a touchstone for subsequent snapshot anthologies: it appears in a new edition by List Verlag to accompany Rudolf Hartung’s Hier schreibt Berlin heute in 1963 and in an Ullstein paperback edition at the same time as Jürgen Jakob Becker and Ulrich Janetzki’s Die Stadt nach der Mauer.
Finally, there are two forms of anthology that collate texts either from or about an earlier era. The distinction between collections that include previously published texts and those that include primarily new texts marks a significant divide within these forms, namely between retrospective anthologies consisting of texts previously published, or at least written, in an era that predates the time of anthologisation, and memory anthologies containing contemporary, often new, commissioned texts which look back at a given time from the present. Retrospective anthologies have the potential to reshape the portrayal of earlier periods, such as the 2018 anthology “Die Nacht hat uns verschluckt”: Poesie und Prosa jüdischer Migrant*innen im Berlin der 1920er und 30er Jahre (‘“The Night has Swallowed us”: Poetry and Prose by Jewish Migrant Authors in Berlin in the 1920s and 1930s’) which revisits the literary history of the city in order to highlight multiply marginalised subjects; the ominous quotation in the title signals the explicit positioning of this volume in the knowledge of what came after that period. Memory volumes have a particular tendency towards the personal essay, and in recent years such anthologies usually focus on the time of division, something that volume titles signal as within living memory. These anthologies often represent the city metonymically by the Wall – as in the 2009 commissioned anthology Die Nacht, in der die Mauer fiel: Schriftsteller erzählen vom 9. November 1989 (‘The Night the Wall Fell: Writers talk about 9 November 1989’), which includes authors from former East and West. Also from 2009, twenty years since the fall of the Wall, war jewesen: West Berlin 1961–1989 (‘it was: West Berlin 1961–1989’) combines texts from the period in question with more recent ones reflecting on that time. A 2019 volume similarly focuses on Unser West-Berlin: Lesebuch von der Insel (‘Our West-Berlin: A Reading Book from the Island’), promising a retrospective view ‘Für die, die dabei waren und für die, die es wissen wollen’ (‘for those who were there, and for those who want to know about it’).19
As with the blurred distinction between anthologies of writing from or about Berlin, there can also be overlap within these typologies. Historical surveys often end with contemporary texts: the small 1997 Reclam volume Berlin, mit deinen frechen Feuern, covering ‘100 Gedichten aus den letzten 100 Jahren’ (‘100 poems from the last 100 years’) has twenty-two from the 1990s, including one previously unpublished poem by Qeren Margalit on the wrapping of the Reichstag just two years previously in 1995, alongside authors stretching back to Heine and Hebbel in the nineteenth century. The substantial 2017 poetry anthology Ick kieke, staune, wundre mir: Berlinerische Gedichte von 1830 bis heute likewise contains eleven previously unpublished (or unpublished in that form) poems by ten authors. Similarly, there are often older texts in what might otherwise appear to be a contemporary snapshot: around half of the texts anthologised in Katja Lange-Müller’s Bahnhof Berlin from 1997 are previously unpublished, with the majority of the remainder dating from the 1990s and only a small number from the late 1980s; there are, however, four poems by Gert Loschütz from a 1971 collection and a Brecht poem from 1934, ‘Medea von Lodz’, which functions as an epigraph for the volume, lending a historical future view to the presentation of the contemporary city.
In addition to these forms of anthology, the corpus of city anthologies finally also opens out onto what I refer to as semi-anthological works that include whole texts (or excerpts) and fulfil the functions of referencing a wider corpus, but which crucially reverse the balance between texts and paratexts. While editorial and bibliographic materials are central to the anthologising function, critics stress that these must be kept in balance: Pforte adopts Bareikis’s requirement that the accompanying texts represent less than 25 per cent of the overall volume (Pforte, ‘Die deutschsprachige Anthologie’ xxv). As with the minimum requirement for the number of authors, in practice this stipulation is rarely tested in my corpus, and only one single-author anthology (which many anthology theorists would already dismiss on these grounds) would fall outwith this requirement. Joseph Roth in Berlin: Ein Lesebuch für Spaziergänger, (1996, ‘Joseph Roth in Berlin: A Reading Book for Walkers’) appears as a double-header publication, with editor Michael Bienert’s name prominently displayed on the front cover while Joseph Roth’s name forms part of the title. The introductory materials consist of fifty pages of reflections by Bienert on 1990s Berlin and his discovery of Roth, also styled as if anthologising under various headings, along with interspersed visual materials and additional appended text and an index; in total these editorial paratexts exceed a quarter of the overall publication. Despite the overt positioning of the editor’s intervention as well as the substantial textual accoutrements, in my view the overt thematic (here: geographical) structuring principle of the anthologised contents, as well as the clear separation between editorial materials and anthologised texts, allow this volume to function nonetheless as an anthology. However, the structure and the balance between the two elements of text and paratext allow us to distinguish between the anthology proper and other related literary publications – such as the increasingly common literary histories, directories, guides and ‘Spaziergänge’ (walks) which focus on Berlin.
The proliferation of these semi-anthological publications represents a formal hybrid between factual histories or geographies and literary representations of the city, and an extension of our understanding of anthologies. Often sold in bookshops alongside materials such as histories of the city, maps or souvenirs, anthologies have come to resemble these other forms in embedding texts in a literary history or mapping the specific form of the collection onto the physical experience of the urban environment, through reference to travel (that is, reading) times or being structured as walks. Since the shift towards collections of new writing in the 1990s, certain aspects of the function of historical surveys of Berlin literature have been displaced into these volumes which follow some of the precepts of the city anthology: they select and often excerpt texts, presenting them along a historical or geographical theme, and also indicate a wider corpus from which these selections are drawn, thus performing a similar function to the anthology. However crucially, the texts are only used to illustrate the much more substantial editorial narrative, which is the main focus throughout; in these volumes, short (often very short) excerpted texts are commonly interspersed or embedded within the main editorial text.
Perhaps most common of these semi-anthological texts are the geographically structured travel guides, such as Karl Voß’sReiseführer für Literaturfreunde Berlin: Vom Alex bis zum Kudamm (1980, ‘Travel Guide to Berlin for Literature Lovers: From Alexanderplatz to the Kurfürstendamm’) that includes brief quotations from a broad historical range of texts in fifteen ‘walks’ which discuss authorial connections as well as fictional representations of local streets, squares and parks. Fred Oberhauser and Nicole Henneberg’s 500-page Literarischer Führer Berlin (1998, ‘Berlin Literary Guide’) combines historical listings of authors connected with Berlin, various literary-historical highlights of Berlin literature, a discussion of Berlin in literature which is organised by form (including a short section on anthologies) and geographical sections with a range of documentary materials such as maps, as well as clearly formatted anthologised poems. Notably, in each of these volumes the compilers are given the status of authors, rather than editors, in view of their substantial contribution of writing to the publication. The distinction between anthologies of writing from, and about, the city is further replicated in semi-anthological guides to the city: while literary geographies and, to a lesser extent, histories primarily feature writing about the city, directories focus on authors resident in, or otherwise connected to, the city, such as Berlin – ein Ort zum Schreiben which includes a text or excerpt for each of the 347 contemporary authors profiled.
These kinds of publication might also be considered a meta-anthology, drawing attention to texts that could be anthologised without actually doing so, while at the same time contributing to, as well as drawing on, a canon of authors as already anthologised. What marks these volumes out is the emphasis they place on the city itself, beyond its literature: here the double vision of city and literature inherent in city anthologies brings the city more fully into view, with Voß’s text following a path street by named street, while Michael Bienert’s Berlin: Wege durch den Text der Stadt (1999, ‘Berlin: Routes through the Text of the City’) lists the stations of his walks in the header of each text like a public transport schedule, complete with U-Bahn connections. These literary guides draw attention to the relationship between the multi-layered representation of locations within literary texts – imaginary topographies of the city – and the mapping of literature onto the real city locations through geographical guides and physical engagement with the urban space.
4. Anthologies in Berlin Literary History
In this final section I turn to Berlin literature, showing how the trajectory of Berlin anthologies from the nineteenth century into the twenty-first has the potential to function as a counterpoint to better-known narratives of literary development, marking different high points and caesuras that stem from their compilation processes as well as commercial orientation. While the anthology form embodies the heterogeneous construct of the city in general, it seems particularly apt for Berlin – a city of historical and geographical discontinuities, continual change and constant reinvention – whose appearance is marked as much by gaps and absences as it is by the palimpsestic presence of its historical iterations in the present. In the afterword to Berlin, mit deinen frechen Feuern, editor Michael Speier comments about Berlin that ‘Die Standlandschaft zeigt Sprünge, Risse und Verwerfungen, die ihre Geschichte mehr als die jeder anderen Metropole durchziehen’ (‘the city landscape reveals cracks, gaps and faults which traverse its history more than that of any other metropolis’) (Speier, ‘Nachwort’ 119). Berlin also particularly lends itself to a study of the city anthology, in view of the near-simultaneous growth of the city alongside this literary form in the late nineteenth century, and given that its tumultuous history in the twentieth century offers numerous junctures to reassess and revise the city’s history and contemporary image via its representation in and through literature.
Moreover, the affective connection that defines the city anthology finds particular resonance in Berlin. Berlin’s (self-)image is as a city of affective connections, drawing on a long history of immigration in earlier centuries – a recurring reference point of many personal histories. Monika Maron references Huguenots and Polish forebears in her ‘Kleine Berliner Rede’ (‘Little Berlin Speech’) in Katja Lange-Müller’s Bahnhof Berlin (1997), and situates these refugees and migrants in wider cultural discourses around ‘Wahlberliner’ (‘Berliners by choice’). JFK’s famous statement of elective citizenship and empathy with the city is cited in the introduction to the 1966 anthology Berlin im Widerstand (Schwenger, ‘Vorwort’ 8). The notion that Berlin is a ‘state of mind’, and being a Berliner a matter of choice and affinity, underlines the strong sense of a local identity that runs counter to the strict boundaries of German citizenship, with this contrast underlined through the openness of the city anthology to a wide range of authors as discussed above.
Despite their frequent omission from or elision within critical literature, I contend that Berlin anthologies play a significant part in the literary history of the city, and deserve attention as an urban literary form in their own right.20 Anthologies offer the means for explicit self-reflection on the city and its literature from the late nineteenth century through to the present day, enabled through some key literary figures as editors such as Berlin-born or -based writers or directors of city institutions. As a medium of repository, Berlin anthologies preserve aspects of the city’s history and literary history, including authors whose reception in critical literature has waned, such as Martin Kessel, or allow ‘rediscovered’ authors from earlier periods, such as Gabriele Tergit or Mascha Kaléko, to be reinserted into historical surveys.21 In this, as well as in the diversity of featured authors in other respects, the anthology can thus play an implicitly political role in opening the city up to multiple identities and allegiances.
As I show below, adding anthologies to the many literary histories of Berlin also challenges the prominence of the author-centric novel and ‘high’ literary forms, and explicitly opens up questions about audience and the popular consumption of city literature. In the first instance, the rise of Berlin anthologies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century must be seen broadly in the context of the simultaneous growth of the city itself in that period, from becoming capital of unified Germany in 1871 and the subsequent rapid growth of the imperial city, through to the expansion of the Weimar period and especially in relation to the city’s self-fashioning as the archetypal German metropolis throughout this time. Perhaps the clearest indication of political-historical influence on publication history is the absence of anthologies after the Nazi rise to power in 1933 – despite the clear momentum behind the anthology form in the late Weimar period, with two poetry collections in 1931 alone. Three publications appear during the war years, albeit only one is Berlin themed: Wolfgang Weyrauch’s 300-page Das Berlin-Buch (‘The Berlin Book’) from 1941, a contemporary snapshot of authors, very few of whom had published before 1933. Two volumes of writing (respectively in 1940 and 1943) from the Köpenick-Friedrichshagener Werkschaft with the title Der Spreetunnel: Ein Dichteralmanach aus Berlin (‘The Spree Tunnel: A Poets’ Almanac from Berlin’) explicitly evoke the earlier literary history of the city – the ‘Spreetunnel’ being the name given to the reading salon run by Fontane and circle. Despite the subtitle, however, the content and the picturesque cover images position these writers as on the geographical margins of the city. While post-war anthologies largely steer clear of the Nazi period – and where they do include texts from the time, focus on experience of exile or war rather than perpetration – the collectively written 1959 volume Berliner Luft unusually devotes a section to these years, entitled ‘…wir tragen die Folgen’ (‘…we bear the consequences’) and portraying the Nazis in largely scurrilous prose and verse, often in dialect.
The building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 is evoked by a cluster of volumes from the West in the following years, with three in 1964 alone, but pointed silence from the East. Rudolf Hartung’s Hier schreibt Berlin heute from 1963 carries the subtitle Die Tage der Mauer (‘The Days of the Wall’), while Hannes Schwenger’s 1964 anthology Berlin zum Beispiel (‘Berlin For Example’) describes itself as Eine gesamtberliner Anthologie (‘A Whole-Berlin Anthology’). Thus volumes from the West actively protest against and make visible, or alternatively ostentatiously ignore, the division of the city – a pattern repeated in the 1980s with Krista Maria Schädlich and Frank Werner’s Die Hälfte der Stadt, which actually includes authors from both East and West Berlin, or Ingrid Krüger and Eike Schmitz’s 1985 Berlin, du deutsche deutsche Frau which has the unwieldy subtitle Eine literarische Chronik der geteilten Stadt mit Texten und Bildern von Autoren aus Ost und West (‘A Literary Chronicle of the Divided City with Texts and Images by Authors from East and West’). By contrast, there are relatively few anthology publications from the GDR focusing on Berlin, and these consist either of historical surveys or retrospective anthologies (looking at the Weimar period or the turn of the twentieth century), or otherwise collections of humorous material associated with working-class inhabitants and culture. One of the few volumes of contemporary writing from the GDR to evoke Berlin is Fahrt mit der S-Bahn: Erzähler der DDR (1971, ‘A Trip on the S-Bahn: Writers of the GDR’) which does not explicitly name Berlin, but implicitly situates the writers in the city through the reference to the GDR-owned urban transport system and the iconography of the Fernsehturm (TV tower) on the front cover; tellingly, this popular anthology was published outside the GDR by DTV, based in Munich.22
While these trends can be linked to political-historical changes, the most prolific publication date in my corpus is 1987, the city’s 750th anniversary year, which sees nine anthologies, the majority of which explicitly reference the anniversary. As one might expect, these publications tend to be historical surveys. Reise Textbuch Berlin (‘Travel Textbook Berlin’), edited by Barbara and Walter Laufenberg, surveys the entire 750 years of the city’s history, opening with the first historical reference to Cöln from which the city is taken to date, in 1237, although only a handful of other texts and extracts in the volume date from earlier than 1800. The year 1987 also sees the publication of the extensive, two-volume Berlin in Bewegung: literarischer Spaziergang anthology (‘Berlin on the Move: Literary Walking Tour’), with a volume each dedicated to Berliners and to the city itself, both of which organise short extracts from fictional and non-fictional sources into thematic sections around the central topic. Two anthologies of poetry, Berlin! Berlin! and Berlin im Gedicht (‘Berlin in Poetry’) compiled by the Laufenbergs for Insel, restrict contents to the last century of poetry, as the blurb on the latter explains: ‘Die 750-Jahr-Feier Berlins im Jahr 1987 täuscht. Denn die Weltstadt Berlin gibt es erst seit rund 100 Jahren’ (‘The 750-Year-Anniversary of Berlin in 1987 is deceptive. For the world city of Berlin has only existed for around 100 years’) (Barbara and Walter Laufenberg, unnumbered front matter). Finally, Ulrich Janetzki and Lutz Zimmermann’s Anfang sein für einen neuen Tanz kann jeder Schritt: Junge Berliner Literatur der achtziger Jahre (1988, ‘Every Step can be the Beginning of a New Dance: Young Berlin Literature of the Eighties’), one of a number of anthologies originating in the LCB (Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, a literary institution) and edited by its directors, also draws on the 750th anniversary celebration but presents twenty selected authors, some already well established, as in some way definitive of young Berlin writing from the decade – a mini-retrospective and snapshot of writing from (rather than about) the city.
There is a veritable explosion of anthologies from 1990s onwards after unification and the restoration of Berlin as capital city, as Ulrike Zitzlsperger notes in 2007 (Zitzlsperger, ZeitGeschichten 162). Zitzlsperger observes also that this marks a generational change as well as a historical one: anthologies play a key role in introducing a new generation of authors, through the inclusion and/or commission of (and especially later, competitions for) writing from little-published authors (Zitzlsperger, ‘Guides to the City’ 99). Zitzlsperger further links the form to the increasing decentralisation of culture in the city, as well as contemporary economic crisis. In my corpus there are nineteen anthologies from the 1990s, and double that from the first decade of the new millennium, showing a growing trend, with another anniversary year, 2009, particularly strongly represented with five German-language anthologies and two English-language anthologies. Unsurprisingly, the twentieth and twenty-fifth anniversaries of the fall of the Wall in 2009 and 2014 are marked by memory-type retrospective volumes, whereas 2019 saw a relative downturn, suggesting that 1989 has lost some of its capital in the commercial literary market at the same time as what Anna Saunders calls the ‘eventisation’ of the anniversary of 1989, which is ‘fast becoming a central element in Germany’s commemorative calendar’ (Saunders, ‘1989 and the Eventisation of Anniversary Activity’ 465) more broadly, with interactive festival events occurring across the city on a quinquennial basis since 2009.23
While historical periods are significant to the corpus, and the titles, contents and thematic focus of anthologies clearly respond to political and historical changes and developments, overall it seems clear that it is popular, commercial considerations that drive the publication of anthologies, with significant anniversary years – which offer a predictable lead-in time to market – prompting renewed reflection on the city and its literature. Berlin anthologies thus further demonstrate Benedict’s insistence on the social dimension of anthologies, which become – through the engagement of a reader in selecting and comparing texts – a product of their historical moment. The selection of texts and perspectives reflecting on key historical moments for the city, such as 1961 and 1989, clearly invites readers to reflect on their own relationship to that recent history.
In addition to this trajectory which diverges from the standard narrative of historical effects, the publication highs and lows should also be read against literary history. It is my contention that decentred, non-linear and heterogeneous anthology publications chart a trajectory that represents a specific counterpoint to the growth of the much more celebrated and analysed Berlin novel.24 In The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel: From Richardson to George Eliot, Leah Price traces the intertwined literary history of the anthology as a genre and the novel in the context of British literature in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, seeing these as representing two poles of decentralised or effacing ‘authorship’ and proprietary authorship (Price 3). Perhaps the final contribution that a study of Berlin anthologies can make, then, is in placing this development alongside that of the much more studied Berlin novel. The fluctuation and interaction between these two key literary forms is an important unwritten and contrapuntal strand of the city’s literary history.
The symbiosis between the novel form and the anthology seems clear: over the corpus, Berlin anthologies are particularly prominent in periods when the Berlin novel is also prominent, which in turn are often linked to the redefinition of the city in the wake of historical shifts – but there are noticeable divergences. The Berlin novel emerges with some vigour in the late nineteenth century along with the earliest anthologies in my corpus,25 both of which forms testify to the growth of the city itself. Although anthologies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century favour poetry over prose like the novel, what unites the two are the movements of literary verisimilitude: Naturalism and Realism. Hübner and Moegelin, editors of the substantial 1910 anthology Im steinernen Meer, explain that their volume charts the development of the new form of ‘Großstadtlyrik’ (‘city poetry’), which takes Berlin as the epitome of the city. They contend that poetry is the herald of new literary movements, here referencing Naturalism from the 1880s and its aim at ‘realistische Lebensabspiegelung’ (‘realistic reflections of life’) (Hübner and Moegelin, ‘Die Entwickelung der Großstadtlyrik’ vii) which in turn is a response to the ‘neuen Wirklichkeiten’ (‘new realities’) of the city, as Theodor Heuss states in the preface to the volume (Heuss v). A second high point in anthologies is in the late Weimar period: novels of the time not only form the background to this but even provide the impetus for anthologisation, as Herbert Günther explains in his retrospective reflections on the compilation of Hier schreibt Berlin: ‘Mehr und mehr Romane hatten Berlin zum Schauplatz wie früher Wien oder Paris. Was fehlte, war ein Buch, das versuchte, Berlin in möglichst viele Spiegelungen einzufangen’ (‘More and more novels had Berlin as setting, like Vienna or Paris in previous times. What was missing was a book that attempted to capture Berlin in as many facets as possible’) (Günther, ‘Vorwort zur Neuausgabe’ 7). It is of course precisely those aspects of the modernist novel praised in the iconic Weimar-era Berlin novel Berlin Alexanderplatz – formal elements such as montage, fragmentation, intermediality as well as the inclusion of everyday or low culture from the city, and the collage of ‘real’, pre-existing materials – that are fundamental to the nature of the anthology.26
While in these early periods the two forms of novel and anthology mirror each other, it is again in the second half of the twentieth century that their trajectories diverge, and where the contribution of the multi-author, fragmented form of the anthology needs to be recognised. Writing on the representation of Berlin during the time of division, Alison Lewis notes that ‘West German authors appeared to steer a wide berth around the beleaguered former capital’, and ‘the division of Germany was rarely ever a dominant theme of literary works’ (Lewis 131 and 132). Yet, as I have noted, there is a cluster of anthologies published in the West in the early 1960s immediately following the erection of the Berlin Wall, and even into the 1980s Western anthologies continue draw attention to the division of the city. Thus the relative absence of a Berlin novel of the period may in fact be compensated for by anthologies which take on the task of representing the whole of the contemporary divided city. And finally, while the 1990s famously saw a search – arguably in vain – for the Berlin novel in the wake of reunification,27 they also witnessed a huge outpouring of collections and compilations which sought to express ‘Diese in Stücke zerlegt gewesene und nun irgendwie wieder zusammengeheftete Stadt’ (‘This city which has been taken to pieces and now somehow patched together again’) (Katja Lange-Müller, ‘Nachwort’ 287). Katharina Gerstenberger’s Writing the New Berlin tellingly touches on the anthology form in a paragraph in the section ‘The Berlin Novel’s Non-Appearance’, noting that ‘the novel was not the only genre in which writers told their stories about Berlin’ (Gerstenberger, Writing the New Berlin 10). However, her interest is in the individual anthologised short stories rather than the overarching form of the anthology. Gerstenberger suggests that the short prose texts she analyses from a number of anthologies ‘emphasize the emergence of new forms of Berlin literature by means of generational change’, chiming with Zitzlsperger’s observation around the same time about anthologies more generally (Gerstenberger, Writing the New Berlin 11; cf. Zitzlsperger, ‘Guides to the City’).
The dynamic interaction between short prose and the longer novel form is the final area in which the Berlin anthology can contribute to the literary history of the city, and this relationship is one that has changed in the course of the twenty-first century to date. Writing in 1998, in the foreword to Die Stadt nach der Mauer, one of the anthologies that Gerstenberger references, Becker and Janetzki link the in-between status of their selected texts to the form of the city in transition, noting: ‘Fast alle der hier vorgelegten Texte sind eigens umgearbeitete Auszüge aus der beabsichtigten Großform Roman – work in progress, city in progress’ (‘Almost all of the texts presented here are specially reworked extracts from a planned longer novel – work in progress, city in progress’) (Becker and Janetzki, ‘Vorwort’ 10). Susanne Ledanff likewise shows a preference for the longer form, analysing a selection of anthologised texts from the turn of the millennium which are extracts from previously published or planned novels in her monumental 2009 survey of twenty years of Berlin post-Wende literature Hauptstadtphantasien: Berliner Stadtlektüren in der Gegenwartsliteratur 1989–2008. Ledanff concludes that the novels of the time are more innovative and better able to represent the city than short prose extracts. Nonetheless, Ledanff reasserts the cultural and literary-historical value of anthologies which lies precisely not in innovation but rather – as I have been arguing – in the cross-section of multiple perspectives and ‘Stadtbeschreibungsstrategien’ (‘strategies to represent the city’) contained in the collections (Ledanff 297). Here Ledanff’s view thus reinforces the purpose of the city anthology to represent not the ‘best’ (whether this is expressed as the most beautiful or most innovative) work but rather a characteristic selection. In the second decade of this century, however, Berlin anthologies have seen a further development away from extracts from previously published texts and instead towards standalone, new short prose – often commissioned or solicited through public competitions – which suggests that the city anthology has finally emerged from the shadow of the novel. It is time that the form receives the attention it deserves.
Based on a corpus of over one hundred and fifty anthologies of Berlin literature from 1885 to the present, compiled specifically for this project, this article advocates for the often-overlooked city anthology to be understood as a unique and significant form of city literature as well as a subgenre of anthology. City anthologies merit the designation of subgenre on account of their ‘characteristic form’, requiring ‘a specific kind of reading’, as Barbara Benedict describes the genre of anthologies in general (Benedict, ‘The Paradox of the Anthology’ 232). I have shown that the city anthology defines itself through an affective connection with the real city outside the text, which also gives it its characteristic form; the specific kind of reading required is not just one that constructs a multi-voiced representation of the city through the texts and form of the anthology, but a reading that also continually sets the texts in the wider context of the city’s extra-literary geography and history. City anthologies uniquely encompass writing from the city as well as writing about the city; they constitute the literary expression – not just the textual representation – of the city, and thus inhabit a border space between literary geographies and urban imaginaries. The key features of the city anthology – diversity of genres and styles, inclusiveness of authors and a particular tendency towards reportage – derive from this relationship with the real referent as well as its literature, a relationship expressed and refracted through the four main types of city anthology – survey, snapshot, retrospective and memory anthology – that I have described.
I have placed the analysis of this corpus of Berlin anthologies in two broader contexts: within anthology research and in the literary history of Berlin. As a type of anthology, the city anthology tends to feature characteristic or typical texts, rather than the ‘best’; the focus on an external referent like the city also allows single-author, edited and selected collections to perform the functions of an anthology, even though many critics exclude these from definitions based on form alone. The function-based definition that I set out in my analysis also provides a tool to distinguish between anthologies with substantial paratextual apparatus and the growing number and range of semi-anthological forms which I have described here, and which interact significantly with the development of city anthologies in the late twentieth century. Finally, the historical trajectory of Berlin anthologies represents a counterpoint to the literary history of Berlin since the late nineteenth century, and especially in the second half of the twentieth century. While literary histories conventionally examine texts through the lens of politically significant dates – of which there are many in Berlin’s short history as a capital city – a study of Berlin anthologies draws attention also to the commercial and popular factors that underpin publishing decisions. In particular, the development of the Berlin anthology needs to be set alongside the much more commonly analysed Berlin novel: these two key urban literary forms arise in tandem, but in the second half of the twentieth century their paths diverge in telling ways which ultimately highlight the renewed significance of the short prose form in the twenty-first century. While the more widely analysed city novel can capture many of the city’s properties, it is my contention that the fragmented form of the anthology comes closer to embodying and recreating the city’s effect on the reader. The urban experience, as described by Georg Simmel in ‘Die Großstädte und Das Geistesleben’ (‘The Metropolis and Mental Life’) at the beginning of the twentieth century and still much cited more than a century later, resembles the reader’s experience of an anthology: Simmel’s diagnosis of hyperstimulation and detachment, short attention span and focus on surfaces, and the multiplicity of impressions and sensations all find an echo in the particular form of the anthology, with its multiple voices and preference for short forms and extracts as well as its disdain for judgement. In this, then, the city literature anthology ultimately embodies, amplifies and focuses the tendencies of the anthology per se, as well as the experience of the city itself.