Originally published in 1939 and revised in 1959, this book traces back to their origins the literary movements and phases of German literature of 1880 to 1950 as they occur and shows how and why they pass over into succeeding phases. It closely analyses Naturalism, Impressionism, Neo-romanticism and Expressionism as well as dealing exhaustively with Surrealism, Magic Realism and Existentialism. The book includes discussion of post-war Anglo-American and French literature.

1. Naturalism 2. The Dramatists of Naturalism 3. Humorists, Satirists, Satanists and Visionaries 4. The Novel of Naturalism and Decadence 5. From Bahr to Dehmel 6. Stefan George and his Circle 7. Rilke 8. Hugo von Hofmannsthal 9. The Neo-Romantic and Austrian Dramatists 10. Cosmic Impressionists and Epic Infinities 11. Neo-Classicism 12. The Novel of Impressionism 13. The Women Writers 14. The Regional Novel 15. The Novel of Expressionism 16. Exotic Literature and the Colonial Novel 17. The Historical Novel 18. The Drama of Expressionism 19. Phases of Lyric Poetry 20. The Literature of Race and Soil 21. Philosophers and Sophists 22. Existentialism and Surrealism, Political and Religious Phases 23. Post-War Austrian Writers 24. The New Verse