Despite the entirely accidental nature of their juxtaposition—briefly touched upon in the introduction—F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Iven Kruse's The Third Bismarck offer fruitful material for a transnational study of the impact of World War I on fiction in the postwar period as well as of the mood and the temper of the times in Germany and the United States. Both novels were published in 1925 and both describe the lives of veterans as they try to adjust to living in peace-time. In terms of the genesis of each novel, it is the intense encounter of both authors with Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West that pervades and colors their work, leading Kruse to reject Spengler's teachings, in his novel as well as in newspaper articles, and Fitzgerald to embrace Spengler's views both in his novel and his personal convictions as expressed in interviews and correspondence. As much as the two novels themselves, their compositional histories thus afford an opportunity to probe and assess postwar intellectual trends in each country as well as providing documented case studies of the reception of Spengler's epoch-making work on both sides of the Atlantic.

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