Linda K. Hughes’s expansive, deeply researched book takes its title from her archive’s chronological tail end: Vernon Lee’s Genius Loci (1899). In the first of these collected travel writings, Lee relishes having found in Augsburg “the Germany which [she] loved . . . not the one which colonizes or makes cheap goods, or frightens the rest of the world in various ways; but the Germany which invented Christmas-trees, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and Bach, and Mozart, and which seems to be vouched for in a good many works of classic literature: Jean Paul’s ‘Siebenkäs,’ for instance, and Goethe’s memoirs, and those of Jung Stilling” (13–14). Hughes adopts that quotation’s first half as her epigraph, then uses it to spin out her own distinction between two Germanies.

On the one hand, there is the Germany most familiar to Victorianists, “the one imported to England by Thomas Carlyle, musicians in British concert...

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