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Gustav René Hocke

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»Journalist and freelance writer«, Gustav René Hocke, who was born in Brussels in 1908, used to answer not without pride when asked about his profession. Indeed, for as long as he lived, Hocke navigated between these two poles. He worked as a foreign correspondent in Rome for several newspapers and magazines, while at the same time producing an extensive literary oeuvre, which is of great importance, especially for art and literature history.

Immediately after completing his PhD in Bonn in 1934, Hocke began working as a trainee with the Kölnischen Zeitung. During the Nazi regime, this newspaper was considered to be a »nest of passive resistance«, as Luise Rinser put it. With her, Hocke maintained a friendship for over more than 40 years. In 1937 Hocke went to Italy for the first time. His love for this country was born and immediately manifested itself in the book The Vanished Face (Das Verschwundene Gesicht, 1939). It was only reasonable that the Kölnische Zeitung sent Hocke to Rome as a correspondent in 1940. In addition to his journalistic work, he dedicated eight years to the preparation and writing of his novel The Dancing God (Der Tanzende Gott). It was published in 1948. Today, critics count this novel as one of the most important manuscripts repressed by the Nazi regime. After his internment in an American prisoner-of-war camp — where he was to found the first anti-fascistic prisoner-of-war magazine "Der Ruf" — he returned to Rome in 1949. Here he worked for a number of German newspapers and magazines as the first German foreign correspondent in Italy. Rome, or more exactly a small Roman suburb became the centre of his life. In 1985, he died here after a long, grave illness. Luise Rinser wrote in her obituary about him, that he had worked like fury and that the many conversations during their long friendship had all been centred around one subject: »The human being in his despair and the expression this despair find in art.« Today, his art history works The World as a Labyrinth (Die Welt als Labyrinth) and Mannerism in Literature (Manierismus in der Literatur), are considered his most important books. Additionally, Hocke wrote numerous essays and monographs. In 1963, he published the first complete account of European journals from the Renaissance to the present. He was honoured with numerous awards, including the Deutsches Verdienstkreuz, the Goldenes Verdienstkreuz der österreichischen Republik and the De-Gaspari-Preis für Völkerverständigung for his literary work as well as his tireless efforts for the communication between the cultures.

Newest Book Non-Fiction
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In the Shadow of the Leviathan
Memoirs 1908 to 1984

Almost until his death, Gustav René Hocke (1908-1985) was busy writing these memoirs that are published here for the first time in their entirety. He writes about his eventful life between politics and art, between Brussels, Cologne and Rome. An important part of the 20th century comes to life through the eye of a critical observer

  • HC: Deutscher Kunstverlag 2004


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Despair and Confidence

The psychological position of the human being today — is the subject of this book, which uses numerous statements by philosophers, psychologists, sociologists and theologists. The author shows the effects these tensions have on modern art and literature, which as an "anti-art" apparently tries to evade all traditional standards.

  • PB: Piper 1974


Modern Painting: The Neo-Mannerism
From Surrealism to Meditation

  • HC: Limes 1975


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The World as a Labyrinth
Mannerism in European Art and Literature

Gustav René Hocke’s great art and literary history work reveals the century of Mannerism in a surprising light. In an extraordinarily thrilling, knowledgeable and detailed but never ‘shop-talking’ way, Hocke underlines the completely unique conception of the world and the problematic relations with the world that characterised the century of Mannerism from 1550 to 1650. Using a vast amount of previously unknown material, he outlines the intellectual and art history basis of this epoch. And he does even more. He is the first to give a clear-cut profile to Mannerism-a profile of a literary and art history style which found a way to express itself in all cultures and throughout all times. Finally, Hocke arrives at some amazing results and finds some astounding analogies while searching for the leading motives and stylistic signs of the Manneristic epoch in modern art. Reading these two volumes will open more than one door to the understanding of art history as well as to present developments. Today, they belong to the essential standard works of art history.

»Die Welt als Labyrinth und Manierismus in der Literatur I have read at an almost ravenous speed. Both books have significantly helped to set the course for my development as a writer. With their support I realised for the first time that which moved me in arts and poetry – the fantastic, the magic, the idea art – was not “escapistic”, as it was then called, at all. It was not born out of a more or less unrealistic lust for the outlandish and peculiar, but out of a basic position, an “archaic gesture”, which within the European culture - but basically in all cultures of the world - was complementary and dialectic to that other – the “classicistic” – gesture, but had the same value.« (Michael Ende)

  • PB Volume 1: The World as Labyrinth – Manners and Mania in European Art, Rowohlt 1957

  • PB Volume 2: Mannerism in Literature, Rowohlt 1959

  • HC: Rowohlt 1987

  • Sold to: France, Italy (Theoria), Spain, Japan (Bijutsu Shuppan), Brazil (Editora Perspectiva), Serbia, Romania, Poland (Slowo Obraz), Albanian (Asmus Editions)


European Journals from Four Centuries
Motives and Anthology

The standard work about the literary form of the journal — and at the same time a panorama for readers, containing numerous extracts from the diaries of politicians, composers, generals, artists and writers. Notes, confessions and reflectations that suddenly melt into one only general text: a journal of Europa.

»Europe in a journal.« (Münchner Merkur)

»A real handbook [...].« (Christ und Welt)

»A unique achievement.« (Neue Züricher Zeitung)

»A standard work, a palace of literature.« (RIAS)

  • HC: Limes 1963, 1978, 1986

  • PB: Fischer 1991

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The French Spirit
Masters of Essay Writing from Montaigne to the Present

  • HC: Rauch 1938


The Intellectual Paris

Gustav René Hocke takes the occasion of the world exhibition in Paris to present his lucid snap shot of the intellectual-political life in the French metropolis. Visual arts, literature and music show a turning away from the chauvinism and snobbism of the French art of the turn of the century, says Hocke. Well knowing, that this new open mind is an exact opposite to the German situation of his time, the author, although only 29 years of age, writes a plea for a European humanism and the French-German reconciliation. In a central position of his essay, he quotes a phrase by Louis Pasteur: "I believe confidently that science and peace will win over ignorance and war, that the peoples will understand each other not in order to destroy but in order to build."

  • HC: Rauch 1937


German Satires of the 18th Century

Edited by Gustav René Hocke

  • HC: Rauch 1940


Letters by German Artists
Creed of the Intellect

  • HC: Rauch 1940


Magna Graecia. Walks Through Greek Southern Italy

  • HC: Erdmann 1960

  • was before: "Das verschwundene Gesicht. Ein Abenteuer in Italien". (The Vanished Face. An Adventure in Italy) Rauch 1939


Lukrez in France. From the Renaissance to the Revolution

1934, Hocke wrote his PhD-dissertation at the university Bonn under Ernst Robert Curtius' Ägide. The work is dedicated to the reception of Lukrez in France from the 16th to the 18th century. In his extensive thesis, Hocke considers the influence of the Epicurean philosopher on French poetry as well as science and philosophy. Trained with the strictly philological method of his teacher, Hocke extracts motives from De rerum natura and researches their topic usage in the work of more than 40 writers of French intellectual history, from Ronsard via Rousseau to André Chénier.

  • HC: Köln 1935



Der tanzende Gott

This story from the 6th century BC, Hocke wrote between 1938 and 1943 in Germany, in Sicily and in Rome. The work gained its immense significance — also for literary studies — as a monument of inner emigration of a German writer, but even more through the different reading levels, which make it outstanding: The Dancing God is not only a historical novel that manages to teach something but also at the same time delights readers with a thrilling story. It is first and foremost an extremely critical portrait of National Socialism. Hocke uses the story of the young physician Alkmaion, who in the city Sybaris finds himself within the cogs of tyranny, as his allegorical cover to unveil the deplorable state of affairs in fascistic Germany.

  • HC: Nymphenburger Verlagshandlung 1948