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The Crucible of German Democracy

Mohr Siebeck 2021

"Magisterial [...]  a magnificent achievement."

                                                     German History

"This is an astonishing book about the gradual rise of democratic thought during the First World War in Germany, focussing on the extraordinary role played by the liberal theologian Ernst Troeltsch [...] a remarkable tour de force."

NTT Journal for Theology and the Study of Religion

"The Crucible of German Democracy: Ernst Troeltsch and the First World War is a work of great insight and erudition. [...] In a work of great mastery and revisionist import, Robert Norton has excavated Troeltsch’s democratic thought and situated it in the broader sweep of German intellectual history."

The German Quarterly

"In consistently masterful fashion and with an impressive knowledge of publications, people, and events, Norton uses the writings and speeches of Troeltsch, which are recounted in sometimes great detail in seven chronologically and thematically organized chapters with numerous subchapters, as the basis for a panoramic portrait of the political and intellectual debates about  the future shape of Germany. [...] With his study, despite its scale, Norton has delivered a trenchant contribution that henceforth cannot be ignored."

Zeitschrift für Neuere Theologiegeschichte

"Far more research has been done on Max Weber's political profile than on Ernst Troeltsch's. It is therefore extremely welcome that Robert E. Norton has now penned a very detailed and thoroughly researched study on Ernst Troeltsch' s understanding of democracy and his political activities during the First World War. [...] We have Robert E. Norton to thank for directing our attention so intensely to the fragile history of democracy in Germany through the example of Ernst Troeltsch."

Max Weber Studies

Secret Germany

"Until 1933, the George Circle was a creative milieu in which academic scholarship was rejuvenated by contact with living literature and a usable past. By describing not only its intrigues but also its achievements so accessibly, Robert Norton has brought back into focus an essential element of early twentieth-century German culture."

Times Literary Supplement

"The publication of this book is a literary event."

Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies

"Secret Germany is an imposing achievement of research, readability, and exemplary fairness."

Cornell UP 2002

New Criterion

Winner of the Jacques Barzun Prize

in Cultural History 2003

"Not only does Robert Norton's comprehensive book have no German predecessor; it is the first biography written from outside the George circle itself."

New Left Review

"Secret Germany is an eminently readable work of scholarship, rising at times to the level of literature. Norton's vivid depictions of people and events, his subtle variations of tone and syntax, and the sense throughout of steady, slowly building catastrophe give this book the fluidity and narrative arc of a fine novel."

Journal of Modern History




Cornell UP 1995

"The Beautiful Soul is an important and fascinating book which traces the rise and fall of what Robert E. Norton takes to be one of the European Enlightenment's most characteristic ideas —that there might be an intrinsic link between ethics and aesthetics, the good and the beautiful, which manifested itself in the concept of the 'beautiful soul'."

 International Journal of the Classical Tradition 

"This is a very useful book. In examining one of the key concepts of the eighteenth-century European world of discourse, it is exemplary of the kind of interdisciplinary and intercultural scholarship that is now needed."

Modern Language Review

"This is a book in cultural history or, more appropriately since Robert Norton is a Germanist, a work in Kulturgeschichte."

The Journal of Aesthetic Education



Herder's Aesthetics

"Robert Norton brings Herder close to the West European Enlightenment, and he does so with ample documentation and solid arguments.  It is a side of Herder that has been down-graded or even ignored. And it was time to set the record straight."

Journal of Germanic Linguistics

"This well-written and convincingly argued study is an impor-tant addition to Herder-scholarship in general and to the understanding of the rightful place and merit of Herder's aesthetics in particular [...].  Norton's questioning and challenging of commonly held views and interpretations will undoubtedly and rightly provoke further debate.  But even in those cases where one might question his conclusions, he always argues convincingly and eloquently from an impressive command of the material."

Lessing Yearbook

Cornell UP 1991

Selected Articles and Essays

“Die deutschen Aufklärungen und die Dialektik der Geschichtsphilosophie.”  (2018)

“Rudolf Alexander Schröders ‘Entrinnen’: Ein geronnenes Portrait.”  (2015)

“Otto Baumgartens Herder.”  (2014)

“Herder as Faust.”  (2012)

“Gadamer und der George-Kreis.”  (2012)

“Wozu Stefan George?”  (2010)

“Wilamowitz at War.”  (2008)

“The Myth of the Counter-Enlightenment.”  (2007)



"The essays contained in this volume really are of extraordinary relevance for the study of Nietzsche’s philosophy. Published in journals or multi-author volumes between 1965 and 2004, they contain the results of research that cannot (any longer) be ignored. But ignored, regrettably, many of these studies were, not only by students but – a much graver matter – by various influential anglophone scholars of German philosophy."

International Journal of Philosophical Studies

Cambridge UP 2021

Nietzsche.  Attempt at a Mythology

University of Illinois Press 2009

"A major contribution to Nietzsche-research and scholarship."

Journal of Nietzsche Studies

"In his virtuosic introduction, Norton exemplarily shows that depictions of Bertram's book as the template for fascism's appropriation of Nietzsche were based on basic errors [...]. In short, an important book and a masterful translation."

The German Quarterly

"For those with a taste for Nietzsche, translator Norton has provided a particularly refreshing and satisfying dish.  Spicy, smart, textured, layered, generous and fully engaging, it is the kind of reading that makes a singular, unmistakable and long remembered impression on the palate. There is no other work on Nietzsche like it."

Philosophy in Review

Winner of the 2011 Ungar

German Translation Award

Linguistics, Anthropology and Philosophy in the French Enlightenment

"This book is important for all readers who wish to have an informed and conceptually reliable history of the formative stages of anthropological thought.  It is a good translation of the German original published in 1984 by the distinguished historian of linguistic thought, Ulrich Ricken [...].  The English publication of this volume is especially welcome."

Anthropological Linguistics

Routledge 1994

Edited Works

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Synchron 2016

Welthistoriker Dilettant Burckhardt

Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte XII/1 Spring 2018

with Stefan Rebenich


Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte VI/2 Summer 2012

with Ulrich Raulff

Die Wahrheit über Japan

Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte XIII/2 Summer 2019

with Jost Philipp Klenner

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