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The World as a Labyrinth - Gustav René Hocke and the Fantastic Art Tradition


The Dark Side of Culture

As early as 1940, when the Kölnische Zeitung sent him to Rome as its correspondent, Gustav René Hocke began assembling material for his first work of fiction, Der tanzende Gott (The Dancing God). In this historical novel a young Greek physician becomes enmeshed in the toils of a tyranny—not only an exciting story but an evocation of Hocke’s experiences during the Nazi reign of terror. This book has been described by critics as one of the most important ‘desk-drawer manuscripts’ written under the dictatorial Nazi regime. Unable to be published until 1948, Der tanzende Gott exemplifies a writer’s inner emigration.

Gustav René Hocke embarked on his most productive years as an author after the war, when he was living in the Alban Hills. What began as an art-historical study of the Late Renaissance became a cult book. In Die Welt als Labyrinth (1957) and Manierismus in der Literatur (1959), Hocke laid down milestones in fantastic art.