The indebtedness of German culture to other peoples has been the theme of much painstaking investigation. The history of German literature is, in large measure, the story of its successive periods of connection with the literatures of other lands, and hence scholars have sought with industry and insight to bound and explain such literary inter-relations.
n the imitator, the effects of the imitative process upon national characteristics, as well as the causes of imitation, the fundamental occasion for national bondage in matters of life and letters. The part played by Dr. Edward Young's famous epistle to Richardson, "Conjectures on Original Composition" (London, 1759), in this struggle for originality is considerable. The essay was reprinted, translated and made the theme of numerous treatises and discussions. One needs only to mention the concern of Herder, as displayed in the "Fragmente über die neuere deutsche Litteratur," and his statement with reference to the predicament as realized by thoughtful minds may serve as a summing up of that part of the situation. "Seit der Zeit ist keine Klage lauter and häufiger als über den Mangel von Originalen, von Genies, von Erfindern, Beschwerden über die Nachahmungs- und gedankenlose Schreibsucht der Deutschen."
This thoughtful study of imitation itself was accompanied by more or les
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