Hybrid identities: John Henry Mackay and Houston Stuart Chamberlain between Englishness and Germanness

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The son of a Scottish marine insurance broker and a German mother, John Henry Mackay (6 February 1864–16 May 1933) was born in Greenock, Scotland. He was only nineteen months old when his father died. His mother returned with him to Germany, where he grew up with German as his mother tongue. An allowance provided by his mother gave Mackay financial independence after completing his schooling. He travelled much, and chose the career of a writer, at first of lyric and narrative poetry. He made translations from poetic and political English texts, but never wrote that language well. Research on Mackay concentrates mostly on two facets of his writings: the political texts, such as Die Anarchisten: Kulturgemälde aus dem Ende des XIX. Jahrhunderts [The Anarchists: A Picture of Civilization at the Close of the Nineteenth Century] (1891), and the homoerotic/ pederastic narratives (Die Bücher der namenlosen Liebe [Books of the Nameless Love] (1905–1913) published under the pseudonym of Sagitta. The approach in this article focuses on different aspects of his poetics and work, specifically on how he draws on multilingualism and cultural hybridity, but also on his literary creativity compared to Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s work. In contrast to Chamberlain’s writings, Mackay’s otherness turned into a creative force and became a dominant theme in his poetry, narratives, and novels.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiterary translation, reception, and transfer
EditorsNorbert Bachleitner
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783110641998
ISBN (Print)9783110641523
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event21st World Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association: The Many Languages of Comparative Literature - University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 21 Jul 201627 Jul 2016


Conference21st World Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association
Abbreviated titleICLA 2016
Internet address


  • John Henry Mackay
  • Houston Stuart Chamberlain
  • Englishness
  • Germanness


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