In August 1846, Jacob Grimm wrote a letter to the Prussian king to encourage him to invade Schleswig-Holstein in order to protect the resident German-speaking population against attempts by Denmark to consolidate Danish rule over the areas. The philologist Grimm claimed to know the real borders of Germany and urged the king to protect them. In fact, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm believed in the crucial political role of Germanic philology for the constitution of a German nation state. In the age of nationalism, the king must be advised by a philologist; there must be a philologist king.
Jakob Norberg is Associate Professor of Germanic Languages at Duke University. He is the author of Sociability and its Enemies: German Political Thought After 1945 (2014) and over twenty journal articles on German political thought and literature in Cultural Critique, German Quarterly, New German Critique, PMLA, Telos, Textual Practice and other journals. His next book, The Philologist King: The Brothers Grimm and the Nation, is in preparation.