German languages and Literature is one of the fields to which the University points when it expresses concern that Harvard's resources are badly utilized because undergraduates tend to drift into a few huge departments.
There is generally more faculty personnel in the German department than there are concentrators. Besides four permanent appointees and an assistant professor, there is a substantial staff composed of men who spend part of their time teaching language courses and are delighted to help students with some of the less prosaic elements in the field.
It would probably be a mistake to dive into German as a concentrator without some acquaintance with the writers likely to be encountered. Germany has produced a few literary giants which are a delight but, especially during the last hundred years, it has nourished writers less interesting and satisfactory to some students than their counterparts in France, America, Russia, and England.
There are, for instance, few top-notch German realists although the 18th and early 19th century are full of interesting figures. The concentrator must also be prepared to tolerate the particularly academic approach of the department.
Karl Vietor is the pride of the department. William McLain is probably the most interesting and interested member of the younger staff. Heinrich Schneider is generally disappointing.