German Text Crimes offers new perspectives on scandals and legal actions implicating writers of German literature since the 1950s. Topics range from literary echoes of the “Heidegger Affair” to recent incitements to murder businessmen (agents of American neo-liberal power) in works by Rolf Hochhuth and others. GDR songwriters’ cat-and-mouse games with the Stasi; feminist debates on pornography, around works by Charlotte Roche and Elfriede Jelinek; controversies over anti-Semitism, around Bernhard Schlink’s
Der Vorleser / The Reader and Martin Walser’s lampooning of the Jewish critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki; Peter Handke’s pro-Serbian travelogue; the disputed editing of Ingeborg Bachmann’s
Nachlaß; vexed relations between dramatists and directors; (ab)uses of privacy law to ‘censor’ contemporary fiction: these are among the cases of ‘text crimes’ discussed. Not all involve codified law, but all test relations between state power, civil society, media industries and artistic license.
This volume illuminates the vexed treatment of violence in the German cultural tradition between two crucial, and radically different, violent outbreaks: the French Revolution, and the Holocaust and Second World War. The contributions undermine the notion of violence as an intermittent or random visitor in the imagination and critical theory of modern German culture. Instead, they make a case for violence in its many manifestations as constitutive for modern theories of art, politics, identity, and agency. While the contributions elucidate trends in theories of violence leading up to the Holocaust, they also provide a genealogy of the stakes involved in ongoing discussions of the legitimate uses of violence, and of state, individual, and collective agency in its perpetration. The chapters engage the theorization of violence through analysis of cultural products, including literature, museum planning, film, and critical theory. This collection will be of interest to scholars in the fields of Literary and Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, Philosophy, Gender Studies, History, Museum Studies, and beyond.