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Editor: Ian Wallace
A physical chemist (Fritz Haber), a photographer (Josef Breitenbach), a cabaret artist (Georg Kreisler), two writers (Otto Alscher and Albin Stuebs), a pioneering scholar in Irish-German studies (John Hennig) and a Celtic philologist (Julius Pokorny) are the focus of this volume. What they have in common is a biography fractured by the Nazis’ rise to power in 1933. Six were forced into exile; the life of the seventh, the Romanian-German writer Otto Alscher, shows that even the biography of a Nazi sympathiser could be dislocated by the years of dictatorship. As the previously unpublished letters which are reproduced here show, Fritz Haber, a Nobel prize winner, spent ‘his last lonely months’ seeking a dignified way to leave the country to which he had once felt the deepest attachment. Although a prominent member of Germany’s academic élite, Julius Pokorny had to retire because of his Jewish ancestry in December 1935 and yet was allowed to continue publishing on ethnic themes until his exile in 1943. Albin Stuebs was forced to seek refuge in Prague and later England when his left-wing political convictions made him a certain target for the Nazis. Because of his marriage into a liberal Jewish family, John Hennig had to renounce all hope of an academic career in Nazi Germany and, after his exile to Ireland, struggled in straitened circumstances to support his family while at the same time developing into an unusually prolific scholar. Proof that exile may stimulate creative energy is provided by Josef Breitenbach, whose remarkable biography appears to show that loss and uprootedness may release otherwise undeveloped creative potential. Similarly, the flight of Georg Kreisler from Vienna in 1938 was the start of ‘a remarkable voyage of discovery’ which saw him grow into a major, if consistently undervalued figure in the world of post-war German cabaret.
Lyric Responses to German Unification by Poets from the GDR.
This study of contemporary German poetry represents the first attempt to examine comprehensively and at some length the lyric response to the unification period. It sets out to investigate, by means of close textual analysis, whether the German ‘Wende’ was also a turning-point for poetry, exploring how GDR poets responded both to the revolutionary events of 1989 and subsequently to the new, united Germany. An introductory chapter considers what is distinct about poetry as a genre, especially under censorship or amid historic change, as well as outlining the post-unification ‘Literaturstreit’. The following chapter offers a survey of the poet’s role in the GDR from 1949 until 1989. Two central chapters then gather the poetry of the ‘Wende’ and unification as a corpus of work and characterize it, through the elucidation of recurring themes, motifs and techniques. The volume strikes a balance between giving a general overview of poetry written in 1989-1996 and focusing on individual poets whose work is particularly compelling. After identifying broad trends across a wide range of individual poems, collections and anthologies, single chapters therefore examine in greater depth the work of Volker Braun and Durs Grünbein. The concluding chapter addresses the issue of a separate GDR literature. Finally, an extensive, structured bibliography is provided, covering the poetry, literary criticism and cultural history of the period.
Cultural Perspectives on Division and Unity in East and West
The Life and Works of Johannes Bobrowski
Interest in Johannes Bobrowski (1917-1965) has suffered from an impression of the complexity of his works and of the narrowness of his focus: on 'The Germans and their Eastern European neighbours'. The current study re-examines aspects of Bobrowski's 'Sarmatian' works, especially their chronological development, but places them within the wider context of the whole of his oeuvre. It looks at the long period of development before he discovered his 'theme' in the early 1950s and examines his development after Sarmatische Zeit and Schattenland Ströme, seeing the volume Wetterzeichen as moving increasingly away from the past and towards more contemporary issues. His short stories and novels are related to the issues confronting him in East Germany and develop increasingly into responses to immediate poetic and social problems.
Far from being a remote and backward orientated 'Sarmatian', Bobrowski emerges as a writer attempting to communicate with a society which, he felt, threatened to ignore basic human needs and aspirations. The study makes use of material from Bobrowski's Nachlaß to present a figure looking for and offering patterns for orientation in his East German society, but with renewed relevance for post-unification Germany.
A study of the work of Wolfgang Hilbig
Wolfgang Hilbig is a writer who is widely acknowledged as one of the most important to have emerged from the former GDR. In this study, the first in English, Paul Cooke explores the interplay of aesthetic and social ‘taboos’, as defined by the official discourse of the GDR, in a cross-section of Hilbig’s critical writing, poetry and prose. The protagonists in Hilbig’s texts suffer from a profound crisis of identity due to the disparity between the state’s official presentation of life in the East and their own experience. Cooke argues that through their exploration of the ‘taboo’, i.e. that which is excluded from the state’s official discourse, Hilbig’s characters attempt to break through the banal rhetoric of the ruling elite in order to realise an authentic sense of self.
Dislocation and Abjection in Modern German-Jewish Literature
A Space of Anxiety engages with a body of German-Jewish literature that, from the beginning of the century onwards, explores notions of identity and kinship in the context of migration, exile and persecution. The study offers an engaging analysis of how Freud, Kafka, Roth, Drach and Hilsenrath employ, to varying degrees, the travel paradigm to question those borders and boundaries that define the space between the self and the other. A Space of Anxiety argues that from Freud to Hilsenrath, German-Jewish literature emerges from an ambivalent space of enunciation which challenges the great narrative of an historical identity authenticated by an originary past. Inspired by postcolonial and psychoanalytic theories, the author shows that modern German-Jewish writers inhabit a Third Space which poses an alternative to an understanding of culture as a homogeneous tradition based on (national) unity.
By endeavouring to explore this third space in examples of modern German-Jewish literature, the volume also aims to contribute to recent efforts to rewriting literary history. In retracing the inherent ambivalence in how German-Jewish literature situates itself in cultural discourse, this study focuses on how this literature subverts received notions of identity and racial boundaries. The study is of interest to students of German literature, German-Jewish literature and Cultural Studies.
Editor: Axel Goodbody
Dieser Band verfolgt einen in der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft bisher wenig entwickelten Ansatz, indem er Lyrik und Prosa der Gegenwart einer ökologisch orientierten Betrachtung unterzieht. Im Hintergrund der hier versammelten Aufsätze steht die Grundfrage, wie die Beziehungen des einzelnen und der modernen Gesellschaft zur natürlichen Umwelt gestaltet sein müßten, um eine lebenswürdige Zukunft längerfristig zu sichern. In Überblicken und Einzelanalysen wird die literarische Umsetzung ökologischer Prinzipien seit den siebziger Jahren in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, der DDR, Österreich und der deutschsprachigen Schweiz exemplifiziert. Dabei kommen Kritik der gegenwärtigen Mensch-Natur-Beziehung, Deutungen der Krise, und Bilder eines neuen Umgangs mit der Natur zur Sprache. Der Einleitung, die allgemeine Perspektiven einer ökologisch ausgerichteten Literaturkritik skizziert, folgen fünfzehn Aufsätze, die die Adäquatheit des jeweiligen Naturbegriffs bzw. der Naturdarstellung, sowie Schreibstrategien und ästhetische Leistung einzelner Gattungen, Autoren und Werke erörtern. Zu den behandelten Autoren zählen Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Günter Kunert, Heinz Czechowski, Wulf Kirsten, Silvio Blatter, Walter Vogt, Otto F. Walter, Jurij Brezan, Jurij Koch, Franz Josef Degenhardt, Volker Braun, Günter Grass, Franz Fühmann, Heiner Müller, Christa Wolf und Elfriede Jelinek. Neben den Bezügen zu verschiedenen Ausrichtungen des ökologischen Denkens (Naturschutz, Ökosozialismus, Ökofeminismus) stehen auch solche zur geistesgeschichtlichen und literarischen Tradition (romantische Naturauffassung, Zivilisationskritik, Apokalyptik) im Mittelpunkt der Untersuchungen.
Children in the Holocaust. Children in Exile. Children under Fascism
Die vorliegenden siebzehn Beiträge basieren weitgehend auf den Vorträgen der im Oktober 1996 an der University of Nevada in Reno veranstaltenden Konferenz Children in the Holocaust - Children in Exile - Children under Fascism. Die Tagung beschäftigte sich erstmals mit den einschneidenden, oft nicht wieder auszulöschenden traumatischen Erfahrungen von Kindern im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland, im Exil und im Holocaust. Mit dem Jahr 2000 - also in weniger als zwei Jahren - gehört der Holocaust, den auch Daniel J. Goldhagen als das schockierendsten Ereignis des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts bezeichnet, das innerhalb der deutschen Geschichte am schwierigsten zu verstehen sei, zu den Ereignissen des sogenannten 'Letzten Jahrhunderts'. Ist es darum nicht geboten, die Auseinandersetzung mit diesen Ereignissen, die für viele Menschen selbst heute noch mit schweren Ängsten verbunden sind, unter neuen Gesichtspunkten zur Diskussion zu bringen, damit die Thematik auch über die Schwelle zum nächsten Jahrhundert hinweg in unseren Sichtweite nichts an ihrer Ungeheuerlichkeit einbüße?
This volume is the first comprehensive single study of Jewish themes in any of the post-1945 German literatures. It presents literature on Jewish themes by Jewish and non-Jewish authors in the cultural, social and political context of the Soviet Zone/GDR during the entire 45 years of its history from 1945 to 1990. It offers a brief history of Jews in the GDR, before looking, in four chronologically ordered chapters, at the history of publishing on Jewish themes in the GDR. Some 28 texts by 19 different authors, including Anna Seghers, Stephan Hermlin, Arnold Zweig, Franz Fühmann, Johannes Bobrowski, Jurek Becker, Stefan Heym, Günter Kunert, Christa Wolf and Helga Königsdorf, are then singled out for closer analysis.
Such themes as historical anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, Jewish resistance, Jewish assimilation, Heine, Marx, Moses Mendelssohn, Jewish survival, and Jews in the GDR are all discussed in the book. The volume also offers evidence of the political influences on publishing on Jewish themes at various stages in the GDR's history. In addition, a structured bibliography of some 1100 items is offered, approximately 750 of which were published in the GDR with a Jewish content or theme. The study should be of interest to students of contemporary German literature and politics, the GDR, and of Jewish studies in the wider context.