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On the Rationality of Poetry

Heinrich Böll’s Aesthetic Thinking

Series:

Frank Finlay

This study explores Heinrich Böll's 'aesthetic thinking', as it is expressed in the author's disparate and voluminous writings on literature. Böll's work in this field is situated in the multi-faceted context of social, political, and cultural developments in post-war Germany, and is shown to be an important adjunct to the novels and stories which were honoured with the Nobel Prize for Literature.
An understanding of Heinrich Böll's 'aesthetic thinking' can illuminate the writer's fiction in an intriguing way. In particular, Böll's defence of the 'rationality of poetry' raises issues which reverberate in continuing debates on the social validity of literature.

Understanding Fiction

Knowledge and Meaning in Literature

Edited by Jürgen Daiber, Eva-Maria Konrad and Thomas Petraschka

The book addresses the questions how literature can convey knowledge and how literary meaning can arise in the face of the fact that fictional texts waive the usual claim to truth. Based on the interdisciplinary cooperation of literary scholars and analytic philosophers, the present anthology attempts a) to analyze the possibility and conditions of gaining know - ledge through literature, and b) to apply, in a fruitful way, philosophical theories of meaning and interpretation to the constitution of meaning within the language of literature. The project is guided by the hypothesis that the cognitive function of literature cannot be understood without such fundamental modelings of the complex interaction of meaning, truth and knowledge.

Women without a Past?

German Autobiographical Writings and Fascism

Series:

Joanne Sayner

Who remembers, and how? Debates about the role of memory as history – and of literature as memory – have increasingly come to fascinate those interested in how we look at our pasts as a means for understanding the present. Women without a Past? brings together for the first time autobiographies written by seven women who experienced Nazism from different perspectives: Elfriede Brüning, Hilde Huppert, Greta Kuckhoff, Elisabeth Langgässer, Melita Maschmann, Inge Scholl, and Grete Weil. Their autobiographies provoke diverse and challenging answers to questions about who remembers what, when, where, how and on behalf of whom.
This book foregrounds the positive political potential of re-reading well-known texts and seeking out reasons why others have been marginalized. It examines autobiography as a form of writing at the very centre of contemporary debates on the ‘self’, ‘truth’ and ‘history’. Women without a Past? offers new insights into the politics of memory and autobiography, and will be of particular interest to researchers and students engaging with women’s writing and memories of Nazism.

Kafka's Novels

An Interpretation

Series:

Patrick Bridgwater

Kafka's three novels, to be understood as an ever more intricate portrayal of the inner life of one central character (Henry James's 'centre of consciousness'), each reflecting the problems of their self-critical creator, are tantamount to dreams. The hieroglyphic, pictorial language in which they are written is the symbolic language in which dreams and thoughts on the edge of sleep are visualized. Not for nothing did Kafka define his writing as a matter of fantasizing with whole orchestras of [free] associations. Written in a deliberately enhanced hypnagogic state, these novels embody the alternative logic of dreams, with the emphasis on chains of association and verbal bridges between words and word-complexes. The product of many years' preoccupation with its subject, Patrick Bridgwater's new book is an original, chapter-by-chapter study of three extraordinarily detailed novels, of each of which it offers a radically new reading that makes more, and different, sense than any previous reading. In Barthes' terms these fascinating novels are 'unreadable', but the present book shows that, properly read, they are entirely, if ambiguously, readable. Rooted in Kafka's use of language, it consistently explores, in detail, (i) the linguistic implications of the dreamlike nature of his work, (ii) the metaphors he takes literally, and (iii) the ambiguities of so many of the words he chooses to use. In doing so it takes account not only of the secondary meanings of German words and the sometimes dated metaphors of which Kafka, taking them literally, spins his text, but also, where relevant, of Czech and Italian etymology. Split, for ease of reference, into chapters corresponding to the chapters of the novels in the new Originalfassung, the book is aimed at all readers of Kafka with a knowledge of German, for the author shows that Kafka's texts can be understood only in the language in which they were written: because Kafka's meaning is often hidden beneath the surface of the text, conveyed via secondary meanings that are specific to German, any translation is necessarily an Oberflächenübersetzung.

Der muoz mir süezer Worte jehen

Liber amicorum für Norbert Voorwinden

Series:

Edited by Ludo Jongen and Sjaak Onderdelinden

Usually memorial volumes presented on the occasion of anniversaries or of the retirement of a respected colleague display little coherence, however hard the editors have tried to cover the diversity with the cloak of charity. The Festschrift for Norbert Voorwinden is no exception to the rule. The wide range of research of the Leiden Germanic and medieval scholar has prompted fourteen contributors to highlight various aspects of Dr Voorwinden's scholarly interests. Naturally attention is paid to the problem of orality, both in time (from the Middle Ages to the present) and in space (from the Middle East to Scotland). The borderland between Holland and Germany is approached from historical, linguistic and literary angles. Besides, Arthurian studies, paleography, philosophy, theology, and Frisia come up for discussion. A bibliographical survey of Norbert Voorwinden's scholarly work concludes this memorial volume.

Distorted Reflections

The Public and Private Uses of the Author in the Work of Uwe Johnson, Günther Grass and Martin Walser, 1965-1975

Series:

Stuart Taberner

This volume presents a new approach to the political engagement of three major West German authors, Uwe Johnson, Günther Grass and Martin Walser. Whereas analysis of intellectuals' participation in the political upheaval of the late 1960s has tended to focus on speeches written in response to contemporary events, this book examines works of fiction for the way in which authors reflected upon their engagement in a more contemplative medium. Examination of these literary reflections reveals a mismatch between writers' confidence as public intellectuals and their private anxiety.
Beginning with a survey of intellectual engagement until the late 1960s, the present volume moves onto a theoretical discussion of the legitimacy of authors' public interventions. Three chapters are devoted to the fiction of Uwe Johnson, Günther Grass, and Martin Walser. Uwe Johnson's fiction embodies retreat, an acknowledgment of political impotence. Günther Grass's novels present the failings of the engaged intellectual as exemplary to an audience which is expected to learn from this inadequacy. Finally, Martin Walser's intellectual characters stylise private weakness to appeal to a middle-brow audience titillated by the public figure's confession of impotence. In Walser's work, political engagement degenerates into pure form, into a Camp gesture of authors' obsession with their private selves.

Series:

Sandra Vlasta

Up until now, ‘migration literature’ has primarily been defined as ‘texts written by migrant authors’, a definition that has been discussed, criticised, and even rejected by critics and authors alike. Very rarely has ‘migration literature’ been understood as ‘literature on the topic of migration’, which is an approach this book adopts by presenting a comparative analysis of contemporary texts on experiences of migration. By focusing on specific themes and motifs in selected texts, this study suggests that migration literature is a sub-genre that exists in both various bodies of literature as well as various languages. This book analyses English and German texts by authors such as Monica Ali, Dimitré Dinev, Anna Kim, Timothy Mo, Preethi Nair, Caryl Phillips, Hamid Sadr, and Vladimir Vertlib, among others.

Between Sarmatia and Socialism

The Life and Works of Johannes Bobrowski

Series:

John P. Wieczorek

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.

Parody

Dimensions and Perspectives

Series:

Edited by Beate Müller

Parody is a most iridescent phenomenon: of ancient Greek origin, parody's very malleability has allowed it to survive and to conquer Western cultures. Changing discourse on parody, its complex relationship with related humorous forms (e.g. travesty, burlesque, satire), its ability to cross genre boundaries, the many parodies handed down by tradition, and its ubiquity in contemporary culture all testify to its multifaceted nature. No wonder that ‘parody' has become a phrase without clear meaning.
The essays in this collection reflect the multidimensionality of recent parody studies. They pay tribute to its long and varied tradition, covering examples of parodic practice from the Middle Ages to the present day and dealing with English, American, postcolonial, Austrian, and German parodies. The papers range from the Medieval classics (e.g. Chaucer), parodies of Shakespeare, and the role of parody in German Romanticism, to parodies of fin-de-siècle literature and the intertextual puzzles of the late twentieth century (such as cross-dressing, Schwab's Faust parody, and Rushdie's Satanic Verses). And they have transformed the contentious nature of parody into a diverse range of methodologies. In doing so, these essays offer a survey of the current state of parody studies.