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Kafka's Novels

An Interpretation


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.

Distorted Reflections

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


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.

Between Sarmatia and Socialism

The Life and Works of Johannes Bobrowski


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.


Siglind Bruhn

In 1923, the twenty-seven-year-old Paul Hindemith published a composition for voice and piano, entitled Das Marienleben, based on Rainer Maria Rilke's poetic cycle of 1912. Twenty-five years later, the composer presented a thoroughly revised, partially rewritten version. The outcome of this revision has been highly controversial. Ever since its first publication, musicologists have argued for or against the value of such a decisive rewriting. They do so both by comparing the two compositions on purely musical grounds, and by attempting to assess whether the more strictly organized tonal layout and dynamic structuring of Marienleben II is more or less appropriate for the topic of a poetic cycle on the Life of Mary.
This study is the first to analyze the messages conveyed in the two versions with an emphasis on their implicit aesthetic, philosophical, and spiritual significance. Acknowledging the compositions as examples of musical ekphrasis (“a representation in one artistic medium of a message originally composed in another medium”), the author argues in exhaustive detail that the young Hindemith of 1922-23 and the mature composer of 1941-48 can be seen as setting two somewhat different poetic cycles.
This volume is of interest for musicologists and music lovers, scholars of German literature and lovers of Rilke’s poetry, as well as for readers interested in the interartistic relationships of music and literature.


Edited by Anton H. Touber

Le rayonnement des troubadours, ce phénomène fascinant qui a fait de la lyrique troubadouresque l'élément générateur de la poésie amoureuse européenne, est encore loin d'être connu dans tous ses détails. Les voies de diffusion des poésies des troubadours se perdent souvent dans la nuit des temps.
Du point de vue chronologique, nous nous situons à une époque marquée par une véritable explosion démographique, par la mobilité croissante de la population et un certain renouveau spirituel. Telles sont les forces motrices des voyages incessants des élites spirituelle, politique et intellectuelle éuropéennes. La célèbre 'reine des troubadours', Aliénor d'Aquitaine, a contourné - quant aux kilomètres parcourus - plusieurs fois le globe. Elle a traversé toute l'Europe, et ses voyages l'ont menée jusqu'à Antioche lors de la seconde croisade. Pendant tous ces déplacements, la reine d'Aquitaine a pris soin de cultiver son rôle de protectrice et mécène des arts en général et de la poésie des troubadours en particulier; et, la plupart du temps, elle se faisait accompagner par ses poètes et musiciens attitrés. Parmi la noblesse voyageuse, beaucoup l'imitaient.
La poésie des troubadours s'est répandue en Catalogne, dans le nord de l'Italie et en Sicile, dans la France du nord, en Allemagne, en Autriche, en Suisse, en Galice et au Portugal. Cette influence a fait naître dans ces pays une lyrique nationale qui a été étudiée de différentes manières. Le présent livre se présente comme une tentative pour expliquer la naissance de la lyrique européenne, afin de poser les fondations des futures recherches.

The Medieval Chronicle

Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on the Medieval Chronicle. Driebergen/Utrecht 13-16 July 1996


Edited by Erik Kooper

In the summer of 1996 the first international conference was held on the medieval chronicle, a genre which until then had received but scant attention from historians or specialists in literary history or art history. There are several reasons why the chronicle is particularly suited as the topic of an international conference. In the first place there is its ubiquity: all over Europe and throughout the Middle Ages chronicles were written, both in Latin and in the vernacular, and not only in Europe but also in the countries neighbouring on it, like those of the Arabic world. Secondly, all chronicles raise such questions as by whom, for whom, or for what purpose were they written, how do they reconstruct the past, what determined the choice of verse or prose, or what kind of literary influences are discernable in them. Finally, many chronicles have been beautifully illuminated, and the relation between text and image leads to a wholly different set of questions.
It is the aim of the present volume to provide a representative survey of the on-going research in the field of chronicle studies, illustrated by examples from specific chronicles from a wide variety of countries, periods and cultural backgrounds.

Mit den Augen eines Kindes

Children in the Holocaust. Children in Exile. Children under Fascism


Edited by Viktoria Hertling

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?

Rindenzettel und Schriftverkehr

Mediale und materiale Konstellationen in der Mitte des 17. Jahrhunderts

Michael R. Ott

This is an essay about media and communication, especially about the post and its effects on collective poetical production in the seventeenth century. Sigmund von Birken and the “Pegnitz Order of Flowers” take centre stage. As their members were widely scattered, literary societies relied on written communication and postal services. In their texts, Sigmund von Birken and others devised pastoral worlds in which these members may meet virtually and write simultaneously (in particular on trees). These pastoral worlds, the present author argues, fashion a utopian space in which the restrictions of postal communication are suspended.

Praestigiator Quidam Magicus Magdeburgi

On the Secularization of an exemplum, the Magician of Magdeburg, in Johann Weyer’s De Praestigiis Daemonum (1563 ff.)

William C. McDonald

moral teaching that the Magician of Magdeburg holds. Weyer authored two such conclusions, different in content and phraseology. These are considered below. The Magician of Magdeburg has been widely cited from the sixteenth century to the present day. Among those who treat it are well-known demonologists

Jan L. de Jong

Pessac: Ausonius Éditions 2017 (= Scripta Receptoria 9). 506 p. ibl 9782356131911; published as Open Edition Book on 22 January 2019, ibl 9782356133199. Between 1548 and 1555, Seyfried Rybisch (1530–84) from Wrocław (Breslau), Poland, traveled through large parts of Europe, covering the present