«Über Gegenwartsliteratur Interpretationen und Interventionen Festschrift für Paul Michael Lützeler zum 65. Geburtstag von ehemaligen StudentInnen ...»
In “Moral Play? Poetics, Ethics and Politics in Juli Zeh’s Spieltrieb”, Claudia Breger analyzes the aesthetic dimension of shifts in the cultural landscape at the outset of the 21st century, i.e., renewed cultural debates on aesthetics, ethics, and politics, which occurred within the context of the war on terror, unemployment crises, and racist hate crimes. Breger argues that: “In response to these different, if intersecting, concerns, public discourses as well as aesthetic production have in fact been marked by a new emphasis not only on questions of social or political relevance, but also on values as well as religion”. Zeh’s novel, Spieltrieb, provides insight into how these socio-cultural forces are mediated aesthetically. Breger concludes that the novel is ultimately caught in a “narrative balancing act” – “juggling moves of self-reflexivity and closure, deconstruction and the (affirmative) performance of divine authority […]”.
Arguing “with Habermas against Habermas”, David Colclasure explores the concept “that at least some instances of literary practice are more appropriately understood as embodying speech acts centered on more complex claims of intersubjective authenticity, which turn on the shareability of experience”. In “Habermas and the Genre-Distinction Between Philosophy and Literature”, Colclasure provides a close reading of Habermas’ essay “Philosophie und Wissenschaft als Literatur?” – opening the potential for a notion of intersubjective authenticity which would complement Habermas’ theory. Habermas’ discussion of Italo Calvino’s novel If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler represents an attempt, Colclasure argues, to “bridge the world of fictional, literary representations on the one hand and the objective world on the other hand, but ultimately fails.” Colclasure concludes that “the literary text engages in communicative action both to the extent that it criticizes and to the extent that it can be criticized with regard to the complex claims of intersubjective authenticity that it raises”.
Sabine von Dirke’s essay, “Sleepless in the New Economy: Money, Unemployment and Identity in the Literature of Generation Golf”, examines how the literature of Generation Golf, including much of the pop literature, registers the forces of globalization within the Berlin Republic. Here, the thematization of notions of work in the texts of 18 Mark W. Rectanus authors such as Kathrin Röggla, Georg M. Oswald, Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre, or the pop quintet provide literary responses to identity formation in the context of the everyday workplace and the forces of the global economy. As a result, von Dirke concludes that: “the literature of Generation Golf and, in particular, the pop literary texts “Saisonarbeiter” and even Tristesse Royale suggest that identity needs to be anchored outside of work, for instance, in artistic endeavors such as writing scripts or literary texts”.
In “Zur Repräsentation traumatischer Orte in Texten von Dieter Forte, Ruth Klüger und Stephan Wackwitz”, Friederike Eigler investigates how traumatic experiences, that are bound to a specific site, can be portrayed in literature. Eigler explores the particular role that spatial dimensions and narrative descriptions of traumatic sites assume when temporal perceptions are distorted or shifted. Auschwitz, as the quintessential example of a traumatic site, is represented through two different discursive approaches, i.e., in Stephan Wackwitz’s Ein unsichtbares Land and in Ruth Klüger’s weiter leben. Eigler draws on both texts in order to frame an in-depth discussion of the literary representation of the air war and surface bombing in Dieter Forte’s trilogy Das Haus auf meinen Schultern. Eigler concludes that Forte’s discursive approach communicates that which Wackwitz und Klüger (each in a very different way) achieved regarding Auschwitz: “Die Annäherung an einen traumatischen Ort, die sprachliche Weitergabe nicht-erzählbarer Erfahrungen bzw. Ereignisse”.
The mediation of critical theory in literature provides the focus of Walter Erhart’s essay, “‘Schreib den Roman deiner Generation’ – Thomas Braschs Mädchenmörder Brunke (1999) und die Dialektik der Aufklärung”. Erhart argues that key dimensions of Dialektik der Aufklärung (Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer) assume a central role in the plot of Brasch’s work, without however being bound to models of social criticism associated with the contexts of the early or mid-twentieth century. In this regard, Erhart concludes that: “Die doppelte Geschichte des Mädchenmörders Brunke und seines Erzählers überführt den philosophischen Impuls der Kritischen Theorie vielmehr in ein literarisches Programm”.
“From Ultradoitsh to Siegfriedisch: The Problem of a Multicultural Literature in Zé do Rock’s Orthographies” situates the work of Zé do Rock within the context of a multicultural literature in Germany, in particular one which also takes discourses on literature as the object of its own enquiry. In her essay, Veronika Fuechtner argues that although Zé do Introduction: About Contemporary Literature Rock’s texts address discourses and public discussions surrounding nationalism and multiculturalism, they also should be considered “aesthetic interventions within the cultural reference system they evoke” – ranging from Nietzsche to orientation systems in the Munich public transportation maps. In this context, Fuechtner observes that “Orality as the organizing principle of Zé do Rock’s orthography reform can also be read as a poetic concept”.
In her essay, “Die Frau als Mutter und die Mutter als Frau im Erzählwerk von Birgit Vanderbeke”, Nele Hempel-Lamer interrogates the manner in which mother figures are thematized. Through an analysis of four different characters in four different stories, Hempel-Lamer suggests that Vanderbeke’s work makes a progressive contribution to debates regarding motherhood in Germany, in particular recent discussions surrounding the low birthrate and childbearing. Vanderbeke’s detailed, nuanced narratives search for the causes of everyday exhaustion and frustration revolving around images of motherhood. Hempel-Lamer argues that these texts go beyond the deconstruction of the Muttermythos, in part, by exploring Vanderbeke’s question “[warum] die Leute keinen Grund mehr sehen, Menschenbindungen einzugehen und Kinder in die Zukunft zu setzen”.
“To what extent does humor provide […] an element of ‘external and aesthetic distancing’ from a reality that threatens to overwhelm the mental apparatus and to exceed the limits of representation?” This is one of the questions posed by Thomas Kniesche, who examines “Hilsenrath’s Humor” in order to come to a closer understanding of the uses of humor in literature dealing with the Holocaust. Kniesche frames his investigation of Edgar Hilsenrath’s work by examining Heinrich Böll’s Frankfurter Vorlesungen (1964) and Theodor W. Adorno’s essay “Ist die Kunst heiter?” (1967) – both of which provide insights into dimensions of violence and the Holocaust. While Kniesche’s analysis confirms that “Holocaust humor is a delicate and risky undertaking”, he argues that it should be considered within the context of a general definition of humor that incorporates “the question of the human subject in its most radical manifestation” or ultimately “How is it possible to make jokes after Auschwitz?” In his essay “Simply Made Up? Franz Kafka in W.G. Sebald’s Dr. K.s Badereise nach Riva”, Daniel Medin examines how Sebald interweaves fragments of Kafka’s own journey of 1913 into a chapter of Schwindel.Gefühle, and in doing so “destabilizes the historical-biographical preceMark W. Rectanus dent and contaminates it with his own projections”. Sebald’s narrative provides traces of Kafka’s Gracchus fragments – meanwhile addressing the reader, providing commentary, and interpretation. Medin interrogates how Sebald’s Dr. K. blurs the boundary between Kafka and Kafka’s own characters often “at the expense of particular textual or historical truth”. Sebald’s own fictional voice emerges, Medin concludes, from what remains “a paradoxical tribute to the altered precursor, for this Schwindel ensures Kafka’s continued circulation in the reading community”.
The work of W.G. Sebald is also a focus of Karen Remmler’s essay “Traversing Home Territory: Cultures of Memory in W.G. Sebald’s and Ingeborg Bachmann’s Writing”. Remmler explores the “affinities between Sebald and Bachmann [that] are surprisingly overlooked in much of the scholarship on Sebald” through an investigation of how Bachmann and Sebald “engage landscape as a symbolic site of cultural memory that reveals the precarious relationship of individuals to nature and places once deemed unscathed by the pain and contamination of human intervention”. The process of walking provides, in part, an aperture for understanding this relationship and mapping it. Remmler shows how Jean Améry’s essay on home resonates in the work of Sebald and Bachmann so that convergences in the texts emerge via Améry.
In “Postcolonial Subversions in Uwe Timm’s Morenga”, Mary RodenaKrasan investigates Morenga’s critical view of the German colonial mind set and colonial policies, showing how Timm’s “depictions of alterity and the association between the subaltern and representatives of colonial authority […] reveal the paradoxes inherent in the colonizer/colonized duality”. Specifically, Rodena-Krasan analyzes how interactions between the main character, Gottschalk, and the foreign engender “subversions of Manichean allegories that had defined traditional First/Third World discourses […]”. Gottschalk’s encounters with the foreign lead – as Rodena-Krasan concludes – to a number of questions, including: “Where do the boundaries between cultures reside? Are they possible to cross?
Can a third alternative to the dichotomized relationship between South and North, East and West be found? Does a third option even exist?” Gary Schmidt’s essay, “Sublime Melancholy: The Function of the Homoerotic in Sebald’s Die Ausgewanderten”, offers a critical reading of Sebald’s narrative within the complex nexus of melancholy, narcissism, and male homosexuality (as a “privileged but ambiguous signifier”). Schmidt discusses how the loss of an idealized past emerges in Sebald’s prose “as Introduction: About Contemporary Literature the quintessence of modern experience itself”, which in “‘Ambros Adelwarth’, is given a queer inflection as it becomes embodied in the tragic homoerotic relationship of German and Jew”. As Schmidt observes, Sebald’s own authorial relationship to homosexuality, in his texts (ranging from Schwindel. Gefühle. to Die Ringe des Saturn), remains ambivalent: “The homoerotic bond between authors, manifest as symptom in the paranoia of the narrator of Schwindel. Gefühle., becomes celebrated in the Ambrose/Cosmo relationship as a cipher for the author’s relationship to his subject matter”.
The problematization of authorial positions and masculinity are also examined by Carrie Smith-Prei. The author’s multiple roles as writerreader-editor, provide the context for Smith-Prei’s exploration of “Masculinities in Trauma: Dieter Wellershoff’s 1960s Writings and New Left Psychology”. Smith-Prei argues that an analysis of the act of reading in Wellershoff’s narratives provides an aperture for understanding his aesthetic approach to literature that has a political commitment. In particular, the “traces of the reading act” in Wellerhoff’s prose are “found written into the bodies of the male figures […] in Ein schöner Tag (1966) and Die Schattengrenze (1969)”. Smith-Prei suggests that the fictional bodies found in these works archive, and provide access to, the psychological impact of repressive social structures on the individual. Smith-Prei concludes that we can enrich our understanding of Wellershoff’s works by reading them both within the context of New Leftist psychology and debates surrounding the subjective and the political.
Finally, we return to questions of authenticity and its representation in literature. In his essay “‘Leute in echt’ – Contemporary Literature and Playing with Authenticity”, Sebastian Wogenstein interrogates the “relationship between the so-called non-literary reality and the literary text” and notions of authenticity in Rainald Goetz’s Dekonspiratione, Daniel Ganzfried’s Der Absender, and Robert Schindel’s Gebürtig. Wogenstein examines how all three works destabilize or subvert referentiality and authenticity and in doing so raise new questions and implications with respect to the process of writing. Moreover, he argues that authenticity and mimesis have gained heightened relevance within the context of discussions on cultural identity and representations of the Holocaust. Drawing on the work of Theodor W. Adorno, Wogenstein concludes that “the question of authenticity cannot concern a referential authenticity, a mimetic relationship to reality, but at best the authentic ‘
fact that it is art at all’”.
22 Mark W. Rectanus The relationships between literature, history, theory, and society – an exploration of the work of authors and readers in complex social contexts – all inform our understanding of past-present-future constellations that are inscribed in contemporary literature and traced through the essays in this volume. Paul Michael Lützeler has played a critical role in increasing our understanding of the many questions that emerge from our engagement with contemporary German authors and their work. The collective scholarship represented in this book reflects the influence of his achievements as a teacher, scholar, and mentor. These essays also reflect Paul Michael Lützeler’s ongoing commitment and dedication to his numerous students, on many continents, who represent successive generations of international scholarship in literature, culture, and society. We hope that he will find the essays both engaging and stimulating, and that they will – individually and collectively – continue the dialogue with him.