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Monatshefte

Volume 100, Number 3, Fall 2008 Table of Contents

Articles

Wilfried Wilms
Dismantling the Bourgeois Family: J.M.R. Lenz’s “Soldatenfamilie”
Abstract:
Lenz’s play Die Soldaten (1776) ends with a distinct critique of the sensibility of the bourgeois family, a sensibility idiosyncratic of the 18th-century Enlightenment. Lenz, like Lessing, reacts to the paradox and interplay of an unassailable private realm that is supposed to lie outside the public, but that can only exist within it. His treatise Über die Soldatenehen bespeaks Lenz’s concern with society’s stability beyond the stage. The radically new idea in Lenz’s reform plan is to create a type of family that is no longer exclusively private and/or sentimental, but that is non-bourgeois in nature: the “Soldatenfamilie.” In service of the state and society, this family replaces the Enlightenment ideal of the politically mature (but antagonistic) ‘Bürgerfamilie.’ Lenz’s avantgardist model of the new family willingly forsakes its bourgeois sense of privacy. (WW)

 

Karin Baumgartner
Constructing Paris: Flânerie, Female Spectatorship, and the Discourses of Fashion in Französische Miscellen (1803)
Abstract:
The article investigates urban vignettes about Paris written by Helmina von Chézy (1783–1856) for the journal Französische Miscellen. I argue that Chézy attempted to investigate the possibilities of women’s access to the modern city and of female spectatorship, and in doing so, provided her readers with an original model of how to imagine the modern city. The article centers on three interrelated topics: flânerie and its possibilities for a female narrator, ways of turning visual images into language, and the discourse of fashion that allowed Chézy to portray Paris as a kaleidoscope of details. Fashion, I conclude, provided the author with a modern way of rendering the post-Revolutionary world of 1803 as an assemblage of parts. The article series supplied the journal’s readers with a radical and distinctly female blueprint of how to experience urban space. The text is a unique and early contribution to the literature of flânerie by a female writer. (KB)

 

Mary Riehl
Diplomatenfrau between Two Worlds: Elisabeth Heyking’s China Journal
Abstract:
In the context of German colonial representations of China, this essay focuses on the travel journals of Elisabeth von Heyking, a Diplomatenfrau, who lived in Beijing from 1896–99 while her husband played a key role in acquiring Germany’s concession in Qingdao. The article examines Heyking’s travel text as a mapping of her desires, anxieties, disavowals, and shifts in textual strategies as her vision for Germany’s entrance into colonialism is destroyed by the competitive realities of the New Imperialism at the end of the nineteenth century. When her use of colonial representational strategies breaks down in China, Heyking moves to writing fiction. Her first novel of 1903, Briefe, die ihn nicht erreichten, was the best-selling novel of the year in Germany and was translated into several languages. This novel’s conservative critique of imperialism diminishes for its protagonist the connection between home and nation. Because Briefe’s resolution does not produce a replacement vision to modern imperialism, this piece of writing represents an unintentional contemplation of the impossibility of unified solutions grounded in bordered nations and binary gendered distinctions. (MR)

 

Martin Rosenstock
Ernst Jünger’s Dangerous Encounter: The Detective Closes the Case on the Adventurer
Abstract:
Ernst Jünger’s detective novel Eine gefährliche Begegnung (1985) dramatizes a clash between the concept of adventure and the principles of order and modern scientific inquiry. Set in Paris, in 1888, the text tells the story of a murder investigation. Two adventurers embody, respectively, adventure’s origins in medieval chivalry and adventure’s eighteenth- and nineteenth-century form of colonial exploration; the detective embodies nineteenth-century advances in applied science as well as modern anthropological and psychological theories. Jünger’s narrative engages with defining nineteenth-century texts, such as Bertillon’s writings on anthropometric identification, Cesare Lombroso’s theories on the nature of the criminal, and Gustave Le Bon’s analysis of mass psychology. These texts articulate a rationalist ethos, advocated in Jünger’s novel by the detective. The opposing principles of unregulated individual freedom and a fanciful code of honor, embodied by the adventurers, are depicted as relics of a bygone age, whose passing can only be lamented, not remedied. (MR)

 

David E. Lee
A Flash of Enlightenment: A Subliminal Moment in Douglas Sirk’s La Habanera
Abstract:
Douglas Sirk’s German films are currently looked on as works that contain few oppositional elements, and even their degree of sophistication has been questioned. Sirk’s last German film, La Habanera (1937), includes a piece of visual trickery that functions subliminally—in the broadest sense of that term—and reveals a psychological truth underlying the social interactions of the main characters. The trompe-l’oeil also reflects back on the construction of illusion and film’s expressive powers. This Brechtian moment complements a critical stance that favors strong female characters, and it invites a reconsideration of the political position Sirk adopts in his film. Although both NS censorship and the nationalist sentiments of the author of the screenplay make it seem unlikely, the repression of science through dictatorial fiat depicted in the film and the poetic justice meted out to this folly offer a strong critique of intellectual conditions in Germany. (DL)

 

Book Reviews

Bland, Caroline und Elisa Müller-Adams, Hrsg., Schwellenüberschreitungen. Politik in der Literatur von deutschsprachigen Frauen 1780–1918 (Helen Morris-Keitel)

Böschenstein, Renate, Idylle, Todesraum, Aggression. Beiträge zur Droste-Forschung. Herausgegeben von Ortrun Niethammer (Cornelia Blasberg)

Brockmann, Stephen, Nuremberg: The Imaginary Capital (Janet Ward)

Chai, Leon, Romantic Theory: Forms of Reflexivity in the Revolutionary Era (Brian Tucker)

Chambers, Helen, Humor and Irony in Nineteenth-Century German Women’s Writing: Studies in Prose Fiction, 1840–1900 (Elizabeth Ametsbichler)

Fuchs, Anne and J.J. Long, eds., W.G. Sebald and the Writing of History (Lynn Wolff)

Henn, Marianne, Clemens Ruthner, and Raleigh Whitinger, eds., Aneignungen, Entfremdungen: The Austrian Playwright Franz Grillparzer (1791–1872) (Jacqueline Vansant)

Hermanns, Fritz und Werner Holly, Hrsg., Linguistische Hermeneutik. Theorie und Praxis des Verstehens und Interpretierens (Barbara Sandig)

Hutchinson, Peter, ed., Landmarks in German Comedy (Sunka Simon)

Jaeger, Dagmar, Theater im Medienzeitalter. Das postdramatische Theater von Elfriede Jelinek und Heiner Müller (Heike Polster)

Kappes, Christoph, Schreibgebärden. Zur Poetik und Sprache bei Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke und Botho Strauß (Jochen Bedenk)

Lange, Sigrid, Einführung in die Filmwissenschaft (Heike Klippel)

Maier-Katkin, Birgit, Silence and Acts of Memory: A Postwar Discourse on Literature, History, Anna Seghers, and Women in the Third Reich (Jennifer Marston William)

Marx, Friedhelm, Stephanie Catani und Julia Schöll, Hrsg., Erinnern, Vergessen, Erzählen. Beiträge zum Werk Uwe Timms (Antje Krüger)

Mieszkowski, Jan, Labors of Imagination: Aesthetics and Political Economy from Kant to Althusser (Peter Krapp)

Preece, Julian, The Rediscovered Writings of Veza Canetti: Out of the Shadows of a Husband (Helga Kraft)

Robb, David, ed., Protest Song in East and West Germany Since the 1960s (Alan Lareau)

Schärf, Christian, Der Unberührbare. Gottfried Benn—Dichter im 20. Jahrhundert (Wolfgang Emmerich)

Schönfeld, Christiane, ed., Practicing Modernity: Female Creativity in the Weimar Republic (Kathryn Malczyk)

Simpson, Patricia Anne, The Erotics of War in German Romanticism (Marcel Rotter)

Singh, Sikander, Hrsg., “Aber der Tod ist nicht poetischer als das Leben.” Heinrich Heines 18. Jahrhundert (Jeffrey L. Sammons)

van der Laan, James M., Seeking Meaning for Goethe’s Faust (Paul Fleming)

Wellberry, David E., Seiltänzer des Paradoxalen. Aufsätze zur ästhetischen Wissenschaft (Dirk Oschmann)

Wintermeyer, Ingo und Silke Martin, Hrsg., Verschiebebahnhöfe der Erinnerung. Zum Werk W.G. Sebalds (Silke Horstkotte)