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Monatshefte

Volume 91, Number 1, Spring 1999 Table of Contents

Texts and Documents

Margot Scharpenberg
Kleine Frühlingsmelancholie
Margot Scharpenberg is a regular contributor to Monatshefte (74.4,77.4,82.1). Born in Cologne and a resident of New York since 1962, she is known chiefly for her poetry but also as a storyteller. Among her many volumes are eight of iconic poetry, including the recent 31 x Klee: 31 Bilder von Paul Klee mit Gedichten (Wuppertal: Kunst- und Museumsverein Wuppertal, 1994). In a different vein, melancholy and yet whimsical, is her “Kleine Frühlingsmelancholie,” herewith published for the first time. (CLN) (In German)

Articles

Edward S. Brinkley
Fear of Form: Thomas Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig
Abstract:
Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig is often held to be a culturally conservative text, one that would uphold notions such as high culture and authorhood, despite the taboo (apparently sexual) interest that destroys Aschenbach. But in the context of modernist novellas that put an erotism of the ephebe at their centers (such as Musil’s Törleβ and Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray), Mann’s text is deviant: the tropes of decay, decadence, feminization are visited not so much on a young male as on an adult (and an author): the lover/pedagogue, rather than the ephebe, becomes the diseased dandy. In transferring the decay from adolescent to adult male, the text breaks with so-called decadent modernism in refusing any transseminal link between Aschenbach and Tadzio. Mann’s impulse is thus better read as culturally contestatory in its undermining of masculinist (high) culture’s tenability: in identifying “homosexuality” as masculinst culture’s very pharmakon, in then deconstructing the possibility of homosexual identity, and in the disarticulation of the possibility of the (homo)erotic object itself. (ESB)

 

George Bridges
Sublimation in Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus: Love’s Labor Lost
Abstract:
Doktor Faustus is read as a dramatization of the psychological process that we know as sublimation. Sublimation is at once a strategy for coming to terms with a prohibited sexual desire and, following Freud, the process of civilization itself. The crisis that culture (art) finds itself in today is the crisis of sublimation, for the process of substituting a socially-acceptable goal for a goal that is not acceptable is destructive and no longer capable of expressing truth. Behind the desexualized love that Zeitblom bears for Leverktihn, manifested as devotion and an all-encompassing interest that Freud called the spirit of scientific research, there is aggression—an overriding need to conquer the erstwhile love-object by possessing him intellectually, appropriating his being, usurping his genius and exhausting him, as the object of his research, to such an extent that in the end both men become the victims of sublimation. (GB)

 

Karl-Heinz Schoeps
Zur Kontinuität der völkisch-nationalkonservativen Literatur vor, während und nach 1945: Der Fall Gerhard Schumann
Abstract:
After the collapse of the eastern bloc, including the German Democratic Republic, right wing intellectuals and conservatives in Germany hoped to fill the void created when the left was thrown into disarray. Especially Botho Strauss’s essay “Anschwellender Bocksgesang” became a kind of manifesto of the new right in which he postulates a return to the myth of an “unenlightened past.” Similar sentiments had been expressed by national conservatives before, during, and even after the Third Reich. One national-conservative writer who best illustrates this continuity is Gerhard Schumann, a prominent poet under National Socialism. An examination of representative works of his from the late twenties to the late eighties will illustrate that his national conservative views never changed and that they fit in well with recent conservative thought in Germany. (K-HS) (In German)

 

Daniela Berghahn
“Leben. . .ein Blick genügt doch”—Der utopische Augenblick in Wim Wenders’ road movies
Abstract:
In his road movies, Wim Wenders eclectically borrows from the utopian thinking of previous centuries, New Age thought, and Christian religion and thus creates a postmodern utopian bricolage. Exploring the redemptive potential of traditional concepts of utopia, Wenders is most strongly indebted to Modernist writers with whom he shares the notion of a utopia reduced to an intensified moment of emphatic perception. Momentarily, in a certain gaze, the perceiving subject breaks down the barriers of his or her isolated existence and enters into a communion with the Other. While in Wenders’ horizontal road movies, Alice in den Städten (1974), Falsche Bewegung (1975), Im Lauf der Zeit (1976), Paris, Texas (1984), and Bis ans Ende der Welt (1991), the restlessly travelling heroes fail to complete their quest, in the vertical road movies, Der Himmel über Berlin (1987) and In weiter Ferne, so nah! (1993), utopia is attained in the loving gaze. (DB) (In German)

 

Stuart Taberner
‘sowas läuft nur im Dritten Programm’: Winning Over the Audience for Political Engagement in Günter Grass’s Kopfgeburten oder Die Deutschen sterben aus
Abstract:
This article aims to analyse the strategies employed by Grass in this 1980 novel to persuade his readership of the need for concrete political engagement. Whereas Harm and Dörte are portrayed as addicted to contemporary fads, the character of Günter Grass is introduced as a positive example of the influence that can be exercised by individuals capable of combining imagination and innovation with a concrete political program. Following an analysis of the techniques exploited by Grass in pursuit of this broadly didactic goal—the novel as a mediation of a film script, the use of exemplary characters, etc.—the article closes with an assessment of the legitimacy of Grass’s implicit conceptualization of the role of the politically-engaged writer. Is it not the case that Grass’s fictional excurions into his own novel betray more a desire for self-presentation than the desire to encourage popular participation in public affairs? (ST)

 

Marjanne E. Goozé
The Interlocution of Geographical Displacement, Cultural Identity, and Cuisine in Works by Jeanette Lander
Abstract:
In Lander’s early novels and memoir, the characters negotiate the topographies of Germanness and a variously situated Jewishness in such a way that assumptions behind both constructs are challenged. Lander and the characters in all of her works illustrate a concept of identity that constructs itself out of historical, cultural, culinary, religious, ethnic, familial, and other elements that are constantly being adapted and reformed. Lander claims the territory and identity of the “Fremde” for herself and many of her characters. Yet some also repeatedly yearn for a transcendence of specific forms of human categorization based on geographical, linguistic, or cultural identifications. Lander’s characters (and even Lander herself) seek and delineate a topography of “elsewhereness” that allows for a fluid and yet specific identity that at the same time does not exclude a utopian wish for a universal humanness that permits understanding and compassion across the divide of the differences. (MEG)

 

Review Articles

Donald Haase
Re-viewing the Grimm Corpus: Grimm Scholarship in an Era of Celebrations

Adrian Del Caro
“A Nietsche in Your Corner, or To Each a Nietzsche”

Book Reviews