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Monatshefte

Volume 93, Number 1, Spring 2001 Table of Contents

Texts and Documents

Frederick A. Lubich
‘You Can (’t) Go Home Again’—Tragisch-triumphale Stationen einer deutsch-jüdischen Lebensgeschichte: Interview with Guy Stern
Guy Stern, one of the most respected of the twentieth-century German-Jewish scholars who have left their mark on American German studies, fled Hitler’s Third Reich as an adolescent, returned to Europe as an American soldier and intelligence officer, and subsequently established himself as an American professor of German and authority on exile literature. Throughout his career he has worked tirelessly in behalf of understanding and reconciliation between the German people and the Jews. In this interview, originally conducted by Frederick A. Lubich in 1996 and revised with Stern’s approval in the summer of 2000, Professor Stern tells of his experiences and expresses his point of view on German-Jewish issues of the twentieth century. It is published here for the first time. (CLN) (In German)

Articles

Matt Erlin
Urban Experience, Asethetic Experince, and Enlightnement in G. E. Lessing’s Minne von Barnhelm
Abstract:
Lessing’s decision to begin his professional career in the modern urban center of Berlin testifies to the city’s importance for the emergence of new, market-based forms of literary culture in the eighteenth century. The significance of big-city life for Lessing, however, extends beyond its function as background for his literary debut. This article demonstrates through an analysis of his Berlin comedy Minna von Barnhelm that Lessing also conceives the urban experience as inextricably intertwined with an Enlightenment project of fostering tolerance and overcoming particularism. The city reveals itself in the play as a site of social detachment, giving rise to a kind of a self-estrangement that can open up new perspectives and create new possibilities for action. This reading of the play also suggests that elements of Lessing’s epistemological and aesthetic theories can be linked to the evolution of new forms of urban experience in late eighteenth-century Germany. (ME)

 

M. Nadeem Niazi
Rhetorical Inventio and Revolutionary Predication in Dantons Tod
Abstract:
This article explores the rhetoric of revolution in Dantons Tod through a detailed examination of the play’s use of resources from inventio (the topoi) rather than elocutio (tropes and figures). It draws on Aristotle’s Topics to consider the crucial speeches of Robespierre, Danton, and St. Just with respect to their formal parameters and routines of argument. Following a detailed consideration of the logic of identity-politics in these speeches, conclusions are drawn about the manner in which the main protagonists’ vicious struggle to define the nature of political identity and historical necessity is conditioned by epistemological and metaphysical quandaries lying at the foundation of the taxonomies and procedures given in the Topics. This reading thus ultimately nuances our understanding of literature’s power to represent and shape beliefs about political action. (MNN)

 

Susan Gustafson
Watching the Subject: The Mother’s Gaze in Dicken’s David Copperfield and Kafka’s Der Verschollene
Abstract:
Kafka’s Der Verschollene and Dickens’s David Copperfield share paradigms of looking and being seen that are intricately connected to the main protagonists’ struggles to become subjects. Moreover, it is principally the mother’s gaze that determines the subjects’ senses of subjectivity. Dickens inverts Lacan’s notion of the antinomy of eye and gaze through the depiction of the unifying function of the mother’s gaze. Self and other converge as David mirrors and replicates the eye and gaze of his mother. In contrast, throughout Der Verschollene Karl is forced to see himself from the point of view of the mother (within the antinomy of eye and gaze) from a point in which he constitutes nothing. Karl’s sense of subjectivity is shattered, fragmented, and extinguished by the annihilating looks of a series of mother-surrogates. Although the mother’s eye and gaze function centrally in both novels, Karl finds his expunction in the mother’s gaze, while David discovers his subjective wholeness. (SG)

 

Michael P. Ryan
Kafka’s Die Söhne: The Range and Scope of Metaphor
Abstract:
This article explores the “secret connection” among the three stories which Franz Kafka refers to as Die Söhne. It is particularly concerned with the inspiration behind the properties and implementation of this connection. The author suggests that Kafka, inspired by Eastern philosophy’s idea of rebirth, was attempting to create a metaphor with a new range and scope: Kafka’s development of the Ungeziefer metaphor, a development contingent upon his ordering of the stories, begins in “Der Heizer,” comes to “corporeal” fruition in “Die Verwandlung,” and ultimately provides the metaphor’s effect in “Das Urteil.” The anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner is seen as a mediator of Eastern philosophy for Kafka, and the suggestion is advanced that Kafka’s interest in theosophy/anthroposophy was more persistent than has been previously believed. (MPR)

 

John L. Plews
Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s Der Richter und sein Henker: Gluttony, Victory, and Justice
Abstract:
This article analyzes the use of food in Dürrenmatt’s 1952 detective novel Der Richter und sein Henker. The protagonist’s gluttony in the meal scene of the penultimate chapter is presented as Dürrenmatt’s strategy to convey the victory of social justice. Using Roland Barthes’s semiotic theory, the article maintains that food is an extraliterary language-system which is appropriated and distorted at the literary level. In this instance, the primary linguistic signifier of excessive eating—that denotes the human victory over the natural world—is emptied of its original meaning to serve the ideological intention of getting at the truth. By connecting a quantitative “victorious amount of food” with a qualitative “just victory,” Dürrenmatt convinces the reader of the myth of “the victory of justice.” Finally, by deconstructing the food described from the perspective of its original meaning, the article discloses the ideological distortion taken for granted by the reader. (JLP)

 

Review Article

Dagmar Barnouw
The Certainties of Evil: Memory Discourses of the Holocaust

Book Reviews

Notes

A Century of German-American Crosscurrents at Penn State (1901–2001)
Monatshefte / Max Kade Institute Directory of German Studies 2000