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Monatshefte

Volume 96, Number 3, Fall 2004 Table of Contents

Articles

Edward G. Fichtner
Sigfrid’s Merovingian Origins
Abstract:
The basic premise of this article is that the figures of Sigfrid and related characters in the Nibelungenlied are not mythical in origin, but are composites, based for the most part on events in the life of Frankish king Sigibert I (535–575) and his contemporaries. Using the historical accounts of Gregory of Tours and Fredegar, this article attempts to show how these figures have been constructed from events in which Sigibert, his queen Brunichilde, her sister Gailswintha, and others played a role.—Two other features of Sigfrid’s persona are his relation to Hagen and his horny skin. The proposed source for Hagen is the Avar chieftain whose title was “khagan,” and who attacked Sigibert’s realm in 561 and 568 with forces containing contingents from Thuringia, referred to in Gregory of Tours’s history as “Toringia.” “Hagen von Tronje” is thus derived from “Khagan [...] Toringiae.”—Sigfrid’s horny skin is actually a skin disorder called ichthyosis, in which his hair becomes hairy or horny. According to medieval sources, this disease was hereditary in the Merovingian dynasty, and thus presumably active in Sigfrid’s case. (EGF)

 

Johannes Anderegg
Wie böse ist der Böse? Zur Gestalt des Mephisto in Goethes Faust
Abstract:
Who is Mephisto, this dramatic persona who, with his many faces, is not really a person? What does he represent? The paper examines some of the traditional interpretations of Mephisto as well as his self-portrayal and his art of camouflage. Crucial for the argumentation are the relationships between the Lord and Mephisto and between Faust and Mephisto and above all the dialogue between Mephisto and Faust on vulcanism (V.10075–10123) together with Goethe’s reference to the Epistle to the Ephesians. Thus, the article argues that the biblical concept of the devil is radically transformed by Goethe and that Mephisto is not the epitome of negativity. Rather Mephisto or the Mephistophelian can be understood as a fundamental and indispensable force in human life and in human society. (JA) (In German)

 

Oliver Lubrich
Alexander von Humboldt: Revolutionizing Travel Literature
Abstract:
Alexander von Humboldt’s Relation Historique du Voyage aux Régions équinoxiales du Nouveau Continent . . . (1814–1831), an account of his journey to South America (1799–1804), revolutionizes the conventional format of the travelogue. Each central feature carries multiple meanings and thus deprives the text of coherence and stability: 1. The subject (traveler, author, narrator), 2. the object (the countries studied), 3. the addresse (explicit and implicit readers), and 4. the text itself (as a literary genre with specific formats and styles, subject to self-reflection) are polyvalent. A narratological analysis and a structural reading shed light on the ways in which Humboldt’s poetics reflect his approach to cultural differnce. This travelogue’s deconstruction of its own genre de-authorizes imperial forms of colonial writing. “Identities” and “differences” are no longer defined unequivocally from a privileged perspective. (OL)

 

Markus Weidler
Toward a New Materialist Semiotics: Undoing the Dialectic’s Philosophical Hypocrisy
Abstract:
While the Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944; 1947) is often judged to be too limited a cultural critique, it is still widely accepted as pioneering cultural criticism, a mix of critical discourse analysis, hermeneutics, and semiotics. This article contests this reputation by turning to a source that Horkheimer and Adorno are at pains to occlude: Ernst Cassirer’s Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (1923–29). Drawing on the tradition of eighteenth-century German Christology revived by the Young Hegelians in general and F.W.J. Schelling in particular, Cassirer evolves a critical strategy broader than that in the Dialectic, yet clearly implied by it. Most particularly, Cassirer’s Schelling analysis discriminates philosophy, art, and religion as forms of knowledge and forms of epistemological critique, where Horkheimer and Adorno recast the art of the Bildungsbürger to occlude Cassirer’s innovation, a new materialist semiotics that offers cultural critique in the broader terms that the Dialectic’s critics would favor. (MW)

 

Richard E. Schade
Günter Grass’s Mein Jahrhundert: Histories, Paintings, and Performance
Abstract:
Günter Grass’s text Mein Jahrhundert (1999) perplexed readers and critics alike by its unusual narrative. Verifiably important events as well as lesser-known and even fictional happenings make up the chapters, each of which is keyed to a specific year of the twentieth century. The history of the century is a disjointed sequence, a highly personal mix. First, the article describes Grass’s historiographic stance as well as focusing on his predilection for the depiction of literary figures, including himself. Then, an analysis of the function of the watercolor paintings argues that they reinforcing the textual message significantly. Each chapter illustration is a discrete part of a chaotic tangle of events, a jumble represented by the dust jacket art, yet the interspersed ‘tangle-paintings’ bring order to the chronology of the century. Finally, the evaluation of Grass’s public reading to percussion accompaniment from the work in Dresden makes clear that the author selected those chapters that interpreted the century’s events meaningfully. Grass performed his text from the stage against the backdrop of the projected watercolors, thereby taking artistic possession of and controlling the meaning of his literary narrative. (RES)

 

Book Reviews

Baldwin, Claire, The Emergence of the Modern German Novel: Christoph Martin Wieland, Sophie von La Roche, and Maria Anna Sagar (Ruth Dawson)

Bullivant, Keith, und Bernhard Spies, Hrsg., Literarisches Krisenbewußtsein: Ein Perzeptions- und Produktionsmuster im 20. Jahrhundert (Frederick Lubich)

Chaouli, Michael, The Laboratory of Poetry: Chemistry and Poetics in the Work of Friedrich Schlegel (Jocelyn Holland)

Gies, Annette, Musils Konzeption des ‘Sentimentalischen Denkens’—Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften als literarische Erkenntnistheorie (Birgit Nuebel)

Goebel, Rolf J., Benjamin Heute. Großstadtdiskurs, Postkolonialität und Flanerie zwischen den Kulturen (Daniel Tanaka)

Green, D. H., The Beginnings of Medieval Romance: Fact and Fiction, 1150–1220 (Marianne Kalinke)

Häntzschel, Hiltrud, Brechts Frauen (Vera Stegmann)

Jens, Inge, und Walter Jens, Frau Thomas Mann. Das Leben der Katharina Pringsheim (Hans Rudolf Vaget)

Jüngling, Kirsten, und Brigitte Rossbeck, Katia Mann. Die Frau des Zauberers. Biografie (Hans Rudolf Vaget)

Knopf, Jan, Hrsg., Brecht Handbuch. Bd. 3. Prosa, Filme, Drehbücher; Bd. 4. Schriften, Journale, Briefe; Bd. 5. Register, Chronik, Materialien (Philip Thomson)

Landfester, Ulrike, Hrsg., Schrift und Bild und Körper (Monika Schmitz-Emans)

Macha, Jürgen, und Andrea Wolf, Hrsg., Michael Zimmer’s Diary. Ein deutsches Tagebuch aus dem Amerikanischen Bürgerkrieg (Brent Peterson)

Marini, Loredana, Der Dichter als Fragmentist. Geschichte und Geschichten in Robert Musils Roman Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (Kathleen Komar)

Mayer-Iswandy, Claudia, Günter Grass (Ute Brandes)

Moser, Sabine, Günter Grass. Romane und Erzählungen (Ute Brandes)

Norton, Robert E., Secret Germany: Stefan George and His Circle (Nancy Thuleen)

Pazi, Margarita, Staub und Sterne. Aufsätze zur deutsch-jüdischen Literatur. Herausgegeben von Sigrid Bauschinger und Paul Michael Lützeler (Monika Shafi)

Platt, Kristin, Hrsg., Reden von Gewalt (Wulf Koepke)

Poag, James F., and Claire Baldwin, eds., The Construction of Textual Authority in German Literature of the Medieval and Early Modern Periods (Helmut Puff)

Rauser, Joern, “Über die Herbstwelten in der Literatur.” Alter und Altern als Themenkomplex bei Hans Henny Jahnn und Arno Schmidt (Thomas Freeman)

Rickels, Laurence A., Nazi Psychoanalysis (Jeffrey Librett)

Röder, Birgit, A Study of the Major Novellas of E.T.A. Hoffmann (Dennis McCort)

Saul, Nicholas, ed., Philosophy and German Literature 1700–1990 (Olaf Berwald)

Schneider, Helmut J., Ralf Simon und Thomas Wirtz, Hrsg., Bildersturm und Bilderflut um 1800. Zur schwierigen Anschaulichkeit der Moderne (Eric Baker)

Thomas, Neil, Diu Crône and the Medieval Arthurian Cycle (Salvatore Calomino)

Valk, Thorsten, Melancholie im Werk Goethes. Genese—Symptomatik—Therapie (Wolf Gerhard Schmidt)

Vatan, Florence, Robert Musil et la question anthropologique (Walter Moser)

Welsh, Caroline, Christina Dongowski und Susanna Lulé, Hrsg., Sinne und Verstand. Ästhetische Modellierungen der Wahrnehmung um 1800 (Eric Baker)