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Judith Hermann's works have attracted considerable criticism for their supposedly slight portrayal of passively drifting characters and for their alleged failure to engage with the socio-political realities of contemporary life in the Berlin Republic. Only very recently have scholars paid attention to the hidden concern with memory expressed in her books, and have set out to examine their intertextual depth. This paper explores these previously neglected historical references in Summerhouse, later and analyses the book's intricate intertextual allusions with specific reference to Theodor Fontane's works. It examines how the tentative existence, which Hermann's characters experience, is the product of a hesitant and fruitless confrontation with questions of German history and nationhood. Using pervasive water imagery, Hermann shows present-day Germany as a continually contested territory with a fluid identity shaped by an abundance of conflicting narratives. In this context, the allusions to Fontane as a representative of the Wilhelminian period serve as references to a continuing German tradition of repression and marginalisation. At the same time, Hermann recognises Fontane's ambivalent political stance combining elements of social criticism with a general endorsement of social order. Ultimately, the seemingly indifferent attitude of Hermann's characters and the elegiac style used to portray them, emerge as a distancing mechanism that functions as a postmodern variant of Fontane's irony and is shaped by a similar sense of skepticism towards developments in German society and national history.
|Translated title of the contribution||On both sides of the oder: Judith Hermann's intertextual relationship with Theodor Fontane in Summerhouse, Later|
|Number of pages||18|
|Early online date||16 Sept 2012|
|Publication status||Published - 8 Jun 2013|
|Event||Frühjahrstagung Fontane-Kreis Großbritannien und Irland - Royal Holloway , University of London, United Kingdom|
Duration: 21 May 2011 → 21 May 2011
Bibliographical noteThe original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
- contemporary German literature
- Effi Briest
- gender studies
- Judith Hermann
- memory studies
- national identity
- Sommerhaus, später
- Theodor Fontane
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Claudia Gremler (Speaker)21 May 2011
Activity: Participating in or organising an event types › Participation in conference
‘Aus den alten Geschichten fortgehen’: Gegenwartsschilderung und Vergangenheitsarbeit in Judith Hermanns 'Sommerhaus, später'
Claudia Gremler (Speaker)22 Feb 2010
Activity: Talk or presentation types › Invited talk