Diesseits und jenseits der Oder: Judith Hermanns literarische Auseinandersetzung mit Theodor Fontane in Sommerhaus, später

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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 This paper explores these previously neglected historical references in Summerhouse, later and analyses the book's intricate intertextual allusions with specific reference to Theodor Fontane's works.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.

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  • Diesseits und jenseits der Oder

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Details

Translated title of the contributionOn both sides of the oder : Judith Hermann's intertextual relationship with Theodor Fontane in Summerhouse, Later
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)523-540
Number of pages18
JournalNeophilologus
Volume97
Issue number3
Early online date16 Sep 2012
DOIs
StatePublished - 8 Jun 2013
EventFrühjahrstagung Fontane-Kreis Großbritannien und Irland - Royal Holloway , University of London, United Kingdom
Duration: 21 May 201121 May 2011

Bibliographic note

The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com

    Keywords

  • contemporary German literature, Effi Briest, gender studies, intertextuality, Judith Hermann, memory studies, national identity, Sommerhaus, später, Theodor Fontane

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