Totalität und Ganzes versus Ausschnitt und Detail : Normbewahrung und Normveränderung im deutschsprachigen roman- und literaturtheoretischen Diskurs der 60er Jahre

by Metzler Widmark, Cornelia

Abstract (Summary)
This study is a thematic-descriptive investigation of the reproduction and transformation of norms in the theoretical discourse on the novel during the 1960s. Primary literature consists of articles and essays published in West German literary and cultural journals 1959-1967.The term ‘discourse’ is applied partly in accordance with Busse/Hermanns/Teubert (1994), the term ‘theory of the novel’ chiefly in accordance with Lämmert (ed. 1984). ‘Ideology’ is not used in the sense of ‘false ideology’ but rather as an umbrella term for various types of value-related statements. From this, the theory-of-the-novel discourse is perceived as an aesthetic-ideological discourse, containing statements directed at the contemporary novel which have clear programmatic function and significant thematic width.The objective of the investigation is to show that specific comprehensive thematic fields – Werteverlust (breakdown and loss of values), Subjektproblematik (‘problematisation of the concept of the subject’), Sprachproblematik (language related problems) and Realitätszerfall (reality loss, breakdown of the reality concept) – bear discursive significance as regards the discussion of literary norms during the 1960s, and that this discussion realises itself as two aesthetic-ideological discourses competing for interpretative precedence. The major issues are: Which reiterated patterns of argumentation, i.e. norm-related categories, concepts and rhetorical patterns, are used in the discourses for diagnoses and programmatic imperatives? How are the comprehensive thematic fields accentuated? What is treated, postulated or set aside as ‘truth’? How - based on the above – is the novel formulated as a ‘problem’ (‘crisis of the novel’)?The investigation confirms that the comprehensive thematic fields are particularly central to the theoretical discussion of literature in the 1960s. This manifests itself as a discursive re-evaluation process which may be characterised as a conflict between an ‘aesthetic-conservative discourse’ and a ‘discourse of change’ (‘Veränderungsdiskurs’) where the right to define and evaluate the novel in terms of literature is at stake. It is in the collision between these two discourses and their largely incompatible concepts of literature that the novel discursively becomes a ‘problem’. The discourses are maintained by specific reiterated patterns of argumentation which in the investigation are subsumed under the following headings: die negative Modernität (negative modernity), das bloß Moderne (phenomena of ‘fashionable character’, simply expressing trends) and das Überzeitliche und das Ganze (the timeless and the totality); respectively die traditionelle, bürgerliche Gesellschaft (traditional bourgeois society), die technisch-sprachliche Realität (technolinguistic reality) and der subjektive, sprachliche Realitätsausschnitt (‘subjective language based slice of reality’). The first group of argumentation patterns is linked to universal, ‘eternal’ and essential categories and inherited norms, ethical-aesthetical educational grounding and a ‘rhetoric of the spirit’ or of ‘mankind’, oriented around a specific reception of German Classicism and Idealism, a downgrading of the present and an upgrading of the past. The other group embraces an incipient constructivism, contextually bound and societal categories and norms as well as implicitly critical programmes of enlightenment, devaluing the past and ‘acknowledging’ rather than criticising the present. In doing so they tend rather to realise a rhetoric of the linguistic and political reality and of more modest programmatic proposals.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Stockholms universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; Languages and linguistics; Other Germanic languages; German language; German theory of the novel; 60s aesthetic-ideological discourse; crisis of the novel in Germany; ‘Zürcher Literaturstreit’; post-war German literary criticism; nouveau roman; German novel of the 60s; death of the narrator; novel and loss of totality; literature of commitment; German post-war literature


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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