124/1030: a new generation of German literature 

Let’s just ignore the fact that I took a 50 day vacation and do feel guilty about it. Apparently, I also wanted to have my literature review and draft of the introduction done by March. So far, that is not happening. On the other hand, it’s not too late to make it happen.

Today, I want to write a little bit more about contemporary German literature. There is a trend, beginning in the 2010s of prominent publishing houses supporting a new generation of writers with migrant background.  I would say that writers such as Zafer Senocak, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Feridun Zaimoglu and Yoko Tawada mark the first generation, opening the definition of German literature to those without migrant background. However, in light of the post-Soviet border crises and ethnic tensions, as well as revolutions throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East, one could say that contemporary German literature reflects refugee paths and causes. Of course, this is distinct from the 1930s and 40s when Germany was the land of departures, not the destination. Of this new generation, one can consider Olga Grjasnowa, Abbas Khider, Saša Stanišić, and Senthuran Varatharajah as representatives of writers who produce content for a society that should open its eyes to its new members and who benefit from a society that wants to satisfy its questions and concerns. 

I make the last note  with a slightly veiled criticism that these writers are “priviledged” to represent vast numbers of asylum seekers and migrants to Germany and their stories are often taken as the truth of what the person with migrant backrogund experiences in Germany, and one must remember that these experiences on and off the page are hugely varied and individual. Still, their writings are interesting and help describe the new multicultural and multiethnic space of Germany. 

I will have to explain that last note in more detail, and hope to do so in the coming days. I just needed a way to get back on track. 

Some things I did do that were productive for my PhD since last posting: applied for another scholarship, read Vor der Zunahme der Zeichen, started reading NW, began working through Irina Rajewsky’s book on Intermediality, a book called History, Memory and Migration, and one on intercultural literarture. So, I haven’t been totally lazy, but it’s time to get back on track. 

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2017 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality.

36/1030: “On the Road auf slawisch”

Mitten durch den Raum zog sich eine frische Backsteinwand. Irgendwo im hinteren Teil lief ein Fernseher. Im Halbdunkel zuckten blaue Blitze auf und erloschen wieder. Neben der angefangenen Mauer stand ein Billardtisch. Einige Kugeln waren mitten im Spiel stehengeblieben. Ihre Farbe konnte ich nicht erkennen, es war zu dunkel. Ich roch nur feuchten Kalk und Moder. Irgendwo jenseits der Wand, jenseits der Dunkelheit und des Fernsehgequassels hörte man erhobene Männerstimmen. Dann sah ich sie in dem schmalen Spalt zwischen den Häusern. (Stasiuk 21).

The time and space theme is drawn throughout this entire text, so the beginning of this paragraph is not new. However, the television comes in this text as it does in every text I’ve read. There is no text without a reference to another reference, just like all media are mixed media (need to look up the person who said this).

In these in particular, in Andrzej Stasiuk’s texts Unterwegs nach Babadag and On the Road auf Slawisch, one has multiple references to television and nature and the like that I’ve made more detailed (excited, in the middle of class) notes about in my school notebook that I MUST refer back to. There’s something there about nature versus culture versus media versus nation and I have to find it again. So, note to self: find notes from 24. Okt. and use them!

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality.

34/1030:  “Die Küste des Exils” continued 

Mircea Cărtărescu is a Romanian author who was asked to contribute to a collection of writings about the Black Sea: Odessa Transfer (2009). Several other eastern and middle European and Turkish  writers contributed- anyone who had something to say about the Black Sea coast. The themes of the collection are travel and the unrest that comes with the transgression of borders. “Den literarischen Nachrufen auf das Untergehende und Verlorene lassen wir mit Odessa Transfer die Erzählungen vom Leben am Meer und die Reflexion über Räume der Unruhe folgen” (1).  An important part of these contributions are reflection, this thinking back on this region, despite maybe having different intellectual and cultural ideas of this space.

Of course, I can’t help but think about the text in light of my new knowledge of the existence of an anthropological approach to literature (really, how is this different than cultural studies?), but I will try to focus on what I already know.

“Ovid hatte noch geglaubt, der Mensch verwandle sich ausschließlich unter Einwirkung der Götter. Seit Kajka wissen wir, daß dem nicht so ist.”(Unbekannter osteuropäischer Geschichtslehrer)

Something that struck me about this text, as I already mentioned before, are the intertextual references. Was Kafka mentioned because of this quote, one I found in the epigraph to the next text? Or is he significant as an inner exilist? Someone who felt a stranger in his own land, sort of like the guest at the wedding (96).

The other references, of course to Ovid most of all, are significant. He is the original exilist on the Black Sea. He was the famous exiled Roman, sent to live among the “barbarians.” He experienced the loneliness and displacement of an exile, and as a poet, whose magic was in songs and words (the Euripides Chor makes an appereance, reminding of Nietzsche) and who lost the words.

diese Briefe wurden immer ungehobelter, enthielten immer mehr sarmatische, illyrische und getische Wendungen, bis er gegen Ende eine neue, eine unbekannte Sprache erfunden hatte, die Sprache des Unglücks, in der alle wahren Bücher geschrieben werden. (108-109)

While a hybrid language resulted, one of unhappiness and bad luck, it’s the one Cărtărescu says all true books are written in. This, of course, relates strongly to Bakhtin who would argue the same thing. For him, the novel was the most successful art form, since it allowed all kinds of language to base expressed, common and art. Lyric, or poem, cannot reach this.

Und am Ende schrieb er in der getischen Sprache, hatte er die barbarischen Wörter ins lateinische Versmaß gegossen. Das Gedicht fand Gefallen. Und seitdem galt er unter den Barbaren als Dichter. Das Kauderwelsch der Ein- heimischen erldang in zehntausend Sprachen des Meeres, und Ovid, der Dichter der Liebe, der Schönheitspflege und der Metamorphosen, sah sich gezwungen, sie alle zu lernen. (102)

The language of the sea slowly poured into his writing. And this sea had 10,000 languages. And he had to learn them all. There’s something significant about the water image throughout the text, and the ending line: “Denn nach Mallarmé ‘existiert die Welt nur, um in ein schönes Buch zu münden'” (110). The world only exists so as to flow into a pretty book.

I wonder if there’s a connection here to biosemiotics and therefore to the rising understanding of nature in anthropological studies of literature (or vice versa), but one thing is for sure, this is an extremely productive text for my PhD project.

Work Cited:  Cărtărescu, Mircea. “Die Küste des Exils.” Odessa Transfer Nachrichten vom Schwarzen Meer. Ed. Raabe, Katharina und Monika Sznajderman. Frankfurt am Main: Surkamp, 2009. 93-110. Print.

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality.

32/1030: a quick look at Mircea Cărtărescu’s “Die Küste des Exils”

Sometimes, finding something to write about takes longer than the writing itself.

I mentioned that I am visiting some courses for supplemental knowledge about my topics. However, I after starting the material for my “Roots and Routes” course, I began to worry that I would not be able to continue visiting, but then I opened one of the links we’re supposed to read for Monday, and it’s a short story/essay and I just can’t stop reading.

Ovid, the Roman poet, plays a role. He was one of the three celebrated graces of Augustus’ empire- along with Virgil and Horace- but he gets sent into Exile. He ends up in a remote province on the Black Sea, and the story makes sense when one realizes the role Ovid plays. “Sie haben schreckliche Jahre im Exil an der Kueste des Schwarzen Meeres zugebracht” (100). For example, the narrator mentions the blackness of this Meer, this Sea. At other moments, the whiteness, or hotness is mentioned as well. That would be something to look into.

In other news, there are a lot of intertextual references to exiled characters (like Captain Ahab). There are also references to the stock market, online tradiging, WordPress, and of course to the television.

meer-exils

From page 93 of Odessa Transfer 

It’s these references of course that interest me the most. But I’ll have to same my explanation for tomorrow. Just running out of time in the day.

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality.