The German Picaro and Modernity: Between Underdog and Shape-Shifter - New Directions in German Studies (Paperback)
  • The German Picaro and Modernity: Between Underdog and Shape-Shifter - New Directions in German Studies (Paperback)
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The German Picaro and Modernity: Between Underdog and Shape-Shifter - New Directions in German Studies (Paperback)

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Paperback 232 Pages / Published: 08/05/2014
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The German Picaro and Modernity reads the re-emergence of the picaresque narrative in twentieth-century German-language writing as an expression of modernity and its social imaginaries. Malkmus argues that the picaresque, whose origins date back to the Spanish Renaissance and the Baroque Age, re-emerged as a reflection both of Germany's explosive modernizing processes between 1880 and 1930 and of the most barbarous implosion of modern civilization under National Socialism. Another reason for the fertility of this literary form at that particular cultural moment is rooted in the complexities of German-Jewish relations and the history of Jewish assimilation in central Europe. A considerable number of authors who used the picaresque form in the twentieth century are from a Jewish background, and Malkmus demonstrates how the picaresque narrative template also offers a medium for German-Jewish self-reflection. In highlighting these connections, he contributes not only to scholarship in European literature, but also but also to our understanding of major social, economic and political issues at stake in modernity

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
ISBN: 9781628929539
Number of pages: 232
Weight: 318 g
Dimensions: 216 x 140 x 18 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"In this bold and intelligent new volume, Bernhard Malkmus uses the picaro figure to explore fundamental questions of the constitution of the subject in modernity. The book presents a set of original and searching new readings of texts, both canonical and less familiar, with considerable implications for the understanding of the conditions of modern culture, especially-but not only-in their German form." -- Andrew J. Webber, Professor of Modern German and Comparative Culture, Head of the Department of German and Dutch, University of Cambridge, UK
"Socialized into the German cultural tradition, but equally familiar with the literatures of the Iberian Peninsula, Bernhard Malkmus, in his book The German Picaro and Modernity, made me aware of and fully developed a thought that had previously (but only vaguely) crossed my mind. This is the thought of whether a specific-and quite ironically: a specifically deep-connection could exist between the figure of the 'Picaro' and what we have come to identify as 'the German mind.' A connection where the 'Picaro'-not unlike certain tones in the legacy of Romantic literature-embodied and articulated what a culture so intensely invested in metaphysical depth has never taken the freedom to think." -- Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Albert Guerard Professor in Literature, Professor of French and Italian and Comparative Literature, Stanford University, USA
"German literature is often supposed to be serious, strenuous, even ponderous. With Bernhard Malkmus' study on the German picaro, we step right into a totally different landscape of German literature: alert, playful, entertaining and elegant. The refinement comes from the change of view Malkmus is proposing. The hero of this exciting book is old-fashioned and progressive at the same time; deriving from the picaro in the Spanish Renaissance, he enters modernity as a trickster who finds himself both inside and outside of the social system. With his mastery of mimicry and simulation, the trickster challenges historical facts as well as moral virtues. Writers such as Robert Walser, Franz Kafka, and Thomas Mann employed their trickster-protagonists to confront the world as it is with the ironic playfulness of chance, dream, and emotions. Even in the most desperate chapters of German history, Malkmus finds proofs for the resistance of the picaresque. His book is an impressive demonstration of the art of story-telling, and a plea for the power of fantasy." -- Alexander Honold, Professor of German Literature, Basel University, Switzerland.
This is not a work for the generalist or fainthearted; this is a useful tool for those already familiar with the literature. -- Choice Magazine
...demonstrates that although the picaro belongs to certain times, it is also a figure of ambivalent transcendence, celebrating resilience and its satisfactions over solemnity and its imperatives. - Benjamin Robinson, Indiana University Bloomington -- Monatshefte, Vol. 104, No.3, 2012

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