A "literary reworking" is a fictional work based on an earlier, usually canonical, literary work. Gundula M. Sharman considers six twentieth-century examples of this phenomenon in German literature, including Peter Schneider's Lenz as a reworking of Georg Buchner's novella of the same title, Ulrich Plenzdorf's Die neuen Leiden des jungen W. as a reworking of Goethe's Werther, Wolfgang Koeppen's Der Tod in Rom, based on Thomas Mann's Der Tod in Venedig, and three other pairs of reworkings/original works from the genres of drama, the novella, and the novel. The indebtedness of such reworkings to the original works is openly acknowledged -- often in the title -- and this invites the reader to draw comparisons and to note contrasts between reworking and original. The twentieth-century author's interpretation and the reader's reception of the older work merge to form a subtext of the reworking, giving rise to a third narrative in the reader's imagination. The better the reader knows the literary model, the more multi-faceted the reworking appears. The purpose of each reworking is unique. One may demonstrate how much the world has changed since the publication of the original, while another argues that society has not changed at all. One may be conceived as an anti-work to the original, while another serves to endorse its message. Common to all reworkings, however, is a gain in historical depth, and in each case themes and issues arise from the relationship of reworking to original that are not immediately apparent when the reworking is considered on its own.
Gundula M. Sharman teaches in the German Department at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
Number of pages: 233
Weight: 666 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm