The reception of Wolfgang Borchert, Wolfgang Koeppen and Siegfried Lenz : an examination of critical attitudes, 1946-1978
In this study, which concentrates predominantly on the West German critical reception of the works of Wolfgang Borchert, Wolfgang Koeppen and Siegfried Lenz, a fundamental distinction is posited between different types or levels of criticism, from the journalistic to the scholarly. Secondary literature is examined on each of the three authors, ranging from newspaper articles and reviews, via essays in the specialist journals, to monographs and dissertations, in an attempt to ascertain the existence of any receptive crossfertilization or of any large-scale changes in critical attitudes during the period under review and their effect on the reception of each individual author.LReception on the journalistic level, in the form of reviews and commemorative essays, is shown to be characterized above all by a "conservative" approach, reliant on self-perpetuating conceptions, resulting in an ossification of the image of the respective author and creating a degree of receptive expectancy which may hinder, rather than stimulate, a fresh appraisal. A comparison of West German with foreign monographs and essays demonstrates that scholarly criticism, too, is subject to the preformed conclusions and prejudices inherent in popular critical reception; but, in contrast to the conservatism of journalistic reception, West German scholarly criticism is shown to have undergone developments not mirrored by its foreign counterparts here investigated. In conclusion, it is suggested that the peculiarly West German developments in the sphere of scholarly criticism reflect wider ranging social and cultural attitudes of the 1940's to the 1970's, a product of the specific historical fate of Germany from 1933 onwards.