Representational strategies in the novels of Hermann Burger
This thesis focuses on the novels of Hermann Burger. It considers the experimental nature of Burger's writings as a form of opposition, or 'Verweigerung', to the restrictive discourses of Swiss nationhood expressed in the notion of 'Enge'. A central tenet of the argument advanced here is that Hermann Burger is both a very self-consciously Swiss author, and, at the same time, very self-consciously experimental; a constant tension between these two aspects of his writing is manifest in all his work. Burger was not a provincial Swiss writer. Rather, he was an eclectic writer, and this thesis will examine the manner in which his work is framed by a broad spectrum of literary and philosophical ideas current in the wider international context of literary debate which serve to challenge the narrowness of intellectual discussion and forms of representation in Switzerland. To extend the discursive possibilities of the individual within the cultural space of the nation, Burger's novels involve a radical play with form and language which blurs the boundaries between the real, the unreal and the surreal, in order to challenge notions of the 'real'. A conflict between normative modes of expression and the desire for self-expression develops which is thematically central in Burger's work. His novels present the reader with a complex set of inter-related issues: national identity; national culture; Art; nature; literature and representational strategies; art and life. The methodology adopted in this thesis reflects the belief that Burger's work is best appreciated as an eclectic mix of ideas. As Burger engages with the multifarious aspects of life and seeks to give them form, so his work is considered in relation to a broad range of theories which, taken together, provide insights into his work.