Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Berlin in English-language fiction, 1989-2008 : spatial representation and the dynamics of memory
Author: O'Hanrahan, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 5351 0039
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis sets out to define the field of Berlin English-language fiction since 1989 by identifying its distinctive forms of representation of space and memory. The post-Wall Berlin thriller can be characterised as a literary category based on genre combinations and a turn to the past. Distinct spatial iconographies emerge in thrillers representing Nazi Berlin, post-war ‘rubble Berlin’ and the divided Cold War period; even the twenty-first-century city is related to 1920s cabarets. Applying Huyssen’s observations on Berlin as a palimpsest of dynamic relations between past and present, I show that the Berlin thriller’s concern with memory is responsive to contemporary uncertainties in the decades following the fall of the Wall. I proceed to compare British perspectives on divided Berlin in novels with thriller associations by Ian McEwan, John le Carré and James Lasdun. I posit that British involvement in the shared governance of divided Berlin during the Cold War era has fostered a special nostalgia for the city which has influenced the intimacy with which these authors represent the city. Through analysis of spatial relations with both parts of the divided city, I reveal unexpected British affinities with East Berlin, ambivalent memories of the Wall and regret at its fall. McEwan’s detailed psychological mapping of topography illustrates how ruins and abandoned space can preserve memory and challenge Nora’s definition of the memory site as a compensatory form. The contemporary, post-unification city is represented in a sample of novels from a wider Anglophone context. The transitory nature of the visitor narrative is challenged by the growing awareness of the city’s memory which informs Berlin novels by American author, Anna Winger, Mexican novelist, Chloe Ardijis and Irish-German author, Hugo Hamilton. Contrasts between insider and outsider relationships with the city are explored and related to representations of peripheral space. A new emphasis on the greening of Berlin is related to eco-critical perspectives: the prospect of emergence from a traumatic past, as signalled by Hamilton is countered by the premonitions of its return as a haunting presence in Aridjis. The diversity of representations of the past in English-language Berlin fiction since 1989 has been driven by the dynamics of the end-of-era perspective created by the fall of the Wall. I show how a seeming tendency towards detachment from post-unification Berlin contrasts with continuing engagement with memory sites in the contemporary city.
Supervisor: Marven, Lyn; Forsdick, Charles Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available