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Title: Masks of fiction : the function of the Nietzschean mask in the works of Hermann Hesse
Author: Roberts, Adam Keith
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2016
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This project examines the crucially informative role that masks and notions of masking have historically played in shaping western conceptions of identity. Specifically, it explores how this historical pattern is particularly transformative in the works of one of the early twentieth century’s most important writers, Hermann Hesse. Major elements of this development are illustrated by highlighting significant parallels between Hesse and the Irish poet W.B. Yeats, whose literary engagement with masks and identity are starkly similar to Hesse’s. Hesse’s works are commonly read as narratives of a ‘search for the Self’. However, very little scholarly attention is given to exploring what this concept of ‘Self’ actually means in Hesse’s works. By placing acute critical attention on the roles of masks in Hesse’s novels, this project reveals how Hesse’s literary portrayals of identity develop significantly from his first to his final novel (Peter Camenzind in 1904 and Das Glasperlenspiel in 1943). Importantly, the project illustrates how Hesse’s early literary depictions of masks and identity come from a deeply entrenched medieval conception of a ‘fixed’ Self, but, as his career progresses and his portrayals of the ‘Self’ develop, the rhetorical instrument of Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘Mask’ begins to inform Hesse’s literary representations of identity. This project illustrates how Hesse altogether transforms his portrayals of the ‘Self’ through this rhetorical device. In doing so, it reveals the pertinent role of masks in Hesse’s works and amplifies Hesse’s voice in a long historical dialogue regarding masks and identity.
Supervisor: Cornils, Ingo ; Taberner, Stuart Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available