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Title: Politics and community in the work of Heiner Müller
Author: Griffiths, Aled Wyn
ISNI:       0000 0001 3519 9898
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1998
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Heiner Müller has often been interpreted as a political writer. This thesis seeks to argue that the profoundly political import of Müller's work can best be understood if one understands Müller as writing about and for a community. This community is heterogeneous, finite, non-totalitarian and transgressive. It is constituted by alterity, thus making its complete realisation impossible. As such, this community can only with the greatest of difficulty be understood in Marxist-Leninist terms, that is, in that ideology under which Müller spent most of his writing life. Müller's later plays, which are far more well-known and more often produced, have often been described as fitting uneasily into the conventional aesthetics of the GDR. This thesis argues that traces of such a non-totalitarian community are to be found in his early work. On the other hand, they bear only limited testimony to the heterogeneous community. The conditions under which he had to write accorded him only restricted means in allowing such a community to come to expression. In addition, Müller himself pulls back from carrying this heterogeneous impulse through to its radical conclusion. It is only when he develops his drama - a development which takes the form of engagement with the dramatic tradition - that he begins to do justice to the notion of community which is present only in nascent form in his early texts. Furthermore, as time goes on, the manner in which Müller wrote and produced texts for the theatre can itself be seen as an expression of this non-totalisable, complex and manifold community. As such, the reasons for the change in Müller's writing can be found in his early work. It is this which the thesis sets out to examine. The expression of community in the manner of Müller's writing might best be explained through the notion of signature. By emphasising the finitude in the relationship between himself and his texts, Müller further radicalises his work. This is primarily achieved through the use of allegory which in turn proves to be a form of writing which engenders remembrance - itself an important constitutive moment in the community. Müller's work, in seeking to express community through its radically finite nature raises a number of questions about the relationship between author, text and the role of literary criticism. The thesis thus attempts to examine these questions and take up the challenge to literary criticism which they represent.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PT Germanic literature