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Title: Room for manoeuvre : the role of intertext in Elfriede Jelinek's Die Klavierspielerin, Günter Grass's Ein weites Feld and Herta Müller's Niederungen and Reisende auf einem Bein
Author: Symons, Morwenna Caroline
ISNI:       0000 0000 3875 9072
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2002
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My thesis addresses the text-intertext-reader relationship, a field of force that articulates dialectically complex issues of authority and control. Taking as my point of departure established reader theories that explore the reader's role in realising the text and its effects, I look specifically at the role played by the intertext in this. I understand intertext both as precisely traceable citation and more broadly as the use of anterior and/or exterior discourses that take on 'quotational' force in the new text. The intertext both corroborates and undermines the sovereignty of the new text, and the reader is a compounding presence, since s/he is in receipt of the text, subject to its power, and yet positioned to disempower the text by re-locating it in a new universe of signification. My thesis attempts to demonstrate that the room for manoeuvre granted to the reader at these particularly unstable points of the text functions as a dynamic narrative space - a space which, as I try to show, offers a critical resource for articulating and apprehending the text's thematic concerns. My understanding of this dynamic relationship is set out through readings of texts by three authors, which, however distinct in form and method, seem to me to enshrine these issues. In Die Klavierspielerin, I argue that the pornographic, psychoanalytic and musical intertexts form a discursive nexus of effects that is central to the construction of a highly ironic narrative voice: the reader is required to consolidate the effects of this irony, and in so doing is given critical space to reflect upon the power structures that Jelinek seeks to portray. The intertextual game of Ein weites Feld, its impossibly broad historical and literary sweep, creates a text that is structurally and thematically 'out of control': by this means, I suggest. Grass brings the reader into confrontation with the celebratory discourses of German reunification. Herta Muller's depiction of the village idyll in Niederimgen embraces and disrupts the Heimat genre: I explore the dialectical force of the narrative voice as at once subjectively innocent and knowing, and suggest that the quotational mode, and our discomfort in responding to it, is what allows for the critical articulation of questions of authority and control with which the stories are concerned. My reading of Reisende auf einem Bein focuses on Muller's use of a Calvino intertext: I argue that the intertext plays a fundamental role in the development of a central character whose elusive quality reflects (on) thematic issues addressed by the text.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available