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Title: Tell-tale elusiveness : a study of the narrative in Goethe's Die Wahlverwandtschaften
Author: Summers, Alison
ISNI:       0000 0004 2674 4059
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2007
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This Thesis offers a detailed analysis of Goethe's novel, Die Wahlverwandtschaften. It argues that the narrator of the novel is a complex entity, whose performance shifts between the disincarnate, un-personalized voice and the involved, personalized teller of the tale. It is suggested that the narrator makes his presence felt through generalizations and comments, and through the existence of a judgmental tone and reflective voice. A detailed reading of the episodes of narrative presence is undertaken. Central to this thesis is the contention that the narrative style does not remain constant, and the various implications of narrative presence and absence are examined. The interpolated texts within the novel are studied. The reader registers the gaps in the text precisely because such a strong voice has, at times, been heard, and it is this void which is shown to provide the reader with an invitation to interpret and question both the text and the process of patterning by the narrator and by the character themselves. The thesis enters into a debate with Gordon Burgess* A Computer Assisted Analysis of Goethe's Die Wahlverwandtschaften and his claim that the narrator is a manipulative character is challenged. John Banville's The Newton Letter is offered as an example of sophisticated intertextual reference and debate between literary works separated by almost two centuries. The issue of the experimenter as on the one hand separate from and on the other implicated in his experiment is discussed. In conclusion, it is argued that the shifting narrative performance in Die Wahlverwandtschften is the key to the enduring appeal of the novel.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available