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Title: Vom Sinn und Unsinn aller Allegorie : Das Versteckspiel mit dem Leser im Romanwerk Martin Mosebachs = The sense and nonsense of allegory : the game of hide and seek with the reader in the novels of Martin Mosebach
Author: Rathjen, Kirsten
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
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Long and erroneously deemed a writer in the tradition of bourgeois realism, the novelist Martin Mosebacb (* 1951) has in recent years been catapulted to the forefront of the German literacy scene, winning Germany's most prestigious literary prize, the Georg-Buchner-Preis, in 2007 and being heralded by many (mostly conservative) newspaper critics as one of the most elegant and powerful writers of the day_ Whilst there has been a fervent debate about the author's anti-modem and catholic credentials, neither the authors' advocates nor detractors have offered anything more than a superficial analysis of his substantial body of literary texts. This study is the first to look at Mosebach's novelistic oeuvre. It offers both a survey of his novels and a particular focus on the aesthetics of play that has animated his work since the very beginning of his career. In the early 19805 when the reception of literature in Germany was still very much guided by the paradigm of modernity and political litterature engagee, Mosebach not only flaunted his (then) unfashionable love for tradition and aesthetic form but turned it into an instrument of satire. Behind the outer, realistic settings of the texts and thus beneath their literal surface, many of Mosebach's narrators fabricate absurd fantasies of historical continuity. These are invoked purely by aesthetic means, by counter• intuitive allegories which are embedded in complex formal compositions and are conceived as hide•and•seek games with the reader. Mosebach deploys these absurd scenarios to formulate his cultural criticism in a grotesquely distorted way and provokes the critical reader's suspicion by playing with politically incorrect taboos (or blasphemy). In this study, I uncover these meticulously crafted subtexts as well as the author's extensive formal play with leitmotifs and symmetries which takes on a dynamic of its own. Thereby, the mannerist nature of Mosebach's transformations of reality comes to the fore. Whilst the author self•ironically foregrounds many of his conservative views put forward in his essays, not least his defence of the old Roman Liturgy, he consistently subjugates them to the aesthetics of (grotesque) play. Whilst politically incorrect innuendoes and satire provide much of the novels' appeal, ] conclude that the real provocation may lie in the fact that the modern reader's customary search for deeper meaning (be it political, sociological or psychological), is frustrated. This holds in different ways for both the early and the most recent novels. Finally, I suggest that Mosebach may require a reader who is willing to assess his novelistic work by aesthetic criteria alone.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available