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Title: The tradition of humanist narrative in the work of Jakob Wassermann
Author: Harris, S. H.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1997
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The focus of the thesis is the relation between Wassermann's representation of traditional humanist values and the form of the novel genre. Examining Wassermann's theoretical writings, especially Die Kunst der Erzählung (1904) and Lebensdienst (1928), the thesis extrapolates the key phenomenological concepts of "Landschaft" and "Gestalt". Under consideration of the implications of these as narrative concepts and Wassermann's final revision of these, the thesis provides a reading of the later Andergast-cycle, consisting of Der Fall Maurizius (1928), Etzel Andergast (1931) and Joseph Kerkhovens dritte Existenz (1934). The cycle is marked by the shifting of narratorial positions away from an omniscient, largely neutral narrator identifying with a variety of characters to the introduction of a protagonist whose development is directly related to the informedness of the increasingly personally involved narrator in the second part. In the final sequel an authorial persona is created whose narrative becomes subject to the protagonist's humanocentric interpretation and only thereby can be integrated in to the novel. This characteristic of narrative shifts and rejuvenation is also a central trait of the cycle's plots. The possible breakdown of ethical values and meaningful experiences of subjectivity is contained by forms of renewal which are reflected in the narrative shifts. The key protagonist, the medical doctor Kerkhoven, finally develops the idea of a "biological conscience" as a life-assuring element of the human constitution in which personal ethics and holist meaning coincide. Organological perception becomes both a diagnostic and a healing approach. In treating the problems of a humanocentric world view in the context of modern mass society, Kerkhoven's medical efforts allegorize the narratorial quest for a renewal of narrative forms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available