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Title: Thomas Mann's illness mythologies in the work of Philip Roth
Author: Von Bodman-Hensler, Nicola Lilian Helga Sabine
ISNI:       0000 0004 4692 2641
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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Thomas Mann’s illness symbolism is one of the most important fictional explorations of medical narrative in twentieth-century literature. Drawing on scholarship in the medical humanities, this study interprets Mann’s illness narratives in the light of what I shall term various mythologies of illness in his work. Next to establishing a new reading of Mann’s literary appropriation of medicine, I examine a major postmodern reading of these mythologies by the American author Philip Roth and his relationship to German thought on illness. The central focus of this thesis is on the dialogue between illness as a figure in fiction and the medical narrative tradition such as the clinical and curious discourse within case history writing neglected by scholarly research on Thomas Mann and Philip Roth so far. I start by providing a contextual consideration of the development of the medical case history as narrative, which through common roots with the novel lends itself as medical countertext to Thomas Mann’s fiction. I demonstrate how Mann imagines the defective body as the concrete site of the struggle for art and eventually vindicates the sentimentalisch consciousness. Because bodily defects are the marks of artistic sensitivity in Mann’s oeuvre, mythologies of illness are among the most important structuring principles of his work. Despite his canonical status, Mann has not been thought of as exerting a very direct influence on writers in the English-speaking world. I will demonstrate that the postmodern variations of the illness theme by Philip Roth are grounded in Mann’s fictional explorations of the body in decline. There are two things at stake here. I offer a new perspective on Thomas Mann drawing on medical narrative traditions in his mythologies of illness. By linking the postmodern author Philip Roth to Thomas Mann this thesis sheds light on the tradition of writing the defective body and the sick self from Fin de Siècle German to contemporary American literature.
Supervisor: Vickers, Neil Conor Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available