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Title: 'Der Mensch ist nicht der Herr des Seienden' : existentialism and post-War German-language writing
Author: Marwood, Laura Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 6348 118X
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This doctoral thesis seeks to investigate the relationship between existentialism, a philosophy of life that is as much literary as it is philosophical in effect, and German-language literature in the aftermath of the Second World War. The focus will be on three German-language writers whose novels have given implicit formulation to a range of existential concerns. These include the notions of the self, freedom, authenticity, responsibility, angst, Grenzsituation and suffering, and constitute what I refer to as an unwritten existentialist manifesto. The writers selected for examination in this study are Max Frisch (1911-1991) with his 1954 novel Stiller, Alfred Andersch (1914-1980) with his 1952 autobiographical report Die Kirschen der Freiheit, and Heinrich Böll (1917-1985) with his posthumously published Der Engel schwieg (1949/1992). Whilst these writers do not engage in explicit philosophical or theological existentialist reflection as such, their novels can be seen to provide implicit literary formulation to the aforementioned range of existentialist themes. These three writers and their works highlight the extent to which existentialist concerns penetrated post-1945 German-language literature even where the writers themselves did not openly identify with existentialism as either a literary or philosophical phenomenon. As will be shown, their novels deal with the principal questions that stand at the core of existentialist philosophy, and indeed that stand for the human individual, at this point in Western intellectual history. These analyses will consider the idea of existentialism as literature, defining an image of existentialism as it developed in not only philosophical but also literary terms, thus establishing how existentialism can and should be approached as both a philosophical and literary phenomenon. In this regard, the works of literature by Frisch, Andersch and Böll can be seen as a crucial means of expression for and dissemination of existentialist thought. A study of these literary texts will also uncover the continuing relevance of this philosophical movement which grapples in such fundamental ways with the concrete aporias and threshold situations of human existence then as today. What renders existentialism as a method of inquiry and reflection so pertinent is less its preoccupation with existence in general than its contention that thinking existentially about human existence leads us to pose questions that extend beyond the conceptual repertoire of classical philosophy.
Supervisor: Weninger, Robert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available