This article reads Max Halbe's late Naturalist play Mutter Erde (1897), a key work in his œuvre, in relation to German Naturalist drama and the political context in which it was written and set, namely the passage of the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch für das Deutsche Reich through the Reichstag in 1896. Recovering the specific literary, political and legal context allows the ideological fault lines of the play to be laid bare and provides a corrective to the recent tendency to view Halbe's works in general, and Mutter Erde in particular, as straightforwardly pre-fascist. Detailed examination of the unpublished manuscript material relating to the play, including a revised ending from 1941, shows how Halbe changed his original plans, and the difficulties that he had with the characterization of the three central characters and the ending of the play. Ultimately Mutter Erde rejects both poles which are such a feature of Naturalist drama, being equally pessimistic about tradition and modernity, ‘Heimat’ and the city.
The article analyses the motif of consumption in Rosa Montero's La función delta in connection with the novel's thematic concerns with cultural representation. It argues that the novel makes a self-conscious incursion into the question of determining the value of cultural products, in the context of a wider preoccupation with literature's capacity to represent experience accurately. The novel suggests that, if literature and other cultural modes are compromised by political and commercial interests, perhaps the language of science offers a more adequate means of describing our emotional lives. This article therefore explores the tensions in the novel between emotional and physical experience, and between literary and scientific language, against the backdrop of a society undergoing enormous social and technological change.
This article analyses imbricated discourses of nutrition, hunger and fasting in Zola's Le Ventre de Paris (1873) and Huysmans's A Vau-l'eau (1882), A Rebours (1884) and Sainte Lydwine de Schiedam (1901). In particular, it argues that Zola's neo-physiological Naturalism, as eventually theorized in Le Roman expérimental (1880), actually produces a rhetoric of hunger and fasting, most notably in Le Ventre de Paris. This rhetoric, it is argued, was taken up and developed by Huysmans, finally becoming central to his Spiritual Naturalism, ostensibly formulated to counter the materialism of Zola's Naturalism. The article begins by looking at physiological and materialist discourses of nutrition – as encapsulated by slogans to the effect that ‘you are what you eat’ – and their impact on literary debates that, in the 1870s, opposed Zola and Barbey d'Aurevilly. It then shows how these discourses of nutrition are supplanted in the fiction of Zola and Huysmans by a rhetoric of hunger and fasting typically associated with Catholic conceptions of sanctity.
Certain fraudulent memoirs seem to contain traumatic traces that are genuinely authentic, albeit unrelated to the narrative in which they appear. How should one respond to such texts? In this article, I suggest that some texts might become powerful indicators of cultural and historical resonances, and examine what kind of traumatic traces are recognized and marginalized in public discourse, and for what reasons. Revisiting the by now infamous case of Binjamin Wilkomirski's Bruchstücke, I ask what this text, after having gone from being hailed as a masterpiece of the Holocaust testimony genre to being vilified as a shameful hoax, tells about the ways in which we read such an ambiguous, pathological core of authenticity, namely the author's apparently genuine suffering that made him identify with a wrong event, a wrong person.
This article considers Bernard Stiegler's discussion, in the second volume of his De la Misère symbolique, of the artist Joseph Beuys, exploring how Stiegler's turn to Beuys fits with his philosophy as a whole. Although Stiegler invokes Beuys specifically to articulate his conception of human aesthetic existence, the connection this establishes to aspects of Beuys's practice – especially the frequent presence of animals in his work – invites a broader interrogation of the relation between this existence and its ecological environment. Pursuing this interrogation, the article examines how far the aesthetic activity, or participation in circuits of symbolic exchange, which both see as vital to human existence, should be considered as embedded in ecological contexts irreducible to any anthropocentrism.
When used as a weapon by an author, copyright serves to protect the rights to his or her creation. Through an analysis of Utilitarian and Natural Rights theories, it can however be seen that the broader goals underpinning copyright law lie essentially in the encouragement of learning; that is, copyright encourages the creation of new works for the overall benefit of society, not necessarily through an expansionist view of copyright, but by limiting the rights of the author. This issue is reflected in infringement action against secondary authors of sequels and parodies. The many recent cases involving the Harry Potter books are a good example of a hugely successful author exercising her legal rights to the detriment of literature, learning and scholarship, and specifically to the future development and existence of valuable literary forms such as sequels and parodies.
In Marie Nimier's second novel, La Girafe, key moments of violence and transgressive sex are marked by a leitmotif of strangulation, which feeds into an existing trauma of the protagonist-narrator Joseph, a zoo employee. Joseph's damaged sexual development finds expression in his infatuation with, and need to dominate, Hedwige, a young female giraffe, in whose death by strangulation he is complicit, and in a subsequent violent homosexual encounter. The strangulation motif also features in Marie Nimier's account in La Reine du silence of her father's abusive relationship with her mother, alongside reference to his attempted suicide. A subtle play of names can be seen as pointing towards an indirect evocation of an episode of rape in Roger Nimier's most famous novel, Le Hussard bleu. In each case, it is not just the physical integrity of the female which is at stake in the act of violence, but access to language, embodied in throat (speech) and wrist (writing). This indissoluble link between body and articulation is acutely problematized in Marie Nimier's writing, and in the view she develops of her identity and her project as a writer.
In 2008, to commemorate the accession of the Czech Republic to the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Czech government commissioned sculptor David Cerny to create a collaborative work of public art together with artists from each of the twenty-seven EU member states. The Czechs intended for the work to celebrate diversity and intercultural cooperation, in keeping with the motto of their Presidency, ‘Europe without Barriers’. In a manner consistent with Cerny's long history of subverting authority through public art, the artist secretly created the entire work himself (a gigantic ‘Airfix’ model kit of Europe with twenty-seven pieces), attributed each piece to a different artist of his own imagining, and titled it Entropa. Cerny ratified these ersatz artists' involvement through faked websites and a catalogue in which bogus résumés and artists' statements were tendered alongside renderings of their supposed contributions. This article explores Cerny's creation of these counterfeit collaborators as a rebuff to the untenable bureaucratic notion of art by committee, as a means of preserving the artist's bona fides as a dissident despite his purported creative alliance with the state, and as a carnivalesque act of geniture whereby Cerny rhetorically fathered the accomplices he needed to realize his larger satire: the figural dismantling of the EU and polemical erection of barriers drawn from cultural stereotypes commonly held throughout the member states.