By Volker Max Langbehn
Arno Schmidt (1914-1979) is taken into account essentially the most bold and influential writers of postwar Germany; the Germanist Jeremy Adler has known as him an enormous of postwar German literature. Schmidt used to be offered the Fontane Prize in 1964 and the Goethe Prize in 1973, and his early fiction has been translated into English to excessive serious acclaim, yet he's not a well known determine within the English-speaking global, the place his advanced paintings continues to be on the margins of severe inquiry. Volker Langbehn's ebook introduces Schmidt to the English-speaking viewers, with fundamental emphasis on his most renowned novel, Zettel's Traum. One reviewer known as the e-book an elephantine monster due to its unconventional dimension (folio format), size (1334 pages and over 10 million characters), and designated presentation of textual content within the kind of notes, typewritten pages, parallel columns, and collages. the radical narrates the lifetime of the most characters, Daniel Pagenstecher, Paul Jacobi and his spouse Wilma, and their teenage daughter Franziska. In discussing the existence and works of Edgar Allan Poe, the 4 have interaction within the difficulties attached with a translation of Poe. Langbehn's research investigates how literary language can mediate or account for the realm of reports and for ideas. Schmidt's use of unconventional presentation codecs demanding situations us to investigate how we predict approximately examining and writing literary texts. rather than viewing such texts as a illustration of truth, Schmidt's novel destabilizes this unquestioned mode of illustration, posing an intensive problem to what modern literary feedback defines as literature. No complete learn of Zettel's Traum exists in English.
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Extra resources for Arno Schmidt's Zettel's Traum: An Analysis (Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture)
In contrast to normative interpretative mastery, reading Zettel’s Traum is the reopening of the process of constituting knowledge. In turn, the reading experience prepares the reader for a critical predisposi108 tion towards unexamined transcendental pretensions. The dialogical principle of Zettel’s Traum breaks with the hierarchical structuring of 109 knowledge. If reading remains a matter of difference, not of originality, or unity, then the constant testing of words by and through words anchors the creative imagination in the idea of reflexive reason, suggesting a displacement of a generic definition of reason.
As a translation and discussion of Poe’s texts, Zettel’s Traum automatically assumes the role of a commentary performed within the format of a dialogue, and disqualifies any speculations about authenticity. Schmidt’s practices of citation range from simply copying to rewrit83 ing. Anticipating possible criticism Schmidt made the different positions regarding direct and indirect quotations an object of discussion within the text, thereby rendering possible accusation of plagiarism moot: “Zur Frage der ‘offenen’ Excerpte — (die verdecktn nennen sich ‘Plagiate’: ‘ss ja bekannt, wie der Meister=selbst darüber schwadroniert hat; bis Er endlich gestand: der ‘genius’ plagiire am meistn) .
Opposed to any kind of religious language, to a language that holds power by being “in Normalsprache verpackt” (ZT 471), Schmidt parodies the lie by using its own words against it. What matters is not the direct meaning the word gives to the objects, but rather in which interest this meaning 113 is used. Dan’s puns deprive religion of control over its own language; its use of this language to maintain its authority comes to seem a merely accidental effect. With his crude slum naturalism Schmidt becomes the champion of “improper expression” and vulgarity in their most extreme forms, aligning himself with the tradition of the sixteenth century so well docu114 mented by Rüdiger Zymner’s study.