In regard to narrative perspective, Kafka develops to an extreme the exclusion of the omniscient narrator. These prose works, among the most interesting and finest narrative works produced by Expressionism, all convey a distorted view of the world narrated from the very personal viewpoint of the main character, who in three of these works is insane. The petty bourgeois is revealed as a fantastically macabre and grotesque menace. Mann maintained the same grotesque intensity of narrator perspective through large sections of the book.
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Nonetheless, there exists between Kafka and the other Expressionists an essential distinction in regard to the use of figural perspective. The internal point of view, the point of orientation for narrated events, is entirely coherent in Kafka, untouched by any reference to an external reality. However, from a linguistic point of view, we cannot consider him a true Expressionist.
This example shows us that we must proceed with nuanced care when seeking to define Expressionist prose.
After this discussion of narrative perspectivism, let us now again turn to linguistic features of Expressionism in order to reiterate that the two fundamental features of its prose were the pursuit of the utmost compression of language and syntactic distortion. We observe that aphorisms predominate whenever naturalistic representation yields to the expression of ideas. Aphorisms deal with generalizations and as such refer to ideas beyond the text, to a region shared by reader and narrator.
Events and characters assume secondary importance; the identical relationship of the narrated events to reality external to the narrative is of primary importance. Aphorisms disturb the autonomy of the fictional world represented in the narrative. Aphorism is linked to irony. The irony of Einstein and Mynona rests upon the keen awareness of the abyss that separates the world of ideas from empirical reality. In the works of Alfred Lichtenstein — , which depict the milieu of the Berlin artistic community, ironic anecdotes, composed of aphorisms, are the most prominent feature of the narrative.
In order to live decently, one has to be a scoundrel; Aphorisms convey a philosophy or a truth about life in concise wording of universal applicability.
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The escalation of the aphorism from a sentence into a scene, anecdote, or even story by necessity leads to parable. Two flies are drowned in an inkpot, and in this grotesque and trivial event the narrator finds an illustration of the tragic meaninglessness of existence. The distinction between the parables of Lichtenstein and Ehrenstein and those of Mynona is that the latter, despite his use of irony and relativity, permits the Platonic idea to shine through, as the eternal possibility of intellectual freedom.
In contrast, the former two writers demonstrate the absurdity of life by grotesquely combining the trite and ridiculous with sorrow and tragedy. However, in Kafka, the incomprehensible defeats all attempts at interpretation. SOKEL employed parables. The sentence structure and linguistic aberrations transform his stories into ironic, or rather, burlesque parables. This widespread tendency toward ellipsis in Expressionist prose has however also an entirely different cause that the admirer of Sternheim, Gottfried Benn, formulates as follows:.
However, beneath those differences lies a deeper affinity uniting these authors in their shared antipathy toward psychology, namely, the rejection of causality as a sufficient explanation of human behavior and of the world. In both of these currents of Expressionism, the writers are bent on eliminating the opposition between the self and external reality, between subject and object, between inside and outside. In a formal and linguistic respect, inner monologue achieves the elimination of the subject-object opposition.
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In these writers, the distinction between inner and external reality ceases to exist. Everything flows together. A narrative structure of shifting perspectives and absence of narrative orientation makes the reader feel everywhere and nowhere at all. Moreover, such a narrative technique is the ultimate triumph of literary Naturalism; for the narrator by relinquishing the role of reporter allows the characters an unmediated expression of fictional reality.
Annulling the distinction between dialogue and narrative achieves complete autonomy of the text. This form of inner monologue is more radical than anything encountered in Naturalism. It deconstructs syntax by means of radical ellipsis and destroys the mimetic representation of reality. It undermines the coherent narrative logic presupposed in Naturalism, that is, causality, argument, and order.
Developing out of Naturalism, the narrative technique of inner monologue became a normative form and visionary experience in Expressionism, composed of musical leitmotifs. Instead of sentences expressing a logically coherent world, Broch utilizes sequences of associative appositions. That omission of predicates and the liquefying of sentences into a stream of language suggests a reaching out toward infinity. The essays in that volume all followed the same format, with no notes and no page numbers for citations. The current translation now provides page numbers to the most recent available editions, rather than to the edition available when the article was first published.
Additional notes are thus from the editor, not the author, as are all English translations. Works Cited Beissner, Friedrich. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, Walter Muschg. Frank, Leonhard. Der Mensch ist gut.
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Potsdam: Kiepenheuer, ; repr. Heym, Georg. Prosa und Dramen. Karl Ludwig Schneider. A New History of French Literature. Kafka, Franz. Hochzeitsvorbereitungen auf dem Lande und andere Prosa aus dem Nachlass. Max Brod. Gesammelte Prosa. Klaus Kanzog. Zurich: Arche, Mierendorff, Carlo. Otto Best, — Mynona Salomo Friedlaender. Prince, Gerald. Sack, Gustav. Prosa, Briefe, Verse. Sternheim, Carl. Wilhelm Emrich and Manfred Linke. Darmstadt and Neuwied: Luchterhand, Walser, Martin. Beschreibung einer Form. Munich: C.
openpress.alaska.edu/pequea-gran-revolucin-preparndonos-para-el.php Hanser, Tiere in Ketten. Carl Sternheim: Weltvorstellung und Kunstprinzipien. Zeller, Bernhard. Mai bis Oktober The drama of Expressionism with its incantations and bombast also seems uncongenial to audiences in the twenty-first century. Yet the lyric poetry and short prose of Expressionism retains a capacity to shock, to unnerve, and to shatter habitual modes of perception: the Expressionist period abounds in short works of intense narrative experimentation, some successful, some less so, but which all put on display the energy and ambitions of the day to reform the genre.
Such texts exhibit, despite the time that has now elapsed since their composition, remarkable virtuosity and freshness. Indeed, the formal and linguistic experimentation by the authors I shall discuss in this chapter makes their work not only challenging but also of enormous literary-historical significance. As a literary movement Expressionism is conventionally dated between and It is characterized as sharing with other movements around the turn of the century, variously categorized as neo-Romanticism, Symbolism, Impressionism or Jugendstil, a rejection of scientific positivism and its artistic counterpart of Naturalism in literature and painting.
Expressionism proper seeks to take that opposition to Naturalism to a new formal extreme, insisting that its aim is not a naturalistic depiction of the external world, nor even an impressionistic capturing of the shifting patterns of light on the surface of that reality, but an intuitive grasp of essence. The theoretical underpinning of Expressionist writing suggests an eclectic appropriation of ideas current in art history and philosophy.
Its precondition is a confident relationship between man and nature, which produces an art of immanence. But Worringer considers that much of the history of art falls outside this canon, and he postulates a diametrically opposed tendency, namely an urge to abstraction, which in turn produces an art of transcendence.
This art springs from a spiritual unrest, a disturbed relationship with nature, which is manifest, in different ways, in primitive man, in Egyptian art, in Gothic art, but also characterizes modern civilization and its discontents. But in bringing together primitivism, transcendence, and abstraction, Worringer lays the foundation for much of the thinking about both art and literature in the Expressionist period. His reflections on art supply the Expressionists with a rationale for formal distortion and linguistic dislocation.
Developments in philosophy around and immediately after the turn of the century offer interesting parallels to Expressionist theory. In one or two incidences one may speak of influence, but the process of reception is usually far less precise. Heinrich Rickert, a Neo-Kantian philosopher of the Baden school, published in a work entitled Die Grenzen der naturwissenschaftlichen Begriffsbildung The Limits of Conceptualization in the Natural Sciences, , a landmark in the rejection of scientific positivism.
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As Jost Hermand has pointed out, the impact of this work was felt far beyond the realm of philosophy in art history and literary criticism 1—6. While the natural scientist seeks to distill universally applicable laws from this Mannigfaltigkeit or multifariousness , the historian seeks to arrive at historical concepts that, though not obtained by the same process as scientific concepts, have equal status with them. The aim of the artist is now to provide knowledge of the world by a process of conceptualization that runs counter to scientific positivism; artistic and cultural value lie not in a mimetic reproduction of the empirical world but in a process by which the particularity of an object may be distilled.
The outbreak of the First World War shattered the bourgeois complacency of Wilhelminian society, and both the disastrous course of the war and the Bolshevik revolution further polarized political opinion. What is striking is the fact that writers on both sides of this political spectrum, the anarchists and the communists, asserted the revolutionary nature of their artistic enterprise, arguing that the new modes of perception, the new ways of seeing, represented a radical break with what was deemed bourgeois conventionality.
Influenced by the physicist Ernst Mach and the art historian Conrad Fiedler, as well as by contemporary writers like Paul Scheerbart, Einstein produced a novel that eschewed psychological verisimilitude in the interest of constituting a metaphysical, quasi-religious reality.
Art is concerned not with the depiction of objects but with the structuring of a way of seeing. The totality that thus comes into being is transcendent. If one ignores questions about the existence of the object and disregards everything contingent, one arrives at the essence das Wesentliche , a recurrent term in the theoretical writings of the Expressionists.
In a society in which objects appear alienated, cut off from human purposes, phenomenological reduction appeared, particularly, one suspects, to non-philosophers, to offer a new opportunity to repair the subject-object dichotomy, and, by bridging the gap between man and things in themselves, to heal the sense of alienation that afflicts modern man. Carl Einstein, as a theorist of modern art, supplies much of the terminology found in the theoretical statements of the Expressionist generation.
Reacting to the overweening claims of scientific positivism in the late nineteenth century, the art theory of the early twentieth century offers an antidote to overly civilized and overly cerebral society, celebrating instead both the primitive and the medieval. Both were convinced that formal distortion reflected a new way of seeing, a revolutionary act of perception, though Sternheim, as an opponent of the war, was increasingly keen to assert analogies between his literary strategy and that of the French Realist tradition.
It was only around , after his conversion to the belief that all literature was broadly political in nature, that he sought to present all his prose works, even those written earlier, as depicting underlying social realities.