Bithell Series of Dissertations

Barbara Saunders
September 2, 1985
The genre of autobiography is a highly popular form of self-expression in contemporary Western literature. This sudy first explores the development and established expectations of the genre in a broad European context and then presents analyses of five autobiographical works by living German-speaking writers accomplished in the fictional mode - Thomas Bernhard, Elias Canetti, Max Frisch, Wolfgang Koeppen, and Christa Wolf. The chosen works not only illustrate that present-day forms of autobiography are diverse, they also show that the traditional aims of the genre are no longer valid. The search for personal identity is rendered complex through writers' changed understanding of the processes of memory, history,...
Nicholas Saul
November 1, 1984
Novalis's theory of poetic historiography is seen here for the first time in its Enlightenment context. Novalis did not, as traditionally supposed, merely negate the ideals of Enlightenment historiography: rationality, objectivity, evidence. In typical Romantic fashion he sought also to assimilate theses virtues dialectically into his own world-view. His narrative techniques in Die Christenheit oder Europa, Hymnen an die Nacht, and Heinrich von Ofterdingen are analysed from this perspective. Commentators who see Novalis as Enlightenment's opponent emphasise the ambiguous communicative function of these works. But here they are seen as attempts to render the historical process transparent, and so to offer evidence...
David Bell
March 1, 1984
This study first examines how the early hostile reception of Spinoza's thought in Germany rapidly established fundamental misconceptions, despite an undercurrent of opposition from a few little-known, sometimes eccentric, radical freethinkers. The development of a more productive assessment of Spinoza's philosophy is then systematically traced in the writings of Mendelssohn, Lessing, Herder and Goethe, culminating in the vitriolic Spinoza controversy of the 1780s, which provided the final impulse for Herder's Spinoza-dialogues, God. Detailed analysis of this neglected key work brings out the crucial importance of Spinoza in the formulation of a world-view that intimately links the thought of Herder, Goethe and...
Naomi Segal
October 1, 1981
The 'banal object' is one whose very insignificance appears to hint at a hidden meaning. In the texts Dr Segal examines here, the narrators have crucial encounters with such objects: these scenes first dramatize, and later tentatively resolve, a personal and literary crisis. Close analysis reveals many themes of radical self-questioning, expressed in a language whose thematics - or, fundamental imagery - reproduces the opposition of self and world seen in the relationship between narrator and object, and displays a similar ambivalence of fear and desire. The texts are also placed in a literary-historical context: their special use of objects arises from the conflict between Symbolism and Naturalism, and...
Carl Lofmark
January 1, 1981
The Middle High German narrative poet inherited from his literary precursors a conception of his art as consisting primarily in the translation and poetic adaptation of given source material, which was allegedly historical truth and which his patron and audience would expect him to follow. And yet the works produced by the German poets are often strikingly different from their French sources. This book describes the origin and history of the German poet's rule of fidelity to a literary source and considers both the constraint which this rule imposed upon him and the scope of his legitimate independence.
John Sandford
November 1, 1980
Rilke's extraordinary sensitivity to the many and varied landscapes that he experienced can throw much light on the notions of accommodating self and non-self, and part and whole, that he repeatedly wrestles with in his poetry. By exmaining the landscape experiences recorded in Rilke's letters, and the landscape imagery of his poetry, John Sandford shows how the opaque existential and metaphysical concerns of a notoriously 'difficult' poet are exemplified in a more tangible and less elusive form in the relation of the individual to the landscapes about him.
Ann White
March 1, 1980
This study is concerned with the specifically literary function of names in Goethe's Faust. Connotation is seen to be an essential feature of Goethe's name-giving practice, and the means are explored by which names, through their semantic properties and evocative overtones, are able to offer comment on situations, highlight character, interact through shared sound, sense or association, and form part of symbolic patterns within the drama as a whole.
Elizabeth Wright
December 1, 1979
This study sets out to investigate what kind of rhetoric an author employs in order to make the reader's flesh creep. On the one hand this entails a close examination of the language he uses; on the other hand it also entails asking what the nature of the human experience is that the author is inviting the reader to share with him. To do one without at the same time doing the other would be either to fall into the trap of formalism or to risk the danger of confusing life and literature. For the one, the author draws freely on both classical rhetoric and modern linguistics and, for the other, on the insights provided by psycho-analysis.
Richard Cox
November 12, 1979
Detection of the influence of one writer on another is a time-honoured critical pursuit. Disclaimers of such influence on the part of writers themselves are almost equally commonplace. The first problem raised by Rilke's encounter with the work of Valéry is that it offers the unusual spectacle of a writer proclaiming a deep indebtedness before a largely unbelieving critical world. The ascertainable facts concerning Rilke's reading of Valéry have been well documented elsewhere, and this study focuses on Rilke's expression of an immediate and overwhelming sense of affinity with Valéry which critics have for the most part ignored or set aside.

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