Motherhood, Intimacy, and Domestic Spaces in Julia Franck’s Fiction
Chapter 2 Lovers: The Search for and Failure of Intimacy in Berlin Literature
In the late 1990s, seeking to identify the malaise of the millennium, the media and literary scholars centred their discussions of contemporary German literature on the alienation of modern life. Although anonym- ity and isolation within urban centres has long been a topic of concern, it was revived here as indicative of the party generation, the ‘scenesters’, the young Germans who seemed to have no jobs, no motivation, noth- ing to do and nothing to care about. Deemed worse than their lack of direction or political engagement was their inability to form meaning- ful relationships with their peers. Love or romance seemed beyond their limited capacity for emotion. Regardless of whether such people really existed among the twenty- and thirty-somethings of Berlin, they existed in German literature, and it is the characters such as those in Judith Hermann’s Sommerhaus, später, Tanja Dückers’ Spielzone or Franck’s Bauchlandung that were frequently mentioned as examples. Katharina Gerstenberger, in the first chapter of Writing the New Berlin, points out that in these works the city is ‘a lonely and isolating place’ and, despite the frequency of sexual encounters in texts by Franck and Hermann, ‘sex never leads to the inti- macy that the protagonists desire.’1 Literary critic Iris Radisch spoke of a millennial ‘Liebeskatastrophe’ or ‘catastrophe of love’ in German society, putting the blame on ‘das völlige Fehlen von Vorbildern gelingender Liebe in modernen Lebensverhältnissen’ [the total absence of models for love that works in modern circumstances] in both real...
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