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Magnificent Houses in Twentieth Century European Literature


Hugo G. Walter

Magnificent Houses in Twentieth Century European Literature is a collection of great and imaginative essays that explore the theme of magnificent and aesthetically interesting houses in twentieth century European literature. It focuses especially on important works by Thomas Mann, Evelyn Waugh, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Siegfried Lenz, while also discussing other significant houses in modern European literature.


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Chapter 4 Siegfried Lenz 219


C h a p t e r 4 Siegfried Lenz The first sentence of Siegfried Lenz’s Deutschstunde,The German Lesson (1968) effec- tively sets the scene of the novel for the protagonist says that he has been kept in to write an essay. The protagonist, the first-person narrator, does not write the assigned essay, ‘The Joys of Duty,’ in his class and is consequently put into solitary confine- ment in the reformatory where he then produces a series of thoughtfully written and personally revealing essays. The interconnected themes of imprisonment within one’s self, within one’s past, and within one’s environment are all important here. Siggi Jepsen, the protagonist, is able to confront, challenge, and ultimately transcend his imprisonment through his writing. The endeavor of writing does not come easily to Siggi, for he is distracted by various features of his immediate ambience and by reflec- tions on the past so that he cannot seem to find an effective starting-point. The issue of duty is arguably the central theme of the novel for it permeates the lives not only of the major characters but also pervades the landscape which they inhabit and the atmosphere in which they work and strive. Claus Nordbruch discus- ses the importance of this theme in the novel in Über die Pflicht: Eine Analyse des Werkes von Sieg fried Lenz: “…ist es primär die Auseinandersetzung des Erzählers mit den Pflichtauffassungen Jens Ole Jepsens, Max Ludwig Nansens, Siggi Jepsens und auch Karl Joswigs, die den...

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