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Spaces for Happiness in the Twentieth-Century German Novel

Mann, Kafka, Hesse, Jünger


Alan Corkhill

This book offers an in-depth study of the rich tapestry of happiness discourses in well-known philosophical novels by Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse and Ernst Jünger, published between 1922 and 1949. The study is prompted, in part, by an awareness that despite the interdisciplinarity of happiness research, Western literary scholarship has paid scant attention to fictionalized constructs of happiness. Each of the four chapters uses extended textual analysis to explore the sites in which happiness ( Glück) and serenity ( Heiterkeit) are sought, experienced, narrated, reflected upon and enacted. The author theorizes, with particular reference to Bachelard and Foucault, the interfaces between interior and exterior spaces and states of well-being. In addition to providing new interpretive perspectives on the canonical novels themselves, the book makes a significant contribution to a broader history of the idea of happiness through the appraisal of key intellectual cross-currents and traditions, both Western and Eastern, underpinning the novelists’ varied and nuanced conceptualizations and aesthetic representations of happiness.


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Acknowledgements vii


Acknowledgements I owe a special debt of gratitude to the University of Queensland’s School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies, Faculty of Arts and Centre for the History of European Discourses for their generous financial support of the many visits to German research facilities that brought the book to fruition. I am also highly appreciative of the valuable advice and encour- agement I received from staf f of the Deutsches Literararchiv in Marbach a.N. and the Philological Library at the Free University of Berlin over the course of this intellectually rewarding project. Finally, I wish to express my love and gratitude to my wife, Annette, who, with much diligence and patience, provided an extra set of eyes during the proofreading stage of the manuscript.

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