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Constructions of Melancholy in Contemporary German and Austrian Literature


Anna O'Driscoll

Melancholy has become a central theme of German literature since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The rapidly changing sociopolitical circumstances of the post-1989 period and the continued burden of the Nazi past have directly contributed to this upsurge in melancholy themes. This book traces the complex discourse of melancholy in contemporary literature in the work of Monika Maron, Christoph Hein, Arno Geiger and Alois Hotschnig. Focusing on key concepts of melancholy – time, transience, historical dislocation and posthistoire – the author’s readings reveal the close connection between the body and melancholy from ageing to our gendered relationships with history. This study also emphasizes the relevance of melancholy for current theoretical issues in German Studies, including Heimat discourse, genealogy and transgenerational memory, and postmemory.


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Acknowledgements ix Chapter 1 Introduction 1 Chapter 2 Melancholy Subjectivity in Monika Maron’s Endmoränen and Ach Glück 33 Chapter 3 Christoph Hein’s Frau Paula Trousseau: Art as Refuge in the GDR 77 Chapter 4 Arno Geiger’s Es geht uns gut: A Posthistoire Narrative? 143 Chapter 5 Alois Hotschnig’s Ludwigs Zimmer: Evidence of a Pre-Psychological Melancholy Paradigm 199 Conclusion 235 Bibliography 243 Index 251

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