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Re-forming the Nation in Literature and Film - Entwürfe zur Nation in Literatur und Film

The Patriotic Idea in Contemporary German-Language Culture- Die patriotische Idee in der deutschsprachigen Kultur der Gegenwart


Julian Ernest Preece

In the year that Europe commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of World War I and the European Union faces a crisis of legitimacy, the national question is once again being posed across the Continent. This volume assesses how contemporary German-language writers and filmmakers have approached this troubled question over the last decade. It addresses whether the collective entity known as Germany should more properly be conflated with the Federal Republic, with its successful sixty-five-year history (‘the best Germany we have ever had’), rather than the ‘nation’ with all its tainted connotations and corrupted concepts such as ‘Vaterland’. Contemporary Germany is a product not only of its history up to 1945 but also of the process of understanding that history and acting upon that understanding since the defeat of National Socialism. Each of the sixteen essays collected here illuminates a different segment of a bigger picture, whose shape and shades are themselves evolving. Presented as a whole their purpose is to provoke further discussion among observers of the contemporary German-speaking scene.
In dem Jahr, in dem Europa den 100. Jahrestag des Ausbruchs des Ersten Weltkriegs begeht, und die Europäische Union eine Legitimitätskrise durchmacht, stellt sich in ganz Europa wieder einmal die ‘nationale Frage’. Dieser Band zeigt Antworten von deutschsprachigen Autoren und Filmemachern aus den letzten zehn Jahren. Es wird gefragt, ob es nicht passender wäre, das unter dem Namen ‘Deutschland’ firmierende Kollektiv als ‘Bundesrepublik’ zu erfassen, und somit die Idee der ‘Nation’ mit all seinen Brüchen – bis hin zum verpönten ‘Vaterland’ – zu verabschieden. ‘Das beste Deutschland, das es je gegeben hat’ zeichnet immerhin eine Erfolgsgeschichte seit 65 Jahren. Das heutige Deutschland ist ohne Zweifel ein Produkt seiner Geschichte bis 1945, aber auch von Prozessen des Verstehens und der Verständigung über diese Geschichte seit dem Ende des Nationalsozialismus. Jeder der sechzehn Beiträge in diesem Band beleuchtet ein Fragment eines größeren Bilds, das selbst ständig im Umbruch ist. Als Ganzes sollen diese Beiträge die Debatte unter Beobachtern der heutigen deutschsprachigen Welt anregen.


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MARIA MAYR Überwältigende Vergangenheit


: Questioning European Identity in Contemporary German- Language Literature about the Former Yugoslavia1 The following chapter addresses ways in which three contemporary German-language novelists negotiate memories of the wars that followed the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s by linking them with memory discourses of the Holocaust. I argue that Meeresstille (Nicol Ljubić, 2010), Ohnehin (Doron Rabinovici, 2004), and Das Gedächtnis der Libellen (Marica Bodrožić, 2010) invoke aspects of these two historical events together in order to critique a West European ‘self-imaginary’ that is, at least in part, based on a version of Vergangenheitsbewältigung that has turned intrinsically solipsistic to the detriment of any possible cultural, historical, or national ‘Other’.2 1 I am grateful to the organisers and participants at the Swansea Colloquium and to those of the German and Balkan Encounters panel at the GSA in 2012 for providing me with a venue for discussing my ideas and to further refine my argument. 2 Throughout this chapter, I use the concept of the ‘Other’ to denote radical alter- ity in a ‘Levinasian’ sense. Emmanuel Lévinas approaches the designated cultural other by emphasising the irreducibility of otherness or alterity, which resists being fully grasped or comprehended and consequently being assimilated as part of the self-same. For Levinas, the Other escapes comprehension by the ‘knowing I’, that ‘melting pot’ that subsumes ‘the alterity of all that is Other’. Emmanuel Levinas, Basic Philosophical Writings, trans. Adriaan T. Peperzak, Simon Critchley, and Robert Bernasconi (Bloomington: Indiana University Press,...

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