Essays on Genre
Edited By Goethe Society of India, Chitra Harshvardhan, Rekha Rajan and Madhu Sahni
This volume is the 2015 Yearbook of the Goethe Society of India.
David Midgley - Der fremde Blick. Zur Verwendung hinduistischer Motive in Alfred Döblins Manas
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Der fremde Blick. Zur Verwendung hinduistischer Motive in Alfred Döblins Manas1
There are many elements of Döblin’s ‘Indian poem’ Manas (1927) that reflect an awareness of the Hindu religious, philosophical and literary writings transmitted into German culture by the work of scholars in the course of the nineteenth century. But in its treatment of themes as well as in its poetic radicalism, Manas stands out from the common run of German literary texts of the early twentieth century, which tended to treat Indian subject matter in an idealizing or orientalizing manner. This article re-examines the place of Manas in Döblin’s œuvre (particularly in relation to his Reise in Polen, which was written immediately before it), the evidence of how the text came about, and the implications of the use it makes of Hindu motifs. In particular, the article draws attention to the echoes in Manas of the writings of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and of translations of Hindu sacred texts by Paul Deussen. On this basis it seeks to elucidate the ways in which Döblin combined themes that are central to Hinduism with concerns that are germane to European modernity and gave powerful expression to both of them through the imagery of his text.
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