Esther Schießer - Kermani’s Reception of Jean Paul: Reconsidering his Frankfurt Lectures Über den Zufall and his Novel Dein Name
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Kermani’s Reception of Jean Paul: Reconsidering his Frankfurt Lectures Über den Zufall and his Novel Dein Name1
Almost 250 years after Jean Paul’s birth, Navid Kermani chose him as his topic for the 2010 Frankfurt Lectures titled Über den Zufall. Jean Paul, Hölderlin und der Roman, den ich schreibe. Die Frankfurter Poetikvorlesungen [On Accidents: Jean Paul, Hölderlin, and the Novel I Am Writing. Frankfurt Lectures on Poetics]. But what is the connection between a contemporary German author like Navid Kermani and a Romantic satirist from the eighteenth century? Kermani begins his Frankfurt lectures with the question ‘Warum Jean Paul?’ (Why Jean Paul?).2 In a larger sense, how does Kermani engage the aesthetics of Jean Paul? To what extent does Kermani incorporate Jean Paul’s notions about the minute-by-minute awareness of mortality, as a stimulant for verbal creations, into his own narrative strategies?
Overall, academic researchers agree with Kermani’s views on the idiosyncrasies of Jean Paul’s style. In many key points, we can perceive congruent ideas and literary techniques. Hans-Georg Pott, for instance, draws our attention to aspects in Jean Paul that are brought out as crucial in our comparative analysis: on the one hand, there is the tension between finality and the infinite and the special fascination with liminal areas of ← 143 | 144 → human life, death, and birth.3 On the other hand, there is the turn toward the accidental and the insignificant while foregrounding the...
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