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Mapping Berlin

Representations of Space in the Weimar Feuilleton

Frances Mossop

This book was the winner of the 2013 Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in German Studies.

The Weimar period (1919–1933) generated an immense wealth of writings that recorded impressions of daily life in the German capital of Berlin. Literary journalism, in particular, experienced a surge in popularity at the time and played a vital role in informing the public about the ‘new world’ that was emerging after the First World War.
This book offers an original approach to the German feuilleton of the 1920s and early 1930s by exploring how authors engaged with the space of Berlin on the page. Drawing on recent spatial theory, the author focuses on the role of geography and cartography in the journalistic oeuvres of Joseph Roth, Gabriele Tergit and Kurt Tucholsky. Central to this study is an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to the examination of their feuilleton articles by foregrounding spatiality within the context of literary analysis. The book demonstrates how Roth, Tergit and Tucholsky depict contemporary concerns through spatial representation, thus yielding new insights into the authors’ narration of the history, society and politics of the Weimar Republic.
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Chapter 1: Introduction

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CHAPTER 1

Introduction

The metaphor ‘writing the city’ refers to a literary category which makes the city and urban life its subject matter. Writers attempt to capture or come to terms with the city in all its various guises on the page, be it in prose novels, poetry, journalism or any other literary documents such as letters, sketches and diaries.1 The concept has its roots in the so-called Städtebild, a prose description of a town or city, a genre that emerged towards the end of the eighteenth century in Germany, alongside more empirical studies or cultural and historical sketches of cities. One of the earliest examples of a German literary portrayal of a street scene can be found in Georg Christoph Lichtenberg’s Briefe aus England [Letters from England] from 1775/76, which already makes reference to the heightened pulse of street life in London, the city’s commercial function and anonymous nature, as well as the concurrence of actions and events that mark the large metropolitan area.2

The city as literary topos then began to truly thrive in Europe in the nineteenth century. Eckhardt Köhn highlights the asynchrony of the metropolises at that time [Ungleichzeitigkeit der Metropolen], in particular the relative lagging behind of German royal capitals (including such cities as Dresden, Karlsruhe, Munich and even Berlin) in comparison with Paris and London, genuine world cities that were modern in their industrial ← 1 | 2 → capitalism and inhabited by an increasingly powerful...

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