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Across Literary and Linguistic Diversities

Essays on Comparative Literature

Goethe Society of India, Madhu Sahni and Mazumdar Shaswati

Comparative literary studies face new challenges today in a world marked by the migration of people, languages, ideas and texts across diverse and increasingly porous borders. The field is restricted by conventional notions of comparativism born in the era of nationalism and colonialism. However, scholars are now provoked to rethink these notions as a result of the social, economic and political forces that drive the contemporary world, which simultaneously draw it into an ever tighter global network and create new, or reassert persisting, lines of division.
What are the conceptual and methodological questions that must engage our attention if comparativism, as recent debates suggest, has to revive its critical potential and chart afresh the future of literary studies? The essays in this volume attempt to rethink comparison in this context through theoretical reflections and concrete comparative analyses. They investigate similarities and differences, connections and references, across diverse literary and linguistic cultures in Indian, German and other European literatures.
This volume is the 2014 Yearbook of the Goethe Society of India.
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Gegensätze in Ingeborg Bachmanns Der Gute Gott von Manhattan



Ingeborg Bachmann’s successful radio play Der gute Gott von Manhattan has primarily been discussed by critics for its portrayal of the romantic relationship of its protagonists Jan and Jennifer. Although pertinent, this focus often occludes the play’s philosophical complexity. For instance, Bachmann sets up seeming oppositions throughout only to invert them and shatter their binary logic as the plot progresses. This article analyses how such oppositions function within this radio play and looks at three of these binaries to follow how they develop: i) the depiction of the quotidian and the fantastical; ii) the portrayal of the accused and the judge; iii) the ambivalent representation of Jan and Jennifer’s relationship.

Nun steckt aber in jedem Fall, auch im alltäglichsten von Liebe, der Grenzfall, den wir, bei näherem Zusehen, erblicken können und vielleicht uns bemühen sollten zu erblicken. Denn bei allem, was wir tun, denken und fühlen, möchten wir manchmal bis zum Äußersten gehen. Der Wunsch wird in uns wach, die Grenzen zu überschreiten, die uns gesetzt sind.

— INGEBORG BACHMANN, ‚Die Wahrheit ist dem Menschen zumutbar‘, 1964

1959 gewann Ingeborg Bachmann den Kriegsblindenpreis für ihr letztes Hörspiel Der gute Gott von Manhattan.1 Obwohl dieses Hörspiel (sowie ihre Buchfassung) vom Publikum und der Literaturkritik sehr positiv aufgenommen wurde, wurde es überwiegend als eine Liebesgeschichte diskutiert. Die philosophische Komplexität des Werkes wurde dabei oft außer Acht gelassen.2 In ihrer...

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