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Walter Kempowski's «Deutsche Chronik»

A study in ironic narration

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Christopher Riley

Approaching the topos of irony from both the surface and deep structure levels, this study examines Kempowski's principal concerns in the Deutsche Chronik. On the level of surface structure, the focus of his critical irony is the mentality and mores of the German middle class during the first half of the twentieth century. On the deep structure level, Kempowski's use of irony serves to create an ambiguous distance between himself and his narratorial personae. It supports his own self-interpretation and, by transferring the sole responsibility for the creation of meaning and the subsequent drawing of conclusions to his readers, he provides them with the opportunity to share his enquiry into German history and apply the lessons that can be learnt from the period in question.
Contents: Irony: a definition of terms - Surface structure irony: thematic focussing through irony - Deep structure irony - The expression of the self - Reception of the text and problems of interpretation - Tadellöser & Wolff; Uns geht's ja noch gold; Ein Kapitel für sich; Aus großer Zeit; Schöne Aussicht; Herzlich willkommen.