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The Transformation of Failure

A critical analysis of character presentation in the novels of Wolfgang Koeppen


Carole Hanbidge

This study of Wolfgang Koeppen's two pre-war and three post-war novels demonstrates a continuity both in Koeppen's thematic concerns and in the underlying development of his characters throughout the five novels. Often the novels have been treated as works of pessimistic social and political criticism: by contrast, this detailed analysis of the unique creative inner lives and the corresponding spiritual development of the characters - with the exception of Johannes von Süde in Die Mauer schwankt - demonstrates the narrator's positive assessment of the characters and the increasingly optimistic tendency of the novels.
Contents: Narrator's standpoint in relation to the characters - Discussion and re-evaluation of the characters' so-called «problems of communication» - Re-assessment of their spiritual achievements - Bibliography.