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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 pessi- mistic 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 increa- singly optimistic tendency of the novels.
Contents: Narrator's standpoint in relation to the characters - Dis- cussion and re-evaluation of the characters' so-called «problems of communication» - Re-assessment of their spiritual achieve- ments - Bibliography.