Masken des Lebens, Gesichter des Todes: zum Verhältnis von Tod und Darstellung im erzählerischen Werk Arthur Schnitzlers
This dissertation explores modes of representations of death in selected narrative works of Arthur Schnitzler. The introductory chapter sets the theoretical framework for all following textual analyses, drawing on Schnitzler's more theoretical writings in Aphorismen und Betrachtungen and his one-act-plays Zum grossen Wurstel and Der grune Kakadu to reconstruct what can be identified as Schnitzler's aesthetics of death. In these, Schnitzler recognizes the principally fictitious status of death in art and pleads for a productive use of the tension that results from the mutually exclusive relationship between language (representation) and death (event). Representations of death thus become Schnitzler's preferred site for his literary experiments in which he explores and stretches the limits of language as signifier. In this respect, the dissertation can also be more broadly understood as a contribution to discussions of the crisis of representation at the turn of the century.The following chapter takes issue with four (earlier) third-person-narratives (Das Tagebuch der Redegonda, Sterben, Die Toten schweigen, Blumen) in which Schnitzler shows different ways to bridge the gap that separates the survivor (reader) from the event (the death of a character), ranging from attempts to circumscribe death as closely as possible to a clear dismissal of language's responsibility to refer to anything but itself. The subsequent chapter discusses Schnitzler's Leutnant Gustl in which language and death are linked by a double bind as the death of the first-person narrator constitutes a threat as well as the driving narrative strategy in the (production of) this monologue. This tension is solved in Schnitzler's late novella Fraulein Else (chapter three) as Schnitzler creates a (new) textual level (discourse of death) on which the death of the main character is rhetorically, respectively symbolically enacted before any such turn seems likely on the level of the novella's plot.The dissertation ends with a discussion of the relationship between death and writing itself and Schnitzler's lesser known Der letzte Brief eines Literaten in which the status of death as prerequisite for literary production is addressed in a way that points to Schnitzler's modernist concept of authorship.
- German