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Masken des Erzählens: Studien zur Theorie narrativer Unzuverlässigkeit und ihrer Praxis im Frühwerk Thomas Manns
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Modern Languages, German.
2010 (German)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Thomas Mann (1875-1955) is a key figure in literary modernism. The status of Mann as a German intellectual and cultural icon of the 20th century was firmly established only after the appearance of the novella Death in Venice (Der Tod in Venedig) in 1912. Mann’s early fiction from 1893 up to then was marked by attempts to experiment with what was perceived as the “traditional” storytelling of his bestselling novel Buddenbrooks (1901). Whereas Mann’s later work, after 1912, which mainly consists of novels, to a large extent draws on “diegesis”, that is the act of narration as well as the voice of the narrator, the early work between 1893 and 1912, which is dominated by novellas and short stories, is much more a play with perspectivism and metafiction. It is an experiment with “mimesis”, world modeling, in the sense of simulation, namely the dissolving of the real and the unreal, the authentic and the inauthentic.

This dissertation is a study of Mann’s early novellas and short stories. Taking the theory of “unreliable narration” as a starting point, the study focuses on what Mann, referring to Little Herr Friedemann (Der kleine Herr Friedemann, 1897), called his narrative “masks”. The conceptual framework of mimesis as simulation allows for a critical examination and modification of the conventional understanding of fictional unreliability. A major theoretical argument of the study is that the theory of unreliability needs to consider a type of mimesis, found in Thomas Mann among others, which is autonomous in relation to diegesis, the realm of the narrator. The concept of “simulated focalization” is introduced to capture textual strategies of ambivalence and masking working together on different levels in the narrative. A “pseudo-authorial” relationship between author, narrator and author-protagonist in stories of central importance such as Tonio Kröger and Tristan is also explored within the framework of masking.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Institutionen för moderna språk , 2010. , 244 p.
Keyword [en]
Thomas Mann, Narratology, Strategies of narrative masking, Dorrit Cohn, Mimesis, Simulation, Unreliable narration.
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Specific Languages
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-122884OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-122884DiVA: diva2:311282
Public defence
2010-06-04, Geijersalen, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3 L, Uppsala, 10:15 (German)
Available from: 2010-05-10 Created: 2010-04-21 Last updated: 2010-07-06Bibliographically approved

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