Wo andere Menschen das Herz haben, Helmut Glatz, Theo Thesing, Ulrich Ermann, Magnus Pettersson, Paddy Schmidt, Ulrich Pramann, Harald Pinl, Brigitte Halewitsch, Hans-Peter Oswald, Mit dabei ist dann auch wieder Steven Bruni. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, Immediately following the opening of the border between East and West Germany the desire to abolish all symbols of the forced separation was overwhelming. The photographs provide insights into the daily life of GDR citizens and include a series of long-term portraits depicting children during the s in the GDR and accompanying their arrival into a new society after the upheaval Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 14 Aug.
Anne Hector 79 humans had started was taken over by natural forces, and Mother Nature reasserted her dominion over politics, replacing the man-made border with wetlands and wildlife. At the same time, substantial efforts were made, especially in Berlin, to preserve collective memories of East German history: a double line of cobblestones was embedded in the ground to mark where the Wall once stood, and an interactive GDR Museum with several life-size dioramas opened in Many books have also been written by and about those who lived in the GDR, and this terrain is not the sole prerogative of humor and satire—the dialogue is ongoing.
However, in a parallel process that mimics Mother Nature, to some extent forty years of East German culture is being distorted and covered up as biting satire, demeaning humor, and tawdry memorializing take their toll, eating away at the memories of those who grew up there. I intend to show that this erosion is the socioliterary equivalent of Mother Nature transforming the landscape, turning now fossilized memories into grotesque aberrations.
Myths and legends can serve as means to convey a critical distance from events and experiences and prolong their reification as art. The reader identifies with such scenes as they emerge from the felt and lived experience of East German and Soviet citizens, despite their grotesque distortion of this experience.
Although former citizens of the GDR and the USSR can identify with these scenes more easily than others who did not experience such systems firsthand, all readers are provided easy access to 3 The former detainee, Carl-Wolfgang Holzapfel, planned his return to the prison cell as part of a live art project with the artist Franziska Vu.
Most scenes also provide a critical counterpoint from which postwall society can be evaluated. While other writers also read at public gatherings, for Hein and Kaminer reading and performing are linked: their public performances highlight the humor and playfulness in their texts. He became known widely in Germany after his semi- autobiographical vignette collection recording his memories of East Germany, Mein erstes T-Shirt, was published in Other group members have also made a name for themselves outside the group. Anne Hector 81 music and shows geared toward immigrants and xenophilic Germans from until He, too, though not born in Berlin, has lived there since His views of the city—including its food, the Berlin dialect, as well as German culture in general—have been shaped by his position as an immigrant.
Here, as in his other books, Kaminer displays his now famous ability to create puns and wordplays, mixing descriptions of awkward and humorous incidents with historical facts about Berlin as a reinvigorated center of fashion and culture. They thus provide an ambiguous camouflage for the scar left by the Wall: humor mitigates the travail of memorialization. Strategies of Humor: The Grotesque and the Rhetorics of Play Methods for creating humor include the carnivalesque as put forward by Mikhail Bakhtin and the grotesque as outlined by Geoffrey Harpham.
Bakhtin defines the carnival as a social institution and the carnivalesque as a method in literature of depicting a time when the ordinary rules of society and culture are in abeyance and there is a flattening or reversal of the social hierarchy, creating the potential for the masses to criticize the authorities Bakhtin Grotesque configurations of the physical body 5 The radio show was shut down by the RBB on December 31, , because of a lack of funding; however, it continues to be broadcast on the Internet under the name Radio multicult2.
Harpham sees the grotesque as a gross exaggeration that holds onto some aspects of reality, but allows familiar and unfamiliar objects to intermingle Harpham 5. Although the unfamiliar paints a gloss over the familiar, the two together transcend the sum of their parts and create a new, independent entity.
The carnivalesque and grotesque modes provide a basic strategy of humor that appears simple on the surface: humor is produced when incongruous events, actions, or words are juxtaposed. In fact, it is talismanic of their brand of humor. Often this playfulness also serves to convey grotesquerie, rebellion against authority, or satirical criticism.
As the term is used here, the rhetorics of play express the way play is placed in context within broader value systems, which are assumed by the theorists of play rather than studied directly by them. The seven rhetorics he delineates are the rhetoric of play as progress, as fate, as power, as identity, as the imaginary, and as frivolous, as well as the rhetoric of the self. All furthermore contribute to producing defamiliarization. This identity- forming rhetoric, displayed during carnivals, group rituals, and festivals, reaffirms existing affiliations and differentiates one group from all others.
In the texts by Hein and Kaminer discussed here, identity is constantly under assault. Who or what is German? What is Germany? Who or what is Self, who is the Other? Their game-like constructions are playful and amusing, often containing fantastical and untrue segments, but they also set up situations that provoke serious reflection regarding the characteristics that make up German identity.
Play can have many different applications, but art and literature showcase it as a major instigator of creativity. Frivolity is the third rhetoric utilized in this chapter: The rhetoric of play as frivolous […] is usually applied to the activities of the idle or the foolish. But frivolity, as used here, is not just the puritanic negative, it is also a term to be applied more to historical trickster figures and fools, who were once the central and carnivalesque persons who enacted playful protest against the orders of the ordained world.
In his texts the formerly oppressed get a chance to speak up and find vindication by criticizing the authorities without being punished for it, a benefit that Bakhtin associates with the carnivalesque Bakhtin It is a fact that drivers had to use a GDR highway to get to their destination in the West; however, Hein invents imaginary clauses to his law, one of which stipulates that people found wandering on the berm should automatically be considered GDR citizens and treated as such.
Humor here comes in the guise of absurdity; it is used to stop the action for a moment to give the reader a chance to think. Stopping the forward action and presenting a distorted, funhouse mirror of the world are means Hein uses to produce defamiliarization so that his readers come to see objects in unfamiliar formats. Instead, Hein focuses entirely on the difficulties the boy encounters in adjusting to his new life in the East. He is adopted immediately, but his East German parents struggle to fulfill his consumer demands. The parents cannot deal with a child socialized in the West.
Hein describes this incident and its consequences with an objective tone, although, had they been experienced in real life, they would have been traumatic. Not surprisingly, these differences have dominated public and private discussions since unification. After this failed experiment, Holger was reunited with his parents in the FRG. Did Holger remain single because of his childhood trauma?
We will never know. Ambiguity is the result of this mixing of modes. Although we are presented with real memories, their scars are disappearing from view. Definition eines Genres. Against the backdrop of what appears to be an amusement park, the two adoptive parents stand with obligatory smiles on their faces, while the child in the middle maintains a bemused expression.
The shot captures a moment of forced togetherness that appears ironic in the context of what should have been experienced by participants as a happy outing. This time, a group of acting students is required to work in factories to learn about the everyday life of the working class He suggests that budding actors, and not writers, accompany the workers and study them to be able to portray them properly on stage in future theatrical productions.
The story takes an unexpected turn, however, as the students assimilate perfectly; one student even gives up acting to continue working at the factory. In the process writers were sent to factories to speak with workers. Furthermore, acknowledging the ideas of the future actors would have undermined the privileged status of the factory workers. These particular supervisors, in fact, were so rigid that they did not see the actors as possessing the legitimacy to make suggestions at all and thus abolished the experiment altogether. In this vignette Hein demonstrates how, although purportedly a classless society, social distinctions persisted in the GDR.
His vignettes are embedded in the context of real existing socialism—that is, people experience shortages of consumer goods and work supplies; they can only travel to a limited number of countries, generally belonging to the Eastern Bloc; and education follows a predetermined path. As befits the humorist, however, Hein portrays people who defy the system and look beyond these restrictive conditions. Even though the head of the GDR government is enthusiastic about the project, it is never realized because the leader of the Soviet Union has to approve it and denies the request without any explanation.
This inexplicable display of power shows how the GDR government was under the yoke of the Soviet Union and could not act independently. After his antlike machine is rejected, Pape gets so discouraged with his restrictive working conditions that he builds an airplane modeled after a dragonfly and flees to France. Here, we laugh about the ant and dragonfly research because it appears fantastical and incredible, but at the same time we learn how scientists were treated in Eastern Bloc countries and realize why some left for a freer environment where they could pursue their dreams and further their careers.
The author sheds light on many similar incidents in his other vignettes and the black humor in some emerges from a similarly incongruous final plot twist. One nuclear scientist featured in this series, Heinz Barwich, who was not granted the freedom to perform his work in the GDR, defected to the West. Hein not only crafts new myths about the GDR, but he also shows how such myths came into being in the wake of unification. One example of this myth creation is the way daily life in the GDR has become elevated to a new plane of remembrance which emphasizes its enjoyable sides and ignores the actual hardships living there entailed.
Life in the GDR was difficult, but not much of this truth remains or is getting passed down to younger generations. The episode that gives the book its title is an application for permanent residence in the Federal Republic submitted by the head of the East German government, First Party Secretary Erich Honecker, in July The technique of defamiliarization depicts familiar events or objects in unusual contexts, making them appear novel: if the leader of East Germany wants to be a West German, what does his request imply about the desirability of living in the GDR?
There could be no greater questioning of GDR identity. And, by extension, who or what is a GDR citizen?
Mumbai to Mecca - Ilija Trojanow
Along with this defamiliarization, carnivalesque effects are achieved through exaggeration and the introduction of the unusual, even as the event depicted here questions the validity of the East German identity. Again we witness an incongruity that elicits humor while issuing a critique of GDR society and its cumbersome bureaucratic rules. Seeing such an absurd statement, the reader will likely grab the volume with a smile on his or her face to find out what is behind it. We can imagine what awaits us in a book bearing such a title. Because they were next-door neighbors, East Germans yearned for West German consumer products shown to them on television, sent to them in care packages by their West German relatives or friends, or brought back by pensioners who were allowed to travel there.
What passed for knowledge about other countries and cultures often derived from myths, legends, apocryphal stories, and stereotypes rather than from reality. The stereotype of the Other also reaches a level of reductive grotesquerie in such stereotypes, and as we have seen in Harpham 5 , one of the effects this grotesquerie produces is laughter.
Kaminer faced such stereotypes daily after settling in Berlin, and he reveals them to have been created and perpetuated by foreign films. Reaching back to the time before the communists assumed power in Russia, these stereotypes were found especially in films made in the United States and marketed around the world. Sie waren allesamt wild, unrasiert und unberechenbar. Kaminer shows that this mechanical, oversimplified, and clownish view of the Russians was incorrect, but implies that it allowed Americans and all Western nations, by extension to feel superior to the enemy Other.
Such depictions served the purpose of keeping the viewers in line with the ideological agendas set forth by governments in the Cold War era, despite the fact that they had been allies for several years during the Second World War. Although he is an immigrant who has assimilated for the most part into German society, Kaminer is not German by birth. This position as an outsider in Germany gives him a unique vantage point, because he can look at the changes that took place after , as well as the Cold War past, from a detached, distanciated perspective. Rather than talking about the bad quality of the food directly, Kaminer implies that you were considered a good Soviet pioneer if you ate it without looking at it.
Taking this social imperative as an extended metaphor for the kind of behavior expected more generally in the Soviet Union, we can assume that criticism was never desirable, and that those citizens best adjusted to this requirement would get the furthest on the career ladder as adults. Aber die Russen waren auch nicht dumm. Kaminer 9 The event and the calculated way it is organized expose farcical characteristics of both political systems. Playing with such characteristics unmasks the insincerity of official announcements delivered by politicians and other members of both governments, demonstrating these leaders to be incapable of improving relations between the two nations.
That officials from each system supposedly allow direct communication with the enemy at the height of the Cold War is an unlikely scenario, but the entire interaction is controlled in such a way that it sheds light on the type of supervision under which people lived on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The above miniature ends with a paragraph clarifying the misunderstanding regarding Russians purportedly not having sex during Soviet times.
When a tall, blond American in a lumberjack shirt asks about the sex life of the Russians, a plump Russian woman with a sophisticated coiffure commits the error of only partially answering the question. Man wusste zu wenig aus erster Hand. Man konnte sie angeblich wochenlang kauen. The author uncovers the banal fact that for many socialist citizens satisfying their consumer desires was more important than democracy and political freedom.
In so doing, his legends also glorify the Other. This coming-to-terms with a new reality is not unique to the Russian people; it also pertains to the East Germans after joining the Federal Republic of Germany. Conclusion When a wound is deep and fresh, it hurts, generally preventing people from being lighthearted about it. They cannot not indulge in banter, jokes, or satire. However, once the wound is attended to and the healing has begun, the pain can give way to humor and embellished stories about its origin.
As long as the division existed, it was a wound and was generally treated seriously, with gravity, in the arts. Once the Wall fell and German unity became a fact, however, the healing could begin. Its treatment in the arts then opened up to levity, although even here, frivolity for the sheer fun of it was still rare. In their works, the past, even when it is banal or depressing, is treated with affection. Although their humor may be a way of providing a critical distance, it is never mean-spirited or vengeful; there is no settling of accounts over wrongs.
Hein employs third-person narration, which produces a greater distance from his tall tales, so that they appear more contrived. In fact, their many similarities override the differences. The process of achieving this insight brings the humor to the surface. The humor also gives the accounts the sharp edge that makes them memorable. The sum of these accounts extends the individual vignettes to the lands of the grotesque. The reader wonders how people survived at all and gains respect for the survival strategies Eastern Europeans devised.
The narrative playfulness in their texts thus provides an ambiguous, literary overgrowth which partially covers this unpleasant past. Indeed, the past, in the form of legacies from the Kaiserreich, the Weimar Republic, and the Third Reich common to both the FRG and the GDR , is also rising to the surface of this new Germany and forms part of the overgrowth that is spreading to cover the wound of separation.
These inescapable bonds are both part of the scar left by the Wall and part of the cultural and literary overgrowth which has begun to cover it. Herr Jensen steigt aus. Mein erstes T-Shirt. Hennig, Falko, ed. Volle Pulle Leben. Kaminer, Wladimir. Es gab keinen Sex im Sozialismus.
Ich bin kein Berliner. Geschichten aus einem vergangenen Land. Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree. Channa Newman and Claude Doubinsky. Grix, Jonathan, and Paul Cooke, eds. East German Distinctiveness in a Unified Germany. Birmingham: U of Birmingham P, Harpham, Geoffrey Galt. Aurora, CO: Davis, orig. Hector, Anne. U of Massachusetts-Amherst, Hennig, Falko. Radio Hochsee.
Hilscher, Torsten. Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens. Boston: Beacon, Jauer, Markus, and Wolfgang Kiel. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, Preisendanz, Wolfgang. Humor als dichterische Einbildungskraft. Richter, Neela. Ross, Gordon Charles. National Identity in East Germany. Jonathan Grix and Paul Cooke. David H. Martens, Theorie der Prosa. Fischer, Das Buch der Unterschiede. Warum die Einheit keine ist. Berlin: Aufbau, Wolle, Stefan. Die heile Welt der Diktatur. Alltag und Herrschaft in der DDR Michele Ricci Bell advocates assert the importance of such individual and collective processes in shaping the present and future.
Yet other positions on memory work, whether focused on oppressive or everyday memories of the GDR, evidence a more skeptical view, drawing attention to the dangers of coercing participation. These cabaret texts reveal that, while memory work emerged in the early s as topical for political cabaret, cabaret writers were by no means unified in their attitudes toward its usefulness for understanding and coming to terms with the changes brought about by the Wende. By means of a variety of satirical modes, these post cabaret writers treat contemporary forms of memory work sometimes with empathy and at other times mockingly, exposing potentially dangerous motives behind memory work, while assessing critically both the wholesale suppression of personal and collective memory, as well as the cherishing of it without discernment.
This conclusion derives, for one, from the way the genre defined its purpose: subtle jabs at the Party. After , despite the dramatic political and social changes brought about by the Wende that might have rendered political cabaret obsolete, the cabaret troupes of the former East continued to perform, addressing new audiences and adopting new objects of critique. More importantly, it coincides with the emergence of a particular form of revaluing of the GDR past often referred to as Ostalgie. Castein From this perspective, casting an eye on past events—not to mention on the ways that these events are managed and processed—had little relevance for the East German political cabaret stage.
In addition to factors related to the role of cabaret in socialism, there was an ideological disincentive to treating and thus drawing attention to forms of memory work in the GDR, to the extent that they might have taken up the most pressing object of collective memory work in Germany as a whole, namely, that regarding the Nazi past. To perpetuate such a sense of individuation, however, would have undermined SED objectives. Likewise, in socialist cabaret, treatment of the individual experience or perspective ran counter to—and was potentially threatening in—a society that favored a collective over an individualized view of its citizens.
The issues surrounding the preservation of the myth of antifascism as well as the devaluation of individual memory experience as a function of a socialist ethos were both conditioned by the GDR regime such that once it unraveled, these two factors lost their relevance. While the past could not be changed, it seemed that its bearing on the present and future would make it an especially appropriate topic for cabaret during the post period.
Michele Ricci Bell As the following analysis of individual texts will reveal, in critiquing memory work, cabaret writers found a broad framework for revisiting particular aspects of the GDR past, both damning and benign, in order to assess their relevance in shaping the present and future for former GDR citizens. This framework includes, for instance, the pressing issues of guilt and complicity. Lastly, the memory work invoked in the nostalgic remembrance of the GDR, sometimes referred to as Ostalgie, is in its various forms dealt with in cabaret texts.
See also Brockmann The memory work associated with identifying oneself or others either as victims or perpetrators in the GDR regime appears in post cabaret texts more often than any other theme related to this topic. Not only, as Schultz and Wagener suggest, did the question of victimhood run both along and within national borders, it also involved both collective and individual guilt and suffering. Arzt: Das ham jetzt viele, das ist keine Krankheit. Whether or not he was a perpetrator before , the patient is now a victim of this violent blocking of memory.
Michele Ricci Bell himself is the person in question.
Was mich betrifft, da bin ich mir noch immer nicht sicher, nur…was Sie betrifft, da bin ich mir fast sicher! The doctor, in displaying his expert ability to interrogate, as well as his knowledge of activities in which a Stasi informant might have engaged, unwittingly exposes his own relationship to that history.
Indeed, by assisting another in his memory work, the doctor completes his own. For both patient and doctor, individual memory is a place where uncomfortable truths may be harbored and suppressed, and from which they may reemerge unpredictably. Rather, we see the doctor, with his politely phrased question, hoping for a quick escape from having to perform his own memory work. And why not? B: geil Hab ich auch eine Akte? B: Meine war doch bestimmt die dickste, so dagegen, wie ich immer war.
In the end, as Helmut tries to defend himself, we see that no facts about his past could suffice to counter the conviction of his colleagues that he belongs in the villain category: C: Wie soll ich euch denn beweisen… F: Das ist DEINE Sache In what can only be seen as a deliberate move to highlight the witchhunt the search for former Stasi officials turned into, Ristock exploits the moral implications of the Stasi file, which appears in several post cabaret texts, to show how it can play a role in facilitating the failure of memory work.
Notably, a failure to remember, or even to mention the past in the public sphere, is problematized here, not memory work itself. The text suggests, rather, that engaging in memory work would prevent such denial from happening. Indeed, Ensikat implies that the memoirs spun by those only too willing to forget might be likened in their fanciful content to fairy tales.
B: Richtig. Die Ho-chi-Minh-Strasse gibt es nicht mehr. A: Aber mein Bruder gibt es noch, hoffentlich. B: Die Ho-chi-Minh wurde umbenannt. A: Wenn mein Bruder vielleicht auch umbenannt wurde […]. Strangely, after , it was not the memories of East Germans that failed. The overwhelming nature of such a change for this man is underscored, for one, by his absurd, but also empathy-invoking, suggestion that perhaps his brother, too, was drawn in by this tide of change and forced to change his name. And, unlike the kinds of memories that one might like to suppress, these are of the familiar and comforting variety.
At the time of unification, GDR citizens entered, as Ten Dyke suggests, a world in which their memories were rendered irrelevant. Nevertheless, these undertones are balanced by the genuine plight of this individual who attempts to reconcile his memories in a world that is no longer his own. The first, an eastern German woman, stakes a claim to her house that is now being seized by a western German baker.
F1: Das war so: Mein Mann hatte doch damals diesen Ristock 65 As the process of recollecting in legal testimony continues, each additional story is appended to the one before, trumping the previous one in significance. The last claim, however, takes precedence over the rest, not only because of its relative age, but also because the claimant has left no victim in his wake. Taken together, they fulfill the task of connecting a vast array of problematic memories of the past century.
Revealing this paradox in a series of skits, Ristock shows that there are ethical ramifications of working collectively to bridge historical memories. This type of memory work requires clarifying and verifying individual memories, especially when personal interests are at stake. Aber wissen Se, wie die geschmeckt haben? As this critical analysis reveals, though the texts vary in their positions toward the feasibility and desirability of memory work for eastern Germans after , they all highlight important, if uncomfortable, issues.
Moreover, there is a sense in these two texts that remembering correctly can bear ethical fruit, whether as a corrective for past wrongs or as a precedent for future developments. At times, it appears to be the privilege of the few to forget, and at other times, to remember.
Whether cautiously optimistic about the prospects for memory work, or decidedly cynical, these cabaret texts persistently raise the issue of hypocrisy as a central factor in determining the feasibility and efficacy of memory work. When they emphasize the limits and potential abuse of memory work and imply that it is futile, they understate the importance of efforts to come to terms with individual and collective pasts. Viewed from a different perspective, this understatement might be read as a conscious move to preserve the more positive memories of the GDR in the face of growing claims of its status as an Unrechtsstaat.
Viewed from the most positive angle, depicting the results of memory work with satirical humor can be seen as a democratizing gesture, such that neither remembering nor forgetting may be wielded as a privilege of the few, but can be initiated by anyone without duress and as a personal choice. Das letzte Ende: Gibt es ein Leben nach der Wiedervereinigung? Ensikat, Peter, and Wolfgang Schaller. Textbuch: Auf Dich kommt es an, nicht auf alle. Private Archive of the Herkuleskeule, Dresden, Otto, Rainer. Ristock, Inge.
Schaller, Wolfgang. Secondary Works Adam, Hubertus. Berdahl, Daphne. Katherine Pence and Paul Betts. Brehm, Erich. Die erfrischende Trompete. Berlin: Henschelverlag, Brockmann, Stephen. Literature and German Reunification. Castein, Hanne. Zum Theater der DDR.
John Flood. Chamberlin, Brewster. Confino, Alon. Cubitt, Geoffrey. History and Memory. Dennis, Mike. Mike Dennis and Eva Kolinsky. New York: Berghahn, Eigler, Friederike. Esbenshade, Richard. Faulenbach, Bernd. Zu den Aufgaben und Problemen der Erinnerungsarbeit heute. Vogel and Ernst Piper. Sauer, Fritze, Lothar. Zwischenbilanz und Perspektiven. Ralf Altenhof and Eckhard Jesse. Garton Ash, Timothy. The File: A Personal History. New York: Random House, Gauck, Joachim and Martin Fry. Huyssen, Andreas.
Jarausch, Konrad. The Rush to German Unity. Jelavich, Peter. Sigrid Bauschinger. Jacobs, Dietmar. Konrad Jarausch. Lebert, Stephan. Lewis, Alison. Maaz, Hans-Joachim. Diewald, A. Goedicke, and K. Stanford: Stanford UP, McNally, Joanne. Neller, Katja. Northnagle, Alan. Ostow, Robin. Personal interview. June 24, Ross, Corey. Sabrow, Martin. Berlin: Christoph Links, Silberman, Marc. Suleiman, Susan Rubin. Crises of Memory and the Second World War. Ten Dyke, Elizabeth. Alon Confino and Peter Fritzsche.
Urbana: U of Illinois P, The humor is also not present in spite of the tragedy. Instead, the humor functions in tandem with the tragedy, percolating through it, existing in part because of it. In other words, the comic and the tragic work in congruity to produce incongruity. Laughter plunges the reader into a sobering, deeper understanding of the tragedy. In Train of Life, the comical narrative is a fictional construction about hijacking a train and thereby escaping Nazi persecution. In all three films, a temporary lie holds back the weight of the tragedy so that when the truth is finally revealed, the tragedy forced on the viewer comes suddenly, with a heavy impact.
Sabina Schroeter explains the use of the word as follows: Bezeichnet werden mit diesem Begriff Personen, die aus den ehemaligen Ostgebieten geflohen sind, vertrieben oder verschleppt wurden. He is therefore approximately ten years old in Robert Blankenship ersetzen sei. Marion Demutz reveals details of her amorous, teenage relationship with Haber. Peter Koller, who ends up in prison, relates how he and Haber smuggled people into West Berlin. On one level this conflict causes the reader to laugh simply because Bernhard is correct and thereby subversive, as schoolchildren are not supposed to defy their teachers.
More so, however, this scene provokes laughter because the geographical location of the city has not changed. The Polish name has been substituted for the German one, but this exchange represents not merely a different appellation; the name signifies much more. Bernhard answers that his father only has one left hand What Bernhard does not mention at this time, although it is revealed later in the novel, is that his father actually does not have a right arm, having lost it in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp. One might wonder what could be amusing about a one-armed carpenter.
Perhaps it concerns imagining what a one-armed carpenter could possibly build. In any event, the question lingers whether or not laughing about a one-armed carpenter can be justified. Is this really a laughing matter? If so, what makes it comical? The answer may be explained at least partially by the incongruity theory of humor, whereby the contrast between what is expected and what is encountered can appear comical.
Vladimir Propp surveys incongruity theory in chapter 16 of his formalist study On the Comic and Laughter orig. One expects a carpenter to have two arms. The question posed here is, therefore, to what extent can incongruity theory enhance our understanding of how humor is used in Landnahme? One is blind, and the other only has one arm. The one-armed soldier, missing his left arm, guides the blind man with his right. Mann opines that blindness is the worse, yet more interesting, of the two afflictions, asserting ironically that the man who at least still has his right arm will be able to find work.
Mann goes on to describe, however, how even the blind man seems to be perpetually content, not having to see the horrible sights at the end of World War I that those who can see must witness. In this case, however, the ultimate irony is that the one-armed adult leader leads the children astray toward the evils of fascism and the defeat of the Third Reich in World War II. The narrator in the Wolf passage has the advantage of hindsight, allowing her to see the irony of the one-armed Nazi leading the children. Like the two veterans described by Mann, the one-armed, avid Nazi presumably takes an optimistic attitude toward fulfilling his role as a Hitler Youth leader.
Second, Robinson lost his arm in the refining of that crop for which, in large part, black African slaves were brought to the U. South, slaves from whose labor many white plantation owners became rich. Indeed, Schlegel leads the commune to thrive against all odds, until the day he accuses the East German Socialist Unity Party functionaries of implementing poor agricultural policies and then is sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
Johnny thus stands in a long tradition of exemplary literary figures who become sacrificial victims of oppressive dictatorships. Why does the thought of a one-armed carpenter provoke laughter? Both Thomson and Gillum , however, go on to illustrate that the comic and the monstrous are two sides of the spectrum of the grotesque. Similarly, Alice Mills sets up a spectrum between the tragic grotesque and the comic grotesque. The tragic grotesque represents the effect of the monstrous, while the comic Bakhtinian grotesque is liberating Mills 1- 5.
But even for Bakhtin, the grotesque also causes displeasure Bakhtin Malik, Seiten, I take your point about an archive needing to be as comprehensive as possible. Nevertheless, you might perhaps consider flagging the occasional outstanding review for the benefit of casual readers, as opposed to dedicated bibliographers.
John — I will continue to do so. I think most of those have already been put up on the site. I have now to trawl through to find them for the review page! I should have thought ahead. The Norwegian journalist and literature critic Stian Bromark published this article about the book in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet at the time of publishing. Here is the link for those of you who read Norwegian!
Hmmm… I did not see many raised hands…. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.