Gunter Grass's Unkenrufe : telling German hi/stories : who it telling them? And by whose authority?
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 16:40 authored by Petz, BH
Historical writing is a means of taking possession of the past in the interest of the present, and in turn, the future. The reunification of Germany provided the impetus and urgency for historiography to play an important role in influencing the kind of nation that would establish itself in the heart of Europe. With a crucial aspect of the nation's identity consisting in its relations with its neighbours, the prospect of reunification threw the spotlight on unresolved aspects of German-Polish relations, for at that time Germany's border with Poland had still not been recognized by the Federal Republic. To Gunter Grass Germany's prevarication on this issue has long been a matter of deep concern. Unkenrufe, his first postunification prose fiction work, is his response to the new urgency surrounding issues of German-Polish relations at the time of reunification. It is an important work which, to date, has not been accorded the recognition it deserves. Employing two questions posed by Grass - 'Wer erzahlt hier? Und mit wessen Erlaubnis?' - as its starting point, this thesis situates Unkenrufe securely within the traditions of Grass's complete oeuvre, while simultaneously demonstrating that the work represents a new departure in that most central aspect of Grass's prose fiction writing, namely the narrator figure. The two most significant changes which distinguish Unkenrufe from the work of the preceding decades are identified as, firstly, the shift in the narrator's location away from the position at the centre of the action characteristically occupied Grass's narrators, to a position on the edge of the action; and secondly, a move away from a concern with metafiction towards a concern with metahistory. The Unkenrufe narrator is identified as an historian whose methodical treatment of historical documents as he struggles with the existential circumstances which brought the documents into his possession shows how historical obligation falls to those who were too young to have been perpetrators and victims, those whose age might imbue them with the cool distance of the 'Verdienst- und Schuldlosen'. At the same time, however, Unkenrufe represents a step towards the more direct confrontation of the issue of the German victims of Nazism which is seen a decade later in Im Krebsgang, and is a precursor to a broader, more considered approach to German history.
Rights statementCopyright 2003 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). No access until 13/8/2005. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2003. Includes bibliographical references (325-346)