Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. i-vi

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xiv

This book about “impossible community” was made possible by a very real community, extended across many years and many miles. During the past decade of writing, I never needed to feel as alone as the fictional characters I discuss.

The encouragement and rigorous critical commentary of the German Studies faculty at Cornell helped me through the earliest stages of this project. Anette Schwarz has been indispensable mentor, from our theoretical discussions of the literary construction of kinship ties, to her tireless...

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 3-32

The problem of alienation, so central to theories and critiques of modern society, often becomes legible in literature in the form of monologue. Modern prose monologue, as an embedded form, can highlight a lack of communication and community, an imprisonment within the self, or sequestration within some segment of a social hierarchy. While it is technically true, as Mieke Bal writes, that “the content of a monologue can...be practically anything,” authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have frequently utilized this embedded form as a showcase for extreme and unwanted...

read more

Chapter 1. Voices of the Vacuum: Monologue in Schopenhauer, Dostoevsky, and Nietzsche

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 33-67

In European letters around 1800, the verbal form of monologue was associated with the creation of an empty space where the individual could exercise forms of freedom unavailable in social life. As literary scholar Jürgen Wertheimer has shown, this period saw numerous writers staging a “withdrawal of the individual out of the space of social relations into the vacuum of absolute dialogue.”1 Such absolute dialogue was actually a monologue, a solitary and unworldly discourse that has given up on all social communication but allows the self to discover new forms of emphatic and perhaps more...

read more

Chapter 2. Unworldly Anarchism: Gustav Landauer’s Nihilist Community

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 68-102

Through nineteenth-century discourses on nihilism, the form of the monologue gained a special status, acquiring two contradictory capacities at once. Monologue became both a verbal eraser of the world and an instrument for ushering in a new world of the future, which would be otherwise inconceivable to anyone anywhere at present. An outsider’s monologue that epitomizes absolute alienation could, paradoxically, become a means for overcoming alienation. Toward the beginning of the twentieth century, creative...

read more

Chapter 3. Society of Nobodies: Franz Kafka and the Communal Vacuum

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 103-129

“Unworldly anarchism” was Landauer’s term for his improbable fusion of nihilism and communitarianism (DT, 98). It was a tagline he attached to The Death Preacher ten years after its publication, while reflecting on what, if anything, might still make that novel worth reading. In what follows, I propose that Landauer’s creative term “unworldly anarchism” can be used to describe a number of comparable literary experiments of the twentieth century, which proceed from pessimist and nihilist premises but conclude with the discovery of an anarchic community liberated from the fixed social...

read more

Chapter 4. Monologue Overgrown: The Language of Hypertrophy in Thomas Bernhard’s Leichtlebig

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 130-158

The phrase “unworldly anarchism” names an unexpected swerve in the tradition of nihilism that takes place around the start of the twentieth century and becomes manifest within experimental fiction. Written on both sides of the turn of the century, Landauer’s 1893 novel Death Preacher and Kafka’s 1907 story “Description of a Struggle” employ the medium of monologue to erase the world and expose a void that is held in common. This void becomes the basis for the creation of a community that assumes no other shared origins and does not take for granted any preexisting institutional...

read more

Chapter 5. Nobody’s Friends: Outsider Community in Wolfgang Hilbig’s Prose

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 159-188

Even though it has continually connected back to nineteenth-century nihilism, the story of private anarchy told in the previous chapters of this book has borrowed generously from the theoretical and literary resources of postmodernism. The verbal voiding of the world performed by fictional characters is readily describable in terms developed by Brian McHale, who shows how postmodernist fiction tends to foreground ontological problems.1 McHale discusses metalepsis as a device that plays with the boundaries of distinct worlds, testing their volatility. In the fictions of Landauer, Kafka, and...

read more

Conclusion

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 189-198

Telling the story of nihilist community in the past chapters has required a lengthy farewell to a term that long bound together Western conceptions of what verbal art is and where it comes from: genius. Monologue, in particular, has traditionally been seen as a habit of the solitary, antisocial genius who must live without peers of his artistic or intellectual stature. Writing in 1985, Ken Frieden staked out the scope of this inheritance when he argued that “Genius is the intellectual obsession of our times, and monologue is one symptom of that disorder.”1 In the story I have told in Private Anarchy,...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 199-220

Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 221-232

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 233-242