Politics and Aesthetics
Publication Year: 2013
Two languages—German and Romanian—inform the novels, essays, and collage poetry of Nobel laureate Herta Müller. Describing her writing as “autofictional,” Müller depicts the effects of violence, cruelty, and terror on her characters based on her own experiences in Communist Romania under the repressive Nicolae Ceauşescu regime.
Herta Müller: Politics and Aesthetics explores Müller’s writings from different literary, cultural, and historical perspectives. Part 1 features Müller’s Nobel lecture, five new collage poems, and an interview with Ernest Wichner, a German-Romanian author who has traveled with her and sheds light on her writing. Parts 2 and 3, featuring essays by scholars from across Europe and the United States, address the political and poetical aspects of Müller’s texts. Contributors discuss life under the Romanian Communist dictatorship while also stressing key elements of Müller’s poetics, which promises both self-conscious formal experimentation and political intervention.
One of the first books in English to thoroughly examine Müller’s writing, this volume addresses audiences with an interest in dissident, exile, migration, experimental, and transnational literature.
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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List of Illustrations
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We are greatly indebted to Kristen Elias Rowley, our editor at the Univer-sity of Nebraska Press, for welcoming our book submission and for her sustained support in getting it published. We thank her and her assistant, Wesley Piper, who provided us with all the materials and answered our many queries. The quality of this book is also indebted to our anonymous ...
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Literature speaks with everyone individually—it is personal property that stays inside our heads. And nothing speaks to us as forcefully as a book which expects nothing in return, other than that we think and feel.Herta Müller, speech held at the Nobel banquet in the Stockholm City Hall, Two languages inform the writings of Nobel Prize laureate Herta Müller: ...
Part 1. Life, Writing, and Betrayal
1. Herta Müller
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Herta Müller’s is a poor writing, or a writing that uses the poverty of means to escape, momentarily, a greater and much more profound poverty. The world presented in her writing, in a collision of verisimilitude and surre-alism, is a world in which one makes do with very little; Müller’s Nobel Prize speech (titled “Every Word Knows Something of a Vicious Circle”), ...
2. Nobel Lecture
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...“Do you have a handkerchief?” was the question my mother asked me every morning, standing by the gate to our house, before I went out onto the street. I didn’t have a handkerchief. And because I didn’t, I would go back inside and get one. I never had a handkerchief because I would always wait for her question. The handkerchief was proof that my mother was ...
3. Collage Poems
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...2. “Milch ist der Zwilling.” (Copyright Herta Müller. Collages by Herta Müller can be purchased from www.DrNice.net in various sizes as posters or wallpaper.)...
4. Interview with Ernest Wichner
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Ernest Wichner (b. 1952, Guttenbrunn, Romania) is a founding member of the Aktionsgruppe Banat. Wichner left Romania in 1975 and has been living in Berlin ever since. He is a writer, translator, and editor, and he has served as the director of the Literaturhaus (Literary Institute, Berlin) since 2003. In 2004, Wichner accompanied Herta Müller and the poet Oskar ...
Part 2. Totalitarianism, Autofiction, Memory
5. When Dictatorships Fail to Deprive of Dignity
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Twenty years after the demise of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, Herta Müller still dedicates her writings to “all those whom dictatorships deprive of dignity every day,” as she declared in her Nobel Prize lecture. While her adopted country, the Federal Republic of Germany, proposed Müller for the award, it was her country of birth, Romania, that had ...
6. “Die akute Einsamkeit des Menschen”
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Totalitarian government, like all tyrannies, certainly could not exist with-out destroying the public realm of life, that is, without destroying, by isolat-ing men, their political capacities. But totalitarian domination as a form of government is new in that it is not content with this isolation and destroys private life as well. It bases itself on loneliness, on the experience of not ...
7. Facts, Fiction, Autofiction, andSurfiction in Herta Müller’s Work
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Over the last fifteen years the emergence of groundbreaking work on trauma in literature and critical theory has made a profound impact both within and beyond the field of literature. This cutting-edge research has been applied to Herta Müller’s work by scholars such as Beverley Driver Eddy, Brigid Haines, and Lyn Marven, who have connected images and ...
8. From Fact to Fiction
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The novel Atemschaukel [The Hunger Angel] marks an important turning point in the career of Herta Müller—an author who fought her way from writing literary texts with the regional touch of a small minority into the center of German mainstream literature. In 2009, the year of its publica-tion, Atemschaukel became the focus of attention for the most prestigious ...
Part 3. Müller’s Aesthetics of Experimentation
9. “Wir können höchstens mit dem, waswir sehen, etwas zusammenstellen"
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In his critique of Herta Müller’s Die blassen Herren mit den Mokkatassen, Anton G. Leitner has remarked that he considered the form of her collage poems, which he refers to as Schnipsellyrik, or cut-out poetry, trite and out-dated; their genius lies “in the concurrence of fortuitous and calculated word deployment by a writer who can wield not just a pair of scissors.”1...
10. In Transit
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Man verteilt die Gefühle ja oft auf seltsame Weise nach außen. Auf einige wenige Gegenstände, die sich ohne Grund dafür eignen, das Erinnern im Herta Müller’s preferred collage technique correlates her affection for inconspicuous details and Scherben [broken pieces of china] as she invests specific objects with an array of biographical, political, linguistic, and lit-...
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After her Nobel Prize was announced, commentators never tired of empha-sizing that Herta Müller lent her literary and political voice to the victims of Stalinism and the Ceauşescu dictatorship. Müller is without question a political author whose writing describes and indicts the mechanisms of surveillance and oppression and their effects on people. Harassment and ...
12. Herta Müller’s Art of Reverberation
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Herta Müller belongs to a generation of ethnic German writers born in Romania who were influenced by the rhetoric of the Aktionsgruppe Banat, a group that combined experimentation with realism. Among the influ-ences on the Aktionsgruppe Banat, dismembered by the Romanian Secu-ritate in 1975, critics count Franz Kafka, the surrealists, konkrete Poesie, ...
13. Accumulating Histories
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...13 Accumulating HistoriesTemporality in Herta Müller’s “Einmal On May 11–13, 2000, eight authors came together at the University of Tübingen to speak on the topic “Zukunft! Zukunft?” [Future! Future?]. The lectures addressed the possibility of and limitations to thinking a notion of time that includes the idea of a future. Many sought to articu-...
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Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013