'"Ist die Schwarze Köchin da? Jajaja...": Mimesis and Günter Grass's Die Blechtrommel'

Faculty/Professorship: British Culture  
Author(s): Craig, Robert
Title of the Journal: Monatshefte für deutschen Unterricht, deutsche Sprache und Literatur : official organ of the German Section of the Modern Language Association of the Central West and South
ISSN: 0026-9271
Publisher Information: Madison, Wis. [u.a.] : Univ. of Wisconsin Press
Year of publication: 2016
Volume: 108
Issue: 1
Pages: 99-119
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.3368/m.108.1.99
Die Blechtrommel (1959) has inspired widely divergent readings, not least in respect of the aesthetic grounds that the novel offered for the social hope in the wake of Auschwitz. This article re-visits it against the backdrop of Grass’s own recognition of the postwar author’s—personal and collective—sense of complicity; and in that connection it considers how Die Blechtrommel embodies the dialectic of hope and despair more broadly characteristic of Grass’s sense of postwar literary and political engagement. Its contention is that Theodor W. Adorno’s conception of “Mimesis,” as it is developed in Dialektik der Aufklä-rung (1944) andÄsthetische Theorie (1970), can provide a compelling account for Grass’s aesthetic and ethical achievement. The article examines the senses in which Oskar embodies the dynamic of Mimesis, staking as he does a subversive ethical claim for his notorious drumming and sing-shattering. It then turns to showing how Grass’s portrayal of the “bodily” reveals it as a meeting point of complicity, shame, and guilt—but also a faintly utopian site for a new social order. By thinking through these insights precisely with Mimesis in mind, we might begin to do justice to the elusive moment of hope in Grass’s work.
Keywords: Günter Grass, Die Blechtrommel, Post-war German literature, Vergangenheitsbewältigung, picaresque novel, philosophical aesthetics, Theodor W. Adorno, Mimesis
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Type: Article
URI: https://fis.uni-bamberg.de/handle/uniba/44159
Year of publication: 17. July 2018