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The Crime Writer as Historian: Representations of National Socialism and its Post-War Legacy in Kanon’s 'The Good German' and Frei’s 'Berlin' / Katharina Hall

Journal of European Studies, Volume: 42, Issue: 1, Pages: 50 - 67

Swansea University Author: Hall, Katharina

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DOI (Published version): 10.1177/0047244111428846

Abstract

This article explores the cross-fertilization of Joseph Kanon’s The Good German (2001) and Pierre Frei’s Berlin (2003) with the historiography of Alltagsgeschichte, illustrating how the novels reflect, but also extend, the examination of everyday life under National Socialism through their depiction...

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Published in: Journal of European Studies
ISSN: 0047-2441 1740-2379
Published: Journal of European Studies 2012
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Abstract: This article explores the cross-fertilization of Joseph Kanon’s The Good German (2001) and Pierre Frei’s Berlin (2003) with the historiography of Alltagsgeschichte, illustrating how the novels reflect, but also extend, the examination of everyday life under National Socialism through their depiction of German suffering during defeat and Allied occupation. In the process, the texts instigate a controversial thematic turn whose possible implications, such as the marginalization of the memory of Jewish suffering, illuminate the ‘memory contests’ taking place at the beginning of the new millennium. The article also scrutinizes the tensions arising from the authors’ dual role as crime writer and historian, examining the opportunities crime fiction offers for probing the history and legacy of National Socialism, as well as the limits placed on authors’ historical representations by the conventions of the genre. These issues are explored through close readings of both texts and the analysis of over 150 Amazon readers’ responses, which illuminate the plurality of functions the texts have for readers and the capacity of crime fiction to provide valuable access to historical materials and debates.
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 1
Start Page: 50
End Page: 67