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The Author, the Novel, the Reader and the Perils of "Neue Lesbarkeit": A Comparative Analysis of Bernhard Schlink's "Selbs Justiz" and "Der Vorleser"' / Katharina Hall

German Life and Letters, Volume: 59, Issue: 3, Pages: 446 - 467

Swansea University Author: Hall, Katharina

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DOI (Published version): 10.1111/j.0016-8777.2006.00360.x

Abstract

Ten years after the publication of Der Vorleser, this article argues that Schlink's work can only be fully understood when viewed in the commercial contexts that currently shape both German and global literatures. By undertaking a comparative analysis of Schlink's debut detective novel, Se...

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Published in: German Life and Letters
Published: 2006
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa2489
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Abstract: Ten years after the publication of Der Vorleser, this article argues that Schlink's work can only be fully understood when viewed in the commercial contexts that currently shape both German and global literatures. By undertaking a comparative analysis of Schlink's debut detective novel, Selbs Justiz (1987) and his international best-seller Der Vorleser (1995), the article explores the problematic tensions generated within these texts by the commercial demands of the literary market-place, and, in a specifically German context, the influence of ‘neue Lesbarkeit’. Special consideration is given to the dynamic between Schlink's works and the reader/consumer, with particular emphasis on the impact of the popular literary codes within the texts. These are explored in conjunction with the reception theory of Wolfgang Iser and Umberto Eco, and through the lens of over two hundred reader responses. The article breaks new ground through its comparative approach, which traces the continuities or ‘narrative patterns’ in Schlink's detective writing and Der Vorleser for the first time. It also offers the first exploration of ‘general’, non-academic reader responses to the works, allowing new insights into the texts’ operations and the tensions these create in relation to the novels’ treatment of the National Socialist past.
Keywords: German literature, German history, National Socialism, comparative literature studies, reception theory
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 3
Start Page: 446
End Page: 467