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Heimito von Doderer and the return to Realism

Swales, M.W. (1963)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract


This thesis is concerned primarily with Doderer as a realist. For Doderer, the realistic novel embodies an implicit moral purpose, a re-conquering of the 'external* world of everyday reality. I have, therefore, started from Doderer's moral viewpoint and tried to discuss how this is actually embodied in the novels themselves. I have taken three specific aspects of his work; narrator, plot, and language. In discussing the narrator I have argued that the most successful parts of Doderer 1 s work are those where a genuinely personal narrator is present. This can be seen in "Die DaWien" where the use of more than one narrator broadens the range of the novel and means that the problems of the would-be novelist are integrated with the central moral concern of 'Henschwerdung*. In comparison, those sections of Doderer's work where the author himself is in charge of the narration are infinitely less successful, as can be seen from the passages in "Die Damonen" where the author takes over the narration from Geyrenhoff and Schlaggenberg. In discussing plot I have tried to suggest that the structure of Doderer 1 s novels is a perfect mirror for his overall moral attitude to life. There are, however, certain thematic weaknesses in his moral viewpoint, and these manifest themselves in faults in the actual plots. The fourth chapter discusses the nature of Doderer 1 s language, which is not simply that of the "traditional" realist. I have tried to show how various aspects of Doderer's style (particularly his recurrent use of certain images ) are important as a reflection of his central moral concern. Furthermore, the very confusion and restlessness of the language is often a deliberate evocation of the insecurity in the minds of the characters themselves. For Doderer, language is important as a concept; if properly used, it implies a right moral attitude to life, one of communication and contact between people. In the concluding chapter I have attempted to locate Doderer in the world of the twentieth century Austrian novel and to show that, although he is strikingly "unmodern" in both his moral and his artistic standpoints, this does not justify one in simply dismissing his novels as "epigonal".

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Pascal, Roy
School/Faculty:Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
Department:School of German
Subjects:PT Germanic literature
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:5353
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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