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Papierfähnchen auf einer imaginären Weltkarte: mythische Topo- und Tempografien in den Asien- und Afrikaschriften Annemarie Schwarzenbachs

Sofie Decock (UGent)
(2010)
Author
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Abstract
Until recently, research on the Swiss writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1908-1942), rediscovered in 1987, was constituted by a one-sided biographical reading as the predominant mode of interpretation In my dissertation on Schwarzenbach’s Asian and African travel literature I apply a work-oriented approach and take into account disregarded and/or unpublished texts, thus infusing new impulses into research on Schwarzenbach. I investigate how the leading characters, in their symbolic-discursive practice of meaningfully demarcating and structuring ‘temporal space’ and ‘spatial time’, attempt to negotiate feelings of alienation and homelessness in Asian or African surroundings. In the spatial and temporal organisation of their travels, they use, adapt, and combine mythical accounts related to the Orient or to Africa on the one hand and mythical narrative structures on the other. Specifically, the analysis shows that the protagonists engage in apocalyptic and mystic as well as in Orientalist and Africanist discourse and that they apply two mythic-discursive strategies of conquest in their travel movements and writing practice: the politico-cultural and the romantic-mystic strategy of the ‘loving conquest’ (liebende Eroberung). The protagonists travel in the footsteps of heroic and godlike predecessors, who can all be linked to European (founding) myths. The accounts of Alexander the Great’s cultural unification policy and of the colonial pioneer, both of which have gained mythical quality, constitute important politico-cultural narratives of conquest. As romantic-mystic narratives of conquest, the myths of the hybrid God Dionysus and of the oriental or antique paradise as well as the accounts of pilgrims and hermits function as crucial reference texts. I further demonstrate how the choice, adaptation, and function of these mythical discourses shift depending on genre and continent as well as when comparing earlier to later texts. Schwarzenbach’s later travel writings reveal a tendency towards a more lyrical, introspective style and a depiction of mythical presence. Also, the topo- and tempographical strategies of the leading characters become increasingly successful and also, surprisingly, more traditional in terms of narrative structure and gender depiction. Finally, I also discuss with which cultural and literary currents (e.g. ‘modern,’ ‘romantic’) the protagonists’ topo- and tempographical practice can be connected, and I address the singularity of Schwarzenbach’s later travel writings against the background of the contemporary political and literary context, especially, their tendency towards a more lyrical, apolitical style combined with more traditional ways of creating ‘home’.

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Citation

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Chicago
Decock, Sofie. 2010. Papierfähnchen Auf Einer Imaginären Weltkarte: Mythische Topo- Und Tempografien in Den Asien- Und Afrikaschriften Annemarie Schwarzenbachs. Bielefeld, Deutschland: Aisthesis.
APA
Decock, Sofie. (2010). Papierfähnchen auf einer imaginären Weltkarte: mythische Topo- und Tempografien in den Asien- und Afrikaschriften Annemarie Schwarzenbachs. Bielefeld, Deutschland: Aisthesis.
Vancouver
1.
Decock S. Papierfähnchen auf einer imaginären Weltkarte: mythische Topo- und Tempografien in den Asien- und Afrikaschriften Annemarie Schwarzenbachs. Bielefeld, Deutschland: Aisthesis; 2010.
MLA
Decock, Sofie. Papierfähnchen Auf Einer Imaginären Weltkarte: Mythische Topo- Und Tempografien in Den Asien- Und Afrikaschriften Annemarie Schwarzenbachs. Bielefeld, Deutschland: Aisthesis, 2010. Print.
@book{1104781,
  abstract     = {Until recently, research on the Swiss writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1908-1942), rediscovered in 1987, was constituted by a one-sided biographical reading as the predominant mode of interpretation In my dissertation on Schwarzenbach{\textquoteright}s Asian and African travel literature I apply a work-oriented approach and take into account disregarded and/or unpublished texts, thus infusing new impulses into research on Schwarzenbach. I investigate how the leading characters, in their symbolic-discursive practice of meaningfully demarcating and structuring {\textquoteleft}temporal space{\textquoteright} and {\textquoteleft}spatial time{\textquoteright}, attempt to negotiate feelings of alienation and homelessness in Asian or African surroundings. In the spatial and temporal organisation of their travels, they use, adapt, and combine mythical accounts related to the Orient or to Africa on the one hand and mythical narrative structures on the other. Specifically, the analysis shows that the protagonists engage in apocalyptic and mystic as well as in Orientalist and Africanist discourse and that they apply two mythic-discursive strategies of conquest in their travel movements and writing practice: the politico-cultural and the romantic-mystic strategy of the {\textquoteleft}loving conquest{\textquoteright} (liebende Eroberung). The protagonists travel in the footsteps of heroic and godlike predecessors, who can all be linked to European (founding) myths. The accounts of Alexander the Great{\textquoteright}s cultural unification policy and of the colonial pioneer, both of which have gained mythical quality, constitute important politico-cultural narratives of conquest. As romantic-mystic narratives of conquest, the myths of the hybrid God Dionysus and of the oriental or antique paradise as well as the accounts of pilgrims and hermits function as crucial reference texts. I further demonstrate how the choice, adaptation, and function of these mythical discourses shift depending on genre and continent as well as when comparing earlier to later texts. Schwarzenbach{\textquoteright}s later travel writings reveal a tendency towards a more lyrical, introspective style and a depiction of mythical presence. Also, the topo- and tempographical strategies of the leading characters become increasingly successful and also, surprisingly, more traditional in terms of narrative structure and gender depiction. Finally, I also discuss with which cultural and literary currents (e.g. {\textquoteleft}modern,{\textquoteright} {\textquoteleft}romantic{\textquoteright}) the protagonists{\textquoteright} topo- and tempographical practice can be connected, and I address the singularity of Schwarzenbach{\textquoteright}s later travel writings against the background of the contemporary political and literary context, especially, their tendency towards a more lyrical, apolitical style combined with more traditional ways of creating {\textquoteleft}home{\textquoteright}.},
  author       = {Decock, Sofie},
  isbn         = {9783895287947},
  language     = {ger},
  pages        = {333},
  publisher    = {Aisthesis},
  title        = {Papierf{\"a}hnchen auf einer imagin{\"a}ren Weltkarte: mythische Topo- und Tempografien in den Asien- und Afrikaschriften Annemarie Schwarzenbachs},
  year         = {2010},
}