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‘Ich weiß, was Sie von mir denken. Aber Sie täuschen sich.’ Ich-Diskurse in Maxim Billers Prosa

‘Ich weiß, was Sie von mir denken. Aber Sie täuschen sich.’ Ich-Diskurse in Maxim Billers Prosa
‘Ich weiß, was Sie von mir denken. Aber Sie täuschen sich.’ Ich-Diskurse in Maxim Billers Prosa
My thesis examines the work of the German-Jewish writer and intellectual Maxim Biller. It focuses on his literary self representations in his prose texts between 1990 and 2009. Jewish life in Germany has changed significantly since the political events of 1989. This is largely the product of migration and generational shifts within German Jewish communities, coinciding with shifting German identity discourses. The Jewish communities have subsequently become more diverse and ‘visible’. Despite this striking reestablishment of Jewish life and culture in Germany, it is still regarded an inexplicable phenomenon by many Jews from Israel and the US. It is also debatable as to whether this new Jewish plurality has really changed the German perceptions of Jews – or their attitudes and behaviours towards them. Young Jewish writers such as Maxim Biller face the challenge of redefining what it means to be a German Jew and of battling persisting stereotypical perceptions of Jewish identity. In their texts, they are creating spaces of negotiation and representation for their complex Jewish experiences. I argue that Maxim Biller, who has critically commented on German-Jewish discourse for about 25 years, publicly performs and establishes his own identity discourse. As a journalist for big German newspapers and magazines, Biller wrote provocative and controversial articles. Whether willingly or not, through his articles, he helped the German majority to define the Jews as ‘the Other’. He soon grew tired of this role and instead turned to experimental and self reflexive autobiographical prose in order to emancipate himself from this merely illustrative position. This prose is the subject of my analysis: I focus on his latest autobiographical novel, Der gebrauchte Jude (2009), his controversial and now banned first novel Esra (2003), his early short stories from 1990 and 1994 and his first novel Die Tochter (2000). To show how Biller establishes new ways of speaking about the self, I apply both a performative understanding of identity and a hybrid definition of the genre of autobiography as these concepts succeed in representing minority discourse. I want to show how Maxim Biller’s work helps to understand the new German-Jewish self perceptions and illustrates that Jewish plurality has returned to Germany. Through his autobiographical writing, Biller actively contributes to a broader counter-discourse to tendencies of particularism and essentialism as reactions to globalization and migration.
University of Southampton
Codrai, Bettina Adrienne
88d5695d-b73c-45ee-891a-685bcf523c5d
Codrai, Bettina Adrienne
88d5695d-b73c-45ee-891a-685bcf523c5d
Reiter, Andrea
2d3fad43-ac1d-4ec7-bd9f-0b9168492a84
ORR, MARY M
3eec40eb-479c-4c9a-b2da-7388a27f9d5c

(2013) ‘Ich weiß, was Sie von mir denken. Aber Sie täuschen sich.’ Ich-Diskurse in Maxim Billers Prosa. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 330pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

My thesis examines the work of the German-Jewish writer and intellectual Maxim Biller. It focuses on his literary self representations in his prose texts between 1990 and 2009. Jewish life in Germany has changed significantly since the political events of 1989. This is largely the product of migration and generational shifts within German Jewish communities, coinciding with shifting German identity discourses. The Jewish communities have subsequently become more diverse and ‘visible’. Despite this striking reestablishment of Jewish life and culture in Germany, it is still regarded an inexplicable phenomenon by many Jews from Israel and the US. It is also debatable as to whether this new Jewish plurality has really changed the German perceptions of Jews – or their attitudes and behaviours towards them. Young Jewish writers such as Maxim Biller face the challenge of redefining what it means to be a German Jew and of battling persisting stereotypical perceptions of Jewish identity. In their texts, they are creating spaces of negotiation and representation for their complex Jewish experiences. I argue that Maxim Biller, who has critically commented on German-Jewish discourse for about 25 years, publicly performs and establishes his own identity discourse. As a journalist for big German newspapers and magazines, Biller wrote provocative and controversial articles. Whether willingly or not, through his articles, he helped the German majority to define the Jews as ‘the Other’. He soon grew tired of this role and instead turned to experimental and self reflexive autobiographical prose in order to emancipate himself from this merely illustrative position. This prose is the subject of my analysis: I focus on his latest autobiographical novel, Der gebrauchte Jude (2009), his controversial and now banned first novel Esra (2003), his early short stories from 1990 and 1994 and his first novel Die Tochter (2000). To show how Biller establishes new ways of speaking about the self, I apply both a performative understanding of identity and a hybrid definition of the genre of autobiography as these concepts succeed in representing minority discourse. I want to show how Maxim Biller’s work helps to understand the new German-Jewish self perceptions and illustrates that Jewish plurality has returned to Germany. Through his autobiographical writing, Biller actively contributes to a broader counter-discourse to tendencies of particularism and essentialism as reactions to globalization and migration.

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Published date: June 2013
Organisations: University of Southampton, Modern Languages

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 366838
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/366838
PURE UUID: 7de15e7f-fef9-495f-a3c9-f86ad420c3e6

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Date deposited: 20 Oct 2014 13:52
Last modified: 13 Dec 2017 05:01

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