This transformation can only occur when dialogue and stream of consciousness usurp the conventional function of narration. However, the generous use of similes in the narrative serves to make the narrative point of view more subjective. To be sure, Heym never employs rhetorical commentary. SOKEL intends to influence the reader, as for example in this novella. Leonhard Frank — makes more extreme and direct use of rhetorical figures in his prose works. Moreover, the interjection of opinions into the narrative invokes generalizations surpassing the limits of the text.
The narrator seeks to persuade the reader by a particular choice of words. Thus the narrative depicts a worldview and seeks to demonstrate a truth that the author wants to propagate. We shall refer to this technique, employed by many important prose writers in Expressionism, as parabolic narrative. The distinction between parables told in the first and in the third person is of little relevance here. The paratactic style is also indebted to the bible. Sentences often begin with Und, a common feature of exemplary prose, and the succession of events and statements suggests a life of wandering on earth, expressing edifying views of the holy figure from the point of view of a devout and loving disciple.
Borrowing from Schopenhauer and materialism, Ehrenstein seeks to demonstrate the senselessness and absurdity of existence. It is above all Mynona — who made the most extensive use of the parabolic form.
Like Leonhard Frank, Mynona addresses topics beyond the story, and the interjections of the narrator determine the meaning of the tale. The narrator himself is marked through the use of grotesque irony. His madness is shown from a critical and sovereign point of view. It is a negativity that leads to the spiritual essence of being. His sketches are ironic-grotesque parables, illustrations of nonsense, beyond which lies a deeper spiritual meaning. Here the reemergence of authorial intention is deemed necessary. As is the case in the works of Jean Paul, E.
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Hoffmann, Raabe, and later Musil, authorial intentionality prevails. SOKEL narrator absolute status, denies him absolute reality. They all reject the narrative technique of representation, that is, of Bauen as a goal in itself. As for Mynona, parable is effective in two ways, namely, through philosophical dialogue, and grotesque fantasy. These two components characterize the dialogue as well as the circumstances, situations, and figures in the novel. The dialogue contains opinions and points of view that constitute the content of the novel. The narrative is not objective; it is subjective, intellectual and amorphous, a merely thematic aspect of the narrative structure.
Ideas appear and find formulation in the text.
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In Bebuquin, character development is secondary to the ideas, which are what interested Einstein. These cogitations are formulated as aphorisms and accompanied by astonishing, absurd, and fantastic events. One example taken from Bebuquin illustrates the interweaving of these aspects in this first Expressionist novel:.
Es handelte sich um den Gedanken, der logisch war, woher auch seine Ursachen kamen. Wir sind nicht mehr so phantasielos, das Dasein eines Gottes zu behaupten. Bebuquin, sehen Sie einmal. He felt in this contradiction no animation, but rather release, repose. It was not negation that was fun. He despised these pretentious grumblers.
He despised this uncleanliness of dramatic man. Yet the reasons were secondary. It was the thought that mattered, which was logical, whatever its origins. He wanted to take it a little easy after his death, since he did not yet know anything for sure about immortality. But unfortunately you will probably have no success since you assume only a logical and a non-logical.
There are many types of logic, my friend, at war within us and the alogical derives from that battle. We are no longer so lacking in imagination as to claim the existence of a God. All shameless capitulation to the concept of unity speaks only to the laziness of your fellow humans. Bebuquin, take a look. However, he does not provide guidance or an interpretation, as is often the case in Mynona. That clearly represents an instance of allegorical and parabolic language. SOKEL epigrams. The self-reflections of the main character — in part or totally identified with the narrator — spontaneously transform external events into intellectual or cognitive experience and transmute every action of the plot into stream of consciousness.
This narrative technique is employed by Gustav Sack in Ein verbummelter Student An Idle Student, written —13, published , by Gottfried Benn in his collection of stories Gehirne Brains, , and by Flake in Stadt des Hirns City of the Brain; in Flake the title itself clearly expresses this intellectualization of narrative. We now turn to the use of allegory in Expressionist narrative prose, which is closely associated with the use of fantasy.
In this skull things appear silver-plated and wonderfully polished an image obviously symbolizing the intellect. The especially fantastic nature of the image provides a vehicle to convey ideas. With writers who employ allegory, such as Kubin, Meyrink, and Kafka, two fundamental tendencies of epic or prose Expressionism come together: namely, naturalistic, scenic, concrete representation and intellectual parables. In Kafka, however, the central idea, as expressed through images or material objects, ultimately remains unknown, and his allegories therefore permit an infinite number of interpretations.
In Einstein, Meyrink, and Kubin, the meaning of the allegory is more accessible. With allegorical clarity, these linked ideas appear as the visionary content of the narrated sequence of events. The meaning of the bureaucracies appearing in these works is so multivalent that it remains inseparable from the representation in the work and remains irreducible to any simple equation with specific ideas.
Linguistically speaking, we cannot define any of the Austrian writers using allegory, whether they are from Prague or from Vienna, as Expressionists. The general stylistic features of Expressionist prose parataxis, ellipsis, syntactic distortion do not apply to the narrative styles of Kafka, Meyrink, Kubin, or Musil.
Here, syntactic complexity and subordination still remain the rule. Therefore, those authors cannot be included among the Expressionists. While the aforementioned features cannot be applied to that group of authors, the Expressionist use of narrative perspective, form, and structure certainly can.
We have already drawn attention to stylistic parallels and relations between Musil and Einstein.
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Kafka plays a special role in the development of narrative technique in Expressionism, evident in the way he intensifies the ambiguity of the parabolic-allegorical forms of narration, widely used by Expressionists. In regard to narrative perspective, Kafka develops to an extreme the exclusion of the omniscient narrator. These prose works, among the most interesting and finest narrative works produced by Expressionism, all convey a distorted view of the world narrated from the very personal viewpoint of the main character, who in three of these works is insane.
The petty bourgeois is revealed as a fantastically macabre and grotesque menace. Mann maintained the same grotesque intensity of narrator perspective through large sections of the book. Nonetheless, there exists between Kafka and the other Expressionists an essential distinction in regard to the use of figural perspective. The internal point of view, the point of orientation for narrated events, is entirely coherent in Kafka, untouched by any reference to an external reality. However, from a linguistic point of view, we cannot consider him a true Expressionist.
This example shows us that we must proceed with nuanced care when seeking to define Expressionist prose. After this discussion of narrative perspectivism, let us now again turn to linguistic features of Expressionism in order to reiterate that the two fundamental features of its prose were the pursuit of the utmost compression of language and syntactic distortion. We observe that aphorisms predominate whenever naturalistic representation yields to the expression of ideas. Aphorisms deal with generalizations and as such refer to ideas beyond the text, to a region shared by reader and narrator.
Events and characters assume secondary importance; the identical relationship of the narrated events to reality external to the narrative is of primary importance. Aphorisms disturb the autonomy of the fictional world represented in the narrative.
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Aphorism is linked to irony. The irony of Einstein and Mynona rests upon the keen awareness of the abyss that separates the world of ideas from empirical reality. In the works of Alfred Lichtenstein — , which depict the milieu of the Berlin artistic community, ironic anecdotes, composed of aphorisms, are the most prominent feature of the narrative.
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In order to live decently, one has to be a scoundrel; Aphorisms convey a philosophy or a truth about life in concise wording of universal applicability. The escalation of the aphorism from a sentence into a scene, anecdote, or even story by necessity leads to parable. Two flies are drowned in an inkpot, and in this grotesque and trivial event the narrator finds an illustration of the tragic meaninglessness of existence.
The distinction between the parables of Lichtenstein and Ehrenstein and those of Mynona is that the latter, despite his use of irony and relativity, permits the Platonic idea to shine through, as the eternal possibility of intellectual freedom. In contrast, the former two writers demonstrate the absurdity of life by grotesquely combining the trite and ridiculous with sorrow and tragedy. However, in Kafka, the incomprehensible defeats all attempts at interpretation. SOKEL employed parables. The sentence structure and linguistic aberrations transform his stories into ironic, or rather, burlesque parables.
This widespread tendency toward ellipsis in Expressionist prose has however also an entirely different cause that the admirer of Sternheim, Gottfried Benn, formulates as follows:. However, beneath those differences lies a deeper affinity uniting these authors in their shared antipathy toward psychology, namely, the rejection of causality as a sufficient explanation of human behavior and of the world.
In both of these currents of Expressionism, the writers are bent on eliminating the opposition between the self and external reality, between subject and object, between inside and outside. In a formal and linguistic respect, inner monologue achieves the elimination of the subject-object opposition. In these writers, the distinction between inner and external reality ceases to exist.
Everything flows together.