The Germanic Mosaic: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Society

By Carol Aisha Blackshire-Belay | Go to book overview
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oeuvre ranks only among trivial literature, remains a question of debate. But he succeeds, without any doubt, to cast Germany and its people in a novel light, to approach both with irony, self-criticism, and a sense of fascination. Through this travelogue, unsentimental and heart-breaking discussions about the Holocaust and the present Germany have become possible again, which is, in Klara Obermüller's opinion, a fortunate development. 33 Kaminski takes a different approach to that complex issue from many other contemporary writers, but with his humor, which is not, as some critics claim, "schmierigschlüpfrig" ["slimy-slippery," Schafroth, 1987], he conquers the horror and refocuses our vision back on the people themselves, both those living in the past and in the present. In fact, he brings back the laughter to Germany, an aspect of basic humanity which has been missing in contemporary literature from German-speaking countries in general. 34 It is not a laughter of forgetfulness, but instead a means to overcome the shock and to begin with life again. Because representatives of both sides of the Holocaust can laugh, Kaminski's text forges important bonds between the races and religions, a significant step forward in the acceptance and tolerance of the Other at large in Germany.

Alois Wierlacher, "Einleitung", Das Fremde un das Eigene. Prolegomena zu einer interkulturellen Gennanistik, ed. A. Wierlacher. Publikationen der Gesellschaft für interkulturelle Germanistik, 1 ( Munich: iudicium, 1985), vii-xv, here vii.
A similar view can be found in Claude Lévi-Strauss, Race et Histoire ( Paris: UNESCO, 1958); see also Urs Bitterli, Die "Wilden" und die "Zivilisierten." Gnindzüge einer Geistes- und Kulturgeschichte der europäischüberseeischen Begegnung. Becksche Sonderausgaben ( Munich: Beck, 1976). Helmut Plessner, "Mit anderen Augen", in Zwischen Philosophie und Gesellschaft. Ausgewählte Abhandlungen und Vorträge ( Bern: Francke, 1953), 204-217; Hans-Georg Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik. 2d. ed. (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1965), 168 ff. A highly stimulating literary example of the encounter with the Other can be found in A. E. Johann, Der Mann, der sein Wort gab (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1950), which is, quite unfortunately, very little discussed and read today.
Norbert Mecklenburg, "Über kulturelle und poetische Alterität. Kulturund literaturtheoretische Grundprobleme einer interkulturellen Germanistik", here quoted from Dietrich Krusche and Alois Wierlacher, eds., Hermeneutik der Fremde ( Munich: iudicium, 1990), 80-102; Leo Spitzer, "Das Eigene und das Fremde. Über Philologie und Nationalism us", Die Wandlung 1 ( 1945/46): 576-594; Utz Jeggle, "Fremdheit und Initiative", Zeitschrift für Volkskunde 68 ( 1972): 42-60.


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