The Call of Human Nature: The Role of Scatology in Modern German Literature

The Call of Human Nature: The Role of Scatology in Modern German Literature

The Call of Human Nature: The Role of Scatology in Modern German Literature

The Call of Human Nature: The Role of Scatology in Modern German Literature

Excerpt

For readers and theatergoers, the bedroom is chic, but the bathroom is still in dubious taste. It is curious that a number of German writers and artists have long ignored this taboo, and their readers and critics, in turn, have chosen to overlook their imprudence. As long as a headin-the-sand attitude continues, our understanding of the techniques and intentions of these German writers and artists, particularly those of the modern period, will be incomplete. It is time to unlock the bathroom door.

Scatological elements have been found in the works of some writers and artists for centuries. The basic fact that excrement is part of human beings and the world they inhabit has generally been ignored or suppressed by those artists with a tendency to idealize, but many realistically inclined artists have acknowledged the existence of excrement and have incorporated it into their works. The use of scatological elements in literature serves a surprisingly large range of artistic intentions. Sometimes scatology provides light humor; very often it is part of the author's gentle or biting satire; at times we shall even see the excremental employed in a reversal of the standard societal values. In the latter case, the writer clearly demonstrates that those elements condemned by society as excremental really represent the nobility of life, whereas those parts of human life that society considers valuable often should be discarded and despised. Then there are writers who have an ambiguous view of excrement. They acknowledge it as part of nature and the life cycle and see some good in it, but they . . .

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