Academic journal article German Quarterly

Modernes Erzahlen. Metafiktion um deutschsprachigen Roman der Gegenwart

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Modernes Erzahlen. Metafiktion um deutschsprachigen Roman der Gegenwart

Article excerpt

Sprenger, Mirjam. Modernes Erzahlen. Metafiktion im deutschsprachigen Roman der Gegenwart. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1999. 363 pp. DM 60.00.

This is yet another doctoral dissertation that has been printed directly from the author's disk, without any sort of proof-reading, something that is particularly sad to see from an imprint that used to have the highest standards, but which have, unfortunately, in recent years been allowed to slip. The text is full of typographical mistakes and shifts in font, and there is no index. The footnoting could, and should have been simplified. Publishers really have a duty to maintain professional standards, and they also should have learned by now that what is deemed appropriate for a dissertation is not necessarily so for a book. In this case there is a 47-page chapter on the history of the German novel since the Baroque that, though very decent in itself, is totally redundant here, and has the effect of disrupting the very thorough examination of English and American examples of metafiction. The examination of theoretical writing on this subject is equally thorough, and it is striking that the author is very familiar with the scholarship of American (but not British) Germanists in this area. Given the essentially sound and widely-read survey of metafiction outside Germany, it is then a great disappointment to find that, despite the subtitle, the German novels examined here are far from contemporary: Max Frisch's Mein Name sei Gantenbein, Alfred Andersch's Winterspelt, Friedrich Durrenmatt's Das Versprechen, Peter Handke's Wunschloses Ungluck, and Thomas Bernhard's Das Kalkwerk. More importantly, the analysis of these works reveals nothing that was not identified in these works twenty years ago or more, as the secondary literature cited goes to show. …

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