The Modern German Novel: A Mid-Twentieth Century Survey

By H. M. Waidson | Go to book overview

VIII
SURREALISM

IMAGINATIVE writing which aims to gain new vistas of life by breaking down the walls of objective realism in order to admit a new dimension of vision asserted itself at the turn of the century with the Neo-Romantic movement; and Kafka's writing may be regarded as reflecting an Expressionist interpretation of this experiment. André Breton Manifeste du Surréalisme ( 1924) consciously summoned a new literary school into being, though the words 'surréalisme' had been coined earlier by Guillaume Apollinaire. Axiomatic to the surrealist was a mistrust of logical reasoning and an almost mystical belief in a higher reality which is revealed in dreams, abnormal mental states and generally through the unconscious mind. The influence of Freud on the French surrealists is evident, and especially when we bear in mind that André Breton was himself a specialist in nervous diseases. These were the years too when James Joyce was living in Paris and had recently published his Ulysses. The surrealist's aim was to break down the prison-bars of the world of reason and common sense, which atrophied or distorted the lives of so many adults; only children could still see the world around as enchanted and miraculous. The social and political implications of surrealism were an outspoken opposition to all that was traditional. In personal life bohemianism and sexual emancipation were advocated, while anarchism or political revolution were to sweep away the outworn framework of society. Very many contemporary German writers have been affected by this heightening of realism by the intermingling of conscious and unconscious experience, even if they do not always speak of surrealism or 'magic realism'. In part too it is a romantic movement, and the German exponents of surrealism invoke Novalis and Brentano, Jean Paul and E. T. A.

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The Modern German Novel: A Mid-Twentieth Century Survey
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • I - The Blurred Edges of Realism 1
  • II - Documentation 16
  • III - Past Time 33
  • IV - The Idyllic Ideal 42
  • V - Irony and Conviction 51
  • VI - 'the Golden Future Time' 62
  • VII - The Observers 72
  • VIII - Surrealism 78
  • IX - The Length of Time 90
  • X - Novel and Short Story 104
  • XI - Summing Up 115
  • Select Bibliography 120
  • List of Authors and Works 123
  • Index 129
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