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Religion and Canon Formation in 1950s West German

MARWOOD, LAURA,ANN (2013) Religion and Canon Formation in 1950s West German
Masters thesis, Durham University.



The central questions to be explored in this study are religion and canon formation in 1950s West German writing. These discussions are centred on four post-war West German novels: Elisabeth Langgasser's Markische Argonautenfahrt (1950), Heinrich Boll's Wo warst du, Adam? (1951), Wolfgang Koeppen's Der Tod in Rom (1954) and Gunter Grass' Die Blechtrommel (1959).

Following the collapse of Nazi Germany in May 1945, the subsequent phase of German political, social and economic strife has come to be known as one of the greatest periods of instability in the nation's history. The collapse of Nazism is sometimes referred to as a Stunde Null, for it denotes the point at which the clock of German history was turned back to zero. Drawing on the sense of flux and unpredictability that characterised the early post-war years in Germany, combined with the wave of secularisation that intensified throughout the 1950s, this study will focus on the centrality of these four novels' thematic concern with Catholicism. It will look at the divergent representation of religious themes in post-war fiction and contemplate why some of the selected writers ardently championed a Christian revival in Germany, whilst others assumed a distinctly more sceptical and contemptuous stance. As its second focus, the thesis will consider the process of literary canonisation and will question why some of the works analysed in this study remain commercially and critically successful, whilst others are vastly less read and less celebrated.

This thesis anticipates finding a highly divergent set of reactions to four novels that offer conflicting responses to the socio-political circumstances of the post-war era. By viewing literature as a response to social reality, an analysis of these four West German works whose publication dates encompass a whole decade (1950-1959) provides a privileged perspective by throwing light, obliquely, on the wider social problems of the 1950s.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Keywords:Religion, Canon-Formation, Germany, 1950s, Elisabeth Langgässer, Heinrich Böll, Wolfgang Koeppen, Günter Grass
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Apr 2013 09:37

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