Between Words and Images - Eccentric Artists and Their Constructions of Reality in Recent German Literature

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Lúcia Bentes


The aim of this paper is to analyse a set of eccentric figures and constructions in Contemporary German Literature from the 1960s to 2006. I have chosen the following characters: Hieronymus [Fluchtpunkt by Peter Weiss (1965)], Henry [Der Turmbau by Eva Zeller (1983)], Fabian [Deutsche Mechanik by Steffen Kopetzky (2005)], Carla Adelung, Adina’s mother [Kraniche und Klopfer by Axel Brauns (2006)], and Alfred Irgang [Der Sammler by Evelyn Grill (2006)].

The aim of this paper is to examine how the main characters are eccentric. They are obsessive collectors and devote themselves to the construction of artistic projects and “symbolic universes” or “world-models”, according to a constructivist view of reality (Ernst von Glassersfeld 1981; Paul Watzlawick 1981; S. J. Schmidt 1984), through the sensorial and emotional experience in accordance with a phenomenological perspective (Gaston Bachelard 2007). Having in mind the differentiation between outer space and inner space, always associated with time and memory, the main questions addressed in this paper are:

  1. How do the fictional artists perceive and interpret reality and the world around them to build their artistic (aesthetic) projects?

  2. What type of relationship do the characters establish with their objects and creative works?

  3. How are particular objects, metaphores, symbols and images used as key elements in creating imaginary or alternative worlds? [For example: vagabond, efficient employee, wild garden, refuse container, tower [refers to The Tower of Babel], castle, warehouse.]

  4. How does the visual dimension of recent literary texts relate to contemporary media in societies dominated by images.

I want to show that the artistic practice of the selected characters intend to compensate the loss of memory, of meaning and of an order that we can verify in German contemporary society, but also in other capitalist societies in the world. In this interdisciplinary approach the relationships between image and word, art and literature are important aspects to be considered.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

Article Details

Individual Sessions: Words and Images Crossing Literary and Critical Borders