“Ist die Schwarze Köchin da? Jajaja. . .”: Mimesis and Günter Grass’s Die Blechtrommel


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Authors
Craig, RM 
Abstract

Die Blechtrommel (1959) has inspired widely divergent readings, not least in respect of the aesthetic grounds that the novel offered for the social hope in the wake of Auschwitz. This article re-visits it against the backdrop of Grass’s own recognition of the postwar author’s—personal and collective—sense of complicity; and in that connection it considers how Die Blechtrommel embodies the dialectic of hope and despair more broadly characteristic of Grass’s sense of postwar literary and political engagement. Its contention is that Theodor W. Adorno’s conception of “Mimesis,” as it is developed in Dialektik der Aufklä-rung (1944) andÄsthetische Theorie (1970), can provide a compelling account for Grass’s aesthetic and ethical achievement. The article examines the senses in which Oskar embodies the dynamic of Mimesis, staking as he does a subversive ethical claim for his notorious drumming and sing-shattering. It then turns to showing how Grass’s portrayal of the “bodily” reveals it as a meeting point of complicity, shame, and guilt—but also a faintly utopian site for a new social order. By thinking through these insights precisely with Mimesis in mind, we might begin to do justice to the elusive moment of hope in Grass’s work. (RC)

Description
Keywords
47 Language, Communication and Culture, 4705 Literary Studies
Journal Title
Monatshefte
Conference Name
Journal ISSN
0026-9271
1934-2810
Volume Title
108
Publisher
University of Wisconsin Press