Room for Manoeuvre
The Role of Intertext in Elfriede Jelinek's Die Klavierspielerin, Günter Grass's Ein weites Feld, and Herta Müller's Niederungen and Reisende auf einem Bein

Morwenna Symons

Bithell Series of Dissertations 28

MHRA Texts and Dissertations 64

Maney Publishing for the Modern Humanities Research Association and the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies

7 December 2005  •  176pp

ISBN: 978-1-904350-43-9 (hardback)

ContemporaryGermanFiction


In the structuring of literary texts that refer extensively to previous texts, one issue is paramount: the space accorded to the reader. In entering into the intertextual debate, the reader is called upon both to corroborate the authority of the text and the power of literary continuity that the intertext embodies, and to assert his or her independence from this same authority in the very act of responding individually to its multiple significations.

This study of four literary texts, all very distinct in form and method, analyses the dynamic relationship between reader, text and intertext and suggests that it is in the effectiveness of this manoeuvring, by and of the reader, that the intertextual narrative can be shown to find its force. In Jelinek's Die Klavierspielerin the pornographic, psychoanalytic and musical intertexts form a discursive nexus of effects, central to the construction of a highly ironic narrative voice that unsettles and energizes the reader into critical response. The intertextual game of Ein weites Feld creates a text that is structurally and thematically 'out of control': by this means Grass brings the reader into confrontation with the celebratory discourses of German reunification. Herta Müller's depiction of the village idyll in Niederungen embraces and disrupts the Heimat genre.

The quotational mode, and our discomfort in responding to it, allows for the critical articulation of questions of authority and control with which the stories are concerned, while Müller's use of a Calvino intertext in Reisende auf einem Bein is fundamental in the development of a central character whose elusive quality reflects (on) thematic issues addressed by the text.

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Bibliography entry:

Symons, Morwenna, Room for Manoeuvre: The Role of Intertext in Elfriede Jelinek's Die Klavierspielerin, Günter Grass's Ein weites Feld, and Herta Müller's Niederungen and Reisende auf einem Bein, Bithell Series of Dissertations, 28 (Cambridge: MHRA, 2005)

First footnote reference: 35 Morwenna Symons, Room for Manoeuvre: The Role of Intertext in Elfriede Jelinek's Die Klavierspielerin, Günter Grass's Ein weites Feld, and Herta Müller's Niederungen and Reisende auf einem Bein, Bithell Series of Dissertations, 28 (Cambridge: MHRA, 2005), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Symons, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Symons, Morwenna. 2005. Room for Manoeuvre: The Role of Intertext in Elfriede Jelinek's Die Klavierspielerin, Günter Grass's Ein weites Feld, and Herta Müller's Niederungen and Reisende auf einem Bein, Bithell Series of Dissertations, 28 (Cambridge: MHRA)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Symons 2005: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Symons 2005: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


This title was first published by Maney Publishing for the Modern Humanities Research Association and the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies but rights to it are now held by Modern Humanities Research Association and the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies.

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