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The bureaucratic muse: On Thomas Bernhard's 'Exempel', Adalbert Stifter's 'Der Kuss von Sentze', Franz Kafka's 'In der Strafkolonie' and Oswald Wiener's 'Die verbesserung von mitteleuropa, roman'

Hughes, Helen; (1994) The bureaucratic muse: On Thomas Bernhard's 'Exempel', Adalbert Stifter's 'Der Kuss von Sentze', Franz Kafka's 'In der Strafkolonie' and Oswald Wiener's 'Die verbesserung von mitteleuropa, roman'. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The thesis, as its title suggests, works through examples: it looks at the way in which four literary works have responded to the spirit of bureaucracy. It also looks at the way in which each text, by thematizing bureaucracy, questions itself as a literary text. By working through examples the thesis also thematizes the bureaucratization of literature in that each example is an individual case, selected in order to become one of a group. In the introduction it is argued that the essence of bureaucracy is the translation of pure formal structure into the organization of society. Bureaucratization is the attempt to create a set of rules of procedure, a value-free, machine-like process. It is further argued that the linguistic mechanism of the metatext is crucial to this enterprise. In order to maintain impersonality it is necessary for those working within the bureaucratic structure to be aware at all stages of procedure of how the system functions rather than what it is doing. In Chapter One Exempel, a short text by Thomas Bernhard, is analyzed as the exemplary text amidst exemplary texts. It takes the contextual elements of the courtroom seen through the consciousness of a courtroom journalist to relate the story of a judge who shoots himself in order to set an example. The interpretation argues that the text becomes, as it were, a deterrent to itself. Chapter Two is an analysis of Der Kuss von Sentze by Adalbert Stifter which is seen as an exploration at a very early stage of the consequences and contradictions that can arise from placing human relationships in the framework of bureaucratic structures. This is particularly apparent in the prose style that attempts to eliminate emotional responses. Franz Kafka's In der Strafkolonie is discussed as a text that realizes in literary form Max Weber's image of the bureaucratic State, a machine made out of human beings, at the same time as it explores the way in which the dialogue about the machine, in its concern with procedures rather than with the pain inflicted by the machine, is a representation of the way in which perspectives are distorted by the institutionalization of the metatext. Oswald Wiener's die verbesserung von mitteleuropa, roman is an experimental novel that explores the limits of literary expression as well as bureaucratic forms of expression by creating and destroying various forms of structuring the text while discussing in theoretical terms the relationship between language, society and the individual.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The bureaucratic muse: On Thomas Bernhard's 'Exempel', Adalbert Stifter's 'Der Kuss von Sentze', Franz Kafka's 'In der Strafkolonie' and Oswald Wiener's 'Die verbesserung von mitteleuropa, roman'
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10101582
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