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Johann Peter Hebel and the rhetoric of orality

Hopwood, Elin Mererid; (1991) Johann Peter Hebel and the rhetoric of orality. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Since their publication at the beginning of the nineteenth century Hebel's Kalendergeschichten have enjoyed popularity among academics and lay-readers alike. Though critics have been quick to praise the charm of the texts, they have been slow to offer detailed analysis of what accounts for their lasting literary interest. My thesis hopes to make good this omission. It argues that at the heart of the stories lies an intricate manipulation of oral and written registers which enables the author to create and sustain a particular kind of relationship between the narrative voice and the reader. The first chapter outlines the development of the Kalendergeschichte within the tradition of the calendar and draws attention to the role of the Kalendermann and other factors which contribute to the traditionally oral tone of the medium. The second deals exclusively with Hebel's calendar work. It considers the existing secondary literature and shows that, while many critics ascribe to Hebei philosophic and thematic depth, they fail to appreciate that the secret of his success lies in the unemphatic yet complex narrative skill of the texts. In the third chapter the claims of prominent oral narratologists are introduced to support the argument that Hebel's narratives are overwhelmingly oral in construction and tone. Chapters four to eight offer detailed analyses of five sample texts, namely: Allgemeine Betrachtunq liber das Weltgebaude, Kaiser Napoleon und die Obstfrau in Brienne, Per Husar in Neisse, General Suwarow and Per silberne Loffel. These analyses highlight the sophistication of the apparently artless narrative process in Hebei's calendar stories. The final chapter brings my argument to a close by concentrating on Hebel's two best-known Kalendergeschichten - Kannitverstan and Unverhofftes Wiedersehen. Prawing attention to the differences in emphasis and approach between my discussion of the texts and that of other critics, the thesis concludes that the key to understanding Hebel's lasting popularity is only to be found when one perceives the rhetoric of orality present throughout his calendar work.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Johann Peter Hebel and the rhetoric of orality
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; Hebel, Johann Peter
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10112583
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