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Textual carnival: a revaluation of narrative in Thomas Mann's 'Der Zauberberg'

Reid, Stephen Samuel; (2004) Textual carnival: a revaluation of narrative in Thomas Mann's 'Der Zauberberg'. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

Der Zauberberg was composed during years of unusual social, political and intellectual instability (1912-1924). It is a novel pervaded by a profound awareness that such turmoil calls into question inherited traditions and values, and it confronts head-on the challenge of either defending or abandoning the old, and of bringing new values into focus. It is the purpose of this dissertation to demonstrate textual processes that destabilise an ostensibly secure narrative viewpoint and reach out for the articulation of a new intellectual climate. I analyse Der Zauberberg in terms of the diverse strands present in the narrative which, I argue, contribute to an overwhelming sense of heteroglossia in Bakhtin's sense. Within this heteroglot universe no language is accorded precedence over the other, but instead there is a profound sense of slippage in which discourses move between characters, and even usurp some of the discourse of the narrator. The narrative voice, then, becomes a highly complex presence. First, the narrator is a pedagogical voice redolent of the eighteenth century Bildungsronian, but on closer observation this voice is seen to disintegrate into a variety of perspectives ranging from the voyeuristic to the salacious, the scientific, the ideological - and hence into self-contradiction. The sense of uncertainty which arises from this perpetual slippage leads to a new ironic import which, rather than simply engendering critical distance, contributes to a web of ambivalence in which the reader is invited to accept and reject states of affairs simultaneously. As an untidy pandemonium of languages and ideologies competing with one another for dominance, Der Zauberberg is a definitive example of Modernism, and I use my analysis of it as a means to explore modernist works by Broch, Hesse and Doblin. However, in conclusion I seek to demonstrate that for all its ambivalence and slippage of perspective Der Zatiberberg rescues itself from being nothing more than anchorless textual play and reinstates a strong sense of human dignity and purpose.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Textual carnival: a revaluation of narrative in Thomas Mann's 'Der Zauberberg'
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by British Library EThOS.
UCL classification:
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1383485
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