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Aging and Old-Age Style in Günter Grass, Ruth Klüger, Christa Wolf, and Martin Walser

Aging and Old-Age Style in Günter Grass, Ruth Klüger, Christa Wolf, and Martin Walser: The Mannerism of a Late Period

Stuart Taberner
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Aging and Old-Age Style in Günter Grass, Ruth Klüger, Christa Wolf, and Martin Walser
    Book Description:

    Demographers say that by the year 2060, every seventh person in Germany will be aged eighty or older, and every third person over sixty-five. The prediction for other Western countries is scarcely different. Indeed, the aging society is seen by some as a graver threat than even global warming, with potentially unmanageable tensions relating to intergenerational relationships, work and benefits, and flows of people. This book explores the representation and performance of aging in recent "late-style" German-language fiction. It situates the authors chosen as case studies -- Günter Grass, Ruth Klüger, Christa Wolf, and Martin Walser -- in their biographical and social contexts and explores the significance of their aesthetic figuring of aging for debates raging both in Germany and internationally. In particular, the book looks at gender, generations, and trauma and their impact on how writers "narrativize" aging. Finally, it examines the "timeliness" of these different representations and late-style performances of aging in the context of the shift of social, political, and economic power away from the declining societies of the West to the ascendant societies of the East. Stuart Taberner is Professor of Contemporary German Literature, Culture, and Society at the University of Leeds.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-876-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction: Old-Age Societies—Old-Age Style
    (pp. 1-39)

    In their landmark report ahead of the 2002 “World Assembly on Ageing,” researchers from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations began by placing the contemporary graying of the world’s population in its historical perspective:

    Population ageing is unprecedented, without parallel in the history of humanity. Increases in the proportions of older persons (60 years or older) are being accompanied by declines in the proportions of the young (under age 15). By 2050, the number of older persons in the world will exceed the number of young for the first time in history. Moreover, by 1998...

  6. 1: Old-Age Style and Self-Monumentalization in Günter Grass
    (pp. 40-91)

    Günter Grass’s debut novel Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum, 1959) is almost unanimously acknowledged as one of the outstanding works of postwar German writing, and indeed of modern world literature. And Grass, born in 1927, was only thirty-one when it appeared. The novel’s unrestrained exuberance, unabated vigor over more than seven hundred pages, and insolent disregard for established moral and religious sensibilities, seem literally to embody its author’s youth. According to reviewers at the time, the author of Die Blechtrommel was “bursting with energy,” “vital,” “scurrilous,” or simply “infantile.” Fellow literary neophyte Hans Magnus Enzensberger wrote approvingly of his peer...

  7. 2: Old-Age Style and Self-Healing in Ruth Klüger and Christa Wolf
    (pp. 92-140)

    In the course of a literary career that stretched from the publication in 1961 of Moskauer Novelle (Moscow Novella), a short text exemplary of the socialist-realist mode dominant in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) at the time,² to the more characteristically modernist novel examined in this chapter, Stadt der Engel (City of Angels, 2010), Christa Wolf rarely succeeded in satisfying either her East German political masters or her critics in West Germany. She proclaimed neither unquestioning loyalty to the communist state nor an unambivalent rejection of its forty-year experiment. Not that she ever aspired to please those in authority in...

  8. 3: Old-Age Style and Self-Transcendence in Martin Walser
    (pp. 141-191)

    Martin Walser’s first novel, Ehen in Philippsburg (Marriages in Philippsburg), appeared in 1957 and won immediate critical acclaim. Its thirty-year-old author was awarded the Hermann-Hesse prize and quickly established himself as a fulltime writer. Already explicit in this short narrative is the theme that has most preoccupied Walser throughout his long career and that continues to define his most recent work, including the four texts to be examined in this chapter, Der Augenblick der Liebe (The Moment of Love, 2004), Angstblüte (Final Flowering, 2006), Ein liebender Mann (A Man in Love, 2008), and, in greater detail, Muttersohn. The central character...

  9. Conclusion: Old-Age Style as Late Style?
    (pp. 192-218)

    In the 2011 British movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (dir. John Madden), an assortment of variously cantankerous, lecherous, and melancholic older Britons flee the prejudices and—perhaps worse—indifference towards the elderly of their home country for India. Here they will spend their autumn years as the retired inhabitants of a colonial-era residence that turns out to be as decrepit as they are. “Everything will be alright in the end and if it’s not alright then it’s not the end,” insists the ever optimistic, and radiantly youthful, hotel manager Sonny. Thus an exuberant Indian faith in future success clashes...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 219-248)
  11. Index
    (pp. 249-258)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 259-259)