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Into the Groove?

Into the Groove?: Popular Music and Contemporary German Fiction

Andrew Wright Hurley
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 286
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  • Book Info
    Into the Groove?
    Book Description:

    In Germany between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s there was an unprecedented "confusion of the spheres" of literature and popular music. Popular musicians "crossed over" into the literary field, editors and writers called for contemporary German literature to become more like popular music, writers attempted to borrow structural aspects from music or paid new attention to popular music at the thematic level. Others sought to raise their profiles by means of performance models taken from the popular music field. This book sets out to make sense of this situation. It argues for more inclusive and detailed attention to what it calls "musico-centric fiction," for which it discerns intellectual precursors going back to the 1960s and also identifies examples written since the turn of the millennium, after the would-be death of "pop literature." In doing so, it focuses on fiction and paratextual interventions by authors including Peter Handke, Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, Rainald Goetz, Andreas Neumeister, Thomas Meinecke, Matthias Politycki, Frank Goosen, Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre, Thomas Brussig, Karen Duve, and Kerstin Grether. Andrew W. Hurley is Senior Lecturer in German and Cultural Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-430-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Music, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    In late 1989, just as what Peter Handke called Europe’s “Jahr der Geschichte” (year of history) was coming to a close, the forty-sevenyear-old author set about writing a curious short story-cum-essay titledVersuch über die Jukebox(translated asThe Jukebox, 1990), which reflected on the protagonist’s musical socialization, and in particular his relationship to the jukebox.¹ In the context of the changes underfoot in Europe, the protagonist felt that he had to justify writing about something so seemingly frivolous. The next few years would be significant ones for the German literary scene, as it struggled to come to terms with the...

  5. 1: Preludes and Returns: Popular Music, the ’68 Generation, and the Literarization of the Jukebox
    (pp. 21-48)

    After establishing the increasingly important yet contested relationship between members of the ’68 generation and Anglo-American popular music during the late 1960s, this chapter will consider two different literary engagements with the key technology of the jukebox. I have selected Rolf Dieter Brinkmann’sWurlitzer(1966) and Peter Handke’sThe Jukebox(1990) for several reasons. Both authors are significant figures within the pop-musicalization of literature during what scholars in the 1990s and subsequently called “Pop I,” that is, the first flush of so-calledPopliteratur. Both were performance-aware writers during the late 1960s. They give us an opportunity to look back on...

  6. 2: Enter the Double Agent: The German Popular Musician as Novelist
    (pp. 49-72)

    Although the term “POP” fell out of favor with many in the German literary field during the early 1970s, it continued to have a life in the music scene, initially designating a genre conceived of as an “other” to rock. Then, in the wake of socio-musical developments in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which saw the bombastic “progressive rock” of the day challenged by punk and postpunk, the term “pop” was reinvested with meaning. As Ralf Hinz and others have shown, the term was used with new vigor in the postpunk and new wave era, and in Germany reached...

  7. 3: Techno-Lit: Electronica and Its Impacts on Fiction
    (pp. 73-118)

    As we saw in chapter 2, late in the 1990s Thomas Meinecke observed a “Songkrise” (song crisis), noting that in his view conventional lyrics were inadequate to the necessary political task, and that as a result he was tempted to compose wordless electronic music. His comment was not the throwaway line it might first seem to be. In fact, it betrays some of the importance Germans have invested in electronic music. If we survey the last twenty years of developments in popular music in Germany, then a significant segment of that music has been in the genre variously referred to...

  8. 4: Analogue is Better: Rock- and Pop-centric Literature
    (pp. 119-158)

    Andreas Neumeister alloyed his interest in EDM with an attention to the past and to his musical socialization. Several “rock-centric” writers from the late 1990s and 2000s, for whom Matthias Politycki will serve as my example, would also attend to the musical past, albeit in more formally conservative ways than Neumeister. It is no coincidence that these rock-centric writers were left unmoved by EDM culture and by the various utopian promises that it seemed to hold out. The first part of this chapter examines this rock-centric strand of contemporary German literature and how it links the consumption of rock with...

  9. 5: After the GDR’s “Musical Niche Society”? Popular Music in the Literature of Thomas Brussig
    (pp. 159-192)

    Thomas Brussig (born 1965 in East Berlin) was an enthusiast of Nick Hornby’s 1995 novelHigh Fidelityand of Frank Goosen’s similarly musico-centricLiegen lernen(2001). His own musico-centrism, although long-standing, began to fully emerge in his 1999 screenplay and novelization of the Leander Haussmann filmAm kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee(At the shorter end ofSonnenallee). Popular music, and its complexion in and after the GDR, would continue to be of thematic interest to Brussig, especially over the next five years—in the 2000 playHeimsuchung(Visitation) as well as in the 2004 novelWie es leuchtet(How It...

  10. 6: The Gendering of Popular Music in the Novels of Karen Duve and Kerstin Grether
    (pp. 193-227)

    Until this point, the question of gender in recent German musicocentric literature has remained a critical but under-illuminated aspect. One might assume from the tenor of the novels I examined in chapter 4 that it was male writers who were predominantly interested in reflecting on popular music or “realizing” its aesthetics. After all, a major trope in novels like theWeiberroman— actually a “men’s novel”—is that rock is a domain in which a young postadolescent male may gain some form of compensation for his lack of success with the opposite sex. To a large extent it was male writers...

  11. Conclusion: Out of the Groove?
    (pp. 228-234)

    This book has attempted to disentangle and make sense of the spate of contemporary German musico-centric literature, focusing on novels published between 1997 and 2004. I have argued that the writing and publishing of musico-centric literature was not necessarily new—there were so-calledPopliteraturprecursors going back to the 1960s at least—but that a range of factors came together to reconfigure and consolidate literary attention on popular music. These factors included, in no particular order: The emergence of more “omnivorous” modes of cultural consumption, especially among a metropolitan, hedonist segment of readers-cum-listeners. The rise in interest in popular music...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 235-262)
  13. Index
    (pp. 263-272)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 273-273)