Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-v5vhk Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-19T04:34:58.731Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Affective Encounters and Ethical Responses in Robert Schneider's Die Luftgängerin and Sybille Berg's Vielen Dank für das Leben

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2013

Emily Jeremiah
Affiliation:
Senior Lecturer in German at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Frauke Matthes
Affiliation:
Lecturer in German at the University of Edinburgh.
Get access

Summary

Postmodernism has often been associated with the demise of the ethical. Conversely, the so-called “ethical turn” in contemporary literature means that literary texts are more inclined than ever to engage in ethical dialogue concerning questions of how we act toward one another. Given that encounters between human beings are contingent upon particular social and historical contexts, literature, which typically involves fictional characters interacting with each other in concrete settings, and so depicts specific actions and situations, is arguably well placed to chart a new, emerging form of postmodern ethics, one that rejects universalism and posits specificity as key to ethical behavior.

in this essay, I explore how two contemporary German-language novels negotiate particular encounters between characters: Robert Schneider's Die Luftgängerin (1998) and Sybille Berg's Vielen Dank für das Leben (2012). In spite of the fact that the novels were published fourteen years apart, the narratives' protagonists, maudi and toto respectively, have much in common. Both are intersexed; that is, their bodies exhibit what are socially read as female and male sexual characteristics. Medically speaking Toto is born with ambiguous genitalia (DL 15), whereas maudi's outwardly female appearance hides her non-descended testicles and XY chromosomes (LG 157). Yet in stark contrast to other contemporary literary texts that tell the life stories of intersexed characters and mainly focus on the protagonists'; desperate search for a gendered identity, these diagnoses are of no importance for Maudi and Toto.

Type
Chapter
Information
Edinburgh German Yearbook 7
Ethical Approaches in Contemporary German-Language Literature and Culture
, pp. 85 - 100
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2013

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×