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n Acta Germanica : German Studies in Africa - Die transformative Kraft der Sprache : Reden und Schweigen in der neuen deutschen Erinnerungsliteratur
The transformative power of language. Speech and silence in recent German memory fiction
The concept of the 'magic circle' (Johan Huizinga) defines the stage and the specific performative conditions for magic to work. This concept which was applied by Huizinga to spaces such as the courtroom, the church or the theatre is extended in this essay to the page of the literary text. It is argued that something of the age-old magic of oral poetry is preserved in contemporary German memory fiction that stages an encounter with dead family members. In novels by Peter Härtling (Nachgetragene Liebe) and Uwe Timm (Am Beispiel meines Bruders) a repressed past is emotionally revisited and at the same time exposed to new reflection in the light of hindsight. The therapeutic setting of 'family constellation' is introduced as another manifestation of the magic circle in our contemporary world in which latent traumas are acted out and worked through in a cathartic process.
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