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„Dieser Platz war eine einzige Flut zusammengeballter Geschöpflichkeit“

Hermann Brochs Darstellung der Stadt in ‚Der Tod des Vergil‘

Gustav Landgren

Pages 71 - 91

Hermann Broch’s novel ‘The Death of Virgil’ (1945) is a complex prose work. Set in the in ancient Brundisium, the novel describes the last 24 hours in the life of the poet Virgil. My article discusses Broch’s depiction of the city Brundisium. It argues that Broch employs narrative techniques of the naturalistic tradition of the 19th century and that the author imitates Émile Zola’s novel ‘Le Ventre de Paris’ (1873) when he vividly describes the chaotic market life of the city. Also, the description of Virgil’s arrival at Brundisium is directly influenced by Flauberts novel ‘Salammbô’ (1862). Thus ‘The Death of Virgil’ can indeed be read as an historical novel. In addition, Broch in one early passage depicts Virgil’s dream of the destruction of Rome and ancient civilization. His interest in urban life must primarily be understood in the light of his simultaneous sociological essays, which criticize urbanity in general and mass man in particular. In modern cities, mass ideologies such as fascism grew strong in the thirties, and for Broch, this development has to do with the loss of religious belief. The Western culture had entered a state of complete disintegration of values, and the lack of a guiding value system is regarded as a reason for the rise of fascism in Europe.


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