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Auditory Desires, Auditory Fears

The Sounds of German Literary Modernism

Rolf J. Goebel

Pages 417 - 437

As represented by Stefan George, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Siegfried Kracauer, German literary modernism listens to sound as the object of a conflict between desire and fear that must cope with auditory experience as the irrepressible Other of visual perception within the representational strategies of literary language. This constellation spans the aesthetic beauty of classical music and the idyllic sounds of nature as well as the unsettling meaninglessness of urban noise. Exploring affinities between literary hermeneutics, sound studies, and Lacanian psychoanalysis across genre boundaries and temporal divisions, the essay sheds new light on the sonic dimensions of modernist writing.


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