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Sistierte Modernität

Die Hesse-Legende, ‚Der Steppenwolf‘ und seine Erzählebenen

Matthias Schöning


Pages 47 - 65



Hermann Hesses Body of work has a reputation for being of strongly autobiographical character. This stands in the way of literary research, because the literary sciences are decidedly unconcerned with biographical works of authors. This essay is no exception in this, however it tries to approach this claim about Hesse productively. Should these common presuppositions about the relationship between his life and work be more than just discursive platitudes, this should be reflected in the properties of the text – that is the premise of the essay at hand. In the case of the novel ‚Der Steppenwolf‘, these properties are expected to be found in the relationship of the different narrative levels. This is because – atypical for the process of modernity – Hesse does not use his three narrative levels as a means of metanarrative reflection. Instead the present analysis shows how the layers semantically converge. Through the plurality of narrative voices mutually reinforcing each other, the meaning is not being dissipated, but rather laid down firmly. Can this truly be understood as the expression of a literary concept that is not about aesthetical innovation but biographical authenticity?

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