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Craftsmanship and storytelling in Joseph Roth's Der Leviathan

Research profile seminar

Seminar within the research area Languages, Literature and Culturality, arranged by the Department of Languages and Literatures. All interested are welcome!

Joseph Roth's novella Der Leviathan (1940) tells the story of coral merchant Nissen Piczenik, who, though born and bred on the continent, is dominated by a sense of kinship to his corals, and of belonging, like them, in undersea realms. The novella has been read as an allegory of the conditions of literature on a modern capitalist market, and in order to work out its auto-reflexive traits, Roth scholarship has focused on the protagonist's relationship to the eponymous mythical creature of the Leviathan. This study instead foregrounds Piczenik's artisanal practice, his association to corals and the sea, and aims to arrive at a new and different understanding of the novella. Using Walter Benjamin's conception of storytelling as a form of craftsmanship in his essay "Der Erzähler. Betrachtungen zum Werk Nikolai Lesskows" (1936), the article sheds light on how the depiction of Piczenik's artisanal practice and passion for corals can be understood in terms of literary self-reflection. It further analyses passages, in which storytelling and storytellers occur, thereby focusing not only on the protagonist, but also on other storytellers - including the narrator of Piczenik's story himself - as well as on the heterotopical, transitory spaces, in which experiences and stories are exchanged. Reading Roth's text this way, as a reflection on artisanal dimensions of storytelling, results in a re-evaluation of the novella, in which the ending is regarded in a more positive light.

Lecturer: Linda Karlsson Hammarfelt

Date: 5/28/2020

Time: 1:15 PM - 3:15 PM

Categories: Comparative Literature, Research, Language, Humanities

Organizer: institutionen för språk och litteraturer


Seminariet hålls via Zoom; Anmäl dig i förväg via följande länk så får du inloggningsuppgifterna: https://gu-se.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5Ipde-qrjwvHtfH2vjtMNsnBgjJLC0qbxUQ

Contact person: Andrea Castro

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