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A comparative study of the reception of Martin Walser's novels and dramas in the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic, The United Kingdom, and the United States of America between 1957 and 1980

Oswald, Franz (1985) A comparative study of the reception of Martin Walser's novels and dramas in the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic, The United Kingdom, and the United States of America between 1957 and 1980. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

This thesis analyses the synchronic variety of the responses to Martin Walser's novels and plays by academic and journalistic critics between 1957 and 1980 in the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Democratic Republic, the United Kingdom, and the USA. The coexistence of several conflicting horizons of expectations is shown thus criticising the earliest reception aesthetics of Hans Robert Jauss which assumed a single horizon of expectations. The variety of responses is related to differences between academic and journalistic critics, between national cultures, and between the politicalphilosophical positions of newspapers, journals, and individual critics. Thus literary reception is placed in a historical and social framework absent in Jauss’s earliest reception aesthetics. Following suggestions by the Prague structuralist Felix Vodicka the written responses by professional critics are taken as the accessible and formulated expressions of influential or dominant aesthetic norms.

This analysis of the reception of Walser’s works also describes to some extent the general conditions of the construction of meaning by the reader. At the same time it contributes to the interpretation of Walser's works by showing the possibility of different concretisations. An interpretation of the novel Jenseits der Liebe serves as an example for a response which consciously reacts to previous concretisations.

The thesis further demonstrates that critics respond to all strata of Horst Ruthrof's model of the literary work including the stratum of work ideology. However, it can be seen that the full range of the recipient's activities is insufficiently described by the reading theories implied in Janas' emphasis on "aesthetic distance" as the central norm and in Roman Ingarden's strata model which excludes work ideology.

Jacques Leenhardt's concept "concretisation legitime" is differentiated in order to distinguish several types of critics and literary norms. Five types of critics (traditionalist-realist, liberal-modernist, avantgardist - New Left, traditionalist – Marxist, and Marxist-Brechtian) are identified in the thesis and their relative strength in the media of the four compared countries is assessed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Human Communication
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: repository@murdoch.edu.au. Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Ruthrof, Horst
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/52970
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