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Zur Bedeutung des Vergleichs in Eichendorffs Erzählwerk: "...ihm war, als spiegelte sich wunderbar sein Leben wie ein Traum noch einmal wieder"
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Baltic Languages, Finnish and German.
2005 (German)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present dissertation investigates similes and their importance in Eichendorff’s narrative work. The sources of the investigation consist of seven of Eichendorff’s narratives. Their 734 similes make up the corpus, which is presented in its entirety in the appendix. The context of the similes is partly included as well.

Initially, I define the concept of “simile” more precisely, partly distancing myself from the definitions found in classical dictionaries of literary terms. After this, I describe my procedure for analysis in detail. This turned out to be necessary, since there was no similar study to be found on this topic in the extensive literature on Eichendorff. The search for models of types of similes brought me back to antique rhetoric as well as to Middle High German epic poems. In the first analysis, the types of similes occurring in the corpus are presented. The syntactic structures of image receivers and image givers are used as criteria. Four structures of similes occurred: a) classical similes and b) similes with image givers, which represent adverbial clauses and c) as / as if – clauses or are d) subject-related. The frequency and the development of frequency of types of similes are presented as well.

In the second step of the thesis, I investigate whether similes tend to depict conditions/qualities or procedures/actions. It turned out that similes reflecting conditions/qualities, i.e. epic similes, dominated strongly. The high number of similes could possibly be explained by the functions carried out by epic similes in narrative texts.

In the third part, I concern myself with the question whether the similes of the corpus are imaginative representations only and what kind of sensorial perceptions they express. Admittedly, the dominating percentage of the similes proved to be images, but more than fifteen per cent consist of sounds and other sensorial perceptions. Furthermore, imaginative similes, but also sounding similes express motion, so that they illustrate pictures in motion and sounding motion respectively. These come close to synaesthesia, whereas only five similes illustrate „pure“ synaesthesia. In contrast, subject-related similes are perceptions of different sensations and feelings, illustrating the inner life of a character not shared by any other character.

Finally, the semantic content of the similes is investigated in order to determine the metamorphosis, i.e. the trope transfer from proprium to improprium. It turned out that only the classical simile originating in antique rhetoric is suitable for a semantic analysis. Above all, there is great variation in the trope transfer. The metamorphosis human beingnature dominates strongly, which makes the narrative text appear as a palimpsest, in which yet another world glimmer in front of the human being behind every character. However, the many trope transfers that convey realityunreality could be interpreted as transitions and as a “magical code” of Eichendorff.

Furthermore, the semantic analysis uncovers content and motives of classical similes. It becomes clear that pre-constructed – and only pre-constructed - content is imitated here. Consequently, it can be asserted that Eichendorff’s great number of similes constitute or at least contribute to the formulaic manner (according to Kohlschmidt) and the intertextuality (according to Nienhaus) in Eichendorff’s narrative work.

Above all, the subject-related simile type turns out to be a typical representative of Romanticism because of its subjectivism. Together with its preformed semantic content, it constitutes the “romantic formula” of Eichendorff’s work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2005. , 292 p.
Stockholmer germanistische Forschungen, ISSN 0491-0893 ; 67
Keyword [en]
Eichendorff, Eichendorff’s narrative work, similes, types of similes, classical similes, non-classical types of similes, if-/ as if-similes, adverbial similes, subject-related similes, proprium, improprium, image giver, image receiver, tropes, antique rhetoric, Middle High German epic poem, Romanticism, functions of similes, pictures in motion, sounding motion, formula, formulaic manner, synaesthesia, formulas, intertextuality
National Category
Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-541ISBN: 91-85445-05-3OAI: diva2:195231
Public defence
2005-06-04, hörsal 9, Hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2005-05-13 Created: 2005-05-13 Last updated: 2012-07-06Bibliographically approved

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