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Tårarnas poetik: Nelly Sachs författarskap fram till och med In den Wohnungen des Todes
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics. Institutionen för kultur och estetik.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9688-612X
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Poetics of Tears : Nelly Sachs’s authorship to In den Wohnungen des Todes (English)
Abstract [en]

The dissertation Poetics of Tears: Nelly Sachs’s authorship to In den Wohnungen des Todes inquires into the early literary works of Nelly Sachs, written before the poet’s exile in Sweden. The study is based on an extensive archive research including a complete inventory of Sachs’s early writings, both her poetry and prose, and her scenic poetry and ”Puppenspiele”. Since most of Sachs’s early poems cannot be dated it is hard to reconstruct Sachs’s development as an author during the 1920s and 1930s. However, the study has a ”weak chronology” that tries to recount for the literary development in Sachs. The theoretical inspiration, and as a mean to overcome the problem with reconstructing a precise chronology, is taken from the thematic critique with a focus on larger literary themes. In an appendix the unpublished poetry is listed. The study is divided into three main chapters that each focuses on three different aspects of the ”poetics of tears” that runs through Sachs’s literature. The first chapter ”The origin of tears” deals with Sachs’s early prose. Mainly, three prose texts are analysed: ”Die Apfeltraumallee. Märchen und Legenden”, ”Chelion. Eine Kindheitsgeschichte” and the published collection Legenden und Erzählungen (1921). In these texts it is clear that Sachs establishes a kind of existential menace to her protagonist. The literary mode has a close affinity to fin-de-siècle literature and romantic poetry. The tear becomes a material that connects the human world to the world of the divine, thereby constructing a linkage or a bridge between two existential modes separated by death. The second chapter ”Death and the tears of farewell” investigates the poetry Sachs published in newspapers and magazines. A previous pantheistic view of God is in these works displaced and more palpably Christian references find their way into her poetry. Two cycles, ”Lieder vom Abschied” and ”Die Lieder von den Tränen”, are closely studied. In these the existential menace is reinforced by a political menace. A development of the tear motif is studied. In short, the tear is now no longer solely a silent material connecting the human and the divine, but rather something intermediate that connects humans to each other: in the poetic world of Sachs rises in this period a human community of tears. This phenomenon can be regarded as an early turn of Sachs towards a Jewish identity. The third chapter is entitled ”The silent tears of the victim” and investigates Sachs drafts for her debut In den Wohnungen des Todes. It documents how her previous lyrical style is altered and how the earlier pastoral lyrical landscape is replaced and broken. The dissertation thus ends with an examination of the lyrical metamorphosis of the tear motif in Sachs authorship. It is in many ways the transformation from writing a history of tears, to an attempt to fixate the tears of history before they vanish.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Bokförlaget Faethon Preprint , 2016. , 352 p.
Keyword [sv]
Nelly Sachs, förintelsen, tårar, arkiv, nobelpristagare, Tyskland, Sverige, exil, poetik, romantik, Novalis, judendom, Selma Lagerlöf, Kungliga biblioteket
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-127574OAI: diva2:910432
Public defence
2016-04-01, Auditorium 215, Frescativägen 24 E, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2016-03-09 Created: 2016-03-08 Last updated: 2016-03-09Bibliographically approved

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Pedersen, Daniel
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