The time of decline. A reading of Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks and Uwe Tellkamp’s Der Turm
This article is a comparative reading of Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks (1901) and Uwe Tellkamp’s Der Turm (2008). Both novels are family novels with decline as a main motif. Taking this motif as a point of departure, I ask if the authors operate with the same understanding of the concept. By analyzing the temporality and overall historical concept in the novels, I argue that although decline can be said to be the telos in both novels, this end is anticipated quite differently. In Mann’s novel the concept of decline has its upspring in a circular understanding of history, and means the ending of the bourgeois era and the degeneration of German culture. For Tellkamp decline means the coming of the end of the GDR and with that also an opening to something new altogether: what the Greeks called cairos.
‘Hélas, l’oiseau qui fuit ce qu’il croit l’esclavage.’ On the narrator as a murderer in Prévost and Proust
This article revolves around the depiction of love in À la recherche du temps perdu (1913–1927) by Marcel Proust (1871–1922) and Manon Lescaut (1731; 1753) by Abbé Prévost (1697–1763). In both novels the central love story ends tragically with the death of the beloved woman. In my article, I claim that these deaths appear as logically prepared in the texts. More specifically, I mean that the tragic fate of Prévost’s Manon and Proust’s Albertine can be read as a logical consequence of how the narrators choose to depict them. The narrators are also the lovers of these two women, and by analysing the two love stories, I reveal that Proust’s novel is in fact problematizing the ethics of storytelling, notably by exploring the close relations between language, ethics and power.