Spatial dynamics in poetry: A topographical approach to poems by Rilke, Hoelderlin and Bachmann (Germany, Austria, Rainer Maria Rilke, Friedrich Hoelderlin, Ingeborg Bachmann)
Schellhammer, Ulrike Beate
Doctor of Philosophy
For all they contribute to an understanding of modern lyric poetry, traditional tropological interpretations betray a number of limitations. In particular, the restrictive manner in which they impinge upon the dynamics of a poem and its potential for making meaning is the principal occasion for this dissertation, which postulates an alternative understanding of poetic space in modern German lyric poetry. The "scientific-topographical" method involved, like its terminology, is derived in Chapters I and II from the areas of geography and physics and would reveal a vibrant and expansive spatial dynamics in poetry hitherto subjected--with varying degrees of success--to an exhaustive yet more statically limiting and often exclusively allegorical analysis. This project is pursued with reference to poems by Rilke, Holderlin and Bachmann. The application of the method to Rilke's "Ausgesetzt auf den Bergen des Herzens" in the third chapter constitutes an exemplary "spatial reading" of the poem, "mapping" as it does a network of dynamically charged landmarks. This example is then followed in Chapter IV with a detailed presentation of the spatial dynamics in Holderlin's "Andenken." As the poetic space unfolds here, the lyrical I is discovered in an unexpected location, one in fact that has until now been completely neglected in criticism of the poem. With the analysis of Bachmann's "Bohmen liegt am Meer" in Chapter V the "scientific-topographical" method is most fully vindicated; for it is here that the dynamic process of "spatialization" practised by the critic finds thematic representation in the creative process practised by the poet. In a concluding chapter a brief consideration of the spatial dynamics in Goethe's "Machtiges Uberraschen"--a poem unlike the earlier three insofar as it has repeatedly permitted an altogether fruitful allegorical treatment--is intended to suggest the method's potential for further and broader application.
Modern literature; Germanic literature