The faces of Janus : English-language fiction by German-speaking exiles in Great Britain, 1933-45 / by Nicole Maria Theresia Brunnhuber.
The cultural production of German-speaking writers, who found refuge from Nazi persecution in Great Britain has attracted scholarly attention only in recent years, whilst exile research has largely neglected the phenomenon of literary translingualism. This dissertation is a multi-disciplinary examination of the exile experience in Great Britain, with a close analysis of the English-language fiction produced by German-speaking writers. The dissertation seeks to examine ways in which a minority, at times even perceived as the ‘enemy,’ presents a marginal viewpoint to the majority audience during periods of acute jingoism and war. Analysis of selected novels is set against a contextual presentation of the shifts in British foreign and refugee policies, with a particular focus on refugee tribunals, internment, spy hysteria, anti-Semitism and anti-German propaganda. The motives for adopting English as literary language, and the thematic content of the novels are examined as responses to these events. Since the vast majority of novels written in English by German-speaking exiles subscribe to popular British forms, I argue for the validity of ‘trivial’ literature as historical documentation. Specifically, close textual analysis allows for interpretations of the novels as deliberate manipulations of established, popular forms to disguise the socio-political discourse of the German-speaking refugee. The dissertation also traces traditions and trends of British and German literature as evident in the selected texts, with a view to establishing the novels as documents of cultural mediation. Since the dissertation traces the interaction of historical events and the personal experience of a range of authors, the novels are investigated as forums for the articulation of national, cultural, political and gender-based identities. The dissertation seeks to transcend boundaries of ‘national’ literatures, and to restore authors, whose work has been neglected as a result of their linguistic migration to English, to the cultural history of German-speaking exile. Examined in this study are the English-language novels by Ernst Borneman, Robert Neumann, Ruth Feiner, Lilo Linke and George Tabori. Collectively, their novels reflect linguistic migration as a means of assimilation into the dominant culture, and as vehicle for legitimising articulation of the native culture.
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