The complicity of culture with barbarism : a study of Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus and Hans Jürgen Syberberg's Hitler, ein Film aus Deutschland / by Stephen Daniel Slater.
The dissertation is a study of the dialectic of culture and barbarism in Mann's novel and of analogous themes, structures and motifs in Syberberg's Hitler-film. After a review of the critics who interpret Doktor Faustus as a "daemonization of history," an alternative is presented in the form of close readings of passages in which the narrator's unacknowledged fascination with "das Damonische" decisively shapes his view of events and people. Mann's strategy of highlighting the narrator as fascinated spectator is continued by Syberberg in his exploration of the viewer's own fascination in Hitler, ein Film. Notions such as "re-barbarization" and the unity of highest and lowest in Mann's novel are shown to have as their counterparts similar themes and structures in Syberberg's film. The connection in Doktor Faustus between Adrian Leverkuhn's hybris and that of Germany finds an analogue in the notion of "felix culpa" (fortunate fault), which Syberberg employs as a paradoxical figure of compensation in his film. The issue of anti-Semitism, which has arisen in connection with Syberberg's recent book, is shown to be relevant to the interpretation of the film, since "felix culpa" is the organizing principle of historical understanding in both the film and the book, Vom Ungluck und Gluck der Kunst in Deutschland (1990).
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