The dream of the South Seas and art theory – a clash? The theme of the South Seas in C. Einstein and G. Benn as reflected in their avant-garde poetics Cover Image
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„Südseetraum“ und Kunsttheorie – ein Streitfall? Die Südsee-Thematik bei C. Einstein und G. Benn im Spiegel ihrer avantgardistischen Poetik...
The dream of the South Seas and art theory – a clash? The theme of the South Seas in C. Einstein and G. Benn as reflected in their avant-garde poetics

Author(s): Matthias Berning
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: Ústav svetovej literatúry, Slovenská akadémia vied
Keywords: South Seas; Primitive art; Exoticism; Colonialism; Projection

Summary/Abstract: This paper intends to show the disillusion of exotic projections onto the South Seas by Bertolt Brecht and Robert Müller, as well as similarities and differences in how Carl Einstein and Gottfried Benn deal with Lucien Lévy-Bruhl’s idea of mystical participation in their writings. Brecht’s early piece of work Tahiti is a metaphor of escapism. Later on in the 1920s the trend towards this motif of the South Seas became a target of satire. Robert Müller’s novella Das Inselmädchen tells us about the failure of trying to understand genuinely the archaic world of the South Seas. Einstein emphasizes the autonomy of primitive art and tries to interpret ethnographically its sculptures. Benn uses linguistic material of scientific books about the South Seas to evoke the transcendent ‘you’ that has been lost in modernism.

  • Issue Year: VII/2015
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 47-57
  • Page Count: 11
  • Language: German