Vol. 4 No. 1 Jun 2020

Universality and the Zero Hour: Interrelationship Between the Avant-Garde, Denazification, and German-Language Literatures
Author:Maggie Rosenau    Time:2020-07-06    Click:

Abstract: Concern regarding linguistic nationalism and the need for a modern universal language preoccupied many European writers, artists and philosophers throughout the inter- and postwar years. This article looks at a peculiar overlap in the activities of two notable persons involved in this matter: Eugen Gomringer and Eugene Jolas. Their respective projects for poetry aimed to offer solutions for a modern problem. But while Jolas’s interwar approach to deprivilege national languages was done by mixing languages and vocabularies, Gomringer’s postwar efforts for universality involved the extreme reduction of language. By tracing Jolas’s efforts to decouple language from nationality to his later activities as editor-in-chief for the German News Agency, an interconnectivity between the avant-garde and postwar programs for objective language and writing is revealed. Included among these is Gomringer’s concretist program for a universalizing aesthetic. The moment in which Jolas and Gomringer’s activities intersect is one at which objectivity became an aesthetic and moral focal point for German-language concretists, early Gruppe 47 poets, and Allied efforts to denazify the German language.

Keywords: Concrete Poetry, Eugen Gomringer, Switzerland, Eugene Jolas, denazification, postwar silence

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