TALKING ABOUT THE AESTHETIC OF THE HUMANE: EXPLORING COMMUNICATION IN THE CONTENT AND STRUCTURE OF HEINRICH BOLL'S EARLY NOVELS
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In his Frankfurter Vorlesungen Heinrich Boll attempts to formulate an aesthetic program that explains how the moral content of writing might be inscribed in its structure. This "aesthetic of the humane" would involve the subject-matter and orientation of a work's content toward the representation of the historically real and the truth content of that reality. The "real" as it is in the historical world and that "reality" that contains the truth content of the experienced world are to be unified in the aesthetic of the humane, and it is the author who is burdened with the task of mediating the two for her reader. In many of his essays Boll privileges communication as an inherently moral act, and emphasizes the responsibility of the author to use his vocation humanely. In order to understand how Boll realized the concept of the aesthetic of the humane in his own writing we may look to how he uses communication within his texts to demonstrate moral action. Communication between characters at the level of plot corresponds to the author's obligation to depict the "real" historical component, and communicative structures in the matrix of his novels relate to the "reality" of mediated experience provided as commentary by the author to the reader. This thesis examines how Boll delivers these dual messages using the depiction of communication in three of his early novels. Boll's early novels were chosen for analysis because they correspond to a period in his career before his writing entered into a direct dialogue with his detractors and political opponents. His later writing may be seen as responses to "real" historical developments in his life, and as such do not exhibit the balance of the "real" and "reality" that are the goal of the engaged writer according to his own essays. Through a discussion of Und sagte kein einziges Wort, Billard um halb zehn, and Ansichten eines Clowns this thesis concludes that as of the moment that he articulates his aesthetic program in 1964 Boll harbored doubts about its effectiveness to reach his audience and affect any meaningful change in society.
Heinrich Boll; communication; Aesthetic of the Humane; Ansichten eines Clowns; Billard um halb zehn; Und Sagte kein einziges Wort; Frank Finlay; Frankfurter Vorlesungen