[New publication] Critical Multilingualism Studies, Vol 5, No 3 (2017): Multilingual Approaches to Literary Classics

Critical Multilingualism Studies: volume 5, issue 3, 2017: special issue on Multilingual approaches to literary classics

edited by Till Dembeck (Université du Luxembourg)


Link to the website: http://cms.arizona.edu/index.php/multilingual


Zur Konversion von Sprachigkeit in Sprachlichkeit (langagification des langues) in Goethes Wilhelm Meister-Romanen by Robert Stockhammer

Abstract:In light of recent insights into the near-omnipresence of multilingual features in literature, it seems promising to focus on texts from the core of national canons with the aim of detecting traces of multilingualism within apparently monolingual textures. The present article started out as a test of this hypothesis, focusing on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister novels (Lehr- and Wanderjahre; Apprenticeship and Journeyman’s Years). Even as some traces of other languages can indeed be identified in these novels, quite another tendency turns out to be dominant: a neutralization or immunization of langues (French for tongues, i.e., idioms in the sense of geographically diverse languages), and their conversion into a langage (French for a linguistic system ostensibly independent of languages in their diversity). I propose to describe this tendency as a langagification des langues, a conversion of Sprachigkeit (here: lingualism) into Sprachlichkeit (here: linguality), arguing that this might be a crucial operation within the construction of national literatures.

Keywords: lingualism, Sprachigkeit, linguality, Sprachlichkeit, poetic language, Goethe, Wilhelm Meister

When Austrian classical tragedy goes intercultural: On the metrical simulation of linguistic otherness in Franz Grillparzer’s The Golden Fleece by Dirk Weissmann

Abstract: As Austrian playwright Franz Grillparzer (1791–1872) stated himself, his early masterpiece The Golden Fleece (1820) is structured by a basic cultural dualism between Greeks and Colchians. In order to express the gap between these two ethnic groups, his play uses two different metrical schemes: the canonical blank verse, coming from G. E. Lessing and Weimar Classicism, put in the mouth of Greek characters, and free verse for expressing the ‘barbarism’ of non-Greek, i. e., Colchian characters. Grillparzer thus manages to make perceivable for the spectator the linguistic otherness of the characters of the play without using any foreign tongue. This article illustrates the nature and functioning of this culturally and ethnically determined dramatic language, investigating those passages where the question of identity is directly linked to the verse meter. Yet the initial dualism often yields to more complex, hybrid forms of language, in cases where a given character’s identity is blurred. Accordingly, the article discusses the possibilities and limits of that specific kind of simulated multilingualism, and inquires about its meaning in the context of 1820s Vienna and the multicultural and multilingual Habsburg Empire.

Keywordssimulated multilingualism, Austrian literature, metrics, Grillparzer, German drama


Speaking in tongues of a language crisis: Re-reading Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s “Ein Brief” as a non-monolingual text by Brigitte Rath

Abstract: Although Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s “Ein Brief” (1902), better known as the “Chandos letter,” has received sustained attention as a paradigmatic example for the language crisis of German modernism, the question of the specific language(s) in which the text is written has curiously remained a blind spot. In a detailed contextualising analysis of the languages (and their medial representations) at play in both the fictional, private communicative situation between Lord Chandos and Francis Bacon in 1603 and in Hofmannsthal’s first publication of “Ein Brief” in the German newspaper Der Tag in 1902, this article argues that the Chandos letter speaks in tongues of a language crisis resulting from the restrictive unities of a monolingual paradigm. “Ein Brief,” oscillating constitutively between more than one speaking position and explicitly addressing ever changing reading contexts, performs non-monolingual language use that begins with translation.

Keywords: monolingual paradigm, non-monolingual, pseudotranslation, modernism, Hofmannsthal


“Fein deutsch mit der Sprache heraus”: Irony, Multilingualism, and the Use of Early New High German in Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus by  Peter Brandes

Abstract: This article examines the significance of the so called ‘Lutherdeutsch’ in Thomas Mann’s late novel Doktor Faustus while referring to the philology of multilingualism as a key term for the interpretation of the text. In Mann’s novel multilingualism can be observed in ironized citations from Luther’s letters and Grimmelshausen’s Simplicissimus. While calling this usage of literary quotes Lutherdeutsch, Mann creates a fictitious branch of Early New High German that can be read as a language of irony as oppossed to the narrator’s language of earnestness. The paper argues that Mann’s text itself practices a philology of multilingualism by juxtaposing languages of seriousness and languages of irony, thereby deconstructing ideological concepts such as monolingualism and national philology. Note that this text is a translation of Brandes’ German-language original, which also appears in this issue of CMS.

Keywords: philology, rhetoric, irony, narratology, deconstruction, Thomas Mann, Doktor Faustus


Heterotopian Multilingualism: The Westinghouse Time Capsule (1939) by Johannes Endres

Abstract: The article investigates the multilingual features inherent in one of the most elaborate and erudite time capsule projects of the early 20th century, the so-called Westinghouse Time Capsule of Cupalloy, contrived for, and deposited at, the 1939 World Fair in New York. In its endeavor to pass on an authentic snapshot of the material and intellectual culture of its time to a distant future, the Westinghouse Time Capsule had to solve a number of technical and logistic problems. For instance, it had to come up with a paratextual apparatus to keep its message intelligible to those who will receive it in the year 6939, the capsule’s ambitious target date. Part of its paratextual apparatus is a Rosetta Stone-like ‘key to the English language’, which, together with other internal and external provisions thought up by the capsule’s creators, functions much like similar provisions at work in the canonization of classical texts. Central to the classicalness of certain texts and the longevity of the time capsule is an internal multilingualism, which operates underneath a seemingly monolingual surface in order to assure the readibility and timeless significance of the cultural legacy at stake.

Keywords: time capsule, heterotopia, internal multilingualism, heteroglossia, paratext, canon, canonization