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Constructions of European Identity in an intertextual space
Christoph Parry (University of Vaasa) [BIO]
The role of both literary institutions and genres in the emergence of modern national identities is commonly emphasized in both literary studies and in research into nationalism. Since World War II the role of the nation, especially inside Europe, has diminished politically and economically and seems to be gradually diminishing in the cultural field as well. Literature might be expected to reflect or even contribute to the emergence of new post-national identities. The increasing complexity of identity construction in the present post national environment seems to find a reflection in literature in the predominance of intertextual references in much recent writing. This paper will examine the work of two late 20th Century European writers, W.G. Sebald who wrote in German while resident in England and the Finnish writer Paavo Rintala and demonstrate how both use a wealth of historical and literary reference to create a textual space that is specifically European. The paper will finally also address the question of whether the highly pessimistic view of Europe shared by both authors is inevitable.