<<< European Identities, European Realities / Europäische Identitäten, Europäische Realitäten
European ideas of uniformity (‘Euro(pe)visions’) between representation and ideopoema in German prose.
Case study: Conrad Ferdinand Meyer’s historical novella Der Heilige
Daniela Puplinkhuisen (Ghent) [BIO]
From the beginning of the nineteenth century, there has been a strong interest in emphatically and diversely exploring in literary texts new social, cultural and ideological systems that exceed one’s native country’s borders and this has remained a major topic in the German history of ideas ever since. So far, a large number of literary scholars have paid considerable attention to the ways in which non-fictional genres functioned as a platform for discussing the idea of ‘Europe’ (Lützeler 1987, 1992). However, the desire to cross national borders has also inspired numerous literary authors’ imagination. It is their works, their strategies and typically literary communication methods that I propose to analyze, starting from what Verhofstadt called “ideopoema”.
With Conrad Ferdinand Meyer’s historical novella Der Heilige I would like to examine how literary fiction is able to make a fundamental contribution to the social (ideological) discourse about Europe in general and to its specific manifestations at the end of the nineteenth century. In Der Heilige the Swiss realist author implicitly refers to the necessity of an ‘intercultural (European) integration’ by critically approaching socio-political fragmentations and denominational conflict potential. Moreover, I want to reflect on the reasons why Meyer could be regarded as a precursor of Friedrich Nietzsche who expounded the concept of ‘the good European’ some years later.
The proposed paper largely focuses on text-immanent aspects, since there is no explicit mentioning of a European unification idea. It rather draws its perceptual shape from narratological and rhetorical aspects. Finally, Der Heilige generates meaning and introduces a supplementary (European) dimension through its manner of presentation.