Negotiating Positions: Literature, Identity and Social Critique in the Works of Wolfgang Koeppen

Simon Ward*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This study offers new perspectives on Wolfgang Koeppen, a writer too often consigned to the margins of post-1945 literary history. Examining the interaction of the personal and the social in Koeppen's writings, this book demonstrates that the politics of his works are inherent to their form. Through a series of close readings, the book explores the positive and negative aspects of liminality, a dominant trope in Koeppen’s works. Stressing the thematic and formal continuities of his oeuvre, the first section illustrates how his protagonists perpetually establish a space for themselves 'in between' states. The second section examines how Koeppen negotiates with the discourse of 'nation' during two central periods of his career. It shows how his experiences in the Third Reich and his reappraisal of the years prior to 1933 determine his perspective on modernity, modernism and Germany after 1945. Having defined the location of culture in his works, the book concludes by resituating Koeppen's writings within post-war West German literary culture.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherEditions Rodopi b.v.
Number of pages150
ISBN (Print)9042015764, 9789042015760
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


  • comparative linguistics
  • literary theories
  • linguistics


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