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Gehirne (1916) Gottfried Benn. Gottfried Benn (1886-1956)

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Präsentation zum Thema: "Gehirne (1916) Gottfried Benn. Gottfried Benn (1886-1956)"—  Präsentation transkript:

1 Gehirne (1916) Gottfried Benn

2 Gottfried Benn ( )

3 Biography Born in Brandenburg 1886 Died Berlin 1956 Only German writer on course

4 Biography : studied theology and philology in Marburg and Berlin : studied medicine in Berlin 1911: “Unterarzt” (army doctor in medical corps) at the Charité hospital, Berlin

5 Medical career 1912: qualifies as doctor (dissertation: Über die Häufigkeit des Diabetes mellitus im Heer) Works initially as military doctor Assistant doctor at Charlottenburg-Westend hospital, Berlin

6 On medicine “Rückblickend scheint mir meine Existenz ohne diese Wendung zur Medizin und Biologie völlig undenkbar.” (Lebensweg eines Intellektualisten, 1934)

7 Medicine as literary inspiration? At Charlottenburg-Westend Benn carries out nearly 300 post mortems in : publication of breakthrough collection of poetry, Morgue und andere Gedichte Reception was mixed: scandalous

8 Morgue: reception “Pervers und zynisch” “von wildem Ekel und geilem Grauen erfüllt” Lack of understanding for new aesthetic

9 New aesthetic: Expressionism Cultural movement of early 20 th century (literature, film, drama, poetry, painting) Known for shock tactics in representation Challenge to aesthetic tradition Focus on subjective “expression”, “Gefühl”

10 Edvard Munch, The Scream ( )

11 Benn as Expressionist poet Shock tactic: one of the first to bring empirical sciences to poetry New aesthetic: “objective”, “cold”, “scientific” view of human subject Shift from concept of soul to reality of body

12 Schöne Jugend / A Fine Childhood Der Mund eines Mädchens, das lange im Schilf gelegen hatte, sah so angeknabbert aus. Als man die Brust aufbrach, war die Speiseröhre so löcherig. Schließlich in einer Laube unter dem Zwerchfell fand man ein Nest von jungen Ratten. Ein kleines Schwesterchen lag tot. Die andern lebten von Leber und Niere, tranken das kalte Blut und hatten hier eine schöne Jugend verlebt. Und schön und schnell kam auch ihr Tod: Man warf sie allesamt ins Wasser. Ach, wie die kleinen Schnauzen quietschten! The mouth of a girl who had long lain in the reeds looked so chewed up. When we broke open the torso, the esophagus was so full of holes. Finally in a bower under the diaphragm we found a nest of young rats. One little sister rat lay dead. The others were living off liver and kidney, drinking the cold blood and enjoying a fine childhood. And fine and fast was their death too: we threw the whole bunch into water. Oh, how those little snouts squeaked!

13 Poet holds a scalpel, not a pen Dissects reality and human subject as he would a corpse Benn describes this form of writing as “suspendierter Tod”

14 Form and content Content: corpse, dissected human body Form / aesthetic: recording details of the body as would a doctor Absence of reflection / contemplation Writing as act of destruction?

15 Biography : Sanitätsarzt / army doctor, seconded to Antwerp and Brussels Gehirne (1916) Autobiographical connection to Rönne

16 „ Ich war Arzt an einem Prostituiertenkrankenhaus, ein ganz isolierter Posten, lebte in einem konfiszierten Haus, elf Zimmer, allein mit meinem Burschen, hatte wenig Dienst, durfte in Zivil gehen, war mit nichts behaftet, hing an keinem, verstand die Sprache kaum; strich durch die Straßen, fremdes Volk; eigentümlicher Frühling, drei Monate ganz ohne Vergleich.” (Epilog, 1921)

17 Science of the brain What comprises the human? Influenced by French scientist, Théodule Ribot – founder of scientific psychology Ribot: Les maladies de la personnalité (1894)

18 “personality” of the individual has no essential substance of its own Personality is the result of the brain’s coordination of memories, feelings, physical sensations etc. Human: a psycho-physical complex

19 Gehirne Rönne as psycho-physical complex? Decentered subjectivity (modernist theme) Existence as a form of suffering (expressionist theme) Crisis of language / expression; crisis of self


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