Inner Depths

Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei

in Exotic Spaces in German Modernism

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604128
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729362 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs

Inner Depths

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The inner life rendered as exotic space reflects the modern subject’s sense of self, recognizing primal forces within. The aesthetic imagination, mystical-erotic reverie, and the interior experiences of dreams in works by Gottfried Benn, Robert Musil, and Alfred Kubin engage exotic topographical imagery, where writers undermine the Enlightenment model of a rationally unified self and to explore primal elements of the psyche that may offer a renewal of human life and creativity, reflecting the influence of Nietzsche along with cultural anthropology, psychoanalysis, and neuroscience. This tracing of the Western representation of the self as interior space and metaphoric depth, culminating in Nietzsche and modernism, reveals a split between rationality and a primitive animality that emerges when the self’s inner fragmentations are exposed. By exploring this danger, the texts by Benn, Musil and Kubin propose new ways of living and develop a new aesthetic out of the fragmentation and decay.

Keywords: exotic topography; metaphoric space; inner life; interiority; Nietzsche; Gottfried Benn; Robert Musil; Alfred Kubin; primitivism; consciousness

Chapter.  28362 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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