Journal Article

‘The Fate of the Young Man Reading in the Church’: Literary Sacramentalism in Alfred Andersch's <i>Sansibar oder der letzte Grund</i>

Grant Henley

in Literature and Theology

Volume 26, issue 1, pages 53-76
Published in print March 2012 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online February 2012 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frr056
‘The Fate of the Young Man Reading in the Church’: Literary Sacramentalism in Alfred Andersch's Sansibar oder der letzte Grund

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The role of Ernst Barlach's sculpture Lesender Klosterschüler (‘Studying Monk’) in Alfred Andersch's Sansibar oder der letzte Grund (Flight to Afar) has been interpreted as an existential symbolic attempt through the aesthetic representation of the act of reading critically to reclaim a past victimised by National Socialist ideological control. However, there is a definitive theological theme in the text functioning as a concurrent reclamation strategy that criticises both the failures of the Confessing Church to confront Nazism while offering a means of redemption from the past. This essay explores the religious symbolism, evoked by the reflections and interactions of the novel's main characters with the figure of ‘Studying Monk’ and will also show how these signifiers serve as a type of literary sacramental Vergangenheitsbewältigung (‘coming to terms with the past’) that attempts to both reconfigure and restore the past.

Journal Article.  10839 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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