Prospero. Rivista di letterature e culture straniere è una rivista annuale a stampa e online ad accesso aperto del Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici dell’Università di Trieste (DiSU), pubblicata dal 1994 presso la casa editrice EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste. È apparsa in precedenza con il complemento di titolo Rivista di letterature e civiltà Anglo-germaniche e, dal 2005 al 2011, con quello di Rivista di Letterature straniere, Comparatistica e Studi culturali. La rivista pubblica contributi originali dedicati alle letterature di lingua inglese, tedesca e francese. Prospero ospita contributi inediti di studiosi italiani e stranieri che pongono il testo letterario e l’analisi testuale al centro di più ampie riflessioni di carattere ermeneutico, filologico e storico-culturale. In particolare, si apre alle convergenze di carattere interdisciplinare e transdisciplinare tra la letteratura e gli altri saperi. Numeri monografici curati da guest editors italiani e stranieri su temi specifici si alternano a numeri miscellanei.
Der Überläufer (The Turncoat, 2016) waited for sixty-five years before being published, two years after the death of its author, Siegfried Lenz. The novel had been submitted to the Hoffmann und Campe publishing house as early as 1951, but its content was considered unsuitable for post-war Germany, which was attempting to rise again from the ruins of more recent history by erasing its most controversial aspects. Particularly problematic were the issues related to the double desertion of the protagonist, who betrays his German comrades at the end of World War II and then refuses to yield to the oppressive system of Soviet rule in the GDR. As a member of the Group 47, which fell under American censorship in 1967, Lenz shared the Frankfurt School’s admonition to reflect on history and individual and community responsibilities in the reconstruction of a freer and more democratic Germany, refusing to give in to the publisher’s demands and preferring, on the contrary, to forego publication.
The historical context plays a decisive role for Thomas Mann’s “The Magic Mountain”. The novel is set in the years before World War I; the beginning of the war marks the end of the story. At the same time, Thomas Mann integrates essential political debates of the Weimar Republic into the pre-war debates, as represented by the characters Naphta and Settembrini in particular. This concerns above all the question of the best form of state – monarchy or republic – on which Thomas Mann himself had taken a stand in various publications. In his “Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man”, which appeared shortly before the end of the war in 1918, Thomas Mann had positioned himself in favor of the monarchy. As an antagonist, Mann used the so-called ‘Zivilisationsliterat’ [civilization’s literary man], a cosmopolitan and democratic character, as embodied in many respects by Settembrini in “The Magic Mountain”. At the same time, however, Mann’s position cannot simply be identified with that of Settembrini’s opponent Naphta; for Mann had distanced himself from his earlier position in his 1922 speech “On the German Republic” in which he called for the republic at least to be recognized as the actually existing form of state. Against the background of Thomas Mann’s political positionings, “The Magic Mountain” can be understood as a continuation of the debate by other – namely literary – means. In the political statements of his essays and speeches during World War I and the early Weimar Republic, Mann does not succeed in developing a coherent political position. In “The Magic Mountain”, by contrast, i.e., in the fictional work, the deficit of a clear-cut political position can be turned into an advantage: into an ambivalence that precisely does not take sides, but allows different voices to speak and contradict each other, without unifying or synthesizing them. “The Magic Mountain” can therefore be seen as Thomas Mann’s literary closing point of the political debates of the war and early postwar years – as an attempt of mediation between the different political positions by presenting a political plurality.
According to Davidson et al. (2007) emotional geography has “a common concern with the spatiality and temporality of emotions, with the way they coalesce around and within certain places.” A study of literary representations of the spatiality of emotions may be especially suitable for unraveling the complex emotional relations between people and environments, and may lead to a better understanding of geographies of emotions and emotional geographies, the ways feelings generate and mediate our behaviors in and attitudes to places and spaces through embodies and lived experience, and emotional associations. The paper maps the location and formation of emotions in people, places, and atmospheres, investigating the interconnections between individuals’ sense of place, remembering through place, and affective relationships in a selection of Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories. My analysis primarily focuses on the development of emotional attachment and a concomitant sense of belonging and self in the characters, as well as of their evolving affective relationships with people and (remembered) places, and argues that the two processes intertwine, are mutually constructive and constantly changing, since emotions are fundamentally “relational flows, fluxes or currents, inbetween people and places” (Davidson et al, 2007).
My contribution examines two recent German dystopian novels, Corpus Delicti (2009) by Juli Zeh and Das weiße Schloss (2018) by Christian Dittloff. I show how both take a careful, even warning stance with regard to possibilities offered by recent discoveries and developments in reproductive medicine and genetics. Zeh imagines a society that strictly controls who may reproduce by matching couples based on genetic compatibility, thus ensuring optimal health of the next generation. In Dittloff’s novel, couples select the ideal birth and surrogate mother in order to optimize their own life experiences and careers as well as the prospects of their child. The article argues that both novels feature extrapolations of issues seen in today’s societies in Germany and other high-income countries, namely consequences of hormonal contraceptives on mate selection, attempts to control the genetics of one’s child, and pregnancy by gestational carrier.