The reception of Heimito von Doderer as exemplified by the critics' response to Ein Mord den jeder Bericht and Die Merowinger

Docherty, Vincent John (1984) The reception of Heimito von Doderer as exemplified by the critics' response to Ein Mord den jeder Bericht and Die Merowinger. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The primary impulse for this dissertation was the striking disparity
between the initial critical reaction to Doderer's works in the 1950s
and early 1960s, and the long-term evaluation of his literary stature •
.In the Introduction, an outline of the theoretical foundations of
the study is followed by a brief survey of the academic criticism devoted
to Doderer. This survey attempts to establish whether the 'new beginning'
in Doderer criticism inspired in the mid-1970s by Anton Reininger
and Hans Joachim Schroder has succeeded in clearing the way for a more
balanced approach to Doderer's work. The survey reveals, however, that
recent Doderer criticism has seen an alarming increase of interest in
Doderer the man, as opposed to Doderer the writer.
Chapter One is devoted to the reception accorded to Doderer's Ein
Mord den jeder begeht. The critical reaction to Doderer's novel can be
directly linked to suggestions made by his publishers in their 'Verlags- . prospekt' as to how the novel ought to be read, namely as anything but
a detective novel. A detailed examination of Doderer's use of motifs
familiar from detective fiction indicates that the author so consistently
'breaks the rules' of classical detective story writing that Ein Mord
den jeder begeht might justifiably be regarded as a forerunner of the
parodies of the detective novel so common in modern literature. An
examination of Doderer's novel in the context of its first publication
in 1938 reveals how uncannily closely the detective element in Ein Mord
den jeder begeht resembles the official Nazi line on detective fiction,
and this throws up the vexed question of whether Doderer's 'anti-detective
novel' was an attempt to placate the Nazi censor. However, a comparison
with Friedrich DUrrenmatt's anti-detective stories shows that the ideology
of the irrational which informs Doderer's novel is not necessarily
fascistic in nature, as some of Doderer's critics imply.
A brief 'Excursus' on Claus Hubalek's television adaptation of Ein
Mord den jeder begeht is intended to illustrate the difficulties involved
in transferring Doderer's work to a visual medium. The critics' reactions
to Hubalek's play provide a useful up-to-date picture ofoDoderer's
current literary standing.
In Chapter Two, the focus is turneq on the critical response provoked
by Doderer's most controversial work, Die Merowinger. The outrageous
plot and 'scurrilous' style of this novel present the reviewer with an
unenviable dilemma, for he is confronted with a new work by a major
titerary figure which does not conform with the pattern of the author's
past successes. The survey of the reception of Die Merowinger is intended
to illuminate how the reviewers were so prejudiced by their familiarity
with what many regard as a 'Viennese trilogy', Die strudlhofstiege, Die
erleuchteten Fenster and Die D~onen, that they were unable to arrive at
a reasonably open-minded evaluation of Die Merowinger. The key problem
in Doderer reception is the identification of the author with the image
of an amiable Viennese raconteur. An examination of the reception of
Doderer's works in America reveals that the author's very conscious
'Vienneseness' presents a major obstacle for many non-Austrian readers,
and accounts to a large extent for the accusations of parochialism not
infrequently levelled at Doderer. Yet, paradOXically, it is undoubtedly
to his realistic depictions of Vienna, allied to an apparently apolitical
ideology, that Doderer's success in the 19506 must be attributed.
In view of the grossly oversimplified identification of Doderer with
the image of the chronicler of Vienna, and the increasing politicization
of literature in the 1960s, it is perhaps understandable that Doderer
has gradually become little more than a peripheral figure in German
literature today.
The dissertation is supplemented by a Doderer-bibliography of some
1,955 titles. Although it makes no claims to be comprehensive, ·the bibliography
is nevertheless a first attempt to collate the diverse material
on Doderer which can be found in the archives in Munich and Vienna.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PT Germanic literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts
Supervisor's Name: Watt, Dr. Roderick
Date of Award: 1984
Embargo Date: 1984
Depositing User: Ms Dawn Pike
Unique ID: glathesis:1984-5324
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2014 11:53
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2014 09:47

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