Return of Storytelling in Contemporary German Literature and Film - Peter Handke and Wim Wenders

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Since the early 1980s, there has been a decided trend in German literature and film toward a restitution of the storyteller and traditional forms of narration. This book discusses the crisis of narration that led to the decline of storytelling as well as the recent return to stories and more traditional forms of narration. Specifically, the author argues that the novels of Peter Handke and the films of Wim Wenders are representative of this larger paradigmatic shift.

The first half of the study presents an overview and discussion of the philosophical discourses leading to the so-called death of narrative in the modernist and postmodern context and then the rebirth of neo-narrative works at the end of the 20th century. The second chapter analyzes the importance of Handke's works within the context of post-war literature, discussing first his rejection of narrative and then his embracing of the story beginning in the early 1980s. The second half of the study presents the same phenomenon in German cinema, discussing first the importance of narrative in German and European cinema, as well as the changing role it has played in the German cinema throughout this century. The following chapter uses Wenders' aesthetics and narrative constructs to detailing the shift beginning in the 1980s from a style of filmmaking influenced by the Italian neo-realists and the French nouvelle vague toward a more narrative cinema. In the conclusion, the author speculates on the possible reasons for this new-found popularity of the story and the shift away from non-narrative forms. In doing so, the author attempts to show how storytelling is central to questions of modernity and technology, history, identity and redemption.


“Within a scholarly discussion of the much discussed demise of narration, this book persuades readers of the return of storytelling in contemporary German literature and film. Building his argument through an informed analysis of the recent films of Wim Wenders and the prose works of Peter Hadke since the late 1980s, Coury convincingly demonstrates that they are representative of a new group of writers and filmmakers who, though earlier linked with the avant-garde or postmodernism, are now, in search for communal shared experiences, returning to narratives…..This is a work that all scholars of German culture, and especially those of literature and film, will find valuable. A fine example of interdisciplinary scholarship.” – (From the Commendatory Foreword) Sara Friedrichsmeyer, University of Cincinnati

Table of Contents

1. The Art of Storytelling: Origins and Definitions
2. Peter Handke and the Transformation of a Storyteller
3. Cinema and the Narrative Tradition
4. Wim Wenders: a Cinematic Storyteller
Conclusion: Towards a New Narrative: German Literature and Film at the End of the Twentieth Century

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