Wallstein Verlag

Christian Begemann

Little Poetics of the Drawer

146 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8353-9163-5


German Version

Drawers, as we all know, are used to store things and create a sense of order, even though chaos often reigns in them. Most of the time, they are located in places where they are overlooked. Although drawers play a crucial role in many literary texts, they usually go unnoticed in literary and cultural history. High time, then, to take a look inside.

From Goethe to Musil, Christian Begemann’s essay takes a look at the functions and meanings of this very special kind of container. The literature of the 19th century and early modernity unfolds a veritable poetics of the drawer, whose contents serve, for example, to characterize literary figures. But actions also arise in and from them, for example when things, records, or letters come to light that drastically change the lives of the characters. Sometimes entire stories are spun out of drawers: catastrophes, small and large, love disasters and marriage crises. This is also reflected in the construction of narratives that are fictitiously found in drawers as old sheets of paper. Drawers are spaces of memory, but thus also spaces of the unconscious. Alongside long-forgotten clutter, items exist in which memory is stored, and which, often hauntingly and destructively, allow the past to return. These uncalled and uncontrollable forces constitute the special magic of the drawer.
If one looks into them more closely, questions of a cultural imaginary are raised that mark cracks in modern consciousness.
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