Reading Representation in Franz Grillparzer’s Der arme Spielmann

  • James Porter


Grillparzer’s Der arme Spielmann states the problem of realistic representation in pregnant terms and at various levels of reading: literal, figurai, formal. Together, these readings radically challenge the substance of the problem and of the text itself: both text and problem are thrown into a solution-state that requires the constant statement and restatement of the problem and its resolutions, a perpetual textual re-vision.


Grillparzers Der arme Spielmann thematisiert das Problem realistischer Darstellung auf verschiedenen Ebenen der Lektüre, der wörtlichen, der “figuralen” und der formalen. Diese Lesarten zusammen akzentuieren sehr deutlich den Kern des Problems und den Charakter des Textes: bei der nicht abschließbaren Lektüre des Textes liegt die Lösung des Problems darin, es in immer neuer Fassung auf einer jeweils weiteren Reflexionsstufe einzugrenzen.


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  1. 4.
    R. Jakobson, “Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Linguistic Disturbance,” in Selected Writings (1962–1971), v. 2, p. 72.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    This phenomenon of “monologic” style is not restricted to Grillparzer. See, for instance, the article by Stephen M. Ross, “Voice in Narrative Texts: As I Lay Dying” PMLA, 94 (1979) 300–310. Faulkner’s novel is narrated by several “voices” which not only “perceive the same phenomena, but… employ the same metaphors to describe them” (p. 304). Ross attributes this univocality of narration to an intimated ulterior consciousness which is “constituted by voice rather than revealed by it”: “consciousness is the language used and shared by the narrators” (ibid.). Grillparzer is less concerned with consciousness than with the symbolic attitudes of his “notional” characters vis-à-vis the traditional “metaphysics” of meaning; representation is their language and constitutive consciousness.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Metzler 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Porter
    • 1
  1. 1.BerkeleyUSA

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