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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Geier, Sternsichel und Bacchüsschen: Montagetechnik und ästhetische Positionen in den literarischen Porträts Else Lasker-Schülers = Vulture, crescent star and little Bacchus: montage technique and aesthetic positions in Else Lasker-Schüler’s literary portraits Bichsel, Sonja


This thesis analyses the literary portraits written by Else Lasker-Schiiler about her fellow artists, taking into account the process of abstraction in art and literature at the turn of the 20t h century. Of this process the focus will be on two main aspects: the montage techniques that Lasker-Schiiler uses and the aesthetic discourse of the avant-garde reflected in her literature. Else Lasker-Schiiler's writing frequently uses techniques of montage. Therefore photomontages of Dadaist artist Hannah Hoch provide a basis to analyse Lasker- Schiiler's literary portrait technique. This analysis makes it clear that Lasker-Schiiler's literary portrait techniques share significant criteria of the photomontage, for example, the fragmental structure of the "cut" or the infinity of the text through intertextual crossreference. The physiognomic description unravels in the montage structure of the literary portraits. The portraits show a sketch-like description of the artists that includes a description of their works, their appreciation of art as well as Lasker-Schiiler's personal memories and anecdotes of the artists' lives. This approach opens a dimension of metapoetic writing in Lasker-Schiiler's works that reflects on art, rather than just portraying her fellow artists. Through direct and indirect quotes, the literary portraits become readable beyond the boundaries set by the text. When considered as one, her portraits can be read as one large montage within the aesthetic discourse of the avant-garde movements. Within this montage Lasker-Schiiler does not only state her own concept of a contemporary form of the artwork, but at the same time realizes it within the literary portrait. This, is done through a language that works with synaesthesia, simultaneity and the embodiment of the text through metaphors. In addition, Lasker-Schiiler turned her literary artwork into a life-performance where she took over the identity of the characters developed in her writing. Therefore her work can be read as a forceful example of the connection of art and life within the avant-garde movements.

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