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The transformations of Job in modern German literature Mastag, Horst Dieter


In modern times German authors have made ample use of the Job-theme. The study examines the transformations that the story of Job has undergone in German narrative and dramatic works from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's Der neue Hiob (1878) to Fritz Zorn's Mars (1977). The most striking feature of these works lies in their diverse characterization of the Job-figure. As a mythical figure he remains synonymous with the sufferer, but he may be characterized as patient or impatient, humble or arrogant, innocent or guilty, rich or poor, courageous or cowardly; he may be a Jew or a Christian, a Nazi or an anti-Nazi, a believer or an agnostic. The authors have retained most of the characters included in the Old Testament story. The Job-figure usually has a wife (who doubts and despises God), a number of children (who die in an impending disaster), and several friends (who accuse him of wrong-doing). Concerning the plot, most writers have excluded any prologue in heaven. The suffering of the Job-figure (usually brought on by the loss of loved ones, by physical pain and by mental agony) is always central to the story. More often than not, however, the modern Job-figure exhibits a form of impatience and impiety once misfortune has struck. A theophany (literal confrontation with God) does not occur, but a divine agent may be provided in the form of a dream or a vision, or indirectly by nature. An epilogue (the restoration of Job's health, possessions and children) is usually omitted, but some authors imply a renewal of Job, so as to suggest a purpose for and a hope after his arduous trials.

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