A City as a Place of Grotesque Alienation (from the Points of View of a Clown and a Preacher) in The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass and The Last Supper by Paweł Huelle
The article presents a comparative analysis of two literary images of Gdańsk city. The author compares Freie Stadt Danzig immortalized by Gunter Grass in his famous novel The Tin Drum [Die Blechtrommel, 1959] with a postmodern Gdańsk of Paweł Huelle described by the Polish writer in his recently published book The Last Supper [Ostatnia wieczerza, 2007]. The theory of the grotesque – introduced by German researcher of this mode, Wolfgang Kayser (Das Groteske. Seine Gestaltung in Malerai und Dichtung, 1957) – serves as a tool for this comparative analysis. Although Gdańsk in The Tin Drum and in The Last Supper is presented as a radically different city, that is to say, as the historic Free City of Danzig (the Gdańsk of Germany) in The Tin Drum and a futuristic metropolis (the Gdańsk of Poland) in The Last Supper, a common ground for these two diff erent accounts can be established. Gdańsk is introduced by both novelists as a city on the brink of revolutionary historic events – it becomes a place of grotesque alienation where the status quo of the co-existing cultures is threatened and return to the previous state is impossible. Kayser’s idea of the grotesque as an alienating world has been employed here to present the ways of manifesting, inter alia, the desecration of cultural sacrum, the encounter with madness and the threat that comes from the outside as well as from the inside of German or Polish culture. Furthermore, the author introduces the idea of a clown-narrator and a preacher-narrator as the complementary ways of telling a story by using the grotesque mode.
Uniwersytet Szczeciński, Wydział Filologiczny, Instytut Polonistyki i Kulturoznawstwa, Pracownia Komparatystyki, al. Piastów 40 B, 71-065 Szczecin
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