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“Muttersprache nirgends”

Fritz Mauthners Sprachskepsis und Marica Bodrožić’ Sprachmystik

Lene Rock


Pages 63 - 84



This article investigates the impact of the ‘monolingual paradigm’ (Yildiz, 2012) on the critical and poetological views of Austrian/Bohemian philosopher Fritz Mauthner (1849–1923) and Croatian-German novelist Marica Bodrožić (°1973). Mauthner and Bodrožić share a particular linguistic sensitivity that is rooted in the encounter of their multilingual experience with the monolingual imperative of their respective historical contexts. Mauthner’s writings bear the traces of ethnolinguistic tensions in the multinational, multilingual Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bodrožić writes in the long aftermath of that empire’s demise, and that of communism. She finds herself confronted with readings that reduce her sophisticated prose to her multilingual and migratory experience. In a comparison of Mauthner’s ‘Beiträge zu einer Kritik der Sprache’ (1901) and Bodrožić’s ‘Sterne erben, Sterne färben’ (2007), this article traces the authors’ Sprachbewusstsein to their shared observation of deficient linguistic referentiality. Mauthner rejects any kind of literary approach by cultivating his skepticism in critical reflections on the ‘Sprachkrise’. To Bodrožić, by contrast, flawed referentiality is the source of poetic inspiration. By fashioning a mystical poetology in which memory and multilingualism intersect, she surmounts the perceived boundaries imposed by both the monolingual paradigm and by language itself. The comparative scope of this article sheds light on the impact of the monolingual paradigm across time frames, and how it may affect individual writers in different ways.

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