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Reisen als intertextueller Schreibprozess in Günter Grass’ ‚Netajis Weltreise‘ (2015)

Daniela Dora

Pages 83 - 103



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The paper analyses the complex interplay of travelling, writing, and reading in Günter Grass’ ‚Was nicht geschrieben wurde‘ – a 2015 ballad, published posthumously, on Indian freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose. In the text, the narrator takes on the role of biographer, condensing the life story of the ambiguous political figure Bose into a mere 12 pages. Biographical writing inevitably implies intertextual procedures. Grass’ ostensibly biographical Bose poem constructs a complex network of three intertextual and intermedial strands: an in-depth examination of traditional narratives from Indian history and mythology, explicit cross-connections to Grass’ other texts on India, especially ‚Zunge zeigen‘ (1989), and individual references to Bose’s autobiographical material. The paper argues that Grass’ India texts highlight the analogies between travelling and writing which shape access to another culture (with drawing as an intermediate step). While travelling is preconditioned by reading, it is continued and processed by writing. The emerging intertextual processes go beyond direct quotations. Rather, the traveling narrator in Grass’ texts consumes cultural pretexts and inscribes himself in local discourses. The results are subjectively coloured, hybrid textual constructs that arise on the narrative level.

Keywords: Günter Grass, Subhas Chandra Bose, intertextuality, intermediality, travel writing, cultural pretexts, biography


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