, Volume 92, Issue 2, pp 279-297
Date: 25 Jul 2007

Argumente für die `Gestalt' des ‘neuen Soldaten’? Musils Mann ohne Eigenschaften und Jüngers Der Arbeiter im sprachlich-rhetorischen Vergleich

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Abstract

The study of literary modernism continues to be faced with a recurring methodological deadlock: Whereas literary scholars tend to explore the aesthetic and epistemological potential of the models of language and identity advanced and practiced by modernist writers, interpreters ranging from disciplines as diverse as cultural studies and the history of science and technology point out (especially in more recent times) the passive complicity of these writings with more mundane contemporary ideologies. In the specific case of Musil’s magnum opus, this claim is often reinforced by the suggestion that the man without qualities displays affinities with Jünger’s (politically problematic) position during the interbellum. This claim is loosely based on shared terminological backgrounds (the psycho-technical method of experimental psychology, the pervasive “Gestalt”-terminology) and on a vague sense of similarities in the biographical profile (the support of and active participation in World War I). This article argues, however, that such ‘history of ideas’-reconstructions need to be supplemented by a rhetorical analysis of the way in which concepts and ideas are mediated in narrative and argumentative structures. The article hence reassesses the Musil-Jünger comparison thoroughly. But beyond that it also advances a terminology that is able to explore the way in which programmatic statements (concerning the new speeds and intensities of post-war modernity and the experiment to grasp their epistemological consequences) are framed argumentatively so as to constitute different discourse tactics.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11061-008-9100-5