The Passenger as Flâneur?: Railway Networks in German-language fiction since 1945

Simon Ward

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth century, literature employed the railway network to investigate the experience of modernity. Rather against expectation, this remains the case after 1945. Informed by Wolfgang Schivelbusch's history of the railway journey and Michel de Certeau's essay 'Naval et carceral' ('Railway Navigation and Incarceration'), this article examines the protagonist as railway passenger in works by Wolfgang Koeppen and Sten Nadolny, as well as by (ex-)GDR writers such as Wolfgang Hilbig, among others. The railway passenger can usefully be read as a reinvention of the flaneur, as the works explore the potential of the (literary) imagination within technologically driven historical processes and the rationalizing networks of modernity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-428
Number of pages16
JournalModern Language Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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