Die poetisierung des analphabetismus. Fiktionalisierungen einer fremden und unlesbaren schrift bei max dauthendey, bernhard kellermann und Henri Michaux

Translated title of the contribution: The poetization of analphabetism. Fictionalizations of a foreign and indecipherable writing in the works of Max Dauthendey, Bernhard Kellermann and Henri Michaux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Whenever an author visits a foreign country, where he cannot understand the language and is unable to read the written characters, he will usually trust an interpreter who makes the unreadable signs comprehensible. Only in a few cases, the situation of 'secondhand literacy' and its consequences are addressed in literary texts or travel reports, such as those by Max Dauthendey and Bernhard Kellermann, who visited Japan independently in 1906 and 1907. Dauthendey employs the moment of analphabetism in his novellas Returning Sails at Yabase and Watching the Wild Geese Ascending in Katata, published in Eight views of Lake Biwa (Die acht Gesichter am Biwasee, 1911). Both texts will be read as examples of a poetization of illiteracy. This analysis will be complemented by Henri Michaux's meditations on Chinese calligraphy (Ideogrammes en Chine, 1975). In my article I will especially focus on the rhetoric of analphabetism and on the narrative conceptions, which are implied in this poetization of illiteracy.

Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)299-316
Number of pages18
JournalGermanisch-Romanische Monatsschrift
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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