The Contribution of Literature to the Composition of a "common world": Marlen Haushofer's "The Wall" and Friedrich Dürrenmatt's "Minotaurus"
Keywords:common world, literature, humans, non-humans, nature/culture, ecocriticism, The Wall, Haushofer, Minotaurus, Dürrenmatt
In the context of the current environmental crisis and Covid-19 pandemic, as it is becoming increasingly urgent to “rethink the relationships between human and non-human beings” (Philippe Descola), this paper offers a comparative reading of two works of German-language literature, both published, within a space of twelve years, during the Cold War: Die Wand (1963) by Austrian writer Marlen Haushofer and Minotaurus: Eine Ballade (1985) by Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt. In these two narratives, I will focus on the way communities are made and unmade, on what Marielle Macé has defined as “the grammar of attachments”. How do words, especially personal pronouns, convey the process by which beings connect one to the other, and are the connections made solid and harmonious ones? Do these two works manage to give rise to a community of living, human and non-human entities? This paper will examine the role of literature in building “a common world” (Bruno Latour), asking whether the scripts outlined in the two books can raise “active hope” (Joanna Macy) and what they teach us about the history of the concept of nature in a time of great environmental change.
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