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Title page for ETD etd-11222015-160313

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Bruegmann, Nora
Author's Email Address nora.bruegmann@googlemail.com
URN etd-11222015-160313
Title Auf der Suche nach Welt: Eva Rechel-Mertens' Proust-Übersetzung im Suhrkamp Verlag (1953-2002)
Degree PhD
Department German
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Meike Werner Committee Chair
Barbara Hahn Committee Member
Helmut Walser Smith Committee Member
James McFarland Committee Member
  • gender studies
  • Translation
Date of Defense 2015-06-23
Availability unrestricted
When Marcel Proust wrote his major novel, À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, he kept reworking it to the last moment of his life (He died in 1922). In this dissertation I argue, that the German translators and others working on German versions of the Recherche continued Proust’s work of writing and overwriting. Eva Rechel-Mertens’ translation appeared in seven volumes from 1953 to 1957 in the Suhrkamp publishing house. Together with the editor Walter Boehlich, Eva Rechel-Mertens then worked on revised editions which came out until 1967. In the process, Rechel-Mertens was also confronted with the criticisms of the first Proust translator, Rudolf Schottlaender, and the literary critic Wolfgang Hirsch, who was living in exile (Amsterdam) until 1958. The discussions between Rechel-Mertens and her critics show how in the process of writing and overwriting they inscribed their perspectives into Proust’s text and therewith their past experiences and current societal conditions. In this context, Rechel-Mertens’ sympathies for the catholic church as the foundation of a shared European culture, her stress on German culture as being a part of European culture as well as her conservative attitude is typical of people of her generation in the Federal German Republic (she was born in 1895). On the other hand, Walter Boehlich’s growing awareness for the political implications of certain expressions, his liberal attitude towards Proust’s depiction of homosexuality or prostitution are rather typical of younger people in the 1960ies (Boehlich was born in 1921). In the discussions of Boehlich and Rechel-Mertens a generational conflict was at work, in the discussions of Rechel-Mertens and her other critics it was also the perspectives of people whose lives were threatened in World War II and the translator’s perspective. Rechel-Mertens could not pursue her projects during the war, but was not existentially threatened. This entire context plays out in the way Rechel-Mertens, Boehlich, Schottlaender and Hirsch read Proust and what kind of translation they envisioned.
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