Georg Trakl and the literature of decadence
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This thesis examines the poetry of Georg Trakl within the context of literary decadence in Europe at the turn of the century (1880-1914). It provides an analysis of Trakl's early writing, and traces themes of literary decadence which recur throughout his work, particularly in the late prose and the dramatic fragment of 1914. In so doing, it also undertakes a comparative study of Trakl's poetry and decadent literature in Austria, Germany, France and England. Chapter One looks at the literary background and attempts a definition of what was understood by literary decadence in France and Germany at the end of the nineteenth century. Chapter Two examines motifs of crime and horror in Trakl's writing, paying particular attention to the concept of Lustmord in the early dramas Blaubart and Don Juans Tod and the later dramatic fragment of 1914. Chapter Three examines the issue of sexual guilt, and the portrayal of women in Trakl's poetry, from the femme fatale of the early poetry to the figure of the sister and the androgyne in the later poetry. Chapter Four traces the theme of blasphemy from the early lyric to the last poetic utterances of 1914, and touches briefly on the question of Trakl as a Christian poet. Chapter Five looks at motifs of isolation, obsession with death and decay, and poetry as the expression of the poet's etat d'ame. Chapter Six provides an analysis of the language and style of the early poetry, focusing on Trakl's affinity with the style of literary decadence.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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