Dream islands within the fabric of poetic consciousness – reverie, dream and dreamlikeness in Robert Walser’s Berlin novels 'Geschwister Tanner' and 'Jakob von Gunten'
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This dissertation reconstructs firstly the dreamlikeness which determines Walser’s two Berlin novels Geschwister Tanner and Jakob von Gunten, and secondly a poetology of the denoted dream texts (representations of dreams) within these novels. The first part of this study is dedicated to the exploration of the phenomenon of dreamlikeness by establishing a matrix which is determined by the dissolution of the “I”, of time and of space – all elements identifiable in Walser’s novels. These three forms of dissolution are signifiers of the deconstruction of everyday reality and thus suitable markers of dream. The dreamlikeness is generated by the consciousness processes of reverie and intricately linked to the writing process, thus underlies the entire fabric of the novels. In part two, the eclectic variety of literary dreams in the novels are examined as text objects by using methodological approaches of psychoanalysis and intertextuality studies. The outcome of this examination suggests that Walser had an understanding of dream and literary dream traditions. The analysis of the sequential dream texts will reveal a shift from the preoccupation with the female to the male which establishes a progression reminiscent of the reaching of Lacan’s Law of the father, but which is not to be confused with the ‘becoming’ of the Bildungsroman – an association which has often been made in secondary literature in connection with Jakob von Gunten in particular. By contrasting the structures and aesthetics of the embedded dream texts with the overall dreamlikeness, an inversion becomes evident by which most of the literary dreams of the second novel are shown to be spaces constructed in order to express intentions and objectives – and are thus generated by a rational consciousness rather than the dream consciousness which is underlying the novel.
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