The inscription of desire into a narrative is paradigmatic of narration itself: The narrator acts together with the implied reader in an exchange of wants – the desire to tell and the desire to witness – toward the formation of an ordered series of events. The narrator of Feridun Zaimoğlu’s 2008 novel Liebesbrand desperately seeks a certain person, who may stand for the person herself or, more prosaically, for his own personal fulfillment. The reader is invited to link the novel to the German Romantic tradition due to the protagonist’s exotic quest, the neologistic title, and the author’s own declaration: “[I]ch selbst fühle mich der deutschen Romantik zugehörig” (2008b). Researchers Margaret Littler and Frauke Matthes convincingly relate the work to German Romanticism in order to read Zaimoğlu’s novel as part of German-language literary history. However, looking at the various forms the search for a partner takes in Liebesbrand, how this theme is represented, and the dynamic it generates, I do not find a quest befitting the label of Romanticism alone. The protagonist is not sentimental or sensitive in the Romantic tradition; he has no interest in nature or scenery, and his story has no magic or humor. He is, however, neurotic in the Victorian sense, keen on objectifying women and habitually concerned with his position relative to them. The protagonist’s disdain of the everyday and ordinary, as well as his ability to disregard the concerns of women, verges on a posture whose expressions of disillusionment with life are suited to the malaise found at the turn of the century on the Viennese stage. In order to place Zaimoğlu’s work within the genealogy of German literary history, it need not only be rooted in German Romanticism. From its neurotic narrator to its melodramatic title and much in between, Liebesbrand should be considered a natural continuation of the tradition of Viennese Modernism.
"The Shameless Little Man: Narrative Obstruction in Feridun Zaimoğlu’s Liebesbrand,"
EDGE - A Graduate Journal for German and Scandinavian Studies: Vol. 3
, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/edge/vol3/iss1/5