A Tricksters Tale: Autofictional Humour in Günter Grasss Beim Häuten der Zwiebel

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Baier, Christian

Issue Date
Life Writing, Vol.19 No.1, pp.63-80
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.This article analyses autofictional constellations and their role as sources of humour in Günter Grasss Beim Häuten der Zwiebel (Peeling the Onion). Keenly aware of the unreliability of memory and the transient nature of self, Grass is suspicious of any autobiographys claim to accurately represent past experiences. He therefore recreates his life story by blending fact and fiction, experience and imagination, literature and reality. Addressing the limitations of Philippe Lejeunes notion of the autobiographical pact by offering alternative definitions of the terms autobiography and autofiction, the category of autofictional interference is introduced to analyse the narrative constellation in Beim Häuten der Zwiebel. The article demonstrates how many of the seemingly authentic experiences presented in the text are shaped by literary allusions, either to Grasss own works or, most prominently, to Grimmelshausens picaresque novel Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus. Grass uses these picaresque patterns to present himself as a trickster figure, which accounts for much of the humour in Beim Häuten der Zwiebel. Additional humour is provided by the contradiction between the claim of authenticity inherent to all autobiographical writing and the authors strategy to fictionalise himself and his life, creating a structural form of autofictional humour.
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College of Humanities (인문대학)German Language and Literature (독어독문학과)Journal Papers (저널논문_독어독문학과)
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