Commodities of Desire: The Prostitute in Modern German Literature
Camden House, 2000 - Literary Criticism - 270 pages
Unlike her counterpart in French literature, and despite her importance in drama, poetry, and prose, the figure of the prostitute in modern German literature has been a largely neglected phenomenon. Commodities of Desire addresses this omission: it is the first collection of essays to exclusively investigate this colorful and multi-faceted figure in its many forms and mutations. The book pursues this goal by analyzing a number of key texts -- from the Wilhelmine Empire to the Weimar Republic -- and by providing the social, legal, and cultural contexts necessary for their interpretation. While the 'sex-worker' has been a presence in literature for centuries, the prostitute was never more popular in German literature than between the late 1880s and the early 1930s. It was then -- during a time when prostitution had become one of the most pressing social problems of urban Germany -- that the streetwalker became a symbol of the destructive and fertile forces of the metropolis, an allegorization of the political and social crisis, and a vehicle for biting social criticism. This book focuses on prostitutes as literary figures and prostitution as a topic in works by well-known and lesser-known writers. It thus clarifies the iconography of the prostitute and aids the reader in understanding her significance in the development of modern German literature. Christiane Sch nfeld teaches German at the University of Galway, Ireland.
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