Written by Mererid Puw Davies. Published December 2016. ISBN 9780854572519
A timely and provocative analysis of counter culture literary protest.
The 1960s protest movements marked an astonishing moment for West Germany. They developed of course a political critique; but they are distinctive, above all, for their overwhelming emphasis on culture and the symbolic. In particular, reading and writing had a uniquely prestigious status for West German protesters, who produced an extraordinary textual culture ranging from graffiti and flyers to agit-prop poetry and autobiographical prose. This textuality is by turns witty, provocative, reflective and offensive. The avant-garde roots of anti-authoritarianism are as palpable within it as a debt to high literature; but due to this culture’s (apparently) often anti-literary tone, it has often remained illegible to traditional criticism.
This study presents close readings of emblematic examples of anti-authoritarian texts, some quite forgotten, and others better-known. These analyses are deeply embedded in historical, cultural, theoretical and aesthetic context and illuminate representative moments and preoccupations in anti-authoritarian culture, from the Vietnam War to the Nazi past to dirt and hygiene. In addition, they uncover some of the texts’ latent content, revealing their often hidden tensions and contradictions, above all in relation to the German past and questions of authority. Simultaneously, in formal terms too, the studies in this book outline an anti-authoritarian poetics.