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Title:The role of the painting in the works of Theodor Storm
Author(s):Dysart, David Lawrence
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McGlathery, James M.
Department / Program:Germanic Languages and Literatures
Discipline:Germanic Languages and Literatures
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Germanic
Abstract:The pervasiveness of paintings in the works of Theodor Storm implies a conscious effort on the part of the author to use this medium to achieve specific artistic effects on both the structural and symbolic level.
Structurally, the painting is closely connected to Storm's characteristic use of a frame and inner story and the use of the memory technique. Like these narrative devices, the painting (1) lends authenticity to the story by providing the reader and the characters with visual proof that the characters within the narrated reminiscence did indeed at one time exist, and (2) mitigates the tragic by placing temporal distance between the life of the individual depicted in the painting and the narrative present.
The painting's further structural contributions include serving as: (1) the vehicle for shifts between the frame and inner story, (2) a means of condensing and summarizing events, (3) a movens to the plot, and (4) a means of reflecting or foreshadowing the events of the plot.
Storm's use of the painting on the symbolic level can be seen to embody his emotional struggle with the transience of life and his intellectual acceptance of its inevitability. In reality and within Storm's works, a portrait is a means of preserving an individual's memory. In Storm's novellas the lasting memory of an individual is often directly equated with the existence of his or her portrait, and oblivion with the lack of a portrait. Storm may appear to offer, in the medium of painting, a means of overcoming transience. However, precisely the medium designed to preserve the past is shown to fall victim to the destructive elements of time. The painting, at a later date, is unable to fulfill the function for which it was intended. The prevalence of a direct association between death and the painting, and the commensurate inability of the painting to fulfill the function for which it was intended indicate the degree to which Storm, in spite of a psychological need to combat transience, accepted its inevitability. The painting thus comes to symbolize man's ineffectual attempts to escape the reality of human mortality and material decay.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Dysart, David Lawrence
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9026174
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9026174

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