Moderne pikareske Romane?: Ein Vergleich zwischen Günter Grass' Die Blechtrommel und Saul Bellow's The adventures of Augie March

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In this thesis, I compare Günter Grass' Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) to Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March, with particular attention to the picaresque features of both works. Initially, the concept of picaresque is defined, especially in its differentiation from the bildungsroman, its historical development, and contemporary usage. The picaresque differs from the bildungsroman in that its ending is not a confirmation of the rules of society, but rather shows a renunciation of them. In addition society is depicted more negatively than in a bildungsroman. Concerning the history of the picaresque it should be noted that even if the form developed in 16th century Spain, it soon spread and was adapted to other countries' literary traditions, thus it should not be seen as a purely Spanish form of literature. Since it was adapted in numerous other countries, the picaresque tradition is remarkably diverse. Therefore, to be able to compare two modern novels with different national backgrounds and a variety of different influences, I use the theory of modes created by Robert Scholes, that allows the identification of picaresque units in a narration, even if the narration is not completely written as a picaresque, and Claudio Guillén's theory that enables the categorization of works according to the proximity they have to the picaresque formula. Various themes and motives of a picaresque novel are then explored in greater length. In analysing and comparing the novels I found the following: while Die Blechtrommel can be called a picaresque novel in a broader sense, The Adventures of Augie March cannot: it contains a large section dominated by the picaresque myth, but the ending is closer to the bildungsroman. Despite the differences, the comparison of both works is useful, because they cover the same time period from the different perspectives of the respective nations. The novels mirror the situations in Germany and the US including the differences between the countries after WW II. The Germans had to struggle with guilt and could not see the future as positively as the Americans.

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Modern literature