Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster „Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration“

Neuerscheinung: Ethnic Irony: The Poetic Parabasis of the Promiscuous Personal Pronoun in Yoko Tawada's “Eine leere Flasche” (A Vacuous Flask). Von John N. Kim

17. September 2010


In: German Quarterly, 83, 3 (2010), S. 333-352.

First-person narratives written under the sign of ethnicity are said to be not only “autobiographical” but also “abject.” Rereading the short but seminal and permanently inseminating text, “Eine leere Flasche” by the German Japanese author Yoko Tawada, this article argues for an alternative account of the literary conjunction of first-person writing and the social figure of ethnicity. The textual figure of the ethnicized first-person narrator need not be read as an “abjectly” or even “autobiographical” reproduction of the social figure of “ethnicity.” Rather, in Tawada’s poetic practice, the narrative “I” is a permanent parabasis, a material mark of textual irony interrupting the most basic form of prosopopoeia available in Indo-European languages, the first-person pronoun.
Drawing upon Leslie Adelson’s work on German literatures of migration through Paul de Man’s work on “autobiography” and its textual irony, this article proposes that the poetically textual trope of irony and the socially contextual figure of ethnicity together constitute what Adelson calls a “riddle of referentiality,” in which neither this trope nor this figure can be confused with the other, yet also not read apart from each other. This article concludes that the social figure of the “ethnic” and the textual trope of irony are indistinguishable from each other. Its proposed notion of “ethnic irony” thus constitutes a pleonasm. (Abstract)

Der Germanist John N. Kim Ph.D. war 2008-2009 Kollegiat am Kulturwissenschaftlichen Kolleg Konstanz. Kim hat den hier vorgestellten Aufsatz während seines Konstanzer Aufenthaltes abgeschlossen.