In: KulturPoetik 2013, Heft 1


Zeno Ackermann


Im Tunnel. Figur und Eigensinn in britischen Erzähltexten zum Zweiten Weltkrieg




Emerging from a research project on the reverberations of the Second World War in British novels after 1945, the essay studies how literary narratives engage a mediated national imaginary that perpetuates the mobilization of wartime society. At the centre is the tradition of the escape story, especially in its emphasis on the tunnelling activities of prisoners of war (POWs). Based on a reading of P. R. Reid’s mythified memoir The Colditz Story (1952), the essay discusses Ian McEwan’s Cold-War tunnel narrative The Innocent (1990) and A. L. Kennedy’s memory collage Day (2007) as investigations of the genre. It is argued that both novels lay bare the functions of the tunnel as a potent figure which prescribes routines for the formation of subjectivity within a mobilized collective. However, the analysis also shows the difficulty of breaking the binding power of established figures of memory and thus interrogates simplistic constructions of ›literature‹ or ›literary memory‹ as an alternative to the designs of mediated mobilization.