In: KulturPoetik 2011, Heft 2


Leonhard Herrmann


Kulturgeschichten des Wissens. Das ganze 20. Jahrhundert im Rückblick – fiktive Gelehrtenbiografien von Michael Köhlmeier und Marcel Beyer




This article discusses the literary representation of 20th-century history as a subject of direct reference at the beginning of the 21st century by analyzing two novels: Michael Köhlmeiers Abendland and Marcel Beyers Kaltenburg. Against theories about the »end of history« and the »end of narrative«, these two texts insist on the ability of fiction to give an entire picture of the history of the 20th century. Both criticize 20th-century epistemology as formalistic, deductive, and biologistic by contrasting it with the fictionality and polyperspectivity of literature, which emerges as the guiding medium of a plural and complex society in the 21st century.