'Vergangenheitsbewältigung' and Memory Contests in Döblin's Hamlet

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This article reassesses Alfred Döblin’s novel Hamlet oder Die lange Nacht nimmt ein Ende (1946/56) in its relation to the Second World War. It argues that the novel’s switch from politics into the private domain was not a distraction from the war, but a mechanism of engagement with the German past that has since become mainstream. Hamlet on the one hand anticipated the shortcomings of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, exemplified here by Christoph Meckel’s Suchbild. Über meinen Vater and Peter Schneider’s Vati, and on the other hand prefigured the ‘turn’ to memory in post-Wende literature, represented by Günter Grass’s Im Krebsgang.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)898-920
JournalModern Language Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Döblin
  • Second World War
  • Vergangenheitsbewältigung
  • memory
  • German literature
  • Hamlet


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