‘Schnaps aus den Dunkelsten Pflaumen’: The corruption of nature and the centrality of the Holocaust in the work of Herta Müller

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Abstract

Herta Müller’s work is permeated with images of death and violence associated with the natural world. Plants, processes of growth and decay, and even the earth itself are represented as sentient and threatening, as collaborators with the Ceauşescu regime and enemies of humanity. This trope, part of a wider denaturalisation of food, eating and the natural cycle I term obscene consumption, is particularly evident in the 1994 novel Herztier but can be traced back through earlier works to the author’s first and most enduring artistic preoccupation: the Holocaust. Building on theories of the concentrationary imaginary and Lazarean art, this article explores the role of cultural memory in the creation of Müller’s imagery and argues for a re-evaluation of her writing as a significant contribution to the literature of post-fascism both within and beyond Germany.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-71
Number of pages20
JournalGerman Life and Letters
Volume73
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

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