“Licht in den Stollen”: Schwellenfiktion und Mnemotechnik in Ralf Rothmanns Gegenwartsromanen

Oliver Ruf


The essay discusses the different facets of liminality and mnemonic in Ralf Rothmann’s novels Stier 1991, Wäldernacht 1994, Milch und Kohle 2000, and Junges Licht 2004. From this perspective, Rothmann’s narrative prose belongs to a number of contemporary German novels which break with traditional concepts of cultural thresholds: above and beyond this performance, the retrospective coupling of individual ‘Ruhr’ biographies and shared German history is the object of literary reflection. Rothmann’s novels raise the issue of the special mnemotic gestures and historical semantics which are associated with the ‘Ruhr-Gebiet’ as a catalyst of liminality. Besides, the literary historical connections to metaphors of mining are central for Rothmann’s prose. They can be given profile by discussing the ethnological and anthropological theories of Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner. In the end the fiction of liminality and the mnemonic techniques emerge as a highly ambivalent code for the expression of social transformation. (OR; in German)

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