Rebels Without Causes: Contemporary German Authors Not in Search of Meaning

Michelle Mattson


This study looks at how the philosophy of Jean Baudrillard can help to explain why the characters in in Elke Naters’ Mau Mau (2002), Sven Regener’s Herr Lehmann (2001), and Judith Hermann’s two short story collections Sommerhaus später (1998) and Nichts als Gespenster (2003) seem largely vapid, emotionally stunted, and socially illiterate. The analysis focuses on three major theses in Baudrillard’s work: 1) In the post-modern world, we live in the realm of the hyperreal, a space in which signifiers are divorced from their connection to any signifieds. 2) Today’s society is characterized by a multiplication and saturation of exchanges that leads to a neutralization of history. 3) The human reaction to the oversaturation of images devoid of connection to the real is a pervasive and systemic melancholy. However, the article also argues that Baudrillard’s philosophies are not helpful for living in today’s world and that the features of his thinking illustrated in these novels represent an essentially paralytic ideology. (MM)

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