Germany's poetic miscreants on the road: from beat poetics to Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, Nicolas Born and Jürgen Theobaldy

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Roddy, Harry Louis

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West German poets Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, Nicolas Born and Jürgen Theobaldy became associated with the American Beats in the minds of readers and critics in the 1960s and 70s through their work as poets, essayists and anthologists. This association was due chiefly to Brinkmann’s activities as a programmatic adapter of the work of American Beat and New York School poets for German literature. This dissertation examines the specific impact these adaptations had on the poetry produced in West Germany in the 1970s. The adaptations these authors made of their American sources were part of a larger rebellion against the poetic norms of the 1950s that were promulgated in the late 1960s. This rebellion mirrors in many ways the rebellion of American poets against poetic norms in place in the U.S. 1950s. Thus, in order to properly understand the literary program of Brinkmann, Born and Theobaldy, this work elucidates the various poetic rebellions against the influence of T. S. Eliot and New Criticism in the American 1950s. It then examines the programmatic adaptation of American poetic and pop culture sources in the work of Brinkmann. Specifically, it employs Siegfried Kracauer’s theory of the “mass ornament” in an examination of Brinkmann’s adaptations of American poet Frank O’Hara in the development of his poetics of the surface. It then examines the appropriation of an American poetic idiom in the work of Born, Theobaldy and Brinkmann by analyzing both their writings on poetry and selected poems by each. It concludes with a consideration of the impact these three poets had on the poetry of the Neue Subjektivität movement of the 1970s and beyond.