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The "Thamar" Section of Mann's "Joseph und seine Brüder": A Formal Analysis

Dennis J. Spininger
Monatshefte
Vol. 61, No. 2 (Summer, 1969), pp. 157-172
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30154665
Page Count: 16
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The "Thamar" Section of Mann's "Joseph und seine Brüder": A Formal Analysis
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Abstract

External evidence, including separate publication and Mann's descriptions of the "Thamar" story as a "Novelle für sich," suggest an artistic self-containment which close attention to the story corroborates. The dramatic focus for the story as a distinct narrative unit centers upon the indomitable will and decisive character of Thamar, and her eventually successful intrusion into the history of the "blessing." The formal process of gradual enlightenment about her character precisely duplicates the development of her self-willed scheme at the level of action. And her dual nature is reflected in the double perspective maintained by the unnamed narrator. The narrator offers "interpolation" and "temptation" as key concepts of Thamar's scheme; they also describe the narrator's technical policies. The story is presented in a manner which insures the reader's complicity. After two false starts, Thamar emerges victorious and the final image of the story consummates the narrative development: a picture of Thamar herself, emphasizing the mutually implicated qualities of sensuousness and resolution, the means to her goal and its object. Complementing the image of her which begins the story, it also reinforces the sense of an aesthetic totality.

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