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‚Cuncta fluunt‘

Osmose als Modell für Literatur- und Kulturbeziehungen

Daniel Schumann


Pages 343 - 359



The current paper adopts the concept of osmoregulation, which is known in biochemistry, to the field of literary and cultural relations. It conceives of literature and culture as the product of mutual exchange, subconscious infiltration, and the flexible definition of borderlines. This approach has been inspired by basic concepts adopted in the life sciences, Michel Foucault’s discourse analysis, Margaret Loftus Ranald’s idea of ‘osmotic knowledge’, as well as Harald Bloom’s concept of ‘anxiety of influence’. With a view to the frequently discussed overlaps between the fictional worlds of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Joseph Conrad, as well as the notion of estrangement (ostranenie / Verfremdung) proposed by Viktor Shklovsky and Bertolt Brecht respectively, it is suggested that the literary and cultural continuum is determined by microscopically perceivable mutual contamination rather than conscious decisions on the part of writers, artists, and critics.

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