Private Anarchy

Cloth Text – $99.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3663-2

E-book – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3664-9

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3662-5
Publication Date
March 2018
Page Count
256 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Private Anarchy

Impossible Community and the Outsider’s Monologue in German Experimental Fiction
Paul Buchholz

European social theorists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries tended to define modernity as a condition of heightened alienation in which traditional community is replaced by a regime of self-interested individualism and collective isolation. In Private Anarchy, Paul Buchholz develops an alternative intellectual history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, showing how a strain of German-language literature worked against this common conception of modernity.

Buchholz suggests that in their experimental prose Gustav Landauer, Franz Kafka, Thomas Bernhard, and Wolfgang Hilbig each considered how the "void" of mass society could be the precondition for a new, anarchic form of community that would rest not on any assumptions of shared origins or organic unity but on an experience of extreme emptiness that blurs the boundaries of the self and enables intimacy between total strangers. This community, Buchholz argues, is created through the verbal form most closely associated with alienation and isolation: the monologue.

By showing how these authors engaged with the idea of community and by relating these contributions to an extended intellectual genealogy of nihilism, Private Anarchy illustrates the distinct philosophical and sociopolitical stakes of German experimental writing in the twentieth century.
About the Author

PAUL BUCHHOLZ is an assistant professor in the Department of German Studies at Emory University. 

“Through insightful analysis, Buchholz deepens our understanding of modernist and contemporary literature by focusing on monologues that both disrupt the framing assumptions of their audiences and gesture towards a new kind of community. Combining formal and historical approaches, this book broadly illuminates the power of literary innovation to reorient discussions of the social imaginary.” —Jeffrey Champlin, author of The Making of a Terrorist: On Classic German Rogues