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Exotic Spaces in German Modernism$
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Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199604128

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604128.001.0001

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Primitive Modernity and the Urban Jungle in Brecht

Primitive Modernity and the Urban Jungle in Brecht

(p.228) 5 Primitive Modernity and the Urban Jungle in Brecht
Exotic Spaces in German Modernism

Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei

Oxford University Press

In modernism, the city is exoticized as a primitive realm, a symbolic convergence of the spaces of external urban experience and the inner psyche. Exoticization in Brecht’s drama Im Dickicht der Städte occurs through depictions of fragmentation of perception, intense emotional and sexual struggle, and metaphoric comparison of the city to a jungle or a swamp. Fractured sensations, animalistic lust, fear, or aggression, and confusion between imagination and objective reality, threaten the ostensibly rational order of urban life, and may lead to the unveiling of a more essential substrate. Brecht’s drama sheds critical light on modernity and the urban form of modern life, in particular the fracturing of the individual and his social foundations in urban spaces, by associating the primitive with social antagonism and exploitation. As in Expressionist fiction and poetry and modernist aesthetics, the city and the human psyche symbolically converge.

Keywords:   Bertolt Brecht, city, modernism, primitivism, expressionism, In the Jungle of Cities, aesthetics

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