THE CATEGORY OF THE INTER-LITERARY AND THE PROBLEM OF THE AUTHOR’S NATIONAL IDENTITY: On the Example of Switzerland and its Literary Ties with the Same-language Countries

Journal Title: Studia Litterarum - Year 2016, Vol 1, Issue 1


The problem of the author’s national identity manifested itself as part of the nation-making process and aggravated at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, with the spread of theories about the superiority of nations. This especially concerned those states that became independent of their mother countries while sharing with them the same language, such as Switzerland, Austria, and Canada; it became difcult to determine the national identity of such major authors as Keller, Hesse, Rilke, and Ramuz. Also, there was tension between such terms as German and German-language, French and Francophone, English and Anglophone, etc. To solve this problem, a special classifcation different from the methods of traditional comparative studies was needed. Slovakian scholar D. Ďurišin suggested a classifcation based on the category of the inter-literary (inter-literary process, inter-literary historicism, and inter-literary community) that allows examine the specifcity of literary interaction both on the level of national and literary processes and in the global literary context. To fulfl this goal, he had to modernize the entire existing terminology of comparative studies. The author of the essay bears on this classifcation and applies it to the case of Swiss literature demonstrating how within the framework of “inter-literary communities” such as German-language Switzerland, Austria, and Germany we observe mutual enrichment based on cultural feedback. Inter-literary relations suggest not passive exchange of “influences” but competitiveness and struggle. Swiss authors writing in German, French, and Italian even when published in Germany, France, and Italy do not realize them selves as full participants of the literary processes in these countries; they are not altogether alien there but not native either being citizens of a different state. At the same time, they do not feel comfortable even within their own national community, they suffer from the “smallness” of their native land and long for the grandeur of the mother countries, for global historical events that feed the national literatures of the latter. This cluster of controversies is a consequence of the “double national identity” (Ďurišin). Double in this case may be also understood as “ambiguous,” characterized by inner fragmentation and conflict and sometimes, as this essay shows, by genuine dramatism.

Authors and Affiliations

Vladimir D. Sedelnik


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  • EP ID EP26078
  • DOI 10.22455/ 2500-4247-2016-1-1-2-47-72
  • Views 418
  • Downloads 43

How To Cite

Vladimir D. Sedelnik (2016). THE CATEGORY OF THE INTER-LITERARY AND THE PROBLEM OF THE AUTHOR’S NATIONAL IDENTITY: On the Example of Switzerland and its Literary Ties with the Same-language Countries. Studia Litterarum, 1(1), -.