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Publication details for Professor Jonathan LongDie englischen Jahre and W. G. Sebald's Die Ausgewanderten.' class='dec2'>Long, Jonathan J. (2004). Intercultural Identities in Norbert Gstrein's Die englischen Jahre and W. G. Sebald's Die Ausgewanderten. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 25(5&6): 512-528.
- Publication type: Journal papers: academic
- ISSN/ISBN: 0143-4632
Author(s) from Durham
This paper analyses W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants and Norbert Gstrein's Die englischen Jahre from the perspective of intercultural identity. In Sebald's work, intercultural identity emerges as a political crisis that leads to a series of devastating personal crises: Sebald's protagonists’ inability to fully abandon early ethnic and national identifications results in life-long melancholy whose issue can only be death. For Gstrein, the problem of intercultural identity is one of ethnic impersonation. Gstrein explores performative notions of identity, but is alert to the ethical dubiousness and, indeed, potentially regressive aspect of performance, in contradistinction to some contemporary theorists who see the performative approach to identity as emancipatory. In conclusion, the role of the narrator in the texts is examined. Both narrators thematise the question of empathy, from both an ethical and an epistemological point of view. Although they come to different conclusions about the value of empathic identification, their texts represent self-conscious attempts to develop a mode of intercultural narrative that seeks to do justice to the otherness of the other.