Article: PDF
DOI: 10.26170/FK19-03-21
Abstract: In the novel of education by Fr. Werfel “Barbara, or Piety” (1929), the image of water is cross-cutting and gives rise to a whole set of meanings. Based on data obtained using the theory of parallelism by A. Veselovsky, as well as methods of ritual and psychoanalytic literary criticism based, in particular, on G. Bashlyar, and the theory of the chronotope, the following conclusions are drawn in the article. Firstly, the antithesis of formlessness/form characteristic of the image organizes the compositional movement of the novel from unconsciousness to meaningfulness. The most important compositional points are connected with the water element and address the ritual functions of water: bathing children in a mountain stream is akin to baptism; libation (soldier’s binge and ritual sacrifice) – an initiation revealing the military part of the novel; a meeting with a blind bathhouse attendant acting as a guide to the kingdom of the dead in the story precedes the riot of the firing squad; the fog at the funeral of the poet Red is the border that separated the hero from his revolutionary friends. At the same time, the types and forms of water are essentially changing. Secondly, in the natural-philosophical aspect – one of the four main elements of the picture of the world – hydrophytic images fulfill the function of structuring space in the novel. Water element indicates the border separating it from the spiritual, saving from destructive. Thirdly, the image is included in the depth/surface opposition. The main values are realized for the hero in the imagery of immersion, dissolution, sliding on the surface, etc. The depths of water are associated with life, and its surface with death. The view, sliding on the surface and replacing the desire for truth for contemporaries, the author interprets as the cause of historical upheavals; it is opposed to the desire for depth of meaning, which brings people closer to understanding God, eternity, death, history. Finally, the antithesis of cold/heat, inextricably linked with water, is realized in the movement of the hero from alienity (Unnahbarkeit) to the world in order to find out its essence. This approach greatly expands the understanding of not only the structure of the novel, but also the principles of constructing the art world of Franz Werfel as a whole.

For citation

Seibel, N. E. Water as a Meaning-Generating Image in the Novel by Fr. Werfel “Barbara, or Piety” / N. E. Seibel . In Philological Class. 2019. №3 (57). P. 149-155. DOI 10.26170/FK19-03-21.