Theses Doctoral

Forever Young: Youth, Modernism, and the Deferral of Maturity

Kueveler, Jan

This dissertation is about adolescents in European literature between 1900 and the First World War who shy away from maturity. The authors discussed are Franz Kafka, James Joyce, Robert Musil, Georg Büchner, J. M. Barrie, Robert Walser, Rudyard Kipling and Witold Gombrowicz. The main argument is that the remarkable proliferation around 1900 of novels whose protagonists, by some means or other, avoid growing up is not due to a somewhat twisted affiliation to the genre of the late and ultimately failed Bildungsroman, but rather to an underestimated branch of modernism. At first glance, their strategy of retreat looks like a flinching from societal responsibility, yet the opposite turns out to be true. Instead of representing an early instance of the prolonged adolescence that has nowadays become proverbial, their recoiling from maturity entails a critique of the totalizing tendencies inherent to the ideals of Bildung and Enlighten­ment.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Kueveler_columbia_0054D_12333.pdf Kueveler_columbia_0054D_12333.pdf binary/octet-stream 1.06 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Thesis Advisors
Dames, Nicholas J.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 30, 2014