In fact, for her, body language in literature is profoundly informed by conscious and unconscious codes and conventions. Barbara Korte defines body language as "non-verbal behaviour movements and postures, facial expression, glances and eye contact, automatic reactions, spatial and touching behaviour which is 'meaningful' in both natural and fictional communication" Body Language In other words, all non-verbal behaviour displayed by fictional characters that can be decoded by a receiver, whether consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally, can be defined, in her opinion, as non-verbal communication NVC or body language.
A basic competence in NVC, therefore, facilitates the interpretation of literary body language.
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According to Barbara Korte, the growing interest in body language since the sixties reflected in popular handbooks, literature, theatre, art exhibits, health clubs, ever-increasing cosmetic surgery, organ transplants, artificial reproductive technology, etc. Aside from its topicality, the body's presence in literature emerges as an important signifying system.
Both the writer and the reader must, therefore, acquire the necessary competence to make use of such a system. As Barbara Korte further argues: "Contrary to its occurrence in real life, non-verbal behaviour in literature is always28 'significant': it is integral to the text's artistic design even when it cannot be read as a sign with a clearly defined meaning" Body Language 5. Many works dealing with the presence, significance, and use of body language in literature and the arts which began in the eighteenth century are related to contemporary NVC research.
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Studies of gesture in narrative literature, such as Karl Sittl's Die Gebarden der Griechen und Romer began in Germany and were profoundly influenced by cultural history. They complemented the cultural gestures of the Greeks and Romans, and of Medieval Europeans being compiled concurrently in folklore, folk psychology, and comparative linguistics.
When the emotions of literary characters are expressed through body language, they reveal more clearly their importance to the portrayal of etiquette and ceremony in medieval society. In more recent times, namely, prior to the Second World War, a racist ideology marked various German studies on cultural aspects of body language. With the collapse of Germany in the marked decrease in German studies of literary body language The emphasis is mine. See Korte, Body Language 18ff. As the disciplines of sociology and social psychology continued to develop in the seventies, modern NVC research in North America and Britain also began to carve out its own terminology.
A decade later, however, NVC terminology began to gain acceptance in German literary criticism, thereby gradually displacing its former dependence on the traditional and rather vague usage of "gesture" and "posture. Although body language had previously been studied mainly as an expression of feeling, NVC research now highlights the importance of non-verbal interaction between characters in a fictional text. Previously unrecognised forms of NVC have now moved out from under the vague term "gesture" into the sights and the awareness of the literary critic.
It could even be argued that the recognition of the role of haptic touching behaviour such as kissing, embracing, caressing, hand holding, hitting etc.
NVC classification systems, while useful, need to be adapted for literary interpretation and criticism. In social life, the majority of human interaction and communication occurs non-verbally.
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NVC research has also benefited enormously from sociological and social-psychological studies. These have shown the role of non-verbal behaviour in human interaction is potentially multi-layered. In literature, the non-verbal behaviour described by the author enables the reader to arrive at conclusions regarding the thoughts, feelings, personal characteristics, and attitudes of the characters in a fictional text. Their social status and the social roles they perform are not only revealed but offer insights into the power relations that exist between them.
Even the slightest hint of attraction and repulsion between fictional characters are revealed through an author's description of their non-verbal behaviour. Verbal utterances are also regulated by NVC. In fact, the verbal message can be contradicted, complemented, or even substituted by the reaction of the observer of the speaker's body language.
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Korte has provided a useful classification framework for recognising NVC forms and roles of body language in literature. In relation to the situation in which it takes place, these forms of body language also require what Korte calls a special "functional class" indicative of its literary effectiveness.
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The aim of defining various classes of NVC in the literary text is significant because of its ability to intensify meaning and to convey messages. Moreover, if Marcel Mauss is correct, "techniques of the body,"32 such as the learned everyday actions of walking, standing, sitting, or eating, are culture-specific. Korte also includes touching, spatial relationships, and body movements gestures such as nodding, raising a hand, waving an arm, 3 0 See, for example, Margaret Atwood's Utopian novel The Handmaid's Tale in which the lack of touch is portrayed as unbearable and isolating.
The "functional" classification embraces bodily activities that Korte defines as displays of emotion, "externalizers," "illustrators," "emblems," and "regulators. Korte complements these two categories which are heavily dependent on the ordinary non-verbal competence of the reader, with an open catalogue of questions. These questions help to provide a more satisfactory and balanced interpretation of the body's presence in the narrative text. Barbara Korte identifies three areas with questions that deal with the presentation, and the literary functions and effects of body language in the narrative text.
Two other areas dealing with the writer's concept of body language, in relation to genre, author, and period, as well as the three mentioned above, will now be briefly summarised. Firstly, Korte asks: What is the frequency and distribution of body language within the text? What is the semantic content, and the semantic clarity or vagueness of the non-verbal signified?
What is the distinctiveness of the non-verbal signifier? Secondly, how is an example of body language "filtered" through language and narrative transmission. Is it foregrounded via linguistic means, narrative mode, the structure of narrative transmission, or visual perspectivization?
Thirdly, what role does body language as an element in the action, as an indication of mental states, as an indication of interpersonal relationships, as a means of character definition and identification, authentication, or dramatisation, play in the constitution of fictional reality? Does body language in the narrative text, in the process of narrative transmission, establish contrasts or correspondences among characters? Is body language intended to achieve a particular effect in the reader?
Fourthly, is the use of body language determined by a specific concept? Fifthly, to what extent is the use of body language determined by genre, author, or period? Korte's critical framework focuses, therefore, on the usefulness of body language not only as a signifying system for the literary text, but also as a means of enhancing, in a myriad of ways, its meaning and effects. It fills a need since previous analyses of this sort have not been completely successful in relating body language to literature. Korte's critical approach serves as a much needed efficacious tool for critical literary analysis.
Moreover, it reveals body language and its meaning in literature by opening up and describing an area of the literary narrative which may have previously been neglected. Body language, once decoded, has the potential to provide new insights into familiar texts. These new insights may even contradict the meanings transmitted in words and other signalling systems within the narrative. It is this potential that makes it a very promising theoretical approach for interpreting the role and significance of war-damaged bodies in Boll's early writings.
The question before me now is two-pronged: Can a social theory of the body be fruitfully applied to Boll's early writings? If so, will it, with the use of body language as an analytical tool provide deeper insights into these works? Korte, Body Language I will also try to explain why Boll's references to the human body are often in direct contrast to those promulgated by Hitler and the Nazis. Many people have asked me, rather quizzically, if Boll wrote about the body34 or for that matter, much about the Jews.
My answer is an unequivocal yes to both these questions. For me, the human body as both a subjective, "lived," shared experience, and as an alienated object is ever present in Boll's writings. He appears to have presented his views on the body for close analysis on almost every page of his prose. Yet, very few critics have either recognised them or found them worthy of an extensive discussion. How is this possible? Perhaps, in the light of the German people's weariness of Nazi body propaganda, Boll's attempt to present his views on the subjective, lived human body was at times too subtle.
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What is indisputable, however, is that Boll's concept of the body and what it means to be human is a complete rejection of that promoted by the Nazis. More than three decades after the war, in a interview with the journalist Hans-Peter Riese, Boll himself suggests that his views on what it truly means to be human is still waiting to be discovered among the words of his narrative prose: "[ Boll had also admitted: "Ich setze immer zuviel voraus; es widerstrebt mir, [ It is possible, therefore, that Boll may have taken the underlying importance of the human body in his work for granted, expecting that his readers with a little imagination would recognise it.
If so, has the body been too well hidden? In my opinion, however, the opposite is true.
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Boll's attention to all aspects of the lived human body is so obvious that it has effectively escaped detection. Whichever proves to be the correct explanation, the role of the body in Boll's work is too important to ignore. Perhaps Boll did not see the need to continually spell out the role of the body in Nazi ideology. Of course, all forms of Expressionist art depicting the "open" imperfect body were in complete contrast to the Nazi writings on the "closed" perfect body.
This will be more fully developed in the next chapter. If, in fact, the discourse of the body, and therefore his views on humanity, seemed to Boll simply too obvious to have to "spell them out," then the task before me is to reveal them and their importance for a better understanding of his works. The most effective tool for this task must provide interpretations to the numerous bodily signs and codes in his narratives. It is for this reason that I will employ the theory of literary body language as an indispensable analytical tool. Dieter Wellershoff, Boll's editor in the seventies, at his home in Cologne, during an interview which he kindly granted me on August For example, Boll recounts that even when his mother was warned in , in the midst of the victory and splendour of the Third Reich, to tone down her negative rhetoric, she continued to defiantly fight with her eyes: "Sie sprach nur noch mit Blikken [sic], und ihre grofien, dunklen Augen sprachen wohl noch deutlicher als ihr Mund" Briefe aus IAnother example of the profound importance of body language for Boll goes back to his school days.
Boll writes: "Wenn da einer sein erbarmliches Griechisch oder Latein einmal - was selten vorkam - mit seiner Uniform ausgleichen wollte, blickte mich der Studienrat Bauer an ich hatte ihn von Sexta bis Oberprima - es bedurfte keiner Ausdrucklichkeit zwischen uns; er war ein Demokrat, Humanist, keineswegs kriegsversessen" Was soil In these two examples taken from his personal life and experiences, Boll shows that he fully recognised the potential of non-verbal behaviour to speak volumes, and he would introduce many such incidents of NVC into his prose.
This obvious reliance on body language to convey the "real" story beneath illusory words, actions, and events shows why it is so important to locate and then analyse it in Boll's work. Not to do so, may be to miss half if not the whole story.