The attention that the Swiss modernist writer Robert Walser pays to domestic violence can be regarded as exceptional. So why does child abuse still remain a blind spot in the scholarship on Walser? This article discerns techniques that Walser uses to render family violence invisible, such as multiperspectivism and changes of tonality. These aesthetic techniques gain in depth through comparison to concepts from object relations theory: Sándor Ferenczi’s “identification with the aggressor” and Wilfred R. Bion’s “attacks on linking.” With family brutality, the problem of perspective is not purely formal but intrinsic, because part of the violence of domestic violence is the exhausting degree of affective mobility it demands—a capacity but also a vertiginous obligation to change tones and perspectives.
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Research Article| August 01 2022
The Child in the Dark: On Child Abuse in Robert Walser
New German Critique (2022) 49 (2 (146)): 107–132.
Barbara N. Nagel; The Child in the Dark: On Child Abuse in Robert Walser. New German Critique 1 August 2022; 49 (2 (146)): 107–132. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-9734833
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