THE DANGERS OF CULTURE AND THE TEMPTATIONS OF NAZISM IN W. GASS’S “TUNNEL”

  • М. А. Nestelieiev
  • О. О. Tyshchenko
Keywords: history, postmodernism, politics, literature, escapism

Abstract

The problems of William Gass’s postmodernist novel “The Tunnel” are analyzed in the article. The authors explore the features of the leading theme in the novel – the history, which the writer comprehensively explores on the example of events in Hitler’s Germany. Gass shows how culture supported the rise to power of the Nazi regime, and singles out the roles of intellectuals who had high hopes for the Führer. In the character of the semi-crazy professor Magus Tabor, the writer portrays a figure similar to the philosopher Martin Heidegger, who was responsible for establishing immoral power. William Gass calls for a global rethinking of the concepts of guilt and innocence in the context of the XXth century, as officers only «carried out orders» and leaders sought to strengthen the greatness of the state. The novel also shows the relevance of the eternal conflict between Faust and Mephistopheles, tempted and seductive, which allows to expand the understanding of sinfulness, due to the weakness of the human person in the confrontation with authority and power. “The banality of evil” in the twentieth century. has reached a mere anti-humanist level, which, according to William Gass, indicates the completion of “human projects” and the beginning of the posthuman day, and this requires a radical reassessment of all values. At the same time, this indicates the need for a new political force, and therefore the main character of the novel, William Frederick Kohler, invites all intellectuals to unite in the “Party of the Disappointed People”. Of course, this is another sign that escapism is becoming increasingly popular, which in the novel symbolizes the senseless and aimless digging of the tunnel, which Kohler secretly occupied. William Gass gives a rather pessimistic view of both man and society, because the latter is not able to keep the individual from falling into the abyss of despondency, sin and slavish obedience. At the same time, the writer also speaks of the “death of the novel” in particular and art in general, because they do not change the world for the better, but only dull our activity and preaches “art for art’s sake”, that is, finally, is also one of forms of escapism. The writer shows how a person in the last century, having gone through all the circles of hell, gradually loses faith in himself and instead of it he iconizes irony, which exhaustively describes the Postmodern era.

References

1. Into “The Tunnel”: Readings of Gass’s Novel / Ed. by Steven G. Kellman, Irving Malin. Newark : University of Delaware Press, 1998. 172 p.
2. “The Tunnel” : A Casebook / Edited by H.L. Hix // Dalkey Archive. 2000. URL: http://www.dalkeyarchive.com/product/the-tunnel-by-william-h-gass.
3. Unsworth J. William Gass’s “The Tunnel” : The Work in Progress as Post-Modern Genre. Arizona Quarterly. Spring 1992. Vol. 48. № 1. P. 63–85.
4. Gass W. The Tunnel. New York : Alfred A Knopf, 1995. 653 p.
5. Barloon J. Götterdämmerung in the West : William Gass’s Little Big Novel. “The Tunnel” : A Casebook / Edited by H.L. Hix // Dalkey Archive. 2000. URL: http://www.dalkeyarchive.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Barloon.pdf (дата звернення: 25.08.2020).
6. Gass W. Designing “The Tunnel” // Dalkey Archive Press website (Context № 18). URL: https://www.dalkeyarchive.com/designing-the-tunnel (дата звернення: 25.08.2020).
7. Nevala-Lee A. A 1995 Novel Predicted Trump’s America. The New York Times. July 12, 2019. P. 17–19.
8. Karl F.R. American Fictions: 1980–2000 : Whose America Is It Anyway? Bloomington : Xlibris, 2001. 536 p.
Published
2020-12-21
How to Cite
NestelieievМ. А., & TyshchenkoО. О. (2020). THE DANGERS OF CULTURE AND THE TEMPTATIONS OF NAZISM IN W. GASS’S “TUNNEL”. Bulletin of Zaporizhzhia National University. Philological Sciences, 2(1), 136-142. https://doi.org/10.26661/2414-9594-2020-1-2-18