Article: PDF
DOI: 10.26170/FK19-01-18
Abstract: The article discusses the issue of “own and alien” in the creative activity of Oscar Kokoshka (1886–1980), an Austrian painter and writer and “a double genius”, in the context of European expressionism on the material of the prose poem “The Dreaming Boys” (1908). The poem has not been chosen as an object of research at random – first, modern literary studies consider it “the first new German poem” which reflects all possible characteristics of the literature of the early European modernism, and, second, it represents one of the masterpieces of the “synthetic art” – Gesamtkunstwerk, which is the central line of development of art of the early 20th century. O. Kokoshka is an outstanding representative of the Gesamtkunstwerk, a pioneer in the field of “semantic language repair” (F. Nietzsche) and the follower of the traditions of Viennese modernism in fine arts. The problem under discussion in the article touches upon the artist’s position towards assessment of his own creative activity – the degree of its novelty, its place in the modern art and literature, and its relation to the traditions. The personality of O. Kokoshka is rather significant in this respect – the poet demonstrating the highest degree of rejection of any comparison to the predecessors and contemporaries in autobiographical declarations contradicts himself in his own creative work. The artist insists that he has gained the right to independence and is not subject to any influence. But, as a resident of Vienna during the flourish of Viennese modernism he is imbued, either consciously or subconsciously, with the best works of literature and arts displayed in the world famous museums of the city and discussed in the auditoriums of one the best education institutions in Europe – the School of Arts and Crafts at the Museum of Art and Industry (Kunstgewerbeschule), where O. Kokoshka studied in his youth. And the more vehemently he rejects any intervention, especially expressionist influence, the more interesting it becomes to observe these “alien traces” in his creative activity. Expressionism also pretended on the pioneering role of a radical innovator in literature and fine arts, but later had to confess that it was supported by the energy of the far ancestors – the gothic art, the art of Renaissance and primitive peoples, and the naïve art. The expressionist poem by O. Kokoshka demonstrates the process of turning the alien into the own.

For citation

Pestova, N. V. The Poem “The Dreaming Boys” by Oscar Kokoshka as a Little Masterpiece of Expressionism: Own and Alien / N. V. Pestova. In Philological Class. 2019. №1 (55). P. 125-129. DOI 10.26170/FK19-01-18.