Nel bianco. Viaggio in Groenlandia
2 Giugno 2023
«I quaderni dell’AIG»: online il nuovo fascicolo
7 Giugno 2023
Nel bianco. Viaggio in Groenlandia
2 Giugno 2023
«I quaderni dell’AIG»: online il nuovo fascicolo
7 Giugno 2023

Forme e linguaggi della vecchiaia / Formen und Sprachen des Alters
a cura di / hrsg. v. Federica Missaglia – Francesco Rossi
pubblicato il 07.06.2023

Das Alter(n) wird heutzutage als äußerst komplexes und facettenreiches Phänomen betrachtet, in dem individuelle, soziale und kulturelle Erfahrungen ineinanderfließen. Es umfasst einen breit gefächerten Themenkomplex, der in jüngster Zeit immer wieder das Interesse der germanistischen Forschung auf sich gezogen hat. Die im vorliegenden Heft gesammelten Beiträge nähern sich dem Themenkomplex aus unterschiedlichen sprach- und literaturwissenschaftlichen Perspektiven. Durch ihre unterschiedlichen thematischen Gewichtungen und methodischen Behandlungen des Themas ‘Alter und Altern’ zeugen die Beiträge von einer überraschenden Fülle von Implikationen und Fragestellungen, welche die aktuelle Forschung noch nicht ausgeschöpft hat.

Vecchiaia e invecchiamento sono considerati al giorno d’oggi fenomeni estremamente complessi e sfaccettati, che rimandano a una grande varietà di esperienze individuali, sociali e culturali. Essi riguardano un’ampia gamma di argomenti, che di recente hanno attirato l’interesse della ricerca di ambito germanistico. I contributi raccolti nel presente Quaderno affrontano questo plesso tematico da diverse angolazioni, linguistiche e letterarie. In ragione delle differenze nella tematizzazione e nel trattamento metodologico degli argomenti ‘vecchiaia’ e ‘invecchiamento’, essi testimoniano una sorprendente ricchezza di implicazioni e domande che la ricerca attuale non ha ancora esaurito.



  • Formen und Sprachen des Alters – Einführung, pp. 7-15
    Federica Missaglia, Francesco Rossi

    • This essay introduces the topic and outlines the contributions of this special issue of «Studi Germanici – I Quaderni dell’AIG». Old age and aging are seen as a complex thematic field in which individual, social and historical experiences are deeply interrelated. This is one of the reasons why the connection between ‘elderliness’ and ‘literature’ or ‘language’ is so successful today, although much work remains to be done in research. Since the first systematic explorations of the topic, German studies have shown an increasing interest in images,
      experiences and languages of aging, which the articles in this volume investigate on the basis of different methodological perspectives.

  • «[…] Und achtzehn Jahre streichen / Aus meinem Lebensbuch». Das alternde Ich in den Gedichten der Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, pp. 19-34
    Barbara Sasse

    • The topic of time and transience occupies a key position in Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s poetry with regard to the poetological discourse that her poems always negotiate. This paper focuses on a selected series of poems in which Droste explicitly reflects on her old age or aging. Characteristic of this type of poems is the choice of an autodiegetically-staged speaker, whereby Droste frequently plays with autobiographical references. In particular, the paper emphasises the close or complementary relationship between the age motif and the poet motif, which is often metaphorically dressed, and with which the lyrical discourse repeatedly shifts to a meta-level. Even on the diachronic level of the selected corpus, which encompasses Droste’s central creative phase, a continuous pattern of thought structure becomes recognisable, and this pattern ties poetic creativity to the experience of aging. Only this experience provides the lyrical I with the possibility of a retrospective or, more exactly, of a memory irrevocably separated from the experience itself and aware of its transience – a memory that takes on a fixed form in the (written) poem. On the one hand, this seems to confirm the poet’s ‘Biedermeier’ attitude (in comparison to the politically engaged ‘Vormärz’). At the same time, however, the profound divergence between subjective (interior) and objective (exterior) experience of time also marks an almost modern, identity-shattering moment in her writing.

  • Memorie da una casa di riposo. In St. Jürgen (1868) di Theodor Storm, pp. 35-48
    Giovanni Tateo

    • In the second half of the 19th century, a common literary trend in German-speaking countries can be detected in the use of the frame story and in a certain experimentalism pertaining to this literary device. In particular, the fictional narrative situation of a character writing down a story, which was told to him by another person some years before, leads to various reflections on the problematic relationship between oral and written narration: not only with regard to a semantic and rhetoric translation from one medium to another, but also concerning the personal involvement of the narrator in his/her own individuality. These topics are exemplified and discussed in this paper by considering Theodor Storm’s short story In St. Jürgen, in which a primary narrator recounts two versions of the same love story, told to him at two different times by the two main characters involved. This interweaving structure of recalling and telling past events is examined here in the light of the dichotomous perspective of youth and old age recurring in the story, focusing in particular on the ways and reasons of recalling events and on the choices made when they are later transmitted either orally or in writing.Two modalities linked with the opposite concepts young vs old, near vs far and united vs divided. 

  • «ein bitteres Ding»: il romanzo incompiuto di Wilhelm Raabe Altershausen, pp. 49-62
    Stefania Sbarra

    • This contribution focuses on the unfinished novel Altershausen by the seventy-year-old Wilhelm Raabe, written between 1899 and 1902 and published posthumously in 1911. It is a crisis novel in fragment form that affects the narrative of late German Realism, which here goes to the threshold of the Moderne in relation to the problematisation of traditional narrative aspirations. Right from the title, the centrality of old age is signalled in a name in which time and the domestic space of life meet to define the perimeter of a fading subjectivity, that of Friedrich Feyerabend, whose surname (no less than the chronotope of the title), alludes to the concept of end. The contribution aims to analyse the dimension of the third age in the novel and to suggest, for this work that entertains numerous intertextual relations with German and other literatures, a further source in Goethe.

  • I Kriegsalmanache, un genere del tramonto. Questioni aperte, pp. 63-76
    Nicoletta Dacrema

    • The World War I was also a war of words, fought through the Geistige Mobilmachung exemplified, among others, by Thomas Mann in his Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen and made evident by the work of many intellectuals engaged in propaganda for their country. In the face of wide-ranging and increasingly attentive critical investigation into the modes and themes of war journalism and essay-writing as literary genres, a study of the Kriegsalmanache is still missing, which is surprising given their relevance to the shaping of national identity. This paper aims to offer a reconstruction of Vienna’s and Berlin’s perspectives based on a collection of transalpine Kriegsalmanache, on their contributors and on the system of values and dis-values displayed in their pages. In so doing, it highlights an interesting and hitherto neglected textual corpus with its ideological complexities (the Sekundärliteratur on the subject is non-existent), while at the same time contributing a reflection on ‘epochality’, a concept which is becoming more and more problematic. 

  • Senilità, omoerotismo e regressione nell’ultimo Thomas Mann: Die Betrogene, pp. 77-98
    Silvia Ulrich

    • This paper analyses the female character, her regressive fantasy and her consequent tragic end in Thomas Mann’s last short novel. It focuses on the youth-age dialectic. Initially, the discussion revolves around how the male-female dialectic, originating in the contrast between Mann’s late love experiences and the shocking love between the protagonist and the young American, relates to the oppositions of youth-old age, reason-nature and art-life. The intention here is to reflect on the meaning of senile love from a historical-literary perspective. Moving from the writer’s autobiographical experiences noted in the Diaries, the paper analyses how Mann re-semanticised the concepts of ‘Nature’, ‘Kultur’ and ‘Zivilisation’: Nature is understood as the discovery of the masculine element in the feminine and the other way around; ‘Kultur’ instead as a regression towards the Aphroditic stage of women; finally, ‘Zivilisation’ represents modern medicine, which is deprived of the saving power it still had in Positivism. Moreover, the interpretation of Mann’s concept follows the reflections on myth that Horkheimer and Adorno presented in their Dialectic of Enlightenment. Indeed, in this short novel senile love is expressed in the taboo of bleeding, which oscillates between the myth of fecundity and the Nazi Blut und Boden, which was asserting itself at the end of the Republic. Finally, an attempt is made to answer the question of whether the ‘gender’-dialectic that emerges in the story can be identified as a prerogative of the late Thomas Mann, in particular because of the ambiguity with which the writer ‘morally’ absolves his protagonist, while materially condemning her to death by uterine cancer. 

  • Una rivolta rassegnata. La tessitura della vecchiaia in Jean Améry, pp. 99-108
    Micaela Latini

    • The paper analyses the theme of aging in the work Über das Altern (1968) by Jean Améry (Hans Chaim Mayer), also moving in the direction of his later text entitled Hand an sich legen. Diskus gegen den Freitod (1976). In old age, the Austrian author sees the allegory of the human condition that survives itself, that renounces any possible rebellion, dragging his life (and the weight of the past) into alien territory. In particular, the paper focuses on Améry’s discourse on the concept of the body (which is often the focus of his studies). According to the thesis of Über das Altern, as we grow older, our body is subject to a contradiction: on the one hand it takes on more and more forms that are foreign to the body itself, and, on the other hand, it identifies itself as an ‘inert mass’ and trudges within an increasingly ‘other’ horizon. In a crossed step marked by a precarious balance, our body becomes I and not-I. My essay proposes to retrace Améry’s steps in the territory of old age, through the filter of certain key concepts: the motif of ‘being out of place’, the question of ‘e-margination (Aussenseiterschaft)’ and the theme of estrangement produced by alienation (Entfremdung).

  • «Lieber ins Konzentrationslager, als zuzugeben sie ist über vierzig». Veza Canetti e il ‘segreto’ della vecchiaia, pp. 109-124
    Jelena U. Reinhardt

    • Speaking about her physical and psychological decline, Veza Canetti (1897-1963) breaks her silence about what Simone de Beauvoir calls a «shameful secret» and a forbidden subject: old age. The difficulty and torment of dealing with one’s self-image, however, is not limited to getting old, especially for Veza, who had to cope with a rather visible physical handicap – she was born with no left forearm. Despite the evidence of this absence, the efforts made to conceal it were striking. Particularly significant, therefore, is the contrast between hidden defect and exhibited aging, between one secret revealed and another stubbornly kept over the years. This paper aims to investigate how the aging process affected Veza’s life, starting from the epistolary exchange between the woman, her husband Elias Canetti and her brother-in-law Georges. 

  • Il superamento della solitudine del morente nel teatro civile di Rimini Protokoll, Milo Rau e Interrobang, pp. 125-140
    Benedetta Bronzini

    • Symbolising memory, testimony and conflict with the past, senility is a well-known and relevant theme in German postdramatic theatre. We need only think of Thomas Bernhard’s Heldenplatz, where it is both a symptom and peak of the failed individual confrontation with recent history. At the same time, fragility, death and illness are also used to take on a historical and metaphorical dimension, as already forestalled e.g. by Brecht’s Keuner and subsequently shown in the late dramaturgies of Heiner Müller and Christoph Schlingensief. The essay analyses the representation of aging and death in contemporary German-speaking theatre focusing on the physical and intimate aspects of the latter metamorphosis of the circle of life. As the title of the essay underlines, with reference to Norbert Elias’ Über die Einsamkeit der Sterbenden in unseren Tagen (1982), the chosen works portray (and bring to the audience as ‘contemporary Lehrstücke’), the condition of the elderly in contemporary Western civilisation, where loneliness, the progressive exclusion from society, illness and the search for an acceptable style of facing death are the core topics, seen from different perspectives. More specifically, in Rimini Protokoll’s Kreuzworträtsel-Boxenstopp (2000), the analysis focuses on aging as a psychophysical challenge, while in Milo Rau’s Everywoman (2020) and Grief & Beauty (2022), the acceptance of death and loss are experienced as a collective ritual. Deep Godot (2021) by the theatre collective Interrobang is, instead, an immersive digital one-to-one performance, which compels every participant to face his/her own aging process and to reflect on the role of AI and technology in assistance and care-giving. Particularly relevant is the role of women, who are the protagonists of all four plays analysed. 

  • Metaphern des Alter(n)s im Roman Wer ist Martha von Marjana Gaponenko, pp. 141-156
    Eriberto Russo

    • This essay aims to explore the use of metaphors within the novel Wer ist Martha? by the Ukrainian-German author Marjana Gaponenko. The contribution is divided into three parts. In the first part the centre of the investigation is the role of time and old age in the poetological universe of the author; the second part focuses on the theoretical and methodological framework around which the analysis is built (on the one hand, therefore, the analysis of the relationship between language and aging, and, on the other, the concept of metaphor); the third part is, instead, the exploration of the metaphorical expressions that occur in the text and that gravitate around the expressions of destiny, age and death.

  • Sprachstörungen bei Alzheimer-Demenz. Die schützende Funktion der Mehrsprachigkeit vor altersbedingten Demenzerkrankungen, pp. 157-178
    Gianluca Cosentino

    • Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a currently incurable, neurodegenerative illness with a slow progress and prolonged development that leads to serious cognitive impairment. Language changes also take place in the early stages of this type of dementia. On the lexical level, word-finding deficits, including a reduction in vocabulary and an atypical use of parts of speech, can be observed. On the syntactic level, sentence breaks and problems with complex sentence structures occur more frequently, yet the production of shorter sentences also seems to be considerably more challenging. On the pragmatic level, the ability to formulate appropriate context-related utterances is compromised. Scientists and experts assume that lifelong multilingualism and the active mastery of more than one language can increase brain plasticity and contribute significantly to building a so-called ‘cognitive reserve’, which helps delay mental decline as a result of AD. Starting from this evidence, the paper will focus on the relationship between AD and multilingualism and outline the most significant changes and differences in the language skills of monolingual and multilingual patients suffering from AD. The analysis aims to identify linguistic indicators of pathological aging for both patient groups (monolingual vs. multilingual). 

  • Alternde Jugendliche ‒ veraltende Jugendsprache. Restandardisierung von juventolektalen Intensivpräfigierungen, pp. 179-202
    Joachim Gerdes

    • This paper focuses on the relationship between cover image, epigraphs and prologue in the novel Das Floß der Meduse (En. Transl.: The Raft of the Medusa) by the Austrian writer Franzobel. It deals with the various intersemiotic aspects of the novel and the way in which the construction of the sense of the written text is realised on a functional linguistic level, while proposing a model of interpretation. Indeed, the use of multimedia intertextuality is a narrative strategy which, in the era of multimodal communication, is increasingly present. In the case of complex texts such as postmodern novels, a category this work by Franzobel belongs to, inferential relations are often extended in terms of intertextuality to visual repertoires, which inevitably also influences the translation approach. The most recent literature has led us to reflect on the complex role of images or other synaesthetic elements in the construction of meaning and on how the linguistic-textual analysis of a literary work in the presence of these elements may be approached. 

  • Senioren* – einige diskurspragmatische, lexikographische und lexikometrische Betrachtungen, pp. 203-218
    Goranka Rocco

    • In scientific as well as in lay discourse on language, the German expression Senioren is sometimes discussed in connection with political correctness or with euphemisation strategies. In 2003, Angelika Linke described the expression as relatively new, and the Duden Herkunftswörterbuch (etymological dictionary) published in 2013 mentions «Ersetzung von Altersheim durch Seniorenheim in der jüngeren Vergangenheit» (a substitution of the expression Altersheim by the expression Seniorenheim in the recent past; p. 114). This article aims to shed light on the expression Senioren and its compounds from the perspective of discourse linguistics and lexicography, and also from a lexicometric point of view. The analysis takes into account linguistic and lay-linguistic statements and observations, lexicographic references, statistically calculated frequency curves with different compounds containing the elements alt* (old) and senior* (Altenheim vs. Altersheim, Seniorenheim vs. Altenheim, Seniorenheim vs. Seniorenresidenz) and frequencies (Online-Duden, DWDS – Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, OWID – Online-Wortschatz-Informationssystem Deutsch). Special attention is also paid to the fact that there are differences depending on text types, text genres and context, and that the appearance of the simplex or compound element Senior* (in comparison to Alt*) tends to characterize text types in which (functionally speaking), marketing, customer care, institutional self-presentation or corporate wording are in the foreground and, more in general, in texts belonging to strategic communications in the public sphere.

  • La promozione del turismo per la terza età: un confronto tra italiano e tedesco, pp. 219-233
    Marella Magris

    • The object of interest of this paper is senior tourism (Italian: turismo della terza età; German: Seniorentourismus): a tourism segment that has been growing steadily over the past few decades and that offers great opportunities to tour operators and travel agencies, but also requires a careful planning of the tourist offer and an adequate communication with the (real or potential) tourists. The paper contrastively examines promotional texts in Italian and German in order to give some initial suggestions to language experts working in this field. After a brief introduction, section 2 gives an overview of the phenomenon of senior tourism and mentions the most important demographic factors behind it. Section 3 outlines how this kind of tourism is dealt with in tourism marketing and management, with particular attention to its definition and classification, as well as to the main designations used for senior tourists. Section 4 focuses on promotional texts and presents some instances of effective and lesser effective communication. 


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ISSN: 0039-2952