“Metaficational signals” in Daniel Kelman's novel “Measuring the World”


The article analyzes how the category of metaphysicality is implemented in the novel “Measuring the World” (“Die Vermessung der Welt”, 2006) by modern Austrian writer Daniel Kehlmann (Daniel Kehlmann, born 1975). The main characters of the novel are mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855) and naturalist traveler Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859). In reconstructing the historical context, we deal with the functioning of real-historical prototypes (Carlos Montufar, Aime J. A. Bonpland). The article considers metaphysicality in the form of a narrative strategy that reveals the relationship of the literary text with reality. We also analyze the ways of implementing a metaphysical game in the structure of fictional text at various textual levels: thematic, stylistic, compositional, and at the level of content. The article raises the issue of genre modifications of the historical novel in modern Austrian literature and discusses authorial attitudes to the poetics of the historical novel, in particular, authorial preferences in selecting historical personalities. We prove that the study of the historical novel through the prism of metaphysicality is productive, since this approach allows us to trace the “dosage” of historical and fictional truth, to better understand authorial intentions, to correlate historical fact and fiction, and to compare the fictional world of the novel with reality.

Key words: 

historical novel; Kehlmann; fiction; historical context, metaphysicality.

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