Business Rhetoric in German Novels

Business Rhetoric in German Novels

From Buddenbrooks to the Global Corporation

Ernest Schonfield


Camden House



Argues on the evidence of nine major German novels that literature and business have in common a reliance on language, understood in a creative, performative, and rhetorical sense.

Throughout the twentieth century and well into the twenty-first, Germany has maintained its position as one of the world's largest economies. In the literature of this period, business is often depicted as a performance that requires great linguistic skill. This book is a study of the representation of business practices in nine German-language novels - published during the period from 1901 to 2013 - that explore how language is used rhetorically in pursuit of economic and political agendas. Taken up as case studies, in chronological order, the novels are by Thomas Mann, Heinrich Mann, Gabriele Tergit, Bertolt Brecht, Ingeborg Bachmann, Hermann Kant, Friedrich Christian Delius, Kathrin Röggla, and Philipp Schönthaler, all of whom articulate cultural imaginaries and political ideologies at key moments in recent German history. In doing so, they challenge readers to refine their own interpretive skills. By considering business rhetoric in the novels, Ernest Schonfield shows how the formulation of language remains inseparable from the exercise of economic and political power. The central message of this book is that literature and business have something essential in common: they both rely on the persuasive use of language.

Ernest Schonfield is Lecturer in German at the University of Glasgow.


306 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
Hardback, 9781571139832, June 2018
eBook, 9781787443570, June 2018
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, BUS023000, PHI005000
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Table of Contents

Managing Appearances in Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks, 1901
Oratory and Publicity in Heinrich Mann's Der Untertan, 1914/18
Organizing Speech in Gabriele Tergit's Käsebier erobert den Kurfürstendamm, 1931
Seeing through the Rhetoric in Bertolt Brecht's Dreigroschenroman, 1934
Giving an Account of the Self in Ingeborg Bachmann's Malina, 1971
Managing Bureaucracy in Hermann Kant's Das Impressum, 1972
Corporate Discourse in Friedrich Christian Delius's Unsere Siemens-Welt, 1972
Producing Ethos in Kathrin Röggla's wir schlafen nicht, 2004
Communicative Contests in Philipp Schönthaler's Das Schiff das singend zieht auf seiner Bahn, 2013

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