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"Zwischen dem Meer und dem Nichtmehr " : anxiety, repression and hope in the works of Erich Fried


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Badger, B 2002 , '"Zwischen dem Meer und dem Nichtmehr " : anxiety, repression and hope in the works of Erich Fried', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The poetry of Austrian exile writer, Erich Fried (1921-1988), addresses both
political and personal themes. At the simplest level, a distinction can be identified
between works which adopt an openly critical stance against more than half a
century of world injustice and others which represent more personal expressions
of love and anxiety. Yet such a superficial categorisation fails to recognise deeper
interactive links between the personal and political spheres. Both thematic groups
exist in a dialectic where the synthesis is at once a concurrence as well as a
convergence. Each provides a refuge from, and creates a resonance in, the other, so
that both contents operate as mutual distractors and reminders. The intent of
Fried's oeuvre forms a conduit which channels motivation from common
antecedents. At the core of Fried's poetry are latent anxieties, stemming from
early events and relationships.
This thesis examines Fried's varying experiences of, and responses to, these
anxieties. An initial discussion identifies the prominence of existential anxieties
which inhabit the gulf in and beyond the extremities of being; the Meer and the
Nichtmehr. Linked to Fried's principal themes, death is discussed in the causative
groupings, natural and nuclear. Further representations of the ultimate 'not-being'
are identified in the themes of loss, loneliness and the threat of war. These are
shown to arouse situation anxieties which evoke and intensify their latent
An examination of the myriad psychological responses to representations of death
formally introduces a remembering-forgetting dialectic as viewed in, and through,
Fried's published and unpublished works. In the personal sphere, particular
emphasis is placed on Fried's defensive care-compulsion, which leads to an
aetiology of his political engagement, while, in the political sphere, factors are
identified which facilitate man's repression of the threat of war. While conscious
of man's tendency to respond to anxiety with psychological defences, Fried
recommends an awareness which allows the anxiety to be combated at its source.
He seeks to replace a laminganxiety with a fearless, loving and stimulating variant.
The ensuing discussion explores the complex strait between anxiety and hope in
the presence of despair. A hope is identified which, stripped of its stationary
wishful component, reveals active, concrete, utopian characteristics. Finally,
elements of Fried's utopian programme are found mirrored in the tenets of the
Sermon on the Mount.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Badger, B
Keywords: Fried, Erich, 1921-
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2002 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

For consultation only. No loan or photocopying permitted until October 2004. Thesis (Ph.D)--University of Tasmania, 2002. Includes bibliographical references

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