Crisis of the Novel
Subject & City
Subject & Masses
ALFRED DÖBLIN'S ALEXANDERPLATZ
in internal medicine and psychiatry, Alfred Döblin held a practice
in working-class East Berlin, nearby the Alexanderplatz.
On the occasion of an exhibition of Futurist paintings in Berlin
in early 1912, Döblin published an unqualifiedly enthusiastic
article in Der Sturm("Die Bilder der Futuristen").
Alfred Döblin's review of this exhibition in Der Sturm ("Die
Bilder der Futuristen"), for which he was a regular contributor,
is full of unqualified enthusiasm for a new art that pays proper
respect to the representation of objects and that does away with
the concentration on the bourgeois subject:
Futurism is agreat step forward. It represents an act of emancipation.
It is not so much a direction as a movement. Or more accurately:
it is the artist's movement forwards. It is not a matter of the
individual works. It is deplorable that the land of "inwardness"
has to receive its inspiration to be courageous from abroad. It
is from the land of colours and beautiful people that the message
comes to us that "the soul is everything." [...] I am
no friend of big words and inflated sentiments. But I support
Futurism wholeheartedly and unequivocally give it my seal of approval.
March Döblin wrote the text Futurist
Word Technique. An Open Letter to F. T. Marinetti.
While he still agrees here with the principal tendencies of Futurism,
Döblin maintains in a competitive spirit that its natural impulses
can still be furthered, the depiction of battle scenes can be improved.
Yet in his essay "Futurist
Word Technique. An Open Letter to F.T. Marinetti," published
in the Sturmin 1913, Döblin makes clear where his sympathy
for Futurism ends and what he sees as its shortcomings, specifically
with regard to the principles stated in the Technical Manifesto
of Futurist Literature, which was published in the same issue.
Even though this letter, which programmatically advocates "Döblinism"
as an alternative to Futurism, received never an answer from Marinetti,
it can be regarded as one of the most careful contemporary assessments
of Futurist poetics. Starting with this manifesto, the initial,
largely enthusiastic reception of Futurism by German writers and
artists gives way to an ever more critical evaluation. It becomes
also clear, that literaryFuturism is seen much more critically
than Futurist painting. Döblin is especially critical of Futurism's
grammatical reductionism, as it appears in the program of the parole
in libertà.Döblin is not willing to subscribe to
Marinetti's call for an impoverished syntax, for this deprives the
writer of the true and manifold ways in which language can reflect