That literary criticism has something to do with judgment and knowledge, but also with responsibility, can be read at any time from Gerhard Schulz's texts.
The Germanist, who taught in Melbourne until 1992, mastered the small form of elegant short criticism just as well as the longer discussion of a complex subject and used his stupendous knowledge of literary history in both ways.
Nobody could accuse him of malice, let alone the will to destroy, but where there is reason for displeasure, it quickly becomes clear, sometimes even in the first sentence.
Editor in the Feuilleton.
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"At first it's a book to close," is how Schulz's review of Helmut Krausser's novel "Thanatos" begins in April 1996, followed by the sentence: "Depending on your temperament, you might want to put it down annoyed, bored or disapproved.
Because first of all there is the matter of romance” – and if this beginning, despite or precisely because of this harsh judgment, does not draw you into the review, then there is no help.
Since 1974, when Schulz accepted Marcel Reich-Ranicki's invitation and wrote his first review for the FAZ, the readers of this newspaper have been able to rely on the fact that this author not only wrote wittily and judged wisely, but was also prepared to question his judgment at any time, that with all certainty he revealed from which point of view he was arguing, and you could trust that he would put even the harshest judgment into perspective if there was something to appreciate in addition to the annoyance - in the case of Krausser's "Thanatos" it is the description a certain disposition of the main character.
The boundary between invention and reality
It was no wonder that he found a distant echo of Novalis in the novel, after all Schulz was one of the best connoisseurs of Romantic texts.
At the same time, in numerous reviews of Romanticism, he questioned the use of the word, picked out friendly, popular depictions of the subject, of which little was left afterwards, and at the same time opened up a perspective for his readers on texts by Novalis, Hoffmann, Brentano or Günderrode that were more lasting for them advertised as most of the books he reviewed.
Anyone who wants to know more can consult the two-volume “German Literature between the French Revolution and the Restoration” that Schulz published between 1983 and 1989, his biography of Novalis, or his study on Romanticism.
Schulz, who was born on August 3, 1928 in Loebau, studied in Leipzig and went to Australia in 1959, engaged in a close, conscientious association with the text discussed in each of his reviews.
But he was always aware of his position and demanded the same from others.
In view of an aesthetically argumentative depiction of the suicides by Kleist and Günderrode, Schulz reminded us that "even the most objective science should never lose sight of the boundaries between an intellectual or poetic invention on the one hand and real life and real death on the other". draws the conclusion that is very worth taking to heart: "Behind the intelligently arguing scientist, the ethically judging person who is aware of the big difference between idea and reality should always be clearly noticeable."
As has only just become known, Gerhard Schulz died in Melbourne on June 23, a few weeks before his 94th birthday.Keywords: