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Cultural impact and the power of myth in popular public constructions of authorship

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)


Publication date2010
Host publicationCultural impact in the German context: studies in transmission, reception, and influence
EditorsRebecca Braun, Lyn Marven
Place of PublicationRochester, NY
PublisherCamden House
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781571134301
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This chapter sets out to conceptualize how authors attain cultural significance beyond the literary reception of their work. Starting from Thomas Mann’s famous radio addresses and working through mass media constructions of famous authors from the Gruppe 47, it argues that the public narratives constructed around these authors and their literary lives can be understood in terms of myth and mythic excess. Engaging with several different conceptions of myth --- from Barthes’s myths of the everyday, through Bourdieu’s system of belief, to contemporary thinking on celebrity --- the chapter seeks to unearth the various mechanisms by which authors manipulate public interest in their person in an attempt to raise their cultural profile.