Die stille Sprache der Stadt: Prag in Paul Leppins Roman Severins Gang in die Finsternis
The Silent Language of the City: Prague in Paul Leppin’s Severin’s Journey into the Dark
- Číslo 29 
PublisherUniverzita Karlova, Filozofická fakulta
SourceSlovo a smysl - Word & Sense, 2018, 15, 29, 99-114
Paul Leppin, Prag, Stadtroman, Décadence, Prague, city novel, decadence
The novel Severins Gang in die Finsternis (1914) by the Prague author Paul Leppin (1878–1945) is explicitly created as a city novel by the subheading Ein Prager Gespensterroman. In fact, the novel refers to specific places in Prague. The hero Severin roams the city, past Prague sights or by well-known neighbourhoods. The reader perceives the city from Severin’s perspective, mediated by his subjectively coloured gaze. The portrayal of the city in the novel is not an end in itself, but conveys a network of cultural meanings — such as the allocation of sub-areas of the city to certain social or ethnic groups, the interweaving of places with historical events and the linking of spaces with emotions and memories, thus showing the city as a complex place of ambivalences. At the same time, the susceptibility of Severin for sensory impressions, which are then transformed into inner moods and ultimately lead to the indistinguishability of the inner and outer world, makes him a typical hero of literary décadence.