Original Research

‘Everything is autobiographical’: Hans-Ulrich Treichel’s idiolect in Lost (1999)

Philip van der Merwe
Literator | Vol 35, No 2 | a1151 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v35i2.1151 | © 2014 Philip van der Merwe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 September 2014 | Published: 10 December 2014

About the author(s)

Philip van der Merwe, School of Languages, Subject Group: German North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa, South Africa


Joachim Dicks writes in his review on Hans-Ulrich Treichel’s latest novel, Frühe Störung,that the author shows continuity by having developed in all of his books a unique and unmistakeable style that he calls ‘the so-called Treichel sound’. Treichel’s style, tone and mixture of thematic concerns in all of his eleven works of prose from Von Leib und Seele: Berichte up to Frühe Störung are indeed recognisable as distinctively Treichel, but has remained an unexplored terrain. The question therefore arises: What is the nature of the so-called ‘Treichel sound’ or his idiolect? Lost is a case in point with regard to Treichel’s idiolect: the narration includes factual historical and autobiographic information that represents both an ‘official life’ and a ‘carnival’, i.e. his representations of lives are determined by two aspects of theworld: the aspect of the piety of seriousness and by the aspect of laughter. This article firstly focuses on the theoretical possibility of using ‘serious’ factual autobiographic and historical information in combination with humour. The most prominent idiolectic traits of Treichel’soeuvre are then introduced, also in order to provide a context for the following discussion of Lost. Here it becomes apparent that Treichel’s humour has a tragicomical and derisive effect with regard to the narrator’s depiction of his childhood, family experiences and his cultural context. The microcosmic family context and the macrocosmic national and international contexts as they were formed because of the Second World War has lead to a loss of the narrator’s identity. The result of Treichel’s manner of dealing with serious contents that includes humour is the creation of a self-concept that can be described as self-exploratory,honest or confessional, self-centred, humorous and critical of German society - and these are also key features of Treichel’s idiolect. This article thus argues that the combination offictionalised serious historical and autobiographic factuality and humour characterises the ‘Treichel sound’.


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