Cover Osteuropa 11/2005

In Osteuropa 11/2005

The Phantasm of the Great Coat
Gogol’, Timm, Makanin

Dagmar Burkhart

Deutsche Fassung


One of the main yearnings of mankind is undoubtedly to desire “the other,” and in the process, the ego functions as an interface between an internal and an external alter ego or stranger. Three different texts – Nikolai Gogol’’s novella The Great Coat (1842), Vladimir Makanin’s novel The Underground or A Hero of Our Times (1998), and Uwe Timm’s story “The Great Coat” (1999) – share a psychopoetic motivation based on the phantasm of a great coat that is oriented to “the other.” Alongside the central theme of a great coat, which bears not only features of “the other” but those of a congruent Doppelgänger or a complementary half, other aspects up for discussion in these works include religion and ethics, philosophy and metapoetics, as well as ecology and criticisms of civilization. Such hermeneutic observations shed light on the “intertextuality” of philosophy, psycho-sociology, and poetics.

(Osteuropa 11/2005, pp. 95–106)