A humble suggestion is a poem
Analysis of the speech "Modest proposal to protect young people from the products of poetry"
In his speech “Modest proposal to protect young people from the products of poetry”, Hans Magnus Enzensberger addresses the use of literature in German lessons. At the end of August 1976 he spoke to the American Association of Teachers in Germany and on September 11, 1976 the speech was published in the FAZ for the first time.
Enzensberger claims at the beginning that the preoccupation with poetry is out of date. (1-3) According to Enzensberger, the German teacher turns a poem into a dangerous subject. (8-13) The technique of being able to turn a poem into a weapon is the inspiration. (18-19) In scientific interpretation, there is an obsession with the only correct interpretation, which is completely untenable due to the most varied of readings. (20-26)
Reading is much more an individual process that is destroyed by the only correct interpretation. (38-39) But the right to freedom of reading is no longer valid for schoolchildren since they are forced to interpret poems in schools. (43-37)
In the end, Enzensberger appeals to the German teachers that they shouldn't ask for one interpretation and carefully bring literature closer to young people. (48-53)
Enzensberger begins his speech with an assertion (“Our lives are teeming with anachronisms”, line 1). He goes into this in the next few sentences with an explanation. ("[...] writing and reading poems [...] undoubtedly belongs to all reasoning about this activity.", Lines 1-3) In addition, this explanation is an introduction to the actual topic. ("One of the strangest phenomena of this kind is undoubtedly the writing and reading of poems.", Lines 1-2)
Lines 4-8 identify the problem. ("Namely how to protect the youth from the products of poetry.") Then follows another thesis that clarifies his own opinion even more. ("Even the most harmless object can, which is clearly dangerous to the public, if it [...] falls into criminal hands.", Lines 8-9)
To further support the thesis and to illustrate, he gives examples. ("Peaceful onion knife in the fist of the gunman [...] the harmless poem in the briefcase of the de ..... [read full text]
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In lines 31-34 he mentions the result of his thesis (“The result is therefore not determined and not determinable by the text.”) In addition, freedom of reading is discussed in this section. Which is explained in the next sentence and supported with examples. ("To this freedom it is necessary to leaf back and forth, to skip entire passages." [...], lines 34-35)
(“Reading is an anarchic act”, line 38) is a fact and belongs to the following thesis. ("The interpretation, especially the only correct one, is there to thwart this act.", Line 39)
An assertion can be found on lines 44-47. ("They, who are kept every day in any case in concrete bunkers, which the commonwealth has built especially for this purpose, are forced to continue reading poems, [...]")
In the next paragraph he asks the reader to fight the problems he mentioned and to do something. ("Fight the ugly vice of interpretation! Fight the much uglier vice of correct interpretation! Never force a defenseless person to open his mouth [...]", lines 48-49)
At the end he draws a conclusion from his speech and shows his position on this topic one last time. ("As far as I'm concerned, you have nothing to fear from me. In this conciliatory sense, I ask you: let your raised hand fall before it's too late!", Lines 51-53)
Enzensberger uses a lot of foreign words. (“Anachronismen”, line 1; “idée fixe”, line 23) This makes the text appear very sophisticated and demanding. It is also shown that this text is addressed to the educated society. These people are often named in many lines. ("Germanists", line 41)
The metaphors used in the text make it easier to imagine many situations or explanations from Enzensberger. ("You who are trapped in concrete bunkers every day anyway .....
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In contrast to the parataxes, which are also present, which create clarity and increase memorability. ("Everyone knows that", line 27)
One often finds imperatives that Enzensberger uses to ask the reader to act. ("Fight the much uglier vices of the correct interpretation! Never force a defenseless person to open their mouths [...]", lines 48-49)
The enumerations used in the text mean that some theses and arguments are even more supported. ("This freedom includes leafing back and forth, skipping entire passages, reading sentences against the grain, misunderstanding them, remodeling them" [...], lines 34-35)
With his speech, Hans Magnus Enzensberger wants to trigger a process of rethinking. He wants teachers in German schools in particular to allow multiple interpretations in their lessons and not just stick to the only correct interpretation.
In addition, he warns frequently and very urgently against the wrong use of literature, as it does not help the students, but only takes away the fun of reading. All of the text is presented from the author's perspective. His reasoning is well structured throughout the speech and he builds well on it.
The arguments are also very convincing and clear and one is motivated to accept the arguments. He assumes an individual and strong reception process.
I think that the problem that is being dealt with here has little relevance to the current situation compared to the past. Nowadays, not only is the one correct interpretation required, but all interpretations are open to discussion as long as they are .....
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