Cognitive Relations of a Physical Kind: Body without Organs in Elfriede Jelinek's Die Klavierspielerin
Gizewski, Erin V
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Elfriede Jelinek’s Noble Prize-winning novel, Die Klavierspielerin (1983), is well known as a postmodern pastiche. Using grotesque, surprising, and provocative language, Jelinek crafts a novel brimming with social and feminist critique of postmodern Austria, utilizing the troubled, masochistic main character, Erika Kohut, to anchor the critique. While current readings of Die Klavierspielerin offer a myriad of readings that look at the fragmented narrative as a function of Jelinek’s critique or as insight into the psychoanalytic underpinnings of Erika, none looks to the ways in which the fragmented narrative offers a window to emphasize much more than this. In my essay, I offer a reading informed by the notion of assemblage and orientation. I look at Jelinek’s novel with an eye to Deleuze and Guattari’s Capitalism and Schizophrenia: A Thousand Plateaus (1987) and Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology (2006) in order to uncover how the novel presents in a volatile manner an assemblage that is both part and whole, inviting a readerly experience that is particularly disruptive and powerful. I offer a descriptive reading that underscores the ways the novel gestures toward a “smooth” plane of volatility, one that produces an emotional readerly experience that potentially stimulates new conceptions of wholeness, body, and gender both within the novel itself and in relation to the reader’s physicality.