About the decapitation of corpses

Reflections of Ernst Bloch’s Ungleichzeitigkeit in the novels of Klaus Mann (including a glimpse into the present)

  • Manuel Theophil Universität Koblenz-Landau


With the help of the term Ungleichzeitigkeit the German philosopher Ernst Bloch tried to comprehend the emergence of Nazism. Bloch was not satisfied with the typical Marxist explanation that fascism can simply be understood as capitalism’s last hope. Instead, he focused on dreams, wishes, and worldviews which seemed to be misplaced in the present and, thus, were ignored or considered as reactionary by the political left. Bloch demonstrated how the Nazis were able to exploit these Ungleichzeitigkeiten by addressing them in their propaganda. The objective of this paper is not only to introduce the notion of Ungleichzeitigkeit in its historical context but also to show in which ways this political term is reflected in the novels of Klaus Mann. As Mann, at first glance, may seem as a rather unexpected candidate for such an endeavour, the text starts with outlining the relationship Bloch and Mann had during the 1920s and 1930s. The paper ends with a brief look at today’s Ungleichzeitigkeiten and their reflections in contemporary German literature.