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Davide Giuriato: Infinitely Determinable

Davide Giuriato

Infinitely Determinable
Children and Childhood in Modern Literature

Translated by Paul Bowman

Softcover, 232 pages

PDF, 232 pages


Upon the “discovery of childhood,” as named by Philippe Ariès, bourgeois culture and modern literature marked out an arcane realm that, while scarcely accessible for adults, acted as a space for projections of the most contradictory kind and diverse ideological purposes: childhood. As this book reveals, from the eighteenth century onwards, the child increasingly came into focus in literature as a mysterious creature. Now the child seems a strange being, constantly unsettling and alienating, although exposed to ongoing territorialization. This is possible because the space of ‘childhood’ is essentially blank and indefinite. Modernity, therefore, has discovered it as a zone, in the words of Friedrich Schiller of “boundless determinability.”

  • 9–19


  • 21–37

    Idylls of Childhood (Hoffmann—Stifter)

  • 39–47


  • 49–67

    Rescuing Children (Stifter)

  • 69–100

    On the Threshold of Writing (Rilke—Walser—Benjamin)

  • 69–100

    On the Threshold of Writing (Rilke—Walser—Benjamin)

  • 101–111

    Becoming-Child (Walser)

  • 115–133

    Little Hans (Freud—Kafka)

  • 137–153

    This Briefest Childhood (Kafka)

  • 155–176

    An Angel’s Grace, a Devil’s Grin

  • 177–211


  • 213–214


  • 215–232


  • history of literature
  • Modernism
  • Think Art
  • literary studies
  • childhood

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Davide Giuriato

Davide Giuriato

is professor for modern German literature at the University of Zurich. Other publications include: Mikrographien. Zu einer Poetologie des Schreibens in Walter Benjamins Kindheitserinnerungen (2006); »klar und deutlich«. Ästhetik des Kunstlosen im 18./19. Jahrhundert (2015); Adalbert Stifter-Handbuch (co-editor with Christian Begemann, 2017).