Water on the Mills of Time – an Elementary Force as a Mirror of the Border Area Between Belief in Progress and Change of Society

The paper centers on the relationship between humans and society and the process-like state of the world, from the beginning of the French Revolution to Post-War Time. The following two aspects are to be examined in closer detail: To which extent does the element water represent a mirror of such a relationship with regard to content as well as language? What does water as an independent elementary character stand for, and how is it used by the author? An important role is played by aesthetical, mythological, metaphysical, psychological or emancipatory aspects in connection with the historical environment, scientific, political, spiritual developments and industrialisation. Is a change of paradigms with regard to the representation of “water” taking place throughout decades or centuries, is such a change subject of merely one work of literature, or are both options possible? For this reason, the dissertation deals with representatives from the Periods of Classicism, Realism, Industrialisation, Symbolism to Post-War Literature, such as: J.W. Goethe (Faust, der Tragödie zweiter Teil), Th. Storm (Die Regentrude, Aquis submersus), W. Raabe (Pfisters Mühle), Th. Fontane (Der Stechlin), finally I. Bachmann (Undine geht) and G. Eich (Unter Wasser).