Zeitschrift für interkulturelle Germanistik
Ed. by Heimböckel, Dieter / Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W.B. / Mein, Georg / Sieburg, Heinz
2 Issues per year
Irene, the protagonist in Herta Müller’s Reisende auf einem Bein, experiences the transit between two political systems as a continuous journey which does not end with her arrival, but extends into everyday life in the destination country, a life marked by Otherness, foreignness and placelessness. The political oppression suffered in her country of origin, an unnamed Eastern bloc state representing Nicolae Ceauşescu’s Romania, influences Irene’s perception of her Western destination country. While Irene suffers from the Otherness and placelessness experienced on her journey, this experience also constitutes her identity as a »vagabond« (Brittnacher / Klaue), making it impossible for her to stop. Irene makes this experience as a train passenger, as well as in train and metro stations where the movement of passing trains makes her feel disconnected, but also allows her to see the fractures in other relationships around her. The article shows how the train journey becomes a central metaphor of Irene’s transit experience, similar to Kristeva’s image of foreignness as a moving train, and describes Irene’s movement by means of the ›vagabond‹, the ›flâneur‹ (Benjamin), the ›nomad‹ (Deleuze / Guattari) and the ›system migrant‹ (Sorko).