Looking for Redemption in a Globalized North: Representations of the Arctic in Judith Hermann’s Short Stories Kaltblau (Cold-Blue) and Die Liebe zu Ari Oskarsson (Love for Ari Oskarsson)


  • Claudia Gremler Aston University, Birmingham




Judith Hermann, Contemporary German literature, Space in literature, Representations of the North, Redemption, Quest for self, Northern Lights, Postmodernism, Postcolonialism, Globalisation


This paper explores the literary representation of Iceland and Norway in two short stories by contemporary German writer Judith Hermann. It analyses both the depiction of these countries as part of the globalised western world and the redemptive power they are tentatively ascribed by the author. Continuing a long German tradition of looking at Scandinavia from an almost colonial perspective, Hermann on the one hand presents these northern countries as a mere extension of central Europe, largely devoid of distinguishing national characteristics. At the same time she makes reference to the topos of the north as a vast and empty space and highlights both the specific arctic nature of the environment and the effect it has on her urban characters, who find themselves on a search for meaning and orientation in a postmodern fragmented world. Despite Hermann's overall sceptical attitude towards her characters' quest for happiness, these northern locations ultimately appear as potential places of self-realisation and enlightenment. 

Author Biography

Claudia Gremler, Aston University, Birmingham

Claudia Gremler studied English, German and Scandinavian studies at Göttingen and Odense, completed her phd at Göttingen in 2001 with a thesis on the literary relationship between Thomas Mann and Herman Bang which was published as a monograph in 2003. She has published articles on contemporary German literature, on Scandinavian authors and on film. She is currently working on a project on   representations of the north in literature and film, focussing mainly on works in German and English. Since 2004 she has been working and teaching as lecturer in German at Aston University in Birmingham.




How to Cite

Gremler, Claudia. 2008. “Looking for Redemption in a Globalized North: Representations of the Arctic in Judith Hermann’s Short Stories <i>Kaltblau</i> (<i>Cold-Blue</i>) and <i>Die Liebe zu Ari Oskarsson</i> (<i>Love for Ari Oskarsson</i>)”. Nordlit, no. 23 (February):119-30. https://doi.org/10.7557/13.1192.