“Diese heiklen Formen”: destruction and desire in Durs Grünbein's Porzellan

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This article considers Durs Grünbein's use of porcelain in his 2005 collection, Porzellan. Poem vom Untergang meiner Stadt as a symbol for both Dresden's Baroque splendor and its destruction in the firestorm of February 1945. Moving between beautiful, intact artifacts and their shattered remains, Grünbein scrutinizes and critiques the postwar memorialization of his hometown. But there is, the poet admits, "secret eroticism" in his collection of Dresden poems, and porcelain is also central to Grünbein's problematic juxtaposition of desire and destruction: beautiful forms are implicated in a fantasy of violation where the poetic subject imagines the bombers' assault on the city as concubine. While Grünbein surely uses the incongruity of erotic fantasy and Dresden's desecration to challenge how the city has been remembered, Porzellan also betrays a sense of shame and unease about its own excesses, signalling the limits of such provocation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-39
Number of pages20
JournalThe Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory
Issue number1
Early online date28 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Baroque Dresden
  • Bombing of Dresden
  • Eroticism
  • Durs Grünbein
  • Memory
  • Porcelain
  • Violation


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