Dramatist with a Talent for Dramatisation: Elfriede Jelinek's Manipulation of the Media

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Abstract

This article describes Elfriede Jelinek's complex relationship with the media. Although she complains bitterly about the aggressive hate campaigns which she is regularly subjected to in her native Austria, her well-timed provocations often give the impression of a deliberate manipulation of the media. This ambivalence is reflected in Jelinek's two plays Stecken, Stab und Stangl and In den Alpen, which deal with recent catastrophic events and their portrayal in the news. Both plays mimic media styles and quote from newspaper texts, but in a way that challenges the original meanings by satirising them. Using examples of reviews of the two plays in the German-speaking press, I demonstrate that Jelinek's satirical techniques are often misunderstood and that she is accused of reinforcing the very patterns of discourse she criticises. However, the author does not appear to be interested in avoiding such misunderstandings. On the contrary, Jelinek's provocations of the media and of sections of her audiences must be regarded as constituting an integral part of her ‘dramaturgy’.

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