The creation of the characteristic sound of melancholy in Judith Hermann’s prose is caused by, among others things, numerous intermedial references to pop music throughout her works. By making use of explicit references to an alternative set of pop cultural pieces, the author adds another plot-constituting layer to her prose and compensates for the characters’ sparse communication. Through her intermedial references, Hermann represents a generational cohort of protagonists with a middle-class background and a certain ideological inclination. Through her choice of a specific repertoire of shared cultural memory, she establishes a connection to a specific readership. Analysing different examples of Hermann’s references to pop music, this article argues that music becomes a means of evoking a sense of belonging and solidarity despite the seeming increase of solitariness in times of globalization. Hermann depicts the medial constitution of contemporary perceptions of everyday life and the appropriation of music by her characters, through which they compose their own individual soundtracks to their lives. The lack of a commentary on the songs’ historical background seemingly leaves the reader with a mere passing sound of melancholy. However, by making selective use of specific references to pop music, Hermann places her prose in a globalized context and creates a kind of musical frame which overcomes typical German themes and re-semanticizes pop music in connection to the literary text.

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