The Self in Verse

The Mask in Verse. Imaginary Poets and Their Autobiographical Poetry (Jan Wagner, Die Eulenhasser in den Hallenhäusern)


  • Jutta Müller-Tamm Freie Universität Berlin



Autobiographical Poetry, Heteronyms, Jan Wagner, Fernando Pessoa


This article examines German poet Jan Wagner’s Die Eulenhasser in den Hallenhäusern [The Owl Haters in the Hall Houses] (2012) and the effects of fictional authorship with respect to autobiographical poetry. Wagner's fiction of three poets—their lives and their poems—proves to be an artfully ambivalent construction: on the one hand, the link between persona and poetic voice seems to be undeniably given, while on the other hand, the autobiographical impact of the poems appears to be an effect of the reader’s desire and his or her response to the work. Wagner’s text exploits, confirms and, at the same time, challenges the desire to read poetry as autobiographical expression.

Author Biography

Jutta Müller-Tamm, Freie Universität Berlin

Jutta Müller-Tamm is professor of modern German literature at Freie Universität Berlin and director of the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies. She has published extensively on the interplay of literature and the history of knowledge, the aesthetics and poetics of the 19th and early 20th centuries, literature from Romanticism to Expressionism, as well as on the history of the humanities. Müller-Tamm is currently conducting research on international literary trade-offs in Berlin since the 1960s, on the history of criticism, and on the literary and cultural history of colours, among other research projects.





The Self in Verse