«i've had an idea». Notes on the bartered skin in irmgard keun's the artificial silk girl (1932)

J. A.Emmanuel Doerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Fretting and failing because she wants an image that will enable her to escape from a drab office-girl's existence, because she is not what she would like to be, because she is a slave to fashion and other people's perceptions, because she is not her true self. Such is the plight of Doris: the protagonist of Irmgard Keun's novel, The Artificial Silk Girl, has had a bright idea: she will cast herself as a glamour girl, mid-way between her own self-perception and the way she is perceived by others. She decides to turn her life into a movie script. She will write it as if her life were a film, because that is how she sees it, although in fact her life turns out to be anything but that. Just as the script gives a blow by blow account of her failure to escape, a stolen fur coat comes to embody, like a Dingsymbol, the glamorous image of herself as perceived by others, and is, in its turn, a trap which ensnares her on the margins of society in the Weimar Republic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-129
JournalRevista de Filologia Alemana
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


  • New woman and the glamour girl
  • Or objective correlative
  • Self-perception and the self as perceived by others
  • The value of desire and its dingsymbol
  • Weimar republic
  • White collar workers
  • Women on the market

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