Academic journal article German Quarterly

Wendezeichen? Neue Sichtweisen auf die Literatur der DDR

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Wendezeichen? Neue Sichtweisen auf die Literatur der DDR

Article excerpt

Skate, Roswitha, and Rainer B. Hoppe, eds. Wendezeichen? Neue Sichtweisen auf die Literatur der DDR. Amsterdam, Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1999. 243 pp. $61.00 hardcover. $19.00 paperback.

In some ways, the end of the GDR marked the real beginning of GDR scholarship; the possibility of a more comprehensive and nuanced approach to the culture of that country, with the benefit of open archives and without the burden of ideology-at least of the Marxist-Leninist label. The narratives of history, and, in an ancillary way, of literary history, must be rewritten or (minimally) shifted to reflect the closure entailed in the fall of the Berlin Wall, reunification, and the Abwicklung of the early 1990s.

The character of that rewriting, however, has been highly contested for the past decade. Historical events have again raised persistent questions about the relationship between ethics, aesthetics, and politics in the literature and culture of the former GDR. How do we now read the literature written in a socialist state that sought to instrumentalize every aspect of cultural production?

This volume, a collection of papers mostly from an interdisciplinary symposium held in Norway (May 1997), represents a variety of ways in which scholars are interpreting GDR literature from new perspectives. As the editors stress in their Vorbemerkung, they consider their position as Auslandsgermanisten both crucial and advantageous; it accords them a certain distance and circumspection. While the scope of the project is ambitious, it is somewhat limited by the consideration of literature within the boundaries of literary history, a narrative confined by generic conventions. In fact, the issue that informs these essays, though it remains in the background of the discussion, is not so much how we read, but whether we should continue to read GDR literature, and if so, why and what. How does our retroactive knowledge of, for example, an author's collaboration with the Stasi affect our interpretation of his or her work? Each contribution presents a different argument for the imperative of reconsidering the literature of the GDR. While this volume is not comprehensive, it does offer a spectrum of answers to the implied question of the collective impact of GDR literature-ultimately a matter of canonization, an issue integral to the enterprise of writing literary history.

The challenge that literary history faces is the negotiation of a relationship between the general (theory) and the specific (reading a novel, play, etc.). What principles of selection should be deployed? The organization of this volume reflects that inherent difficulty. The book is divided into two sections; the first devoted to theoretical-methodological issues, the second to individual textual analyses. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.