Post-War Women's Writing in German: Feminist Critical Approaches

By Chris Weedon | Go to book overview

Chapter Ten
WOMEN WRITERS IN THE GDR, 1945-1989

Eva Kaufmann


Introduction

Since the 1970s literary works by East German women writers have become increasingly well known both inside and outside the former GDR. Abroad, it was primarily German specialists who recognised the value of this writing and it was highly valued on all sides during the lifetime of the GDR. It was not only women readers who found works by women writers good reading -- appealing to the head, the heart and the senses in equal measure. This type of literature interested readers both for its discussion of real life problems and for its aesthetic qualities.

Very few of the writers were (or are) prepared to use the term 'women's writing' to describe their work. This term has various connotations which are not applicable to the lives and work of these writers. For one thing the term has pejorative connotations where aesthetic value is concerned. Since the second half of the nineteenth century 'women's writing' has been understood to refer to inferior fiction which was produced en masse by women, about women and for women. It was all classed as shallow, kitschy, stereotyped and trashy. All these traits, which describe popular fiction, including that written by men, were readily applied to novels written by women. Secondly the term 'women's writing' has been linked to feminism, in particular, since the end of the 1960s, to the autonomous women's movements in Western Europe and in the United States. This concept of 'women's writing', as it was developed systematically by Sigrid Weigel in her book Die Stimme derMedusa

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