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Rereading Monika Maron

Text, Counter-Text and Context


Deidre Byrnes

This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the writing of Monika Maron. Her biography charts a complex relationship with the GDR state, from initial ideological identification to sustained, radical rejection. Situating its reflections on her work against the backdrop of a changing critical landscape, this analysis takes account of the re-contextualisation of her writing necessitated by the collapse of the GDR.
The author charts the development of a number of seminal themes in Maron’s œuvre. The search for an authentic form of expression in her earliest texts gave way to a focus on the writing and the rewriting of history. The demise of the political system in 1989 led to an exploration in her work of more intimate themes. Maron’s post- Wende writing makes an important East German contribution to debates on memory transmission and generational forgetting. Her most recent novels are concerned with the rupture and the ultimate refashioning of biographies in a post-GDR age.
Rereading her texts in a post- Wende light, the author explores the complexity of Maron’s relationship with the state from which she emerged and demonstrates how this complexity manifests itself in her writing before and after 1989. This study offers new perspectives on Maron’s work and illuminates the significance of her contribution to contemporary German literature.


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Chapter Six


Lebensentwürfe, Zeitenbrüche: Biographers and Biographies in Endmoränen and Ach Glück As I sought to illustrate in earlier chapters, Maron’s post-Wende texts are characterised by an inward turn. Her 1996 novel Animal triste was a powerful study of sexual obsession; its protagonist had retreated into memories of a clandestine and ultimately doomed love af fair. Pawels Briefe, published in 1999, continued this exploration of memory and its repression as Maron probed generational memory gaps in her attempts to reconstruct her family story. Her most recent novels – Endmoränen, published in 2002, and its sequel Ach Glück, which appeared in 2007 – continue this turn towards more personal themes. Both texts of fer a ref lection on the ageing process and the often elusive nature of happiness. Most significantly, Endmoränen and Ach Glück explore identity crises and the quest for meaning in a post-GDR age. Pawels Briefe captured the fragmented experience of twentieth-century German history. With the help of rediscovered photographs and letters, Maron sought to reconstruct a family biography radically ruptured by the Holocaust. The rupture of individual biographies by historical forces is also a central theme in Endmoränen; the caesura caused by the implosion of the GDR leaves the protagonist Johanna grappling with the insignificance of her professional and personal biography in a post-GDR society. ‘Lebensentwürfe, Zeitenbrüche’, Maron’s address at the 2002 Historikertag in Halle, is a ref lection on the manner in which we construct and bestow meaning upon our...

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