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The Difficulties of Saying «I»

The Narrator as Protagonist in Christa Wolf's «Kindheitsmuster» and Uwe Johnson's «Jahrestage»


Robert K. Shirer

The most ambitious novels of Christa Wolf and Uwe Johnson, Kindheitsmuster and Jahrestage, have remarkable similarities. In both novels a woman narrator seeks to recall her childhood, spent in the Germany of the Third Reich, in the hope of finding some connection between patterns of behavior developed there and her own troubled self. Neither narrator finds a traditional first-person narration possible, and each develops a distinctive and unusual narrative voice. The present study provides a detailed comparative reading of the two novels and investigates the problem of a narrator/protagonist alienated from herself by time, trauma, and ideology.
Contents: The Earlier Novels - An Invitation to Participation - Looking at Oneself - Looking Backwards - The Sources and the Symptoms - Seeking a Haven: The Quest for a Moral Switzerland.