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Legacies and Identity

East and West German Literary Responses to Unification


Martin Kane

This volume seeks to trace the robustly critical process of historical, political and personal self-examination to be found in German literature of the 1990s. Scholars from Australia, Britain, Germany, and the USA have contributed essays which deal with a broad range of East and West German writers (Biskupek, Grass, Hilbig, Königsdorf, Maron, Mensching, Walser, Wenzel, and Wolf) as well as with general topics such as literature and the Stasi, and the response to the aftermath of unification to be found in autobiographical writing, lyric poetry, satirical fiction and cabaret texts. For all their diversity, a common thread can be discerned in these writers and the literature they have produced: a concern for the particularity of the East German experience, past and present, and a desire to explore that discrete identity – in both its positive and negative aspects – which stubbornly persisted over a decade in which the citizens of the German Democratic Republic saw themselves, their institutions, and their culture, swept up and consigned to oblivion.
Contents: Martin Kane: Preface – Dennis Tate: The End of Autobiography? The older generation of East German authors take stock – Edwin Kratschmer: GDR Writers in the Stasi Net – Paul Cooke: Opfer or Täter? From Opfer to Täter? Identity and the Stasi in post-Wende East German literature – Alan Corkhill: Walls of Silence: Wolfgang Hilbig’s critique of GDR society in his short fiction since the Wende – Andrew Plowman: History, Identity and the Writer: Helga Königsdorf and Monika Maron since 1990 – Peter Hutchinson: ‘Der Sozialismus geht und Johnny Walker kommt’: German poetry of the Wende and unification – Ruth J. Owen: The Colonizing West: Post-Wende poetry by Heiner Müller, Steffen Mensching and Bert Papenfuß in the 1990s – Jill Twark: ‘Hurra, Humor ist nicht mehr eingeplant!’ East German satirists speak out – Stuart Taberner: A Matter of Perspective? Martin Walser’s fiction in the 1990s – Peter Graves: Christa Wolf in the 1990s – Martin Kane: In the Firing Line: Günter Grass and his critics in the 1990s.