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Mapping Spaces

Reimagining East German Society in 1960s Fiction


Francesca Goll

In the process of establishing the social and political reality of the German Democratic Republic, writers played a crucial role. The specific feature of GDR literary texts of the 1960s lies in their attempt at imagining and representing the emergence of a community that had previously not existed. A new sense of common belonging was being promoted. This study focuses on the ways in which Werner Bräunig and Erik Neutsch negotiated this tension in their novels by analysing the spatial and topographical dimensions of the texts. If literary texts map power structures by rewriting cartographies, then the analysis of the latter will shed light on the socio-political models that are being advocated. Neutsch’s Spur der Steine (1964) and Bräunig’s fragment Rummelplatz (2007) were both written in the 1960s but enjoyed a very different reception: while the former became a bestseller, the latter was censored and published posthumously in 2007. Yet they both speak to GDR society of the 1960s, highlighting the evocative power of literature within the East German context – and beyond.

Francesca Goll is currently an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institut für deutsche Philologie at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. She holds a PhD from the University of Nottingham and an MSc from the London School of Economics. She has published on post-1945 literature and theories of space and has translated the poems of Mascha Kaléko into Italian.