Series:

Deirdre Byrnes, Jean E. Conacher and Gisela Holfter

Series:

Nick Hodgin

Abstract

This chapter explores the responses to the momentous changes taking place as the East German state collapsed, looking in particular at the ways in which people struggled to make sense of the seemingly unimaginable. It considers the ways in which these responses were articulated, and concentrates on one frequently-heard simile, namely that the events were “like a dream”. The oneiric, it suggests, underpins some of the filmic representations of the Wende. The focus here is on Grönland (Jens Becker, 1990), which traces one man’s increasing alienation and abstraction from society, a film that is certainly as distinctive and genre-defying as some of the better-known films that counted as the last DEFA (East German) films. This chapter revisits and contextualises Becker’s film, the first to be nominated for a Student Oscar and the last DEFA production to be banned, paying attention to its formal properties – the hybrid styles (film noir, carnivalesque, grotesque), the excess and exaggeration – and to the thematic concerns underpinning the critical and surreal account of the regime’s final days and the dystopian vision of a unified state.


Series:

Hugh Ridley

Abstract

Uwe Johnson’s first novel Ingrid Babendererde: Reifeprüfung 1953 provides a fascinating picture of some of the tensions under the surface of GDR society barely a month before the uprising of 1953. Yet it was rejected by serious publishers in both German states. The reception history of this text allows a reconstruction of the past much broader than the GDR background alone. It highlights aspects of the West German reception of GDR writing, while also demystifying some of the dominant clichés of the period. The relationship between Johnson’s novels Ingrid Babendererde and Mutmaßungen über Jakob may also be illuminating in the context of West German literature. Similar conclusions can also be drawn from the different receptions accorded to Christa Wolf’s novel Nachdenken über Christa T. and to Ingrid Babendererde – texts which, apart from their reception history, show considerable affinities with one another. The essay works with Jaußian concepts of reception aesthetics.


Series:

Edited by Deirdre Byrnes, Jean E. Conacher and Gisela Holfter

Series:

Sabine Egger

Abstract

The radio plays an important role in Lutz Seiler’s writing, both in his poetry and in his fiction. By transmitting signals which have to be deciphered, the radio contributes to the creation of a poetic echoing space which allows for different modes of perception and memory, for the crossing of boundaries on different levels, not least those set by historical narratives. As a somewhat anachronistic medium and an everyday object in a state of decay, the radio becomes a symbol of a time and place in the process of disintegration, as well as a medium of memory of what has disappeared. This includes the childhood landscapes in Seiler’s early collections of poems and the Klausner community in his novel Kruso, published in 2014. Both, in turn, point to the silent disintegration of the GDR as a childhood world, a society and a state, and, by extension, to the falling apart of the world of the Cold War and its narratives. This paper will explore the different functions of the radio in Seiler’s work.