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This volume is the first comprehensive single study of Jewish themes in any of the post-1945 German literatures. It presents literature on Jewish themes by Jewish and non-Jewish authors in the cultural, social and political context of the Soviet Zone/GDR during the entire 45 years of its history from 1945 to 1990. It offers a brief history of Jews in the GDR, before looking, in four chronologically ordered chapters, at the history of publishing on Jewish themes in the GDR. Some 28 texts by 19 different authors, including Anna Seghers, Stephan Hermlin, Arnold Zweig, Franz Fühmann, Johannes Bobrowski, Jurek Becker, Stefan Heym, Günter Kunert, Christa Wolf and Helga Königsdorf, are then singled out for closer analysis.
Such themes as historical anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, Jewish resistance, Jewish assimilation, Heine, Marx, Moses Mendelssohn, Jewish survival, and Jews in the GDR are all discussed in the book. The volume also offers evidence of the political influences on publishing on Jewish themes at various stages in the GDR's history. In addition, a structured bibliography of some 1100 items is offered, approximately 750 of which were published in the GDR with a Jewish content or theme. The study should be of interest to students of contemporary German literature and politics, the GDR, and of Jewish studies in the wider context.
Aspects of the Literature of the GDR 1976-1990
Editors: Robert Atkins and Martin Kane
In Retrospect and Review an international team of scholars explore East German literature, and the circumstances of its production, in the last phase of the German Democratic Republic's existence. The provocative claim of the novelist, playwright and essayist Christoph Hein, ‘Ich nehme außerdem für mich in Anspruch [...] elfmal das Ende der DDR beschrieben zu haben,' serves as the starting-point for the twenty-three contributors to the volume, who consider the many and varied ways in which Hein and his fellow writers signalled and diagnosed the demise of the GDR. The fraught relationship between the state and its intellectuals inevitably forms a consistent theme in the studies of writers as diverse as Anna Seghers and Kito Lorenc, Christa Wolf and Jurek Becker, or Irmtraud Morgner and Heiner Müller. However, the process of ‘retrospect and review' also reveals the innovative and independent-minded character of the culture of the GDR's later years. Several contributors trace the emergence of a strong and distinctive women's writing which increasingly and subversively imposed itself on the hitherho patriarchal literary landscape of the GDR. And in the literature of the 1970s and 1980s experimental narrative strategies take on a political role as a counter-discourse to a stubbornly inflexible political order.