Modern Childhood

ISBN-10: 0374518440

ISBN-13: 9780374518448

Edition: 1984

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Book details

List price: $30.00
Copyright year: 1984
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Publication date: 7/1/1984
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 416
Size: 8.00" wide x 5.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.990
Language: English

Christa Wolf's career has been marked by several abrupt changes that have intrigued and frustrated her readers. As a young girl she was an ardent supporter of the Nazi government, but was later horrified at what the Nazis had done. Much of her writing is marked by a sense of having forfeited her childhood and by a desire to reclaim or reconstruct the past. Her first novel, The Divided Heaven (1961), reflected the transfer of her allegiance to her new state of East Germany. It tells of an East German girl whose boyfriend deserts her to emigrate to the West. For a while she considers suicide, but finds solace in the vibrant life around her and in the task of building a socialist society. This was followed, however, by The Quest for Christa T.(1968), in which the narrator tries to reconstruct the life of a spirited friend who was driven to suicide by the East German intolerance for individuality. In 1976 Wolf published Patterns of Childhood, a fictionalized account of a visit to Landsberg, the town of her childhood, together with her husband and daughter, in which she tries to reconstruct her life growing up in Nazi Germany. Wolf then turned to feminist themes in her novel Cassandra(1983), in which she adopts the persona of the Greek prophetess who foretold the fall of Troy. Her subsequent novels are increasingly free associations, minimally plotted, on a range of social and philosophical themes. Like many writers, Wolf found herself constantly torn between criticism of the East German society and respect for socialist ideals. During the 1980s the ability to balance conflicting loyalties helped make her the most widely read and discussed writer in the German language. In 1989 and 1990 she angered many people by authoring earnest appeals to the citizens of East Germany to refrain from emigration and resist union with the Federal Republic. After German reunification she published "What Remains" (1991), a manuscript which she had held back over a decade, chronicling her harassment by agents of the secret police. Critic Ulrich Greiner attacked her as an "official poet" of the former German Democratic Republic, while writers like Gunter Grass and Lutz Rathenow came to her defense. She remains a highly controversial figure.

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