The Role of the Writer and the Press in the Unification of by Karoline von Oppen

By Karoline von Oppen

This paintings explores the misperception that literary writers from East and West Germany adversarial the unification of the 2 states from 1989 to 1990. It examines the contributions of 9 writers, together with names synonymous with competition akin to Stefan Heym and Walter Jens and argues that their competition is in truth a fantasy. whereas targeting the techniques of legitimatizing writers and their authority to talk on unification, this examine additionally displays at the dating among the reception of literary and journalistic texts. eventually, the paintings explores the explanations for this mythologization and therefore presents a contribution to debates at the destiny position of writers within the unified German kingdom.

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In any case, it is vital to analyse these mechanisms in order to find both a basis from which to approach the past, as well as a definition of engagement in unified Germany. Such constraints notwithstanding, I argue that it is of paramount importance to analyse the interplay between intervention and subjection, whilst bearing in mind what Said himself observes: We may finally believe with Foucault and Lyotard that the great narratives of emancipation and enlightenment are over, but I think we must remember more seriously what Foucault himself teaches, that in this case, as in many others, it is sometimes of paramount importance not so much what is said, but who speaks.

He analyses the reception of Christa Wolf’s text Was bleibt and comes to the, perhaps obvious, conclusion that the call for aesthetics, which here also is accredited to Bohrer, is in fact problematic: Since ‘aesthetic’ refers not to a type of content but to a way of presenting and seeing things, aesthetic quality can be abundant in the most consciously political work and missing from the most apolitical. (Reed 1993, 214) Furthermore, Reed points out that the call for a return to the aesthetic is (and this is as applicable to Huyssen as it is to Frank Schirrmacher and 24 From Zetkin to Dorothea  Ulrich Greiner, the main critics of Christa Wolf) the result of a political process: Most obviously, a declared commitment to the ‘aesthetic’ went with a critical practice that was strongly political, an after-effect of ‘deutsch-deutsch’ conflicts.

The inclusion of only two women in the study is accurately characteristic of the debate itself which was conducted predominantly by men (cf. Peitsch 1995c). The broad characterisation of ‘1968 writer’ is applicable to the West German authors Peter Schneider, Michael Schneider and Joseph von Westphalen, who represent both the political movement and the post-war generation. Their counterparts in the Democratic Republic, in generational terms, are Monika Maron and Thomas Rosenlöcher. Four of the authors originate from the Federal Republic (Michael Schneider, Peter Schneider, Joseph von Westphalen, Walter Jens), three from the Democratic Republic (Stefan Heym, Helga Königsdorf, Thomas Rosenlöcher), and of the remaining two, Rolf Schneider appropriates the ‘Grenzgänger’ position, resident in the East, employed in the West, whilst Monika Maron, originally from the Democratic Republic, had taken up permanent residence in the Federal Republic.

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