Deconstructing East Germany

Deconstructing East Germany

Christoph Hein's Literature of Dissent

David W. Robinson


Hardback out of stock

Camden House



An introduction to the works of the famous East German dissident fiction writer and playwright that concentrates on the prose works.
Playwright and novelist Christoph Hein, who enjoyed tremendous popularity in both Germanies during the 1980s, remains the East's most successful post-unification writer. Critical both of Soviet-style communism and Western consumer capitalism, Hein chose to remain in East Germany and work toward the liberalization of the communist system. Although his pre-1990 works implicitly reject the skewed reality promoted by the regime, his methods appear at first glance to be totally apolitical: he tells the material truth as he sees it, describing characters and their social settings and allowing these things to speak for themselves. This sort of honesty would seem to be nothing remarkable; yet it proved fatal to the state's rhetoric of progress, personal fulfillment, and moral superiority to the West. Today, Hein uses the same literary tools with which he once deconstructed communist rhetoric to attack the complacency of unchecked capitalism. Robinson concentrates on Hein's prose fiction rather than his dramas, since, among other reasons, his plays are little known in the U.S. and U.K., while his novels and many novellas have been translated into English and have brought him a measure of fame in the English-speaking world.


October 1999
240 pages
22.8x15.2 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571131638
Format: Hardback
Camden House
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Table of Contents

A Playwrite Turns Chronicler
Individuals in the Slough of History: Hein's Early Short Stories and Passage
Power and Repression in Der fremde Freund
Hein's Historians: Fictions of Social Memory
Chronicling the Cold War's Losers and Winners


From this well-written, jargon-free study, the reader can learn much about Hein's concerns as a writer, the sociopolitical contexts of his work, his views on literature and history, his literary contribution tothe GDR's demise, and new directions suggested by his narrative and dramatic work in unified Germany. CHOICE''Robinson's ayalysis is insightful and supportive of his thesis of the deconstructive nature of Hein's work.'' MONATSHEFTE'Robinson's book provides a clear, readable introduction and overview... It will be of special value for advanced undergraduate and graduate students.' GERMAN QUARTERLY

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