Family Secrets and the Contemporary German Novel

Family Secrets and the Contemporary German Novel

Literary Explorations in the Aftermath of the Third Reich

Elizabeth Snyder Hook

A analysis of recent German novelistic treatments of the effect of the Nazi past on the relationships between parents and children.
This book focuses on representations of familial conflict in German and Austrian prose of the last twenty-five years. Some of the most prominent German and Austrian writers examine the theme of familial conflict that cannot be explained by traditional explanations: psychic hostilities, economic deprivation, or repressed experience. At the heart of these novels is the collision between the bonds of family and the events that form the decisive turning points of our age: National Socialism, the Second World War, and the Holocaust. Snyder Hook examines five novels in detail: Christa Wolf's Kindheitsmuster, Thomas Bernhard's Auslöschung, Peter Schneider's Vati, Elfriede Jelinek's Die Ausgesperrten, and Elisabeth Reichart's Februarschatten. Central to the discussions of each novel are questions of guilt, cultural identity, and atonement, and of the relocation of these ultimately unresolvable issues from the larger national and political arena to the realm of intimate relationships between parents and children.
Elizabeth Snyder Hook is professor of German at the University of North Carolina-Asheville.

Table of Contents

The Trouble with Memory: Christa Wolf's Kindheitsmuster
Heredity, Heimat, and Hatred: Thomas Bernhard's Auslöschung
The Sins of the Fathers: Peter Schneider's Vati
At Home with Fascism: Elfriede Jelinek's Die Ausgesperrten
Re-experiencing the Horror: Elisabeth Reichart's Februarschatten
Works Cited

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