Christa Wolf

Christa Wolf was born in Landsberg on the Warthe in 1929 and fled with her family to Mecklenburg in 1945. In 1949, the year of her A-levels, she joined the SED. Until 1953 she studied German in Jena and Leipzig. After this she worked in East Berlin at the German Writers Association as academic assistant, as editor of the magazine »Neue deutsche Literatur« and the »Aufbau-Verlag«, amongst others. Since 1962, Christa Wolf is freelance writer.

Literature and politics are inseparable in Christa Wolf’s life: until the early fifties she felt »at one« with the socialist system, but already in her second narrative, the love story »Der geteilte Himmel« (1963) she is concerned with the problems of the GDR on the eve of the building of the Wall. The book received much attention in the East and the West.

Her »subjective authenticity« writing style, that is having own personal experiences in which social connections are reflected as a central theme, quickly brought Wolf into conflict with the official given doctrine of realism. Nevertheless, she remained, despite all her critique on the prevailing circumstances, tied to the principle of the socialist state. Her story »Nachdenken über Christa T.« (1968) is a true to life depiction of life in the GDR and questions the relationship of the individual and the state. The protagonist, »Christa T.«, is a counter figure to the socialist hero of the given order. Her personal ideas of happiness and the demands which the community puts on her in the name of the creating of socialism, don’t want to come together.

In 1976 the novel based on recollections, »Kindheitsmuster«, came out in which the author follows her own history and attempts to once again understand the path taken by her generation.

In the same year, Christa Wolf was one of the people who openly protested against the expatriation of Wolf Biermann. »Kein Ort. Nirgends« (1977) is an expression which speaks for itself of the crisis of self-understanding which the author was thrown by these events. Also in 1983 the story »Kassandra« came out which deals with the powerlessness of (matriarchal) knowledge against the interests of power.

Nevertheless, she remained loyal to her concept of socialism with a human face. Even in the last days of the GDR, at the demonstration on the Alexanderplatz on fourth November 1989, she announced her support of reforming of this state.

The publication of the story »Was bleibt« (1990) which, with autobiographical traits, reflects her surveillance by the Ministry for State Security (MfS) of the GDR, led to a discussion, in the early nineties, on the responsibility and share of guilt of intellectuals in socialism. Her answer to the critique on her role in the SED state was »Medea« (1996), a novel with its roots in mythology on the social isolation of outsider figures. In 2002 the highly praised story »Leibhaftig« of the »Büchner Prize« carrier of 1980 came out, followed by the extraordinary diary »Ein Tag im Jahr« (2003) and the correspondence »Ja, unsere Kreise berühren sich« (2004). In 2006 her collection of essays »Der Worte Adernetz« was published.

The oft-awarded writer lives in Berlin and Woserin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

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