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The ex-GDR poet and the people

Owen, Ruth J. 1999. The ex-GDR poet and the people. German Life and Letters 52 (4) , pp. 490-505. 10.1111/1468-0483.00148

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Abstract

At the ‘Wende’ writers were swayed anew by abstract ideals. Such ideals at first seemed to concur with the aims of the people’s demonstrations in 1989. Ulti-mately, however, the people sought Western-style democracy and the end of German division, whereas many GDR writers and intellectuals opposed unification. This made them deeply unpopular, in the most literal sense of this word. To some extent, literature always contains idealised visions: none the less, for forty years these writers had thought that they were speaking for the people. At unification writers and intellectuals suddenly saw that their ideals conflicted with popular concerns. Post-‘Wende’ poetry demonstrates how both older and younger poets are coming to terms with a new self-understanding. Many assess in poetry their loss of social function: they express a sense of dispossession and descent from a position of presumed significance. Dialogue is an important aspect of this comparison between past and present. To the fore now come a sense of emptiness and a dread of writing into a void where literature has no resonance. Poetry seems to be lamenting the loss of the imagined relationship between the GDR poet and the GDR people.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PT Germanic literature
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0016-8777
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:55
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/31662

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