Christa Wolf Essay, Research Paper
Wolf, Christa (1929- ), German novelist and essayist, known for her novels about Germany during World War II (1939-1945). Born Christa Ihlenfeld in Landsberg an der Warthe (now Gorz w Wielkopolski, Poland), she studied at the Universities of Leipzig and Jena from 1949 to 1953. In 1951 she married writer Gerhard Wolf. After graduating she worked as a publisher’s reader and an editor until 1962, when she became a full-time writer. Her first successful novel, Der geteilte Himmel (1963; translated as The Divided Heaven, 1965), describes a relationship between a man who leaves the German Democratic Republic (GDR), or East Germany, and a woman who stays. Two of her later novels, Nachdenken ber Christa T (1969; The Quest for Christa T, 1971) and Kindheitsmuster (1976; A Model Childhood, 1982), examine the final years of World War II and the early development of the GDR. The first of these novels describes the life of a woman and her early death from leukemia, which is described as a psychosomatic response to circumstances in her life that are subtly tied to the social constraints upon individuals in the newly formed GDR. The second novel is strongly autobiographical and combines references to actual events with a description of life in a conformist provincial town.
Wolf was a member of the ruling Socialist Unity Party of the GDR until the party disintegrated in 1989. She was, however, removed from the East Berlin committee of the GDR Writers’ Union in 1976 after joining in protest against the withdrawal of citizenship from dissident singer Wolf Biermann. Wolf’s controversial novel Was bleibt (What Remains and Other Stories, 1995), written in 1979 but not published until 1990, includes an account of being under surveillance by the Stasi, the GDR’s security service. In Auf dem Weg nach Tabou (1994; Parting from Phantoms, 1997), a collection of essays, letters, and interviews, she reflected on German society after the reunification of East and West Germany and on her involvement with the Stasi. Her other works include Unter den Linden: Drei unwahrscheinliche Geschichten (Under the Linden Trees: Three Improbable Stories, 1974) and Kein Ort Nirgends (1979; No Place on Earth, 1982). Wolf’s works of nonfiction include Lesen und Schreiben (1972; The Reader and the Writer, 1977), a collection of essays on the form and function of prose. Wolf was awarded the highest literary honor of the Federal Republic of Germany, or West Germany, the George B chner Prize, in 1980.