Writing through the trauma of her past: Patterns of repression and a fragmented sense of self in the literature of Christa Wolf
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This project aims to offer a re-evaluation of the literature of Christa Wolf and change the focus of the questions posed in relation to her literary legacy. Shifting the focus away from a denouncement of her character and a discrediting of her literature as a result of her Stasi-collaboration and subsequent claim of having forgotten this event, the ensuing analysis will explore the environment in which she grew up – an environment which demanded blind obedience to authority and the suppression of curiosity and emotions and which encouraged the development of motivated forgetting. It will examine the continued effects of a suppressive childhood upbringing in Nazi Germany, as well as the trauma of World War II and the immediate post-war years, on the themes of memory and identity by tracing their reappearance as central themes in Wolf’s writing project. Focusing on a close analysis of her novels "Kindheitsmuster" and "Stadt der Engel oder The Overcoat of Dr. Freud", it aims to situate the development of repression of memories and a fragmented sense of self in "Kindheitsmuster", published in 1976, and document the continued relevance of these themes in her writing as a result of their reappearance in "Stadt der Engel oder The Overcoat of Dr. Freud" written between 1993 and 2010. The resurfacing of these themes in "Stadt der Engel oder The Overcoat of Dr. Freud" illuminates the fact that the patterns of repression and emotional suppression which Wolf developed during her youth were never fully overcome. Even though Wolf actively used her writing as a means of working through the trauma of her past and of attempting to break these childhood patterns, it is clear that these behavioural structures remained, providing important insights into the persistent psychological effects of these oppressive historical eras.
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