The treatment of women in the novel of the German Democratic Republic
The treatment of women in the novel of the GDR is examined in its historical development from the inception of the Republic in 1949 until the present. Literature is seen developing in parallel to, and in dialectical interaction with, the social and historical circumstances in the GDR. The developments in policy regarding the position of women are obviously of prime importance in this respect. Four main stages in the development of literature about women are discerned. Firstly the period from the beginning of the fifties until the onset of the Bitterfeld campaign; secondly, the Bitterfeld period itself from 1959 until about 1965; thirdly, the period from 1965 to about 1973; and fourthly, from 1973 onwards. These stages correspond approximately to the stages in the GDR's history discerned by GDR historians. Each of these periods has produced its own characteristic features,and the novel has responded to these developments. Using typical novels as examples, the development of the novel is traced and the use of different types of novel is analysed. Novels of the following types are considered: Produktionsroman, Betriebsroman, Bildungsroman, "Novel of Adultery", "Novel of Search" and montage novel. In the last chapter a possible decline of the novel and a rise of shorter prose forms is considered. A major concern of the study is the examination of the relationship between individual and society as it is seen in these novels. A general tendency is described for the author's attention to shift away from the public to the private, and in later years from the private to the intimate. There is an increasing tendency for the concerns of the individual to be given more scope over those of society. The picture of women presented reflects the changing social situation: at the outset, women are seen breaking out of restriction to the home and beginning to take an active part in public life. In the middle period, the interest is directed towards the development of women in the workplace: this is directly linked to the rise of the female intellectual as a literary figure. As writers turn their attention more and more towards private spheres of activity, this is reflected in the types of women presented and in the themes dealt with. This leads to the development of literary "feminism" in the seventies, and this is dealt with in the final chapter. The major writers considered are Eduard Claudius, Brigitte Reimann, Ginter de Bruyn, Christa Wolf and Irmtraud Morgner.