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Title: 'Diese merkwürdige Kleinigkeit einer vision' : continuity in Christoph Heins prose fiction
Author: Clarke, D. J.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1999
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Christoph Hein (1944-) gained prominence as a writer of prose fiction and drama in the GDR of the early 1980s, and remains a major literary figure in post-unification Germany. This thesis seeks to highlight the continuity between Hein's critique of socialism before autumn 1989 and his assessment of the Western capitalist system before, during and after the Wende. I begin by examining Hein's own statements on the role of the writer as 'chronicler' of his society, and point out how Hein's emphasis on the individual's experience is accompanied by a continued belief in the possibility of a shared world-view. I then show how his major prose texts of the 1980s portray the SED as being largely responsible for calling into question the possibility of a sense of community or solidarity based on shared ideas about the world, choosing instead to impose conformity by coercive and sometimes violent means. The psychological consequences of this state of affairs for the individual are portrayed in terms of isolation, meaninglessness or a retreat into unthinking conformity. I go on to argue that Hein's view of capitalism also points to the inability of this social system to foster a sense of solidarity on the basis of shared ideals or goals. His first major post-Wende text, Das Napoleon-Spiel (1993), describes a West German who counters the senselessness of life in a society where all values are unstable by playing games with other human beings. Thus, the absence of a collective world-view in the West is regarded as just as psychologically damaging as it was in the GDR. I proposed, however, that Hein's most recent novel, Von allem Anfang an (1998), points to a revision of this stance and a reassessment of the significance of community and solidarity for the well-being of the individual and society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available