Escape and acquiescence: The young rebel in East German fiction of the seventies.

  • Gisela K. Shaw

Student thesis: Masters ThesisMPhil


East German fiction in the seventies has seen the emergence of books on youth of a kind not previously known in the German Democratic Republic. The best known and most widely acclaimed of them was Ulrich Plenzdorf's Die neuen Leiden des junqen W., but there were others, preceding as well as following it, which display characteristics so that a recognizable collective identity can be established. In this thesis a dozen works of this kind are analyzed as to the particular way in which the authors handle characterization, narrative perspective and structure, as well as language. It traces recurring motifs and personal characteristics of protagonists and the gradual replacement of the device of an omniscient narrator by that of a subjective narrative perspective (or several such). It demonstrates the authors' continuing reliance on the structure of the socialist 'Bildungsroman' and the rarity of cases where ultimate social integration of the young rebel is avoided. And it places particular emphasis on the fact that, in contrast to other East German works on the young at odds with their social and political environment, the books studied rely to a greater or lesser extent on the use of a diversity of forms of speech, especially that of youth jargon. The introductory and concluding chapters place the books under discussion within the wider context of developments in East German cultural policies and of international and national literary traditions.
Date of Award1984
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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