cover image Parting from Phantoms: Selected Writings, 1990-1994

Parting from Phantoms: Selected Writings, 1990-1994

Christa Wolf. University of Chicago Press, $24.95 (323pp) ISBN 978-0-226-90496-2

The end of the Cold War came not with the bang but with the collapse of a system as decrepit as an old concrete wall. But behind East Germany's crumbling facade was a vital movement toward an alternative future, a ""third way"" that was neither capitalist nor Communist. That movement died with reunification, and this collection of essays, letters, speeches and interviews is in part its obituary. Wolf, born in 1929, was among those Germans who suddenly learned in 1945 that everything they ""knew"" of the Third Reich was false. This recognition led her to Communism, but by the 1960s she began losing her new faith. A writer, she was seen in the West as a symbol of East German intellectuals in revolt against the state Through her novella, What Remains, she positioned herself as a victim of the Stasi, a claim that stirred up new controversy when the release of her Stasi files indicated that she had been an informer for a brief time in the 1950s. Wolf disputes the personal charges and also holds that the real history of East Germany is being falsified in order to discredit former East Germans trying to reform the new state. The works in this book constitute an essential document of the history of reunified Germany, and this alone recommends it to scholars and those interested in current European events. Wolf has produced here an attempt to influence the future by preserving the essential elements of Marxist humanism for a world in which Communism has been wrecked. Though she may not have intended it, Wolf laid the groundwork for a Marxian analysis of the post-Marxist era. (Oct.)