cover image The Author's Dimension: Selected Essays

The Author's Dimension: Selected Essays

Christa Wolf. Farrar Straus Giroux, $27.5 (335pp) ISBN 978-0-374-12302-4

Wolf declares that the writer's role is to compel readers to care about themselves and the future of humanity: ``Literature has to be peace research.'' In this collection of 33 speeches, essays and conversations, the German writer assesses ``the long-term effects of German fascism,'' confronts the threat of nuclear war and discusses her utopian novel Cassandra , in which she decried women's lack of public influence over the last 2000 years. Wolf's sense of moral urgency informs her appreciations of novelists Thomas Mann, George Buchner, Max Frisch, Anna Seghers and Ingeborg Bachmann, poet Karoline von Gunderrode (who committed suicide in 1806) and Bettina von Arnim, a protofeminist who defended the Brothers Grimm when they were banished from Hanover for flouting abolute monarchy. Wolf's wordy, ponderous style, unfortunately, detracts from what she has to say. (Mar.)