Humor, Satire, and Identity: Eastern German Literature in the 1990s

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Walter de Gruyter, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 471 pages
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This is the first book in English to survey the Eastern German literary trend of employing humor and satire to come to terms with experiences in the German Democratic Republic and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. As sophisticated attempts to make sense of socialism's failure and a difficult unification process, these contemporary texts help define Germany today from a specific, Eastern German perspective. Grounded in politics and history, ten humorous and satirical novels are analyzed for their literary aesthetics and language, cultural critiques, and socio-political insights. The texts include popular novels such as Thomas Brussig's Helden wie wir, Ingo Schulze's Simple Storys, and Jens Sparschuh's Der Zimmerspringbrunnen, as well as lesser-known but equally relevant works like Schlehweins Giraffe by Bernd Schirmer and Katerfrühstück by Erich Loest. A broad spectrum of humor and satire theories is applied to probe texts from various angles and suggest multi-layered answers to the question of how these literary modes function in postwall Germany to construct a specifically Eastern German identity. Interviews the author conducted with five of the satirists are appended as primary sources and contribute to the interpretation of the texts.
 

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Contents

Humor and Satire as Responses to the Wende
1
The Comic Survivor SelfIrony and Defensiveness
25
The Rise and Fall of a Salesman
67
of the Fall of the Wall and Media Representations of the Stasi
84
Brussigs Attacks on GDR Intellectuals
105
Matthias Biskupeks DerQuotensachse
113
Reinhard Ulbrichs Spur der Broiler
126
Why the Picaresque in VostWende Narratives?
143
Thomas Brussig vs GDR Feminist Writers
276
Building an Eastern German Identity by Sustaining
286
Satirical Stereotypes and Unruly Identities
295
The Paradox of IdentityBuilding Through Humor and Satire
304
Interview with Bernd Schirmer
313
Interview with Matthias Biskupek
325
Interview with Thomas Rosenlocher
341
Interview with Jens Sparschuh
369

Regional Identities and Family Feuds under
149
Grotesque and Scatology
171
Grotesque Configurations of Body Language
196
Kerstin Hensels Gipshut
244
Interview with Reinhard Ulbrich
384
Works Consulted
409
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About the author (2007)

Jill E. Twark, East Carolina University, Greenville, USA.

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