For my purposes, it totally doesn't matter. I can't think of one case where anybody has ever misunderstood me because of an incorrect article. It's true that there is a very tiny minority of words in German where the root word has two or more meanings, one with 'die', say, and another meaning with 'das' so that it's important to know which is which, but although I can't think of a single one of them in this category, somehow it has never gotten in the way.
So, depending on your purpose, this might be sacrilege to some purists, but you might consider the path of just pretty much forgetting about learning the gender of the nouns. Will this make you look like a foreigner with an accent? Yep, you betcha. And if you study the genders for the next ten years, then you know what you'll be in ? A foreigner with an accent, with correct genders, and 34, wrong ones. On the other hand, if you tell me that you want to move to Germany, or write screenplays for television in German, or apply to a German university or become a translator, then I'd give you totally different advice.
So it really depends very much on what you want. Only you can answer this. Being a German native I fully agree with him. If your main purpose is everyday communication with people and not necessarily scientific usage don't worry too much about genders. You'll be understood and that's the main interest ;-. Comment Learning it with the noun itself takes little time and if you are using vocab cards, color code them with whatever makes sense to you masc.
I started learning this way 20 years ago and am now a non-native speaker who flubs an article on occasion, but when I speak, it takes many natives a while to notice that I am not in fact German. Since I live in Germany, I also welcome corrections, which has helped me along considerably. Comment I agree with Peter and Chaja. The adult education course run here focuses on grammar with the idea being that you will pick up the vocabulary as you go along living in Germany which although being true, leaves a lot of students who are perhaps not so gifted at being able to learn languages in a state of confusion.
Better to have a good vocabulary than to get the correct gender. The rest will come later. Ideally you should think of the gender as being part of the word you're learning ie don't think of "Glas" as being the complete word, but as half a word without "das". Comment thomas: Echt wahr? Wo bist du her? Ich kenne nur "der Kasperl", bitte verrate uns, aus welchem Landteil deine Erfahrung stammt. Ich bin aus Wien. Inzwischen rutscht mir das nicht einmal mehr versehentlich raus. Ich meine, dass der Duden als Referenz ganz gut ist. Lass Dich nicht verwirren! So just don't panic. In fact, articles may vary according to the part of country you stay in.
Comment son: is there some hidden connection between Wien and Bavaria? Nur "die Joghurtschokolade" "der Joghurtschok'lad" haha. The difference is hidden! Das hat mit P. Comment Deutsche Genera fand ich immer faszinierend. Das Schiff deutsch n. Wo kommt das grammatisches Geschlecht her? Comment son und ad. Aber vielleicht ist das auch eine sprachliche Entwicklung die ich einfach verschlafen habe.
Das ist die ideale Art um Fehler oder Unsicherheiten zu kaschieren. Use flash cards with different colors as Selkie suggested if you are a visual learner. Learn songs or sample sentences like tanja1 suggested if you are an auditory learner. But do pay attention to the articles. It's easier to learn them at the beginning and as you go along. If you don't, you will not have a prayer of getting the articles right in dative or the adjective endings in acc. Will people still understand you if you make mistakes? Sure, but if you decide later that you want to get grammatical details right but don't have a clue about gender of nouns, it will be very hard to go back and learn it and undo mistakes.
It's true, as other people have said here, that gender isn't THE single most important aspect of learning to communicate in German, but it is a fundamental aspect of the language, so I would suggest that you pay attention to it from the get go. That said, though, don't let fear of making mistakes hold you back.
Do your best and it will gradually begin to seem natural to you to say der Baum, die Sonne, das Hotel. Comment I would also follow Gacker's advice. It is after all what I did. And that is how I learned to speak German. I unfortunatley did not at first, and have been paying the price since. I speak german now with no english accent I even speak with the swabian dialect , but still make some fundamental cock-ups when writing letters at work for instance. Comment judex One would regularly refer to a ship as it I am unfortunatly no expert on the subject However the feminine form is usually used in an affectionate way, usually by people involved in sailing them.
Incidently the feminine form is also occasionaly similarly used for machines like die Maschine. Comment O. CT-joe ;- Es ist also genau wie im Deutschen. We gotta sink the Bismarck to the bottom of the sea. But until you get relatively fluent I would consider a word learned, when you get the meaning right and ignore the gender. In most cases, germans are quite pleased if somebody takes the effort to learn the language.
However, they will often switch to english, when the conversation is becoming too slow, because you try to pronouce very slowly a grammatical correct german phrase. I, personally, don't have any problems, however, to answer emphatically in German to "Willst du noch eine Bier? Comment Wow! Thanks so much for your English and German responses. Since I am a beginner the English responses were more helpful!! With a few more lessons I hope to read the rest of them : It sounds like I have a lot of memorizing to do, but thanks to your advice hopefully I'll get it right the first time around.
Comment Good luck, Christina, and enjoy learning German! You are lucky to have this resource available to you and I think it's great that you know about it as a beginner. I wish Leo had been around when I started learning German in Anyway, people are generally helpful here and it's great to be able to ask questions of native speakers.
Some of the chat rooms can be helpful too. Und: Wo sagt man denn "das Teller"? In this dynamic, western Germany is often seen as the strong, intact, and dominant force, while eastern Germans are mostly regarded as inept or naive. The schlemiel Jackie gives voice to the latter perspective, while simultaneously turning this dynamic on its head. According to Wisse, this represents the essence of the schlemiel dialectic: In fashioning the schlemiel, the Jew admits how weak and foolish he appears to those who dominate him […]. Yet […] he does not submit to self-hatred, and stands proudly on his own record.
After all, so goes the inevitable dialectic, he survives. And after all, is he as foolish as he seems? And above all, who are they to judge him? At its best, the finished irony holds both the contempt of the strong for the weak and the contempt of the weak for the strong, with the latter winning the upper hand. By presenting the schlemiel as an eastern German Jew, Levy engages a potent technique of Jewish humor: he suspends the typical winner-loser dichotomy and instead promotes the notion that the winner is not necessarily he who gains the upper hand politically or economically, but rather he who admits to and accepts his weaknesses, remains true to himself, and demonstrates generosity and tolerance toward others.
Such a definition of winner status opens the door to anyone, regardless of ethnic belonging, or geographical or historical heritage, and is based solely on modes of behavior. Levy proposes, is up to the individual, each of whom possesses a free will to alter his fate. Inversions also occur in the realm of moral standing and further highlight the schlemiel character of Jackie. Through his demeanor throughout the film, the western brother leaves no doubt that he perceives himself to be the superior of the two brothers. In this instance, the supposed loser once more proves himself morally superior by refusing to respond to insults and physical aggression with the same.
In this confrontation, Jackie additionally unmasks the tendency of the West to draw attention to and exaggerate the involvement of the East German secret service, the infamous Staatssicherheit or Stasi , in every facet of life in the GDR—a stereotype that has prevailed for years after the fall of the Wall. This play on words is amusing and its clever use of language a staple of Jewish humor. Levy conveys the moral message in this Jewish parable that inherited, historical roles need not be stagnant, but rather must adapt to an ever-changing reality.
It was introduced in to bolster public investment in eastern Germany. This is done, for example, by highlighting this traditional, stereotypical discourse in scenes that provoke sympathetic laughter, and by choosing not to recast the Jews in the victim role they typically inhabit in post German films. These roles evolve as the plot unfolds and are presented from different perspectives throughout the film.
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Just as Levy refuses to label one group in German society the perennial victim, his use of Jewish humor also denies any one group the attribute of winner. Discussions of the prototypical Jewish prankster, the schlemiel, have shown that this kind of humor turns such norms upside down, criticizing both the fool as well as those deriding him. The supposed loser thereby gains the upper hand, mocking his mockers.
Levy joins the postwall plea of scholars and the media in Germany and abroad for normalization in the Berlin Republic. He paints a vision of tolerance and acceptance between different social, religious, and ethnic groups. He draws on and mingles familiar stereotypes of eastern and western Germans, as well as Jews, asking his audience to look beyond these and to see the Other as a human being, sharing the same weaknesses, problems, and joys. His goal appears to be an easing of the tension-fraught relations between East and West, as well as Jew and Gentile, by means of a kind of humor that underscores commonalities.
Instead, this film serves as a plea for open and productive interactions, which can lead to a new freedom in identity formation, along with the acceptance of diverse expressions of group belonging. Levy signals that Jewish citizens living in Germany today want to leave behind their marginalized, passive position of victimhood and instead become active, equal members of German society.
This resurgence of Jewish humor in postwall Germany indicates a strengthening, as well as a certain degree of emancipation, of Jewish culture there. This creates a sense of otherness that is imbued with a guilty conscience arising out of history. Senator Film, Dani Levy. First Run Features, DVD orig. X Verleih, , released 6 Jan. Becker, Jurek. Berlin and Weimar: Aufbau, Die Blechtrommel [The Tin Drum].
Argos Films, Comedian Harmonists [The Harmonists]. Joseph Vilsmaier. Bavaria Film, Ehe im Schatten [Marriage in the Shadows]. DEFA, Hitlerjunge Salomon [Europa, Europa]. Agniezka Holland. CCC Filmkunst, Frank Beyer. Warner Home Video Germany, X Verleih, Margarethe von Trotta. Katja Riemann and Maria Schrader. Hamburg Letterbox, Gerald Frank Else. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, Bassewitz, Heike von, ed. Der Esel Des Propheten. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgellschaft, Bergler, Edmund.
Laughter and the Sense of Humor. New York: Intercontinental Medical, New York: Macmillan, Biehl, Jody K. Spiegel Online International 25 Jan. Bremer, Michael. Gisela Dachs. Bronner, Gerhard. Chase, Jefferson S. Clifford, Robin. Reeling: The Movie Review Show. Cohen, Sarah Blacher. Jewish Wry: Essays on Jewish Humor. Detroit: Wayne State UP, Dachs, Gisela, ed. Eilbirt, Henry. What is a Jewish Joke? Northvale, NJ: Aronson, Freud, Sigmund. The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious. Joyce Crick. John Carey.
New York: Penguin, Gilman, Sander. Goldman, Albert. Murray Mindlin and Chaim Bermant. Graham, Benjamin, and David L. New York: McGraw-Hill, Grotjahn, Martin. Werner M. Mendel and Martin Grotjahn. Los Angeles, CA: Mara, Halkin, Hillel. Hansen, Eric T. The Hollywood Reporter. Eric T. Jauss, Hans-Robert. Wolfgang Preisendanz and Rainer Warning. Deutsche Welle. Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Judgement. Nicholas Walker. James Creed Meredith. David Ferdinand Swenson.
Walter Lowrie. Princeton: Princeton UP, Knobloch, Charlotte. Goethe Institut. Lepelmeier, Ulf. Mikes, George. English Humour for Beginners. London: Deutsch, Amsterdam and Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, Patai, Raphael. Anat Zajdman and Avner Ziv. Westport, CT: Greenwood, Pinsker, Sanford. Justin Cyril Bertrand Gosling. Oxford: Clarendon, Richter, Jens. Let there be laughter! Chicago: Spertus Museum, Rosten, Leo Calvin, and Lawrence Bush. The New Joys of Yiddish. New York: Crown, Schopenhauer, Arthur.
The World as Will and Idea. Richard Burdon Haldane and John Kemp. Spalding, Henry D. Classic Jewish Humor in America. Middle Village, NY: David, Rochester, NY: Camden House, Telushkin, Joseph. New York: Morrow, Wisse, Ruth R. The Schlemiel as Modern Hero. Chicago: U of Chicago P, Zajdman, Anat, and Avner Ziv, eds. Semites and Stereotypes: Characteristics of Jewish Humor. Ziv, Avner. Jewish Humor.
Too lazy to be a writer – Too egotistical to be quiet
New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, Immediately following the opening of the border between East and West Germany the desire to abolish all symbols of the forced separation was overwhelming. The photographs provide insights into the daily life of GDR citizens and include a series of long-term portraits depicting children during the s in the GDR and accompanying their arrival into a new society after the upheaval Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 14 Aug.
Anne Hector 79 humans had started was taken over by natural forces, and Mother Nature reasserted her dominion over politics, replacing the man-made border with wetlands and wildlife. At the same time, substantial efforts were made, especially in Berlin, to preserve collective memories of East German history: a double line of cobblestones was embedded in the ground to mark where the Wall once stood, and an interactive GDR Museum with several life-size dioramas opened in Many books have also been written by and about those who lived in the GDR, and this terrain is not the sole prerogative of humor and satire—the dialogue is ongoing.
However, in a parallel process that mimics Mother Nature, to some extent forty years of East German culture is being distorted and covered up as biting satire, demeaning humor, and tawdry memorializing take their toll, eating away at the memories of those who grew up there. I intend to show that this erosion is the socioliterary equivalent of Mother Nature transforming the landscape, turning now fossilized memories into grotesque aberrations.
Myths and legends can serve as means to convey a critical distance from events and experiences and prolong their reification as art. The reader identifies with such scenes as they emerge from the felt and lived experience of East German and Soviet citizens, despite their grotesque distortion of this experience.
Although former citizens of the GDR and the USSR can identify with these scenes more easily than others who did not experience such systems firsthand, all readers are provided easy access to 3 The former detainee, Carl-Wolfgang Holzapfel, planned his return to the prison cell as part of a live art project with the artist Franziska Vu. Most scenes also provide a critical counterpoint from which postwall society can be evaluated.
While other writers also read at public gatherings, for Hein and Kaminer reading and performing are linked: their public performances highlight the humor and playfulness in their texts. He became known widely in Germany after his semi- autobiographical vignette collection recording his memories of East Germany, Mein erstes T-Shirt, was published in Other group members have also made a name for themselves outside the group. Anne Hector 81 music and shows geared toward immigrants and xenophilic Germans from until He, too, though not born in Berlin, has lived there since His views of the city—including its food, the Berlin dialect, as well as German culture in general—have been shaped by his position as an immigrant.
Here, as in his other books, Kaminer displays his now famous ability to create puns and wordplays, mixing descriptions of awkward and humorous incidents with historical facts about Berlin as a reinvigorated center of fashion and culture. They thus provide an ambiguous camouflage for the scar left by the Wall: humor mitigates the travail of memorialization.
Strategies of Humor: The Grotesque and the Rhetorics of Play Methods for creating humor include the carnivalesque as put forward by Mikhail Bakhtin and the grotesque as outlined by Geoffrey Harpham. Bakhtin defines the carnival as a social institution and the carnivalesque as a method in literature of depicting a time when the ordinary rules of society and culture are in abeyance and there is a flattening or reversal of the social hierarchy, creating the potential for the masses to criticize the authorities Bakhtin Grotesque configurations of the physical body 5 The radio show was shut down by the RBB on December 31, , because of a lack of funding; however, it continues to be broadcast on the Internet under the name Radio multicult2.
Harpham sees the grotesque as a gross exaggeration that holds onto some aspects of reality, but allows familiar and unfamiliar objects to intermingle Harpham 5. Although the unfamiliar paints a gloss over the familiar, the two together transcend the sum of their parts and create a new, independent entity. The carnivalesque and grotesque modes provide a basic strategy of humor that appears simple on the surface: humor is produced when incongruous events, actions, or words are juxtaposed.
In fact, it is talismanic of their brand of humor. Often this playfulness also serves to convey grotesquerie, rebellion against authority, or satirical criticism. As the term is used here, the rhetorics of play express the way play is placed in context within broader value systems, which are assumed by the theorists of play rather than studied directly by them. The seven rhetorics he delineates are the rhetoric of play as progress, as fate, as power, as identity, as the imaginary, and as frivolous, as well as the rhetoric of the self. All furthermore contribute to producing defamiliarization.
This identity- forming rhetoric, displayed during carnivals, group rituals, and festivals, reaffirms existing affiliations and differentiates one group from all others. In the texts by Hein and Kaminer discussed here, identity is constantly under assault. Who or what is German? What is Germany? Who or what is Self, who is the Other? Their game-like constructions are playful and amusing, often containing fantastical and untrue segments, but they also set up situations that provoke serious reflection regarding the characteristics that make up German identity. Play can have many different applications, but art and literature showcase it as a major instigator of creativity.
Frivolity is the third rhetoric utilized in this chapter: The rhetoric of play as frivolous […] is usually applied to the activities of the idle or the foolish. But frivolity, as used here, is not just the puritanic negative, it is also a term to be applied more to historical trickster figures and fools, who were once the central and carnivalesque persons who enacted playful protest against the orders of the ordained world. In his texts the formerly oppressed get a chance to speak up and find vindication by criticizing the authorities without being punished for it, a benefit that Bakhtin associates with the carnivalesque Bakhtin It is a fact that drivers had to use a GDR highway to get to their destination in the West; however, Hein invents imaginary clauses to his law, one of which stipulates that people found wandering on the berm should automatically be considered GDR citizens and treated as such.
Humor here comes in the guise of absurdity; it is used to stop the action for a moment to give the reader a chance to think. Stopping the forward action and presenting a distorted, funhouse mirror of the world are means Hein uses to produce defamiliarization so that his readers come to see objects in unfamiliar formats. Instead, Hein focuses entirely on the difficulties the boy encounters in adjusting to his new life in the East. He is adopted immediately, but his East German parents struggle to fulfill his consumer demands.
The parents cannot deal with a child socialized in the West. Hein describes this incident and its consequences with an objective tone, although, had they been experienced in real life, they would have been traumatic. Not surprisingly, these differences have dominated public and private discussions since unification. After this failed experiment, Holger was reunited with his parents in the FRG.
Did Holger remain single because of his childhood trauma? We will never know. Ambiguity is the result of this mixing of modes. Although we are presented with real memories, their scars are disappearing from view. Definition eines Genres.
Against the backdrop of what appears to be an amusement park, the two adoptive parents stand with obligatory smiles on their faces, while the child in the middle maintains a bemused expression. The shot captures a moment of forced togetherness that appears ironic in the context of what should have been experienced by participants as a happy outing.
This time, a group of acting students is required to work in factories to learn about the everyday life of the working class He suggests that budding actors, and not writers, accompany the workers and study them to be able to portray them properly on stage in future theatrical productions. The story takes an unexpected turn, however, as the students assimilate perfectly; one student even gives up acting to continue working at the factory. In the process writers were sent to factories to speak with workers. Furthermore, acknowledging the ideas of the future actors would have undermined the privileged status of the factory workers.
These particular supervisors, in fact, were so rigid that they did not see the actors as possessing the legitimacy to make suggestions at all and thus abolished the experiment altogether. In this vignette Hein demonstrates how, although purportedly a classless society, social distinctions persisted in the GDR. His vignettes are embedded in the context of real existing socialism—that is, people experience shortages of consumer goods and work supplies; they can only travel to a limited number of countries, generally belonging to the Eastern Bloc; and education follows a predetermined path.
As befits the humorist, however, Hein portrays people who defy the system and look beyond these restrictive conditions. Even though the head of the GDR government is enthusiastic about the project, it is never realized because the leader of the Soviet Union has to approve it and denies the request without any explanation. This inexplicable display of power shows how the GDR government was under the yoke of the Soviet Union and could not act independently. After his antlike machine is rejected, Pape gets so discouraged with his restrictive working conditions that he builds an airplane modeled after a dragonfly and flees to France.
Here, we laugh about the ant and dragonfly research because it appears fantastical and incredible, but at the same time we learn how scientists were treated in Eastern Bloc countries and realize why some left for a freer environment where they could pursue their dreams and further their careers. The author sheds light on many similar incidents in his other vignettes and the black humor in some emerges from a similarly incongruous final plot twist.
One nuclear scientist featured in this series, Heinz Barwich, who was not granted the freedom to perform his work in the GDR, defected to the West. Hein not only crafts new myths about the GDR, but he also shows how such myths came into being in the wake of unification. One example of this myth creation is the way daily life in the GDR has become elevated to a new plane of remembrance which emphasizes its enjoyable sides and ignores the actual hardships living there entailed. Life in the GDR was difficult, but not much of this truth remains or is getting passed down to younger generations.
The episode that gives the book its title is an application for permanent residence in the Federal Republic submitted by the head of the East German government, First Party Secretary Erich Honecker, in July The technique of defamiliarization depicts familiar events or objects in unusual contexts, making them appear novel: if the leader of East Germany wants to be a West German, what does his request imply about the desirability of living in the GDR?
There could be no greater questioning of GDR identity. And, by extension, who or what is a GDR citizen? Along with this defamiliarization, carnivalesque effects are achieved through exaggeration and the introduction of the unusual, even as the event depicted here questions the validity of the East German identity.
Again we witness an incongruity that elicits humor while issuing a critique of GDR society and its cumbersome bureaucratic rules. Seeing such an absurd statement, the reader will likely grab the volume with a smile on his or her face to find out what is behind it. We can imagine what awaits us in a book bearing such a title. Because they were next-door neighbors, East Germans yearned for West German consumer products shown to them on television, sent to them in care packages by their West German relatives or friends, or brought back by pensioners who were allowed to travel there.
What passed for knowledge about other countries and cultures often derived from myths, legends, apocryphal stories, and stereotypes rather than from reality. The stereotype of the Other also reaches a level of reductive grotesquerie in such stereotypes, and as we have seen in Harpham 5 , one of the effects this grotesquerie produces is laughter. Kaminer faced such stereotypes daily after settling in Berlin, and he reveals them to have been created and perpetuated by foreign films. Reaching back to the time before the communists assumed power in Russia, these stereotypes were found especially in films made in the United States and marketed around the world.
Sie waren allesamt wild, unrasiert und unberechenbar. Kaminer shows that this mechanical, oversimplified, and clownish view of the Russians was incorrect, but implies that it allowed Americans and all Western nations, by extension to feel superior to the enemy Other. Such depictions served the purpose of keeping the viewers in line with the ideological agendas set forth by governments in the Cold War era, despite the fact that they had been allies for several years during the Second World War.
Although he is an immigrant who has assimilated for the most part into German society, Kaminer is not German by birth. This position as an outsider in Germany gives him a unique vantage point, because he can look at the changes that took place after , as well as the Cold War past, from a detached, distanciated perspective.
Rather than talking about the bad quality of the food directly, Kaminer implies that you were considered a good Soviet pioneer if you ate it without looking at it. Taking this social imperative as an extended metaphor for the kind of behavior expected more generally in the Soviet Union, we can assume that criticism was never desirable, and that those citizens best adjusted to this requirement would get the furthest on the career ladder as adults.
Aber die Russen waren auch nicht dumm. Kaminer 9 The event and the calculated way it is organized expose farcical characteristics of both political systems. Playing with such characteristics unmasks the insincerity of official announcements delivered by politicians and other members of both governments, demonstrating these leaders to be incapable of improving relations between the two nations.
That officials from each system supposedly allow direct communication with the enemy at the height of the Cold War is an unlikely scenario, but the entire interaction is controlled in such a way that it sheds light on the type of supervision under which people lived on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The above miniature ends with a paragraph clarifying the misunderstanding regarding Russians purportedly not having sex during Soviet times.
When a tall, blond American in a lumberjack shirt asks about the sex life of the Russians, a plump Russian woman with a sophisticated coiffure commits the error of only partially answering the question. Man wusste zu wenig aus erster Hand. Man konnte sie angeblich wochenlang kauen. The author uncovers the banal fact that for many socialist citizens satisfying their consumer desires was more important than democracy and political freedom. In so doing, his legends also glorify the Other. This coming-to-terms with a new reality is not unique to the Russian people; it also pertains to the East Germans after joining the Federal Republic of Germany.
Conclusion When a wound is deep and fresh, it hurts, generally preventing people from being lighthearted about it. They cannot not indulge in banter, jokes, or satire. However, once the wound is attended to and the healing has begun, the pain can give way to humor and embellished stories about its origin. As long as the division existed, it was a wound and was generally treated seriously, with gravity, in the arts. Once the Wall fell and German unity became a fact, however, the healing could begin. Its treatment in the arts then opened up to levity, although even here, frivolity for the sheer fun of it was still rare.
In their works, the past, even when it is banal or depressing, is treated with affection. Although their humor may be a way of providing a critical distance, it is never mean-spirited or vengeful; there is no settling of accounts over wrongs. Hein employs third-person narration, which produces a greater distance from his tall tales, so that they appear more contrived. In fact, their many similarities override the differences. The process of achieving this insight brings the humor to the surface. The humor also gives the accounts the sharp edge that makes them memorable.
The sum of these accounts extends the individual vignettes to the lands of the grotesque. The reader wonders how people survived at all and gains respect for the survival strategies Eastern Europeans devised. The narrative playfulness in their texts thus provides an ambiguous, literary overgrowth which partially covers this unpleasant past. Indeed, the past, in the form of legacies from the Kaiserreich, the Weimar Republic, and the Third Reich common to both the FRG and the GDR , is also rising to the surface of this new Germany and forms part of the overgrowth that is spreading to cover the wound of separation.
These inescapable bonds are both part of the scar left by the Wall and part of the cultural and literary overgrowth which has begun to cover it. Herr Jensen steigt aus. Mein erstes T-Shirt. Hennig, Falko, ed. Volle Pulle Leben. Kaminer, Wladimir. Es gab keinen Sex im Sozialismus. Ich bin kein Berliner. Geschichten aus einem vergangenen Land. Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree. Channa Newman and Claude Doubinsky. Grix, Jonathan, and Paul Cooke, eds. East German Distinctiveness in a Unified Germany.
Birmingham: U of Birmingham P, Harpham, Geoffrey Galt. Aurora, CO: Davis, orig. Hector, Anne. U of Massachusetts-Amherst, Hennig, Falko. Radio Hochsee. Hilscher, Torsten. Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens.
Boston: Beacon, Jauer, Markus, and Wolfgang Kiel. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, Preisendanz, Wolfgang. Humor als dichterische Einbildungskraft. Richter, Neela. Ross, Gordon Charles.
‘Geschichte vom alten Kind’ (‘The Old Child’) by Jenny Erpenbeck (Review) – Tony's Reading List
National Identity in East Germany. Jonathan Grix and Paul Cooke. David H. Martens, Theorie der Prosa. Fischer, Das Buch der Unterschiede. Warum die Einheit keine ist. Berlin: Aufbau, Wolle, Stefan. Die heile Welt der Diktatur. Alltag und Herrschaft in der DDR Michele Ricci Bell advocates assert the importance of such individual and collective processes in shaping the present and future. Yet other positions on memory work, whether focused on oppressive or everyday memories of the GDR, evidence a more skeptical view, drawing attention to the dangers of coercing participation.
These cabaret texts reveal that, while memory work emerged in the early s as topical for political cabaret, cabaret writers were by no means unified in their attitudes toward its usefulness for understanding and coming to terms with the changes brought about by the Wende.
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By means of a variety of satirical modes, these post cabaret writers treat contemporary forms of memory work sometimes with empathy and at other times mockingly, exposing potentially dangerous motives behind memory work, while assessing critically both the wholesale suppression of personal and collective memory, as well as the cherishing of it without discernment. This conclusion derives, for one, from the way the genre defined its purpose: subtle jabs at the Party. After , despite the dramatic political and social changes brought about by the Wende that might have rendered political cabaret obsolete, the cabaret troupes of the former East continued to perform, addressing new audiences and adopting new objects of critique.
More importantly, it coincides with the emergence of a particular form of revaluing of the GDR past often referred to as Ostalgie. Castein From this perspective, casting an eye on past events—not to mention on the ways that these events are managed and processed—had little relevance for the East German political cabaret stage. In addition to factors related to the role of cabaret in socialism, there was an ideological disincentive to treating and thus drawing attention to forms of memory work in the GDR, to the extent that they might have taken up the most pressing object of collective memory work in Germany as a whole, namely, that regarding the Nazi past.
To perpetuate such a sense of individuation, however, would have undermined SED objectives. Likewise, in socialist cabaret, treatment of the individual experience or perspective ran counter to—and was potentially threatening in—a society that favored a collective over an individualized view of its citizens. The issues surrounding the preservation of the myth of antifascism as well as the devaluation of individual memory experience as a function of a socialist ethos were both conditioned by the GDR regime such that once it unraveled, these two factors lost their relevance.
While the past could not be changed, it seemed that its bearing on the present and future would make it an especially appropriate topic for cabaret during the post period. Michele Ricci Bell As the following analysis of individual texts will reveal, in critiquing memory work, cabaret writers found a broad framework for revisiting particular aspects of the GDR past, both damning and benign, in order to assess their relevance in shaping the present and future for former GDR citizens. This framework includes, for instance, the pressing issues of guilt and complicity.
Lastly, the memory work invoked in the nostalgic remembrance of the GDR, sometimes referred to as Ostalgie, is in its various forms dealt with in cabaret texts. See also Brockmann The memory work associated with identifying oneself or others either as victims or perpetrators in the GDR regime appears in post cabaret texts more often than any other theme related to this topic.
Not only, as Schultz and Wagener suggest, did the question of victimhood run both along and within national borders, it also involved both collective and individual guilt and suffering. Arzt: Das ham jetzt viele, das ist keine Krankheit. Whether or not he was a perpetrator before , the patient is now a victim of this violent blocking of memory. Michele Ricci Bell himself is the person in question. Was mich betrifft, da bin ich mir noch immer nicht sicher, nur…was Sie betrifft, da bin ich mir fast sicher!
The doctor, in displaying his expert ability to interrogate, as well as his knowledge of activities in which a Stasi informant might have engaged, unwittingly exposes his own relationship to that history. Indeed, by assisting another in his memory work, the doctor completes his own. For both patient and doctor, individual memory is a place where uncomfortable truths may be harbored and suppressed, and from which they may reemerge unpredictably.
It shows some good writing and a hint of the control of atmosphere that marks her later work, the reader always sensing that the simple style belies the command over the story. Better still for Anglophone readers, the English versions, translated by Susan Bernofsky , come with added extras. Like Like. She has a unique voice and is one of my favourite contemporary authors. What I remember of reading this in English is the way the language develops as the girl presumably gets older.
I read it alongside The Book of Words — possibly my favourite of hers. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email.